Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

An Eagle Scout who survived cancer during his freshman year at college, this 27-year-old former consultant now works for a private equity shop in Boston. He has superb stats for a top MBA program, including a 740 GMAT and a 3.9 GPA, but wonders how a white male consultant and PE guy can stand out in a crowded field of many with similar profiles.

He’s a Green Beret who has served multiple deployments in Iraq, leading more than 140 Iraqi special operation soldiers. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.63 grade point average, this member of the U.S. Army Special Forces wants an MBA to transition into investment banking.

He’s a 29-year-old Palestinian who is, as he says, “completely bald” and managing a retail pharmacy. The first and only member of his family to graduate from high school and college, he is hoping to get an MBA to work for a U.S. company with interests in the Middle East.

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.

These weekly columns are often filled with gems of admissions advice. This one is no exception. As Sandy tells one would-be applicant, “getting into Harvard Business School is more about FITTING IN rather than STANDING OUT.” That’s wise advice to get through one of the toughest MBA screens in the world.

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:

Mr. Green Beret

  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.63 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from Ohio State
  • Work experience includes seven years with the U.S. Army Special Forces, during which he served multiple Iraq deployments, leading more than 140 Iraqi special operation soldiers; also worked closely with Sheiks and tribal leaders to solve local problems; seven years of service due to job commitments including the multiple deployments
  • Extracurricular involvement includes an internship with the Department of Finance in the state of Ohio
  • Goal: Trying to change to get into investment banking

Odds of Success:

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

Sandy’s Analysis: As noted several times, and as amazing as it seems for military applicants, college grade point average really counts because adcoms are not experts at discerning what a great military career is versus an ordinary one,  as they can by looking at a private employment record, where they have a better “feel” for the company you work for, and even how to read through your recommendations.

That being said, everyone [hearts] Special Forces, so that is an intangible plus.  The work you did in Iraq, leading different types of resources in different ways, is totally up the alley of all adcoms, so tilt your essays in that direction.  Other things they like to hear are some non-military stories or semi-military stories about working with civilian groups, volunteering, and dealing with military families.

Your story — Special Forces, 3.6 GPA from an OK school, and a 730 GMAT — puts you in the running at H/S/W for sure. The eventual outcome will turn on execution, recommendations, and luck.  Stanford may want to hear something a bit extra, e.g. overcoming adversity in terms of background, or some real do-gooder military stories. At HBS guys like you get in and dinged all the time, and guys like you usually get into Wharton, since they run older, and care most about your very solid GPA and GMAT.

This is a small point, but saying you want to go into investment banking, after this career, is a small let down. You might think about tweaking that a bit.  Going commando on the battlefield is excellent; doing so on Wall Street is not an interesting story at this point in the financial cycle (to adcoms, it is to ME!!!!!!!!!).  Try spinning that into becoming an impact investor, especially in developing countries, maybe the Middle East, or some jive like that.

Pick you recommenders with care.  Military officers who write grad school recs run from “outstanding” to disappointing.  It helps to tutor them, if possible, at what schools are looking for– although the diplomacy of that is admittedly touchy.  All top schools have Armed Forces clubs, which can be really helpful in explaining the secret handshakes which work better for recs, so reach out to them.

  • Anthony Gonzalez

    Hi Drew,

    My apologies for the never responding. I actually just today randomly came upon our comment. I ended up getting into Kellogg after retaking the GMAT. Let me know if you’re still applying, and I’m happy to share a little more detail.

  • Drew Slater

    Hi Andy,
    I just came across your comment because I have a similar background and am looking to apply as well. I was hoping you could tell me what your success was with applying.

