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.

  • Wowzers

    wow. Sandy please do a profile on the above. im almost exactly the same in terms of exact school, gmat, work experience, extras.

  • Ryan

    I would love to hear what you think about my stats.

    28 Year old White Male
    First Generation College Student
    740 GMAT
    3.9 GPA From WUSTL in Accounting & Economics (Artsci Econ not Bschool)
    3 Years FAS experience from Big 4 (Valuation and M&A groups)


    President of Dance club that received highest student review awards 2/4 years

    Founded non profit to provide scholarships for students who pursued diverse extracurriculars not traditionally supported by colleges

    Founded successful urban apparel company while in UG

    Competed globally as professional dancer during break year from UG


    Take quantitative skills and apply them to strategy consulting
    Pursue executive leadership within Fortune 100

    Looking to go to

  • MsTech

    I’d love to get my profile reviewed. I am interesting in product management in high tech. Looking at Stanford, Sloan, Kellogg, Haas, Duke.

    26, Female
    3.5 GPA from MIT (mechanical engineering)
    760 GMAT 50Q 44V 6.0AWA
    5 years at HP as an R&D Engineer
    Current extracurriculars:
    – Highly involved in company employee resource group, 2 years as chairperson, set up networking events, executive speaker series, launching networking program
    – 4 years volunteering at a girls science and technology program, about 50-100 hours/year


  • Mr. Cancer Survivor

    Hey Sandy, this series rocks! I find myself checking P&Qs every day to see if the latest round has been published. I would love to hear your thoughts on my profile:

    + 3.9 GPA, 740 GMAT
    + Accounting degree from competitive private school in mountain west (#1 accounting program in nation)
    + White married male, 27 years old at application (28 at matriculation)
    + Survived cancer during freshman year of college and have been actively involved in pediatric cancer advocacy ever since

    + 1.5 years at major consultancy (LEK/Monitor) with very high marks
    + 2 years at well-known middle market PE shop in Boston (current)

    + Significant leadership positions during my 2 year service mission for my church in Northern CA
    + Founded and directed tutoring program to help inmates earn GED and reduce recidivism. 50+ volunteers, 3 facilities, and thousands of inmates
    + Student government in college
    + Eagle Scout
    + President of alumni chapter
    + Volunteer in pediatric cancer unit of children’s hospital
    + Head of client development for LA office of pro-bono consulting firm
    + 2 months volunteering at hospital in Palestine working with refugees

    + 5 year plan is to get back into MM PE and help grow medium sized businesses
    + Learn management skill-set and leverage into industry transition, likely into portfolio company of PE fund for 5+ year plan

    + Not to be cynical, but how do I leverage my cancer story to my advantage? Have you seen this done successfully before?
    + What makes the white male consultant / PE guy stand out in a crowded field of so many with a similar profile?
    + Will the current political / social anti-PE sentiment soil PE applicants’ chances?

    HBS is far and away my #1, will also apply to S/W, Chicago, MIT

  • JB

    Hi Sandy

    Great insights. You must get about a dozen of these requests every day so the chances of you picking mine are probably slimmer than me getting into Wharton, but hey…

    UK Investment Banker currently at boutique focused on renewable energy / cleantech M&A
    Age: 29
    Nationality: British
    Undergrad: Oxford Uni
    Degree: Classics (Latin, Greek, philosophy etc). First class hons (don’t know what that is GPA wise)
    Work: London based pan-European boutique focusing on M&A and capital raises for traditional and high-tech renewable energy. 3 years here
    Work Experience to date: trained as an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Dubai and London (2 years), and with HSBC in London, always IB focusing on M&A
    Extra currics: Secretary of boat club at Uni, debating society at Oxford, officer on a number of smaller committees, post Uni I founded and completed the ‘Great British Triathlon’ – an endurance challenge involving a swim across the English channel – to raise money for charity: raised $25k plus through organising range of fundraisers, raffles, corporate sponsorship, media coverage etc
    Goals: long-term: startup an angel / VC fund investing in the crossover of green energy and high tech. Short-term: anything that will get me there (PE / VC / Hedgie)


    Would be great to hear your insights. Thanks!

  • Mr. Hispanic Engineer

    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
    -Graduate from a leadership development program with the Nielsen company
    -Program manager for a large global program at Nielsen
    -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)
    -During college: several officer positions within my fraternity, president of several clubs during college

    Thank you!

  • decisionsdecisions

    Also I forgot to add, that I have done some research as an undergrad
    And my goals are basically M-7
    I have a high lsat score (over 175) also for when I thought I might go to law school, is that worth anything?

  • decisionsdecisions

    Gmat 780
    3.75 from a top 10 ug in econ

    spent a year working with a startup during undergrad that has been venture funded
    year and a half working with a boutique strategy consulting firm

    In college, was part of a club that worked with refugees in the area, spent a summer working with a human rights group in Africa, have some international experience in the middle east
    Since college have continued to work with refugees through a nonprofit
    Also dunno if helpful but i run long distance races such as half marathons