Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

With a Wharton undergrad in her pocket, this 26-year-old woman has been working for the past five years in real estate private equity and mentors underprivileged high school students. She now wants an MBA to move into a deal sourcing role at a private equity or venture capital fund.

He’s a 30-year-old Jordanian who has spent ten years working for a Big 4 accounting firm, half the time in audit and half in mergers and acquisitions. He wants an MBA to help him launch an advisory company to help family businesses.

Adopted by a lesbian couple at the age of 10, she’s the chief of staff for a state legislative committee. This 27-year-old woman wants an MBA to become a consultant, though her long-term goal is to run for major public office.

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?

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

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 assessment:

Ms. Dancing Engineer

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from a top school of engineering
  • Work experience includes two years as a consultant at a McKinsey/Bain/BCG firm on strategy and operations for the health care industry, although also experienced in financial services. Expect a promotion and sponsorship to be determined. Also worked on health care delivery start-up that ultimately failed
  • Extracurricular involvement as board member of a contemporary dance group; also into dancing, yoga, scuba diving
  • Looking at joint MBA/MPH-type programs
  • Asian-American female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20% to 30%
Wharton: 40+%
MIT: 50+%
Columbia: 50+%
Berkeley: 50+%
Northwestern: 50+%
Chicago: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmmmm, this is a M/B/B (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) profile plus dancing and a 740 GMAT and a 3.2 GPA from some top school in chemical engineering, with a bit of traction in health care, both in project work and with a start-up (was that on your own? not likely but a plus if so).

First, the mantra: M/B/B kids get “in” and get “dinged”  from HBS and Stanford depending on execution, support from firm, luck, and some intangibles. Most M/B/B kids have high GPAs and GMATs, but not all, especially GMATs  (M/B/B firms often require high GMATs, ~720, to be hired FROM B school, I’m not sure if they ask about your SATs during interviews at colleges, anyone???).

Not sure what to say about the 3.2 GPA. That is low, and the issue will be whether they will blink because you were majoring in chemical engineering and not puppetry (a favorite major of future Goldman tigers, who must learn to manipulate their “Muppets”).  I think what you got going for you is the thread –your science background, your health care practice work at a Big 3 consulting firm, and your goals.

As noted, B-schools like the idea of a narrative arc, almost as much as Hollywood.   That, plus being a female in science (a small but real plus) and possible firm sponsorship (another plus, but a good sign if it happens because it is a proxy for strong recommendations).  Put all that into a beaker, and either shake it or stir it, and you got something in the top half of the Big 3 martini, which is a position that often leads to an admit.

The only shortcoming in this profile is your lack of do-gooder extracurriculars, which would make for a nice plus, but is not strictly necessary. Your desire for a Masters in Public Health dual degree is neither here nor there, although mentioning it might increase your bona fides. I’m against dual degrees (except MD-MBA) but that is a personal bête noir, others may disagree, my thinking is, you can get most of the value of the MPH by shrewd course selection your 2nd year in B-school, and save yourself about $200,000 in missed income and tuition. I’d be happy to hear from anyone who disagrees.

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  • Consultant

    Here is my profile:

    White Male
    Age 25

    Public Ivy (Cal/UCLA/Michigan/Virginia) 3.8 GPA Economics and Political Science
    Phi Beta Kappa
    Cum Laude

    GMAT: 740

    Board of Directors for college HIV/AIDS charity w/ 500k+ in revenue
    Fraternity, several committee chairs but no executive council
    University Tour Guide.  This was actually a very prestigious job.  Roughly 350 people applied for 20 positions each year.
    In current job: Lead effort to organize company participation in HIV/AIDS walk each year for past 3 years.

    Deloitte Consulting, Strategy and Operations, 3 years
    Promoted once
    Firm paying for B school
    Past experiences: Internship at a very small and very young M&A Investment bank
    Internship at a mid-size tech company Mkt Cap ~$500mil writing content for their website

    Dream School:
    Stanford GSB

    Goal: Transition to a general management position in tech.