  • mrw

    Would greatly appreciate if you would evaluate my profile for admission to Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Wharton and Kellogg:

    GMAT: 730
    GPA: 3.67/4.0
    Undergraduate Degree in Marketing/Communications from Michigan

    Work experience: 2 years in marketing/sales at large media/entertainment company in NYC after internships with NFL team and Sports Agency. Don’t manage anyone, but solely responsible for bringing in advertising and sponsorship revenues

    Extracurriculars include: Founding member of charitable organization benefitting the homeless in New York, volunteer for organization helping people with all types of disabilities participate in athletics, member of fraternity at undergraduate school, write my own blog on advertising/marketing utilizing celebrities in campaigns

    Goal: To take the next step in the media/entertainment world by becoming a sales executive and consulting brands and companies on how to best utilize brand ambassadors
    23 year old white male raised in family of 8 (parents took in 4 additional children when I was 11 after tragedy)

  • Ms. KHiggins

    Hi Sandy, could you help evaluating my profile? 
    GPA 3.9/4.0 Double major: chemistry and economics in a top 25 liberal art college. Age 26. GMAT 770 first try. Female minority. worked in consulting for 3 years. long term goal is to continue working in consulting with a focus on cross-national business regulatory policy. Extra curriculum: president of two clubs in college, limited after college- tutoring and cancer advocate committee. 
    Thank you very much!

  • Anthony Gonzalez

    Hi Sandy,

    I would really appreciate any feedback you might be able to give me on my chances of getting into a top B-school. 

    – Hispanic Male (first generation college graduate)
    – 680 GMAT
    – 3.3 undergrad GPA in Advertising from University of Florida-3.5 grad GPA (MS in Management) from University of Florida. Coming from an undergrad major that was weak on the quant side, I completed the degree to demonstrate I could handle graduate level quant courses.
    – 2 yrs experience working in business operations for Time Warner’s international division. Strong performance resulted in an offer from the Ad Sales department to join their team in a management role at the beginning of 2012. 90% of my business correspondence is conducted in Spanish. In 2 years I have spent a combined 4 months on business travel throughout Latin America.- In college worked various internships in marketing and public relations firms-Current extra curricular activities include marathon-running, writing comedy in the form of scripts and stand-up routines and improving my skills on the guitar. I also frequently work with charities in the area to organize donation drives in my office.
    -Ultimately I’d like to work in brand management for a firm with a diverse line of products, such as P&G or Johnson & Johnson. I’d like to use information gathered from market research and analyze trends in consumer behavior..-As the son of 2 working-class immigrants, my aim is to use B-school as a means to establish the network and connections needed to propel my career to the next level. 

    Please let me know if you have any advice on areas where I should improve.


  • MBB health candidate

    Figured I should probably clarify some of the previous points and provide some more color into my long term aspirations.

    – 3.2 GPA from #1 engineering school in US
    – Permanent resident
    – Long term goals involve health care start up, VC positions with focus in health care, executive position at biotech/pharma organizations. Also passionate about global health care delivery, with specific interest in value-based health care.

  • MBB health candidate

    Hi Sandy,

    I would greatly appreciate any insight into my chances of getting into the following MBA programs (I’m also looking at joint MBA/MPH-type programs): HBS, Stanford, Wharton, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Sloan, Kellogg, Chicago.

    – Asian American female
    – 740 GMAT
    – 3.2 GPA from #1 engineering school in ChemE
    – Currently 2 yrs experience at M/B/B consulting firm, on track for promotion (sponsorship tbd), involved in mix of strategy & operations health care projects, although also experienced in financial services
    – Worked on health care delivery start-up, ultimately failed
    – Current extra curricular activities include board membership of nonprofit contemporary dance organization, dancing, yoga, scuba diving
    – College extra curricular activities include leadership positions in campus dance organization, Asian-interest organization, sorority

    Would be great to get your thoughts on my chances as well as any other schools I should be looking at.


