Your Odds Of Getting Into A Top School

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.

  • asdf


  • Robert

    Seems to be on point from my experience, minus Fidelity as it isn’t quite in the same tier as the other firms you mentioned. The top tier investment banking positions (eg. Blackstone Restructuring and M&A, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) though, are arguably as selective as the top tier IMs (eg. D&C, Capital Group, Third Avenue). All of the above have phenomenal placement into top MBA programs.

  • Hbsguru

    I get your point, and in an ideal world, a blog like this would have an art director who would find or create approriate graphics for each profile, but this is not the New Yorker or Vogue, it is a content driven specialist blog, altho that is not an excuse to offend anyone, I dont think our cartoons, do .  My view.  Actually John Byrne does the formatting and graphics,  but it is pretty obvious he is using some iStock cartoon data bank, so all the profiles are cartoons.  I guess that sometimes leads to a disconnect, in some cases, but it just seems mild and graphic is  not meant to capture the full person under reveiw, just get people to read the analysis.  It seems a good compromise to me, but if others are disturbed, well, I’d be interested to hear.

  • Elena

    Hi Sandy,

    While I enjoy your column, I really don’t like the poses of the female cartoons. It’s disrespectful to women. Please refrain from using cartoons of women in such obvious, non-business/academic/extra-curric related poses. Ms. Consultant works with abused women, for goodness’ sakes!


  • Siddharth Gautam

    Hi Sandy, i read your reviews and observations on selected profiles. I was wondering if you can comment on my profile (its a typical case of high’s and low’)

    – 10th 65% 2000-01
    – 12th 67% 2002-2003
    – Graduation B.Tech in Mechanocal Engineering ( 2004-2008)
    (Only case is that my degree was extended by 3 years and received it in 2011)

    – Work exp. of 39 months
    -11 month in pre sales ( Air conditioning industry)
    -28 months as Bussiness Analyst, Project Manager and a Co-ordinator.

    GMAT Score 720.

    What are my ODDs of geeting into a good MBA School. My preferences are

    – INSEAD
    – Wharton
    – YALE
    – UCLA
    – Others

  • Hi Sandy,

    Can you please review my profile and evaluate my odds of getting into my top choices. I’ve looked through all your previous articles and could not find a match similar to mine so I’m giving it a shot in the comments.

    -Why MBA: I want to work in the tech sector in strategy. Long term want to help more hispanics go to college and study STEM fields.
    -Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, Kellog, MIT
    – 4 years with Nielsen graduated from their leadership development program and now manage a large program.
    -Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Florida
    -GMAT 720
    -GPA 3.1
    -25 Yr old Hispanic male
    -first person from my family to go to college
    -worked most of college in order to finance education. Graduated with no debt.
    -Now: Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (chapter officer), toastmasters
    -During college: several officer positions within my fraternity, president of several clubs during college, long list of college extracurriculars (part of the reason for the low GPA)

    Thank you!