    Additional Schools of Interest:

  • Big 4 Consultant

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate it if you could comment on my chances, I have an odd mix:

    Target schools:
    Wharton, INSEAD, LBS, Columbia, Yale

    – 26-year old Caucasian female, originally from the Ukraine
    – GMAT – 730 (97% Verbal, 76% Quant, 96% overall)
    – Undergrad – top 20 undergrad business school, 3.1 GPA (I was pre-med freshman year – didn’t work out) – dual concentration in Finance & MIS

    Work Experience:
    – 8 month internship in the UK at a multinational consumer products co. in their finance department
    – 4 years at a Big 4 accounting firm, in the Finance consulting space; started off in the IT Advisory practice & obtained Certified Information Systems Auditor certification; focused on Consumer Products and Media & Entertainment industries.  I’ve led several international projects, across as many as 17 countries at a time.  I’ve spent a total of ~4 months working abroad in the UK/Poland/Canada/Mexico

    – Part of firm’s women’s network
    – Actively involved with Cosmetic Executive Women for 2 years
    – Active in NYC tech/start-up scene as part of firm’s small business initiative. Frequently attend events hosted by Social Media Week, TechStars, etc.
    – Ad-hoc volunteering with New York cares (2-3 times/year)
    – Violinist for 17 years – have played in numerous orchestras, & performed at Lincoln Center twice
    – Avid traveler – out of the country at least 2-3 months/year 
    – Amateur photographer

    Main concern: Low undergrad GPA, low quant score on GMAT

  • GrouchoMarx

    Please help. I have a very interesting profile: 

    Black Male/Underprivileged upbringing
    GRE: 1570 (800 Quantitative)
    Undergrad: Dartmouth
    Work Experience. JP Morgan and various PE shops
    GPA: 2.7 (!…but i have good reasons/mitigating factors)

    What are my chances at Wharton, HBS, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Tuck, Sloan, Yale, and Duke?

  • Gamer guy

    Hi Sandy/John,

    Would be great to get an eval of my stats. Targeting applying for class of 2015.  Focusing in on Stanford, Kellogg, and UCLA, but also interested in chances at HBS and Wharton. 

    – 760 GMAT
    – 3.6 GPA
    – Degree from Northwestern in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences
    – Work experience includes two years in boutique strategy consulting (e.g., Marakon) along with two years (at application) at a major entertainment company (e.g., Disney, WB) doing product strategy for video games and other emerging technology- Earned peer-nominated coaching award at consulting firm for excellence in leading more junior analysts
    – Serve as part of inaugural junior board for non-profit serving children in Africa and Latin America; led fundraising $10K as part of a social media initiative with partner organization- Undergrad extracurricular involvement on executive board of NU orientation program and community development organization (PR role)- Goal: To build my management “toolkit” to eventually build my own tech startup or rise to a chief strategy officer at a Fortune 500 company – 26 year old (gay) white male

  • Marketer in Tech

    * Age: 24
    And b/c above formatting bothers me: 
    Current schools considered: Booth, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Haas (any other suggestions would be appreciated!) Major question: Should I wait an additional year to beef up my work experience? Or apply now?

    710 GMAT (Q85%, V83%)
    3.47 GPA
    Undergraduate degrees in Economics and Asian Studies from a top-tier University of California school
    Work experience consists of two years at a blue-chip tech company (not Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft) in marketing operations and B2B marketing. Managed organization’s budget to hit targets for a $40M yearly budget. Currently the only B2B marketing-focused person managing over 50 product lines and solutions in one technology category (B2B generates ~80% of technology’s revenue). Fastest amongst peers to receive promotion; on track to receive 2 promotions in 3 years.
    Extracurriculars – led student account planning team and presented advertising campaigns, winning 1st and 3rd in major competitions. Guest lecturer 1-2x a year at a local, private university on real-world marketing topics. Avid Yelp Elite reviewer; 5K and half-marathon runner; I plan lots of social group events and cook a lot of food. 
    Goal is to understand different parts of the business to become a more effective marketer, focused on strategy and eventually ending up in a management role. Love the tech industry; want to stay there. 
    Other notes: Southeast Asian-American, 24yo female; first in family to receive a Bachelor’s degree. 

  • Marketer in Tech

    Hi Sandy and John! I’ve read through quite a few of these, and haven’t quite seen the mix I’ve got, so your insight would be greatly appreciated. 