  • samiyousef

    Hi Sandy, I am in an urgent need for you help. Can you please access my chances of getting in the following MBA programs :
    HBS, Stanford, 1 year MBA Cornell, Yale, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia (accelerated program)
    – Jordanian Citizen with 10 years of experience in BIG4 ( 5 in audit and 5 in M&A services). Double promoted more than once( Currently a Senior Manager). Got my CPA at 20. GPA 3.1 from a Jordanian University / GRE new test 315/ Age: Currently 30 years old-white
    – Worked over several assignments with the public and private sectors ( for companies listed in NYSE and London Stock Exchange and for Governments) in Iraq, Libya,Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, United States.
    – Member in Seeds of Peace. Had many personal encounters with Palestinian , Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
    – Appointed as the cleantech champion in my office.
    – Currently working on launching an auction website.
    – Helped several entrepreneurs in setting their business plans ( can get a decent recommendation from a couple of them).
    – Goal after MBA is to launch advisory company to help family businesses grow and empowering women in the Levant area ( Jordan, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon) in addition to promoting peace through businesses in the Middle East area.

  • anksiitk

    Hi Sandy, I am a big fan of these posts!! Can you pls handicap my odds at following schools. Thanks!

    Profile: Indian VC
    – Indian, M, 25, IIT, GMAT 730, GPA: 3.3/4, Work ex on application date: 3 yrs (4 yrs upon entering MBA)
    – 1st ever and only pre-mba guy at one of the largest VC firms in India (work ex: 6 months till now) 
    – 1.5 yrs as M&A analyst at a top-tier Indian mid-market investment bank; worked on several cross-border deals involving India and European countries including “exotic” locations like Turkey and Czech Republic; rated best analyst among people with similar backgrounds (IIT+CFA); the bank’s fame is on upswing as it has been ranked among top 10 M&A banks in India by Bloomberg et al.; has sent 1 guy to Darden and another to Wharton in last few yrs
    – 9 months management consulting  exp with PwC India; was more interested in finance, so didnt stay there long (will try and give a better spin to this switch)
    – Fellowships (International as well as Indian), internships, and volunteering exp in social development sector; more than one would expect from the usual banker/ VC profile
    – College: Part of IIT’s athletics team, represented IIT at many sports competitions and won medals; Led a team of 8 students in a one-of-its-kind alumni outreach initiative in India; currently using my VC network to assist in setting up of a tech incubator at my alma mater

    Schools: HBS, Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Booth, LBS (one of my fellowships affords “some” special preference to application at Wharton, MIT and LBS).

  • Politics Career Changer

    Sandy! I need your help. Does my profile give me a chance at top business schools.

    Demographics: 27 year old white femalePotential diversity: adopted at age 10 by lesbian coupleProfessional: Chief of staff for legislative committee in fulltime legislature (2 years, supervise 5 staff, 5 to 10 interns at given time), Political campaign experience (field organizer for statewide, campaign manager for state legislature), retail management experience (store manager) during college.Extracurriculars: Local elected official (6 years); lots of political campaign volunteer experience (mostly local and state), active in party politics (elected town committee and state committee member, also started a local organization for young Democrats, several years as board of director for state wide young Democrats organization), internship for issue based non-profit, volunteer speaker on being straight ally in gay rights movement; picked for/participating in local non-profit leadership program, lost 100 poundsEducation: 3.35 from small research university in government and international relations. Disjointed transcript poor grades first two years, three year break, then 3.94 GPA or higher for last 4 years w/ rigorous courses. (Related courses: macro econ, political economy, marketing internship. All As or A-s)  I took a few classes at community college not in GPA that I got As in.GMAT: 710
    Goal: Eventual goal is to run for major office. Immediate goal is to transition to business as consultant, potentially specializing in sustainable corporate practices. I think the skill set that has helped me excel in politics (strong communication skills, analytical thinking, logistics planning, working with coalitions of people to reach common goals, managing multiple and different tasks) would translate well into business.
    Schools: strongly prefer to stay in New England area so HBS, Sloan, Tuck. Also looking at Stanford and Hass. Where else should I be looking?

  • JustaGuest

    Sandy — Is this a boring profile that gets tossed aside by adcoms, or a solid profile that gets admits to top tier schools?

