Your Odds Of Getting Into A Top School

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

She’s a 25-year-old published poet who works as an equity analyst for an old line Boston investment management firm. Her goal is to use the MBA degree to one day run her own firm in China.

After earning a dual degree in management and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, he works for a Big Three consulting firm. With a 790 GMAT and a 3.76 grade point average, he’s nervous that B-schools will think he should just go to an engineering firm directly from consulting because he has already taken a lot of business classes at Wharton.

This 28-year-old doctor is currently in his fourth year of training as a specialty surgeon. Rather than use his scalpel on people, however, he wants to gain an MBA to apply business discipline and thinking the public health care in order to increase its efficiency.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s tell-it-like-it-is assessment:

Ms. Finance Feminist

  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics and psychology from a top five liberal arts college
  • Work experience includes two years at an old, established Boston investment management firm doing equity research; plus a year and one-half in a Fortune 500 finance training program
  • Extracurricular involvement as chair of the local chapter of an international women’s leadership organization, active in alumnae network, published poet in award-winning literary journals
  • Goal: To eventually run my own investment management firm in China
  • 25-year-old Chinese woman and U.S. citizen, fluent in Mandarin and English

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 10-25%
Chicago: 30% to 50%
MIT: 30% to 40%
Columbia: 30% to 50%
Northwestern: 30% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, you got gold +  silver + poetry. Hard to know how that will play out. The good is the 750 GMAT, the less good is the 3.4, which is admissible but on the low side for Harvard and Stanford.  The equity research gig at an “old and established” Boston management firm could be gold or gold plate, depending on the firm and what you do and what kind of support you get.

Let’s just say we are talking Fidelity or Wellington or Putnam — applicants from those firms get into HBS and sometimes Stanford, but usually with Boffo other things. This is where your 3.4 can be an issue. As a rule, equity research at Fidelity or another old line firm is considered one cut below pure investment banking in terms of selectivity, although still a great gig.

To the extent you can string together all your women’s empowerment  extracurrics into a powerful presentation and garner some powerful support within your firm, well, that,  and the published poetry might tip you into HBS.  Her majesty, HBS adcom head Dee Leopold, may not read much poetry–or she may, dunno for sure, I have not hacked her Lincoln, MA, library card. WONDERFUL library by the way, if you are ever in the area, so is neighboring Concord, especially if you need a restroom, it actually has an oil painting on the wall!!! But a published poet, and your other extras,  might move someone off the WL in July, if HRH were in a hurry to go on vakay.  So HBS is close but you are in a real competitive cohort so it could tip either way.  Not seeing this as Stanford, for all the HBS reasons, and stats and selectivity of employment really count over there, especially since you have a winning but not compelling do-gooder profile.

At all other schools but H and S, I’d say you are totally in-line –just a matter of solid application execution.  The key to HBS is just getting some “specialness” in your application, which can be a cumulative build up of little things (of which you have a lot) or getting some powerful fuddy-duddy at your “old and established” management firm to put his wrinkled thumb on the scale.

“Your Majesty, Ned Johnson on line 2.“ Dee takes calls like that.

You can probably predict your chances at HBS better than me. How often have applicants from your firm who do what you do gotten in?  If not much data, you still have a chance because this is just solid and winning.

I’d be careful about how you explain your goas, and what the timeline and steps to reaching it are.

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