    Current schools considered: Booth, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Haas (any other suggestions would be appreciated!) 
    Major question: Should I wait an additional year to beef up my work experience? Or apply now? – 710 GMAT (Q85%, V83%)- 3.47 GPA – Undergraduate degrees in Economics and Asian Studies from a top-tier University of California school – Work experience consists of two years at a blue-chip tech company (not Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft) in marketing operations and B2B marketing. Managed organization’s budget to hit targets for a $40M yearly budget. Currently the only B2B marketing-focused person managing over 50 product lines and solutions in one technology category (B2B generates ~80% of technology’s revenue). Fastest amongst peers to receive promotion; on track to receive 2 promotions in 3 years. – Extracurriculars – led student account planning team and presented advertising campaigns, winning 1st and 3rd in major competitions. Guest lecturer 1-2x a year at a local, private university on real-world marketing topics. Avid Yelp Elite reviewer; 5K and half-marathon runner; I plan lots of social group events and cook a lot of food. – Goal is to understand different parts of the business to become a more effective marketer, focused on strategy and eventually ending up in a management role. Love the tech industry; want to stay there. – Other notes: Southeast Asian-American female; first in family to receive a Bachelor’s degree. 

  • BPO Girl


    I am really confused about my apps and the colleges which would look seriously through my application. Please help!

    Demo: Indian Female, first to go to grad school

    1. Undergrad (Economics & Management) from Singapore Institute of Management affiliated with University of London
    2. 3rd in my class (of over 300) and got awarded the bronze accenture award
    3. Have been working in a BPO which is a part of a $12 billion steel enterprise for the past 2.5 years. I am now a Senior Manager Operations & Business Development taking care of a team of over 100 people.
    4. Have done internships with PWC and a consulting firm called IMA.
    5. Worked in the social segment for with a trust called Pardada Pardadi focusing on female education in a small village in India.
    6. Classical singing, dancing, member of my college’s Student council responsible for organising social meets for the students.
    Haven’t given my GMAT yet, but hoping for a 700.
    Colleges: HBS, Booth, Kellogg, Stanford, Columbia

  • Onion engineer

    Hi Sandy, 

    Here’s hoping you could evaluate my profile. 

    700 GMAT

    25 year old Asian male

    Lives in the Philippines

    Bachelor of Science in Management Engineering (honors course) (60% survival rate and top 15% in entrance exam to get in) from the leading school in the Philippines. 

    3.16 GPA, top 20% of graduating batch. 

    Passed CFA level 1 

    Six sigma practitioner

    Work experience includes: 

    internship at the top real estate firm in the country (owner is a notable harvard alumnus) where our team developed a model to optimize consumer feedback. 

    worked on the top donut company in the country and reduced rejects using six sigma methodology which brought the company savings of $500,000 per day.

    4 years working as Second in command at the family business which is in the top 5 in onion distribution in the country.
    – work includes: Managing construction of warehouse facilities, training mechanical engineers and electricians and optimization of onion quality using best practices from leading onion exporting countries like China and India. 

    Goal : To effectively bring the severely underdeveloped local onion industry into the global picture and include the farmers in the growth of the industry.

  • Mr. MBB- Social Entrepreneur


    Hi Sandy and John,

    Thanks a lot for your help. Your posts are extremely valuable and useful.

    I will appreciate if you could review my profile and chances of
    admission at:





    London Business School

    My profile:

    – Western European Male, 27 years old

    – GMAT: 710

    – Education: First Class Honours from a respected Irish University (not
    my home country)- I achieved the highest grade possible. I am not sure of what
    my GPA is.

    – Work experience: Currently a consultant at MBB, previously a
    financial consultant in a Big4 Accounting firm and an analyst/officer at a
    public multilateral development bank (not World Bank)

    – Extracurriculars: Founder of a small microfinance firm and an NGO in

    – Lived and/or worked in 5 countries

  • Aramdigennaro

    And, unfortunately, I’m a Caucasian male, 34 years old.

  • Aramdigennaro

    Hi Sandy
    Feel like I don’t fit the standard MBA profiles but I’m hoping there is a place out there for me.  I’d love to get your read on my chances.

    GPA 3.9+ at smallish State Uni
    GPA 3.9+ in M.Div 
    GMAT–not yet, but high hopes: GRE was 1500

    All kinds of extracurriculars: leadership, volunteer, international.
    Fluent in 3 languages, flirt in others
    Work exp: 2 years running own remodeling business, 4 years managing a hotel in Africa for a Christian organization in Africa, recently promoted to Regional Director
    Ambitious to move into exec role in a non-profit or social enterprise, need skills and connections from MBA.