    Johnny Consultant

    Most recent two years in strategy consulting group with tech focus at IBM in New York

    Previous two and half years at smaller consultancy doing similar work

    GMAT: 740

    Undergrad: 3.30 from top-20 school (Northwestern/Duke) in Economics

    Goals: Move into tech strategy/tech investment analysis with focus on startups

    Extras: Very good volunteer experience (Haiti post-earthquake) and personal extras (triathlete) during and after college

    26 year old white male

    Expecting typical recs, no big shots to pull strings for me

    Schools:  Wondering which tier of schools that I should realistically target and if my profile might appeal to some schools over others? Also if there should be a Round 1, Round 2 strategy to play?

    Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, Booth, MIT, Tuck, Fuqua, Darden

  • Kiwi

    Sandy, would really love some feedback on my profile as I am coming
    from a non-traditional route and want to make sure my goals etc are in

    Basics:-24 year old white male. New Zealand/US dual citizen, although lived all my life in NZ-3.87 GPA from top NZ university- Double degree Physics and Music (including many awards in both disciplines and top student in music)- GRE 800 Quant, 670 Verbal. Sitting GMAT in a few months.

    Work:2.5 years (at matriculation) at a world class Acoustic Consultancy company.During
    my time here I have dealt with acoustics in major industrial,
    environmental, architectural, performing arts and infrastructure
    projects.Regularly work in a team environment with colleagues as well as with engineers, architects, planners etc on projects.Have been key worker in my company of a large industrial research project with lots of responsibility.

    Extracurriculars:Professional musician and songwriter (guitar) including nomination for NZ Music AwardCo-ordinator in climate change organizationVolunteer at not-for-profit offering performance opportunities to young people with disabilitiesTravelled extensively in Asia, Europe, America and parts of AfricaAvid skier, cricket and rugby player/fan

    Goals:Would like to leverage from my physics background and
    diverse exposure to many industries in my job, as well as experience in
    climate change movement to be a business leader in clean tech.

    I am considering deferring application by a year to work in a
    developing country for a year (probably on a volunteer basis). Ideally I
    would like to volunteer with sustainable small business development.
    Although this is something I want to do for it’s many reasons outside of
    a B-school application I was wondering if you see this as being
    beneficial to my application and strengthening my goals?



    Thanks very much for your input!


  • well, their rep is that they are more open to older students, and do not have a on-again, off-again age bias in favor of  younger kids, they way HBS has had in past 6 yeas.  They may have become more normalized, as stats show, but I still think that a  30 year old, all things being equal, has a better shot at Wharton than H or S.  That cohort may not be big enuf to change gross stats like 48 months average exp. etc.

  • mbaat30

    Hi Sandy,
    Please evaluate my profile.

    GMAT-Appearing for GMAT on Apr 30 and will retake it if the score is below 750

    AGE -30


    UG Institute- IIT Kharagpur
    UG Discipline-Civil Engineering
    UG CGPA – 6.76/10
    Additional info – Had a 3 year carrer break beacuse I was trying to clear the extremely tough JEE
    Work experience- My work experience will be 7 years by May 2012 when i will apply to b schools.I Have worked for Cognizant,IBM and am currently working for L&T Infotech as a Senior Software Engineer

    Work profile:Software development

    Extracurricular:Was with NCC(National Cadet Core) and NSS(National Social Service) during college but everybody in IIT has to join one of these orgainsations for the first 2 years

    Goal:I want to work in the field of Mangagement consultancy

    Schools:MITChicagoColumbiaVirginia (Darden)Michigan (Ross)Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)UCLA (Anderson) UNC (Kenan-Flagler)Texas (McCombs)Emory (Goizueta)ISB Hyderabad

  • HBS_Hopeful

    Hey Sandy,

    Great series you have posted here. Would you mind handicapping me for Harvard 2+2? I’m planning to graduate in December 2013 or May 2014 (I’m in a 5-year program because of multiple majors). I’ve recently taken the GMATS as well and overall I’m interested in healthcare/biotechnology management and business development, but not sure yet of the specifics (this is where I hope the 2+2 program will help mold my career trajectory). I’m concerned that my profile looks kind of all over the place. Do I stand a chance?

