Your Odds Of Getting Into A Top School

by John A. Byrne on

Mr. Insecure Engineer

  • 790 GMAT
  • 3.76 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in management and electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania
  • Work experience includes two years at a Big 3 consulting firm
  • Extracurricular involvement as president of the dean’s advisory board in college, leader of the school’s chemical engineering club and a volunteer tutor for children in West Philadelphia. I’ve also done volunteer consulting work for non-profits
  • “I’m a little curious as to how schools will perceive my Wharton undergrad background. I’m afraid that it might make it substantially harder for me to answer the “Why do you want an MBA?” and the “What will you get out of an MBA?” questions. I’m nervous that b-schools will think I should just go to an engineering firm directly from consulting because I’ve already taken a lot of business classes.”

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% to 50%
Stanford: 30+%
Wharton: 50+%
Dartmouth: 50+%
MIT: 50%
Chicago: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Dude, chill out. B-schools are not going to question why you want an MBA after doing  a dual business and engineering degree at Wharton as an undergraduate.  Saying you are interested in some intersection of business and engineering and having the cred to prove it, in terms of an electrical engineering degree, is gold. All you need to say is that you want to be an impactful leader like X, Y and Z and then find some guys who are powerful and progressive CEOs with engineering backgrounds. That should not be hard.

How not hard? This guy, at the National Engineers Week Foundation says, “According to a recent ranking by Business Week of CEOs of the top 1,000 publicly held U.S. companies, more chief executive officers majored in engineering – not marketing, not finance, and not law – than any other discipline.”  So just read that press release which names names (and which oddly does not have a full date attached, kinda like leaving an elevator out of a skyscraper, but I digress, and that is why that dude is writing press releases and not designing bridges).

The rest of your story is super solid, with Big 3 consulting experience.  As for that 790 GMAT, some say that is better than an 800 since schools like to brag about how many 800 kids they ding (talking to you Derrick Bolton at Stanford!).  For an interesting other anecdote about 790 versus 800, note that the chairman of the Stanford University Department of Statistics said that they consider the scores equal (on some super-duper math/stats test the require for admission) since there is not any statistical significance between the two scores, and, ahem, that is something they try to respect.

Guys like you get dinged at HBS if they blow the interview, which can happen for lots of reasons, and at Stanford if they get unlucky and hit a PC landmine. Being CEO of a company like G.E. or more smartly, being an impactful leader at a company like GE in order to make the world better is an acceptable goal statement. And saying that an MBA will help you become a better general manager, decision maker, investor, people-person is totally fine.

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