  • Engineer in Pharma

    Hi Sandy,
    I would really appreciate it if you considered evaluating my profile. Here goes:
    26 Indian Male 
    (Chemical Engg.) Bachelors in India from Punjab Engg. College: 7.5 out of 10 (Top 15% of my class)
    (Chemical Engg.) Masters from Illinois Tech, Chicago: 3.77 GPA, 4.0 GPA for 1st yr. (Dean’s Fellowship, Selected for Students’ Who’s Who) I was positive cash flow >$15K before finishing my master’s and worked 2 jobs one of which was in graduate admissions office.
    GMAT 700
    In India I did internships in TATA Iron and Steel (Biggest Indian Steel Company) as Chemical Engineer, Indian Oil Corporation: Biggest Indian Oil Refining Comany (as Chemical Engineer) in Public Sector.

    In US: 
    First Internship at Startup: Applied Chemistry Startup and had did a whole lot of engineering design work/process flow.
    Second Internship at Bayer: Chemical Manufacturing Engineer.: Helped Point out over 10 million dollar per year discrepancy in their SAP and real-time process systems.

    Worked at Pfizer as Quality Assurance Consultant: 2yrs: Worked on around 40 project: wealth of experience around quality in merger of assets (Pfizer Wyeth Merger) as well as decommissioning efforts. Instrumental in developing software development life cycle.(Altogether over $100 million)

    Currently work at another Pharma company (Small company with only 2 drugs out but both blockbuster drugs) as a Validation Consultant: 1yr, Lead Testing and Validation position with multiple projects going on. (Software Quality)

    I have developed a real interest in startups, Venture Capital as well as Mergers and Acquisitions particularly in Chemical and Pharma sector. I have a nag to increase quality and cut costs. In the near future I want to work in M&A and later start my own company/consulting firm.

    Extra-curricular Activities:
    1. Math Olympiad, Geography Olympiad: Merit Holder
    2. Junior Science Scholar
    3. Acting in School, Horse riding: Professional level for a brief period.
    4. Community Teaching for underprivileged before getting in college.
    5. Bachelors: Event coordinator of an quiz event in College fest- Cyanide, dabbled with debating, coordinator for a wall magazine as well as frequent contributor.

    This is pretty much all.  I probably might not get H/S/W but I still want to know what my chances are in all the three and also in MIT, Dartmouth, Haas, Booth, Michigan, Kellogg.
    FYI-I know many MIT and Harvard grads in my Company but not sure if any admitted in business school though.

  • Mr. Wildcard?

    Love your stuff. Accurate no bull with a touch of humor. Trying my luck to be picked 🙂

    Maybe I’m wrong but I think I would be in the “wildcard” category. 

    – 750 GMAT
    – 2.77 GPA undergrad (Yup…) at Big 10 school electrical eng. 
    – 3.65 GPA grad same school Engineering Management
    – Work Exp – 3 years at matric. Digital Media and IT consulting at big 4 (not deloitte if that matters)

    1) Former musician – lead singer of ‘alternative’ band and pianist, hence the low first 2 year grades.
    2) Cofounder of now defunct apparel company (website still up). Art based on music lyrics and artists.
    3) Founder of Social Media Site – also based on music, currently under development and going live soon, managing a team of 5 other engineers. 

    1) 27 upon matriculation Asian American male

    1) leader in various organizations during university – Chinese/Taiwanese groups, Non profit food donation group 
    2) Habitat for Humanity
    3) racquetball/tennis club, long walks at the beach club

    Explanation: I realize my biggest limiting factor is my very very low undergrad gpa and mediocre work exp. Besides for me just not working as much as I should have, other things that caused this were my aspiration at the time to become a full time musician (so grades wouldn’t matter right..haha..?), mother’s suicidal problems, exgirlfriend etcetc. Again, I don’t want to use these as an excuse as I know many others have had greater problems and overcome them; and I simply did not. My grades do trend up though. 

    Future and Goals: More broadly I want to move into strategy consulting with a focus on digital media (as that is what my startup involves). More specifically if there was a strat. consulting space that involves social media data aggregation and on the very slight possibility music that would be ideal. But again, that is very specific. Long term I want to form a digital media/social media company which can data-mine and market digitally through web/pads for other companies. 

    Schools: Stanford, MIT, Yale, Haas, INSEAD, NYU, Cornell

    I realize all my schools are probably a reach because of my poor undergrad gpa. Hoping my personality and drive can shine through my essays. Would appreciate your thoughts as even I am confused at my profile. thanks!