    GMAT: 780
    Triple majors in Math (with Computer Science concentration), Biology, and Economics and minors in  BME, German, and Japanese from non HYP Ivy 
    3.87 GPA so far in 120 credits (have another 60 credits till all majors/minors completed), shown consistent upward trend
    Transferred from no-name local college with a 3.65 in Neuroscience after freshman year in 2010
    Work in two labs during the school year; one of them is with a Nobel Laureate chemist 
    Did a consulting internship with a pharmaceutical contract research organization (Vault top 50 consulting, so more middle market than boutique perhaps?)
    Did a 1-week externship at Deloitte Consulting
    1 month internship at GE Capital for healthcare finance
    Currently working part-time at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
    Did a venture capital internship arranged through the university during Fall 2011
    Did lab research at Columbia during  summer after freshman year
    VP of class, several university scholarships and fellowships as well
    Started a microfinance nonprofit club on campus
    Chair of an undergraduate research board on campus
    Executive Board of a cultural advocacy board on campus
    President of an honor society on campus
    Spearheading a housing project for immigrant refugees through a public service fellowship
    20 year old SE Asian female; permanent resident
    *Very* low income; first-generation college student
    Had severe depression that affected first semester transfer college performance (have two C+ on my transcript), did not get treatment until recently and doing much better academically because of it

    How do I look? Thank you.

  • Shayra Kamal


  • Confused

    I am wondering the exact same thing. I just pulled up Wharton on Businessweek the other day and it, too, says 48 months. 

  • Wharton Applicant

    i dont really get why everyone keeps saying wharton is an older school. the average age is 4 years out of undergrad. i was at the most recent admitted students event (from R1) and literally 75% or more of everyone i met was Class of 2008. Maybe a couple of 2007 and 2009, and almost nothing outside of that. 

  • Junior League

    Oh, and I took four courses, and got all A’s, at a top public university.  Accounting, finance, Statistics, and Economics.

  • Junior League

    Hi Sandy, can you help evaluate my profile and if I have a chance at a top part-time mba program (Haas, Booth, Kellogg, Stern)? GMAT: 760.  UGPA (8 years ago) at USNews top 40: 2.5. Undergraduate Degree: Double in Psychology & Sociology. Masters Accounting GPA: 3.3.  Work experience: 2.5 years at a Big 4, 3 years at a consulting company doing mainly deal work and strategy consulting, promoted twice (typical) in 5.5 years.  Professional License: CPA. Why part-time MBA: I plan on staying in my curent field, and want to continue working while going to school; but would like more exposure, broaden perspective, make new connections, and learn.  Extracurricular: heavily involved in Junior League and local community service.  Why did I get a low UGPA: young, immature, lost focus, and was in an abusive relationship throughout my college years.

  • 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.-Extracurriculars:   -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!

  • Vlad

    At least in my country Big 4 are the most selective out there as we don’t have a BCG or Bain, and Mckinsey has only 10-15 employees most of them recruited from US Universities (romanian guys), I know someone who’s a maths and economics undergraduate from Northwestern, so the rest of us don’t stand a chance to get in. Not to speak that we don’t have a major investment bank here.
    The wide perception is that the smartest are getting in a Big 4 company, but anyways as many people say this kind of work is not a big deal and the advisory departments of these companies are so small they are recruting internally from the assurance after 1-2-3 yrs of experience.

  • Vlad

    Forgot to say, she went to school in Romania and yes, she worked for EY Bucharest.

  • Vlad

    She worked for EY Romania and eventually chose Stanford and now she is a Brand Manager for Eli Lilly Romania. I don’t know exactly what it means selective, but when I was selected for this company they chose 4 out of 76.

  • GlobeTrotter09

    Hi Sandy, 

    I have a fairly nontraditional story that I would love if you could evaluate. 3.6+ at Harvard that went up every year (I.E. last 2 years were around a 3.8 GPA) in psychology. Wrote a senior research thesis that received awards and ended up giving me highest honors in field (English honors, not Suma). I’ve taken the GMAT once and received a 720 HEAVILY weighted in verbal (45v 44q). I ran out of time and panicked on the math- I’d like to think I could study, retake, and improve the math score.

