Calculating Your Odds of Admission

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

This 25-year-old has the perfect background for an elite MBA: An undergraduate degree from an Ivy League university and a prestige job with Google. He also co-founded a non-profit that teaches software coding to under-represented high school students in New York. But his first try on the GMAT led to a 620 score.

He works as a project manager for a leading health care IT company. With a 760 GMAT and a 3.76 grade point average from a top ten liberal arts college, this 23-year-old wants an MBA to move into strategy consulting.

He’s a 25-year-old consultant at a second-tier firm who has helped lower income families with tax prep and legal issues. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.95 GPA, he hopes an MBA will allow him to land a job with McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

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. Would-Be Social Entrepreneur

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from Brigham Young University
  • Work Experience as a sell-side research analyst at a top-tier middle market investment bank
  • Extracurricular involvement includes two years on an LDS volunteer mission in Chile, five years as a middle school boys’ basketball coach, and one year in student government; also founded a new BYU organization to help sophomores prepare for business school
  • Goal: “To couple my quantitative and analytical skills gained through work as a research analyst with a broader understanding of management in order to pursue international work as a social entrepreneur and enable Latin American business leaders to become great employers in their communities”

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 30% to 45%
Northwestern:  40%
Chicago: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, I like you, but as noted before, 3.8 is considered a “low-ish” GPA at BYU (only partially kidding, but lots of BYU accounting majors apply with 3.9-4.0) and being a sell-side research analyst is not something that puts a fire in the hearts of many adcoms. Neither does your goal to work as a research analyst post-MBA and “somehow” turn that into social entrepreneurship in Latin America.   Your extras, including the LDS mission to Chile and internal BYU activities are OK but not exciting to adcom beyond the usual value they place on LDS missions. Adcoms prefer extras which impact communities beyond yourself, the Chile mission partially does that, but the BYU stuff was all “inside baseball.”

Those are the reasons you will have a real hard time at Harvard and Stanford. There’s nothing really driving you in, and you have a mildly boring story.  Your social enterprise plan for Latin America does not have a enough reality traction from your past activities and sounds tacked on to sound good.

Wharton takes guys like you based on solid stats alone, but you need to clarify your post-MBA goal ideas. Try saying financial consulting, possibly with a focus on Latin America, based on your mission to Chile and leave out social do-gooder ideas for the time being.  Guys like you get into Kellogg and Booth all the time.  I might change my mind on HBS if your firm has a history of placing kids there, and they have decided that this year, YOU ARE THE ONE, or some version of that.

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  • jason

    This guy scored a freaking 780 on his GMAT, Get over yourself

  • Sarah

    Would love to hear about my chances at

  • Sarah

    Sorry about the previous post, would love to get feedback on my profile and hear my chances specifically at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Booth. Would also be interested in hearing what my chances might be for a dual MBA/MPP program

    GPA: 3.76 in biology with a minor in health policy from a top 5 college

    GMAT: 770

    Work experience: 3 years at second-tier consulting firm (in the same category as OW, Deloitte, LEK, Parthenon, Accenture) with experience almost exclusively in health care sector (will have 1 more year before matriculation)

    Recommendations: Very strong

    Extracurriculars: During the last 2 years served on young professionals board of a large healthcare non-profit, served on the leadership team of another mid-sized non-profit, and helped begin new office-wide community service initiatives related to health care; during college was president of 2 smaller student groups related to health care and did biology research that led to 2 publications in peer reviewed journals.

    Story: Interested in health care management with a strong interest in payment reform and improving delivery systems

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