  • Ms. 1st Gen Non Traditional

    Oh and to clarify, I am still working as a health policy analyst

  • Ms. 1st Gen Non Traditional

    Unsure of the ideal place to post this so posting again:


    Your help would really mean the world to me!

    Profile:Age: 24Ethnicity: Vietnamese-AmericanGender: FemaleCollege: StanfordMajor: Management Science & EngineeringGPA: 3.1GMAT: 760 (first attempt)Additional
    Background: From low-income non-English speaking family. Was first
    person in my family to graduate from high school and college. Tuition
    was covered through financial aid, but financed personal expenses
    through work and outside scholarships.

    Undergraduate internships:-Merrill Lynch Wealth Management -Morgan Stanley Trading-Morgan Stanley Investment Banking

    Undergraduate activities:-Student government-Officer in female business organization-Founded
    non-profit science camp for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds
    (funding lasted two summers…ran it the first summer, hired someone the
    second summer)-Advised disadvantaged youth on science projects, raised some $ to buy materials for them

    Senior year came along and I got an offer to go back to MS in
    trading! Too bad everyone else (including the parents) was more excited
    about it than I was. I hated Wall Street…just felt like I didn’t fit
    it coming from my background. Took a public health class senior year and
    LOVED it. Decided that’s what I wanted to do.

    Post graduation:-1 year in basic science research (stanford)-1 year in clinical research (UCSF), managed multi-site clinical trials, oversaw 1 research assistant-1/2 year health policy analyst, managed 2 administrative assistants-For
    the past two years, have been volunteering a Board member of a
    community clinic ($3M budget) trying to help turnaround dire financial
    situation, almost out of debt! At least 10 years younger than next
    youngest person on the Board.-Has continued volunteering to tutor disadvantaged youth in science-Have been active in advocating for more homeless housing in SF, having been cited on news source once

    After volunteering on the Board of the clinic, my dream is to pursue
    healthcare management (and perhaps become a hospital CFO in the future), no longer public health. My absolute dream would
    be to go to Yale…do I stand a chance? Evaluating my chances at other schools would be great too! Stanford, Berkeley, Wharton, etc.

  • Rodrigo Sánchez

    I have applied last year to IE Business School (English MBA in Spain) and got accepted but due to economical/work related reasons I did not go

  • Rodrigo Sánchez

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Great series! Thank you very much for these articles.

    I leave my profile in hope that you can get a look at it!

    – Nationality: Uruguayan
    – 27 years old male
    – 730 GMAT (95% Verbal, 82% Quant, 96% total)
    – Undergrad: Electrical/Telecommunication Engineer with a GPA of 3.0 from a Uruguayan University
    and an Audiovisual realisation technician (1.5 yrs of study) with a GPA of 3.24
    – French Baccalaureat with Majors in Maths and Physics (High school diploma)
    – Fluent in English, Spanish and French. Basic level of Portuguese
    – Work experience: Working in a multinational telecom company (Telefonica) for 2.5 years working in the Procurement Department in charge of all the telecommunications/IT products and services. I managed principal purchases and created several management tools for the department to enhance its image inside the company. From last year, I work as a Value Added Services Project Engineer also in Telefónica.Director from 2009 of a startup focused on provide optimizations for agriculture with the use of wireless sensor systems. This startup has won several entrepreneurial prizes and a funding capital from the National Innovation Agency (Uruguay).One-month-Internship in 2008 in Plan Ceibal (One Laptop per Child Program in Uruguay).- Extracurricular activities: part of a NGO focused on eradicate child labour in latinamerican countries. volunteer work in public schools. Rugby player for several years and part of a rock band (drum studies for 5 years). Realisation of several short films.- Goals: To focus in entrepreneurship and new technologies in order to continue my business projects and collaborate in the entrepreneurial sector in Uruguay, a country that in recent years has started to explode its great potential to create and innovate

    – Schools:




  • Guest

    Thanks for doing this feature. It’s very helpful for making future decisions about where to apply.