    Work experience includes one year of psychology research out of college to see if I wanted to go on and get a PhD in the field. It was interesting research (brain research on hardened criminals in the prison system), but in the end not the career path for me. Went from that directly into a medium-sized business that specializes in community service travel for students (decades old with tens of millions in yearly revenue). Was hired as part of a 2-year management training program where I got to put a solid hand in marketing, management, sales, etc. and expect to be offered a management position within the next few months as the management training program winds down. Through this job, I have worked (hired and fired people, managed teams, purchased property etc.) in 10 countries (Morocco, Ghana, China, Burma, Thailand, etc.).

    Have had one modest entrepreneurial project on the side (selling a product I designed on the web) with a few thousand dollars a year in sales. I am completing another similar project now. I would like to focus on entrepreneurship/growing small businesses. I’d be interested what you think about the prospectus of Haas, Tuck, Booth, Harvard. Thanks so much for the consideration!

  • well, you may be right in fact, but on Planet Adcom, and in my experience, Big 4 jobs in places like Moscow, Eastern Europe etc, were thought to be selective and maybe were, you could be describing a recent phenom, in response to new legistlation (simil to Dodd/Frank) which requires more accounting BS or maybe word of what you say has not yet reached Planet Adcom, or maybe you are just being humble. 🙂

  • Santander G.

    Hi Sandy. I don´t know why you think BIG4 is selective in Europe, but let me assure you at least for accounting it´s not! Just don´t want the people here to be misinformed. BIG4 is hiring like crazy and they need so many interns recently (last 2-3yrs), they just can´t afford to be selective. Source: I´m currently interning @ German HQ of a BIG2.

  • thanks –was she working for Big 4 in Europe after going to school in Europe, as often noted here, Big 4 in Europe is actually a select job, equal in some ways to e.g. working for BCG or Bain right after college.  That could be one factor.

  • RainbowWarrior23

    Hi Sandy,
    730 GMAT
    3.75 at Duke, NROTC
    Cum Laude (top 20% of 1400, does class rank matter?)
    Economics (with Distinction) & International Comparative Studies (European concentration), French minor
    Had a paper on the first public homosexual communities published in an Ivy Historical Review
    Fluent in French, Spanish, Hindi
    Targets: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia

    Current Employment:
    Surface Warfare Officer United States Navy working in the Office of Strategic Planning, Pentagon
    Prior: Navigator on a Destroyer out of Rota, Spain responsible for Ballistic Missile Defense. 2 years on an Amphibious Transport doing Marine operations/transportation & Humanitarian Relief in Asia
    Internship at GE during undergrad

    Extracurriculars: President of my Fraternity at Duke, Research Assistant at Fuqua in the Strategy Department during undergrad (3 years), Associate Director of LGBT Affairs & significant LGBT community involvement, won leadership award as best leader in my freshman class

    post-U I’ve continued to be involved in LGBT organizations, most notably organizing a post-DADT 5k with 1000 attendees, mentorship with local High School GSAs, political activism with local congressmen

    Goal: CEO of a Fortune 500 firm by 50, more immediately I’d like to get into international business working with large firms on glocal synergy (extensive experience in Europe, especially France-studied abroad at the Sorbonne-, and India) or go into consulting 

    Essay: Counseling gay service members during & post-DADT, the human side of the military and the importance of the heart and the fist (decisiveness, not assault) tandem in leading my division 

    27 year-old white gay white male (very conservative midwestern upbringing, father is welder, mention background as part of gay/mil essay?)

    Thank you very much Sandy

  • Vlad

    Sandy, I know a someone (a female) from an eastern european country who got in Stanford, HBS and MIT straight from a Big Four company and also from the assurance department with just 2 yrs of work experience/ She got a very strong result in GMAT (I don’t know the score, but I know about the percentage: 98%). She’s now working in a large pharma company in that eastern european country. If you want to know more I will send you her name, but on a private e-mail.

