Calculating Your Odds Of Getting In

He has worked for American Express in Argentina for more than five years, winning numerous awards for his superior performance. But this 26-year-old male now wants to get an MBA to try his hand at management consulting at BCG, Bain or McKinsey.

After a five-year stint at a major New York City art museum, she’s hoping to get an MBA to transition to a job as the director of a college art museum in New England. Her dream school: Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

She has worked as a financial analyst for two Fortune 500 companies over the past five years. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.5 grade point average from UC-Berkeley, this 27-year-old woman is hoping to use a top-ranked MBA to move into a product management or business development role in the biotech field.

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 HBSGuru.com, 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. Museum

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in English literature from a “virtually unheard of” liberal arts college in New York City
  • 3.5 GPA Master’s
  • Graduate degree in art history from same school
  • Work experience includes five years at a major New York City art museum in an administrative and research role
  • Extracurricular activities include founding literary club, president of Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society), and also some LGTB work, though no heavy-lifting,
  • Goal: To be director, deputy director or development officer of a college art museum in New England
  • “My dream school is Tuck (grew up in Hanover, was beneficiary of initiatives like Tuck-sponsored project WISE as a child and am eager to give back to my community, have personal and professional attachment to the college’s art museum)”

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Yale: 40+%
Harvard: 15% to 20%

Sandy’s Analysis: MBA programs get more applications from the art world, or should I say, the Art World, than many people think. That includes music, painting, theater–and the rich cousin of this family, cinema. Your story is pretty typical, and so are stories of performers who want to cross over into arts management, or have already taken steps to do that.

The fact that you have five years of experience in a blue chip New York City museum, in what could arguably be called a mix of curatorial and administrative functions is a real anchor for your application, and a 740 GMAT is a Rembrandt-level score for this cohort. It will go a long way in having adcoms ignore your drip- painting undergraduate transcript.

There is a serviceable summary of arts administration options and issues (and links),whether within MBA programs, or as self-standing MA programs (Columbia is famous for this) in Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arts_administration, so that is a good place to start, if you want to survey the waterfront of your options.

Tuck is certainly a maybe, and you seem to be their type and know the terrain. What I would not suggest is your current stated goals: “Director, Deputy Director or Development Officer of a college art museum in New England,” which sounds like you are eager to stop talking the subway to work in New York and buy a Land Rover for employment portage instead, including crossing the small stream near your jewel-box rural manse. Dartmouth Abbey anyone!!!!

Also, Director of Development is basically a silver-cup job (high class begging) and for that you would do better with a combination of charm school and a deep network of high-net worth friends than with an MBA degree.  Although, sure, going to an MBA program is a good way to meet many of those. I would rather say that you are interested in being the leader of a museum (and not necessarily a college one either) because that job requires a combination of strategy, human resources, finance, development, and real estate issues in addition to your impeccable taste and robust knowledge of art history.

Hope this has been helpful. Fun factoid, and not sure if this true, but it could be. Someone once told me that the total value of Harvard University’s museum holdings (millions of objects if you define its museum holdings widely, including science museums) is larger than its endowment, which was last reported at $32 billion. Harvard has a lot of art wasting in basements and they used to have a program (and still might) of lending out art for decorating faculty offices and even houses. Of course, even if true, the art objects are not liquid, and would have to be sold (and much of it has been donated with restrictions against that) but just an interesting conversation piece, nonetheless.

Getting back to you, I think your chances at Tuck are solid if you can charm them and come up with a more robust, and less gentrified, goal statement.