    Here is my profile if you are interested:

    Mr. Professor

    GRE: 166 (97%), 160 (84%)3.5 GPA undegrad; 4.0 GPA gradB.A. in economics from top 50 liberal arts school, M.A. in Communication from U DelawareWork experience: 1.5 years community journalist for top 10 news website; 1.5 years PR/Marketing for regional university in the Mid-Atlantic area; 2 years as sole course instructor/professor of public speaking at U Delaware
    Extracurricular – undegrad editor of campus newspaper, top ranked college debater, freelance magazine work, published research in academic journalGoal: To develop quantitative skills to pair with communication background to pursue a marketing/strategy position in the media industry


  • Reod


    I would like to hear Sandy’s opinion about my chances of being admit to each of below programs:

    28 years old, white male from Eastern Europe
    GMAT: 770
    Education: double degree – MSc in Financial Management from home country and MEng in General Engineering from Western Europe (both institutions are considered very good ones in their respective countries but not the best ones)
    GPA: 3.7 for MSc and 3.3 for MEng

    Work experience (total of 3.5 years)
    1.5+ years in supply chain management (consumer goods production) in Bangladesh and China
    1.5+ years as configuration management consultant in aviation industry in Western Europe

    Extracurricular: sports (rugby and badminton) at amateur/semi-pro level

    Goal: get to higher-level consulting (MBB) 


  • Pawan

    Thought this additional infirmation would help.

    Worked for 3 months in africa- was life changing experience.
    Member of child welfare society since 2005.
    Working since high school to support family and my education.
    First person in family even in whole village to attend college.


  • Surya

    GMAT 730
    GPA 3.7
    AGE 33
    Qualification: UG in Commerce, Chartered Accountant.
    9 years of experience in Internal Audit and consultancy.
    Future plan: finance and operational consultancy.
    Target Schools: Harvard, Wharton, Tuck, Kellogg, stanford and columbia.
    Nationality : Indian


  • 26yo Financier

    Not sure if this would factor at all in MBA decisions, but I have ample international exposure having lived in 6 countries and traveled to over 20 more.

  • 26yo Financier

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Thank you so much for doing this series! I was hoping you can comment on my profile:

    – 740 GMAT
    – 3.7 GPA
    – Finance degree from UCLA/Texas/Michigan, won first in 4 school-wide business competitions
    – Work experience includes two years in investment banking at a top boutique (Lazard/Evercore) in a regional location, and two years in a top private equity (Blackstone/KKR/Apollo) also in a regional location
    – Serve on boards of 2 companies from start-up (during undergrad years) to mature stages (currently) providing strategy and finance advice that helped grow both companies to ~ $10M annual revenue
    – Post-grad extracurricular involvement as prominent community organizer in Asian American community and involved leader in nation-wide non-profit
    – Undergrad extracurricular involvement as president of academic conference, officer of business organization, captain of intramurals Ultimate (frisbee) team
    – Goal: To gain experience in general management that will supplement my finance skillset in private equity career, as well as to provide advice on boards of companies, non-profits, and regional Asian American association
    – 26 year old Asian American male

    Aiming for Wharton, and also very open to all of your suggestions.

    Thank you so much, and best wishes.

  • y_champ

    Appreciate the detailed assessment.  I do not have an undergrad degree from a top school( in the US), however a Chartered accountant (from the Institute of Chartered accountants of India ( ACA)) is a professional degree. The degree is akin to the CPA in the US. Moreover the pass percentages for the course have been quite low historically and the whole of India knows that being a CA is prestigious.
    ( CA’s sign off on the financial statements of a company and are vested with rights/ responsibilities under the local laws in India and all the Big 4 accounting firms hire CA’s in droves) 
    Therefore would the adcoms be totally oblivious to the qualification and consider my profile to be wanting in pedigree? I intend to retake the gmat to push my score higher. Thanks.

  • Tom

    Hi John and Sandy,
    I was hoping to be a part of your next session of “HandicappingB-School Odds.” Please see my statistics below:GPA: 3.8 GMAT: 740Work Experience: Sell-Side Research Analyst and Top-Tier Middle Market Investment BankExtracurricular Activities: 2 years as LDS volunteer mission in Chile,5 years as middle school boys basketball coach, 1 year in studentgovernment of BYU undergraduate business school, Founded a new BYUorganization to help rising sophomores prepare early for businessschoolPost-MBA Goal: To couple my quantitative / analytical skills gainedthrough work as a research analyst with a broader understanding ofmanagement in order to pursue International work as a social entrepreneur and enable Latin American business leaders to become great employers in their communities.
    Schools of interest:HarvardStanfordWhartonKellogBooth