  • Said Mohammad

    Thank you Sandy for giving me a realistic review. I never thought I had a chance to get into the top schools so I wasn’t shocked but you did give me a few pointers, but Pace? Come on man. Anyway, where’s the Jose Cuervo! 

  • sorry, my orginal text  had nothing to do with good  looks or not of women applicants, it was my round about way of saying that an engineer who was also female would be a plus, given that HBS is oriented towards engineers (sort of, per Dee Leopold’s quote) and being a woman would be a plus.   
    “especially one wearing a dress, or who could wear a dress without attracting too many double takes” was meant to mean that 1. not all female engineers wear dresses, 2. that a guy wearing a dress (e.g. someone who WOULD attract double takes) would not count, altho not that there anything wrong with that,  as per Seinfeld.  Phew. sorry for all the trouble.

  • Anon

    “Didn’t “Dee” Leopold in her Wall Street Journal interview say they are looking for engineers? While that may not be true, e.g. that they are looking, well, they will certainly be open to one who shows up at their door, especially one wearing a dress, or who could wear a dress without attracting too many double takes.”
    I don’t understand that comment. HBS’ adcom likes or does not like hot women?…A post on how looks influence adcoms would be useful. Having attended various events for women at top schools and working with various women at top companies, I think the smart, attractive women are generally more confident that smart, plain-janes. The smart/attractive/confident combo comes off as increased competency that intimidates that not-so-fortunately looking ones. 

  • Mr. Insecure with IT Security

    Lets try this again

    Hello, I’m planning on applying for fall of 2013, and am trying to figure out my chances, and where I should target
    710 GMAT (45q 42v)
    3.32 GPA 3.78 in major- Undergrad at top 60 regional, not well known, Marketing/Finance Major
    US White Male, will be 27 (almost 28) at matriculation 

    Work History (At Matriculation)
    4.0 years – IT Security – 1 year Project Manager / 3 years Analyst – at a fortune 100 retailer. Lots of project management experience, but no management of people. I was hired on to aid in a reporting process, and ended up revolutionizing the way we collect, report on, and manage data. Although I do not have anyone under me, I have trained many people on new tools and processes I’ve developed.
    0.5 years – Marketing Analyst – Small internet startup
    1.25 years – Marketing Analyst – Large international Bank

    Work/Extra-curricular in College

    Worked full time while in school
    2 years as a math tutor / Office assistant
    2 years e-marketing manager/Assistant Innkeeper at an Inn (help raise sales substantially while there) 

    4 years – active member in marketing and finance clubs 
    2 years as a college radio DJ

    Post College
    Helped my fiancee launch a jewelry/photography business, this has taken up a good portion of my time.
    Have done many events through the years with a local cancer institute (walks/fund-raisers)Active in my alumni association

    Post MBA Goal – As you can see in my work history, I started out trying to pursue a career within the quantitative side of marketing. Unfortunately, along the way I pigeonholed myself into a more analytical career within a function that I find a bit dry. I have a strong background in programming, database creation, data analysis, and project management. Although my quant abilities are strong, I have a passion for consumer behavior. My dream would be to work either in Market Research, or Brand Management in the northeast. I know I can write compelling essays about my vision on the uses of the growing amount of data within the consumer industry.post mba career plan – Work for a CPG or High Tech as a brand manager, or for a retailer or vendor in marketing research. Marketing consulting is also on the table
    Future Goal – Start my own database marketing research company, or move up the ladder.Targets – This list will shrink once I figure out where I rank

    Duke (Fuqua)
    NYU (Stern)
    UVA (Darden)
    Michigan (Ross)
    Cornell (Johnson)


  • “Poet” turned marketing guy

    26 year old white male.
    4.0 GPA from non-H/P/Y Ivy, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude. English major.
    740 GMAT.
    Three years at a successfully growing Bay Area startup, promoted from intern to Marketing Coordinator to Marketing Manager.
    Extracurrics: Sketch comedy in undergrad, expansion task force for progressive Bay Area independent school.
    Why MBA? Interested in moving toward higher-level strategy roles, eventually in VC.
    Stanford? Harvard? Sloan? Tuck? Where else would be a possible match?

