Can You Get Into A Great B-School?

After graduating from Harvard College with a degree in psychology, she did a one-year stint in brain research on hardened criminals and then joined a firm that specializes in community service travel for students. She now wants an MBA to pursue her dream of doing something entrepreneurial.

This 26-year-old graduated magna cum laude from an Ivy League university and is a marketing manager at a Bay Area startup. With a 740 GMAT score, he wants to gain an MBA to help him move into higher-level strategy roles and eventually into venture capital.

He’s a professional musician and songwriter who works as an acoustics consultant. With a 3.87 grade point average from a top university in New Zealand, he is hoping to use the MBA degree to transition into clean tech.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these would-be MBA candidates 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, 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 assessment:

Mr. Music

  • 800 Quant GRE
  • 670 Verbal
  • 3.87 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in physics and music from a top New Zealand university
  • Work experience includes two years at a world-class acoustic consultancy, dealing with acoustics in major industrial, environmental, architectural projects.
  • Extracurricular involvement as a professional musician and songwriter; also coordinator in climate change organization and volunteer for a non-profit that supports young disabled performers
  • Goals: “Would like to leverage 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 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. Would this benefit my application?”
  • 24-year-old white male, with dual citizenship in New Zealand and the U.S.

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40+%
Stanford: 20% to 35+%
Wharton: 50%+
Chicago: 50+%
Northwestern: 50+%
MIT: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a real attractive profile with a high GPA, high test scores, plus the combination of turning a passion, music, into a career in industrial acoustics. Adcoms love stuff like that. They love arty guys with real jobs, and that is certainly you. It confirms one of their big wet dreams — that Art and Commerce are somehow braided together. And while that is rarely true in the big bad world, it is certainly true in your case.

Coming from New Zealand is also a plus. It has all the exoticism and good feelings of coming from Australia, with the added virtue of possibly being sober. Your extra curriculars are solid and involve helping people with disabilities, music and green causes, and your goals in clean tech seem connected enough to what you’re currently doing professionally (which is minimizing noise pollution) so that your desire for an MBA is a perfect “pivot” of the type Adcoms like to think their schools provide in the best case situations. You’d be a strong applicant whether or not you took the one-year internship in a developing country. If you do that, it would help to get connected to some organization/NGO versus going freelance. “Sustainable small business development” is a wonderful-sounding idea, whatever it really means. So sure, that would also be a plus. If that does not come through, well, just apply next year. You can also skip the NGO experience and apply now, your story is complete enough for adcoms as is.