  • Hbsguru

    I dont think schools have a pref. among  MBB, e.g. HBS favors McK versus MIT favoring Bain versus Stanford favoring BCG,  altho that is just my experienced feel for the issue, I dont have data.  Basically, all those firms select out of college  on the same criteria, test scores (SAT’s), gpa, school pedigree, extras, and personality that B school accoms use, so it is no mystery that lots of MBB applicants are successful at top schools, 3 or 4 years later. As to how mch of a diff it makes fr. MBB vs. Deloitte, LEK, Accenture, well, top schools take kids from those firms too, but fewer, my guess, in terms of percents, and you really need a special story, e.g. you want to non-target MBB college, and hustled yourself into Accenture, and then did very well at Accenture and also had solid gpa and gmat blah, blah. Or you worked or LEK and then got job w. hedge fund, etc.  It is not the brand per se that is the issue, it is that kids at MBB firms often have Ivy/Near Ivy pedigrees, high gpa and gmat, and solid work experience, and often solid extras.  Many applicants fr. Deloitte etc. are some unit below that on all metrics, or most, and that is what makes the diff at H/S/W etc.

  • O&G

    Hi Sandy,
    Please evaluate.
    – 760 GMAT- Undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from a top Indian school of engineering (Indian Institute of Technology)- 7.1/10 GPA- WE : 3 yrs (at the time of applying) at country’s largest Natural Gas transmission and processing company with a revenue of 7.37 billion USD. Worked as Factory manager at Gas Processing plant for 1.5 years and then shifted to Gas Transmission & Distribution profile (Incharge(Part of the team),Gas T&D, North India – Gas sale worth 120 million USD per month). Zero cross country experience.- Advisor, Start up – Education Consulting, have given keynote lectures for its seminars.- Co-founder (? – not actually) , Start-up that is still in its initial phase, to be launched soon.- Associated with Sociial service institutions since childhood, not much after I moved for undergrad. Got along with another NGO working for under-privileged kids since last 8 months.-  Have held various posts in college for cultural and technical fests (value ? ) Sports : Cricket – not beyond University level.-Age : 25, M, Indian
    Goals : Oil & Gas Consulting/ General Management.
    B-schools : Kellogg, Tuck, Haas, Yale, Duke.

  • Madmen87


    After reading about many of the applicants you evaluate that come from MBB, I am just curious to know your opinion on whether:
    1) B-schools across the board look more favorably on particular firms over others (e.g. favor BCG > McKinsey = Bain)? 
    2) And/or do some schools have – or are known for having – preferences between the three (e.g. Stanford and Sloan tend to like McKinsey applicants, Harvard and Kellogg Bain, etc.) 
    3) How much of a difference does it make for someone coming from MBB vs. Deloitte, LEK, Accenture, if all else is equal? Do adcoms just get drawn to the prestige of certain firms over others, or is there a rational reason behind this?


  • Hbsguru

    Yes, and there is a consensus view that 720 is a benchmark of some kind, altho there are exceptions. MBB admissions mirrors B school admissions itself, so lots of factors in play, but GMAT is an easy marker.  SO answer is, yes, they ask, but what it means is not a bright line, altho my guess is, if you overlaid GMAT scores of entering post MBA class at McKinsey vs entering class at HBS, the Mck scores would trend higher by a lot, not at the top but at fewer scores below 680.

  • IIT Senior Undergrad

    Hi Sandy,

    Would be great if you could comment on my profile. Though I come from the Indian/Male/Engineer cohort, I believe my experiences would make me somewhat unique.

    Target: HBS 2+2

    IIT Senior Undergrad, Elec. Engg, GPA: 8.8/10, GMAT: 760, Male, Indian Citizen, 21

    1. Summer Analyst at Deutsche/Morgan/CreditSuisse in S&T at it’s India office (got a full-time offer)
    2. Research intern in mathematical finance at India’s top B-school
    3. At a top 4yr old consumer robotics start-up (revenues > $250k)
    4. Web team lead at an educational start-up for four months, which eventually failed.

    1. Personally guided 100+ students from my underrepresented state (at IIT) to prepare for the entrance exam through an online forum I set up.2. Founded (and convened) a tech-club in sophomore year, grew it to 600 people in a single year. The club followed from a long-time hobby.3. Junior year – head of five technical hobby clubs. Managed 15 ppl, organized 70+ events, and some major initiatives.4. Founded an innovation fund to support student-driven technical projects, leading to a 20-fold increase in participation. Evaluated pitches, connected students to industry mentors.5. Institute’s Organizational Award for the above.6. Institute Mentor to ten freshmen undergrads, helping the transition to university life and dealing with psychological problems.7. Part of Institute’s social service team for an year, visited villages to promote technical aids.Why MBA?Venture capital with a twist – turn academic research labs into innovation factories. Help bring out high potential technologies into the market. (b.c. I understand challenges in the technology development process in developing countries like India etc) .