  • Mr. Insecure with IT Security

    wow, that formatted horribly, I’ll repost this later, sorry about that

  • Mr. Insecure with IT Security

    Hello, I’m planning on applying for fall of 2013, and am trying to figure out my chances, and where I should target710 GMAT (45q 42v)3.32 GPA 3.78 in major- Undergrad at top 60 regional, not well known, Marketing/Finance MajorWork History (At Matriculation)
    4.0 years – IT Security – 1 year Project Manager / 3 years Analyst – at a fortune 100 retailer. Lots of project management experience, but no management of people. I was hired on to aid in a reporting process, and ended up revolutionizing the way we collect, report on, and manage data. Although I do not have anyone under me, I have trained many people on new tools and processes I’ve developed.0.5 years – Marketing Analyst – Small internet startup1.25 years – Marketing Analyst – Large international BankWork/Extra-curricular in CollegeWorked full time while in school2 years as a math tutor / Office assistant2 years e-marketing manager/Assistant Innkeeper at an Inn (help raise sales substantially while there) Extra-curricula4 years – active member in marketing and finance clubs 2 years as a college radio DJPost CollegeHelped my fiancee launch a jewelry/photography business, this has taken up a good portion of my time.Have done many events through the years with a local cancer institute (walks/fund-raisers)Active in my alumni associationUS White Male, will be 27 (almost 28) at matriculationPost MBA Goal – As you can see in my work history, I started out trying to pursue a career within the quantitative side of marketing. Unfortunately, along the way I pigeonholed myself into a more analytical career within a function that I find a bit dry. I have a strong background in programming, database creation, data analysis, and project management. Although my quant abilities are strong, I have a passion for consumer behavior. My dream would be to work either in Market Research, or Brand Management in the northeast. I know I can write compelling essays about my vision on the uses of the growing amount of data within the consumer industry.post mba career plan – Work for a CPG or High Tech as a brand manager, or for a retailer or vendor in marketing research. Marketing consulting is also on the tableFuture Goal – Start my own database marketing research company, or move up the ladder.Targets – This list will shrink once I figure out where I rankKelloggBoothDuke (Fuqua)NYU (Stern)UVA (Darden)Michigan (Ross)Cornell (Johnson)IndianaWisconsinBCThanks!

  • FD

     Sandy, I’d love your perspective on my profile! Thanks.

    Area of interest in MBA : Entrepreneurship + Strategy Consulting
    GMAT: 740 (Q47 V46 AWA5.5)
    GPA: 3.71 in industrial engineering from ASU
    experience(WE): 1 year industrial engineering in commercial aerospace, 3
    years system support engineering in military aerospace all at Boeing (a mix of logistics, procurement, support analysis, scheduling, financial status reporting, and technical document authoring). Received promotion typically requiring 3 years of experience after 1 year. I frequently give analysis presentations to the USAF and French Air Force. I lead the logistics effort for a military aircraft system upgrade with a foreign military client.
    Nationality: American-White
    Age: 26
    Gender: Male
    Low level of involvement during college. Since graduating I’ve
    participated in men’s league sports, UG alumni events, and my company’s
    young professionals community group. Recently led team of 10
    participants for multiple community service projects. E-mentor to
    multiple at risk youth through Icouldbe.org.
    Extra info: In my essays I write about how living in a foreign country as a child broadened my perspective and helped me develop leadership skills by learning to be comfortable when out of my comfort zone. My desired career path is to master business fundamentals through management consulting and then transition to high tech entreprenuership, with an emphasis on technologies that create meaningful change in the world.

    Target schools:


  • Alex

     Haha, that was a rhetorical question, but thanks for the explanation. I can’t help but agree.

  • JohnAByrne


    Sandy is naturally witty and irreverent. That’s what makes him so entertaining to read. Of course, he really knows his stuff, too. So you’re getting it all: smart, thoughtful advice that’s entertaining to read from a real expert.

  • Alex

    … Why is Sandy so funny?