    1. Presented my math. finance research at an international statistics conference
    2. Senior thesis work is under submission to an international journal
    3. Rank in top 200/300,000 in IIT’s entrance exam
    4. Karate Orange belt, Web development freelancer, amateur astronomer 

    Major Concern:
    1. Will by IB stint be a negative factor? Do I need to say that, if I get in, I’ll join a start-up or something? (Since otherwise I would probably apply to HBS 2 years later anyway).

  • ag

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks so much for continuing this very helpful series, I was wondering if you could comment on my chances.  I am interested in HBS, Wharton, Stanford, Kellog, Booth, CBS and Tuck for now, but I may expand my list.  I plan on applying this fall, or after working another year to boost my extracuriculars (if that would be advisable) and overall profile.

    My Stats: 
    25 year old white male
    GMAT: 750 (Q:85% V:97%)
    GPA: 3.95 from a top 15 US News university, major in economics
    Work Experience: 3 years in management consulting at a firm slightly outside the top tier (i.e. Deloitte Strategy & Operations, Oliver Wyman, L.E.K)
    Extracuriculars: President of consulting club, and treasurer of fraternity as an undergrad, currently active in recruiting with my firm and volunteer with a local charity that helps lower income families with tax preparation and legal issues
    Goal after MBA: to return to my firm, or pursue a position with McKinsey/Bain/BCG

  • AT

    Sandy ,
    I’d be really grateful if you could give me some insight into my chances of admission at the following schools.

    Cornell ( 1 year accelerated MBA program)

    Here my stats:
    28 y.o Indian male.
    Transferred to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign after 1 year of college in India to pursue undergrad in electrical and computer engineering.
    Undergrad GPA:bit low ~ 3.1.
    (reasons for low gpa included extremely challenging program – rated to be the toughest major in the united states at undergrad level, lack of guidance in terms of course choice and selection from advisors, and also being immature and not focusing completely on school as a 20 year old “good looking exotic kid”)

    Post undergrad – 
    Joined a start up company( started by an accomplished professor from the University in Champaign area itself) focusing on micro and nanotech based optical communication devices. Work was very high end ( spent over 40 hours a week in “intel standard” fabrication labs and catered to very niche consumers such as US army and Acumen solution) . Worked there for about 9 months.

    Switched jobs and joined yet another start up company on wall street in New York city. The company designed and developed wireless communication and safety products for mass transit systems. Their biggest customer was the New York City subway.(others being the Paris and upcoming Rio de Janiero subway for the olympics and soccer world cup later this decade) I helped create a safety kiosk product which is being added to every subway station in New York today.(its a great feeling to walk around subway station all over New York and see something that you liter
    ally created with your hands and that saves lives today)
    Worked there for 6 months but unfortunately the H1B visas for the year ran out and I would have had to wait almost 10 months outside the US before coming back to work in the following fiscal year. The company did not have any offices outside the United States.

    Wanted to switch to more hands off computational based work and went to graduate school and got a masters in Operations Research and Industrial engineering at the University of Texas Austin.
    Grad GPA – 3.5. 
    Fully Funded it myself by working as a research/ teaching assistant. My research work was optimizing silicon wafer production in fabrication labs.
    Published a masters report and interned with a company during a semester.
    Post graduate school have been working in  i2 technologies – Dallas based consulting company as a operations research analyst for ~ 2 years.
    I’m looking to move onto a global platform now and either work in management consulting,finance or explore entrepreneurial options,(maybe join a start up company focusing in technology) as well as get a break from work routine. 

    GMAT- 730
    Social Work –
    Helped organize 2 blood donation camps in Austin area under the supervision of the fire chief of Austin(who is a personal friend – met her during an art and film festival. She’s a local celebrity and the meeting is a great story)
    Volunteered for tree burning.
    Extra Curricular interests – Golf, nutrition and fitness.

  • kingfalcon

    Do they ask about them for post-MBA positions, too?

  • Tentaculur

    (M/B/B firms often require high GMATs, ~720, to be hired FROM B school,
    I’m not sure if they ask about your SATs during interviews at colleges,

    They do ask for and take pretty seriously SATs for undergrad apps.