Getting Into Your Dream School

To gain top-secret security clearance, this 26-year-old went through an eight-month background check with a polygraph interview. He passed muster and works directly with agents on behalf of the U.S. Now wants an MBA to start a consulting business focused on intelligence.

They are a married Brazilian couple who want to come to a top MBA program in the U.S. He’s 27 and works in planning for Anheuser-Busch. She’s 29 and a quality specialist for one of the world’s top ten steel companies.

At 25 years of age, he’s a manager in the finance department of a software company. He’s also a Boy Scout Master with a 770 GMAT who wants to use an MBA to transition into investment banking or consulting.

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. Secret Agent Man

  • 700 GMAT (expected)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a public ivy
  • Work experience includes four years for the Department of Justice/FBI/CIA as an analyst working directly with agents; promoted after 18 months
  • “I have quite a few ‘interesting’ stories to talk about in the essays. To be hired, I went through an eight-month background check with a polygraph interview to receive a top secret security clearance.”
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of the first sports and entertainment club on campus; paid half of my college expenses through an import business launched with friends
  • Goal: “To start a consulting business specialized in the intelligence community where my pre-MBA expertise lies (something international). Backup: rejoin the government agency in a field position”
  • 26-year-old male with dual citizenship in the U.S. and a South American country (my mother is South American)

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10% to 15%
Stanford: 10%
Columbia: 30% to 45%
Wharton: 30%
INSEAD:  35%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmmmm, adcom officers, in their official capacity, are not interested in cloak-and-dagger stories, polygraphs, body cavity searches as part of your prolonged security clearance, or the spy business in general, however spun, nor is the “intelligence community” a good way to project your goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to hear your stories and so would everyone else, but that is not at issue here. You need to make what you do more analytical and strategic than exciting.  A 3.7 from a public Ivy, a Latin American mom (identify as Hispanic, if you can, that could really help, and make it clear how, if you do not have an Hispanic surname), and ~ 700 GMAT, along with “analyst role”  in an selective  government agency could get you far. But don’t sound like a government lifer, which your goals (consulting to ‘intelligence community’ what does that mean?)  and excitement about working for the man, sound like.

You do not need an elite MBA to re-join the agency, so never mention that again.  I’m not seeing this as HBS or Stanford. They prefer their gov’ment types from the military, the White House, and elite congressional staffers. Columbia and Wharton could go for this on stats alone and some PC rewrite of your experience and goals. Assuming you get a 700+ GMAT. INSEAD might think you are a mole of some kind, and might be too unaware to realize that a real mole would come more camouflaged. I am not totally joking, but they may see you as odd, and the CIA is not a good monogram on your blazer in Europe. Nor is the FBI or whatever agency you actually work for.

So my general advice is to dial down the James Bond stuff and make your experiences more about analysis, strategy, and the type of vanilla stuff that consultants do.  To the extent you are interested in re-joining the government, try to position yourself in some consulting, strategy, public policy role, after a gateway career in management consulting. Adcoms like to think of themselves as running the ‘black box’; they are not interested in someone who may have real black box or black ops experience.

  • hbsguru

    get that ~750 GMAT –after that a lot will depend on what adcoms think of your current job at tech start up and how that fits with your goals. What do you do there, etc.
    Had this ‘just’ been, 1 good Aussie school, and good GPA and GMAT, 2. BB to HF (both well known) –you would be standard issue IB/PE-HF guy with Aussie and very good extra curric twists. All that is still true, but diversion to start-up for 2 years is a wild card, you have to make that ‘fit’ as part of narrative, what schools DO NOT WANT is drop-out IB-HF guy who JOINS semi-bogus start up to make easy $$$$ and wear jeans and have fun, and then looks for B school lifeline after start-up stalls, etc. DUNNO YOUR STORY IN DETAIL, but it sure sounds like that, if not you need to show us.

  • Aussie MBA

    Hi Sandy,

    Australian male, single
    GMAT (practice tests) c. 750+
    Undergrad: Top ranked Australian Business School in Finance/Accounting, with exchange to top 5 undergrad US Business program
    GPA: Top 10% of Cohort (presumably 3.6-3.8?)

    Work Experience: 1 Internship at a mid-market investment bank in M&A, 1 Internship at Bulge Bracket Investment Bank, 1 internship at hedge fund.
    6 months full time at Bulge Bracket investment bank followed by 1 year at an Asian-focused hedge fund & then 2 years at a technology start up in Silicon Valley.

    Extracurricular: Black belt in Martial arts, Regular contributor to university magazines interviewing high profile business people within the Asian market, Represented Australia in Athletics at High School, Elite Athlete scholarship to University, established a charity focused on tutoring indigenous Australians with the intention of securing more Indigenous Australians the opportunity to study at Tertiary Institutions.

    Goals: US Venture Capital or return to Hedge Fund work within the US market

  • nassib abdelghani

    one wont serve usa secretly counter-terrorist & counter gangster what will mey to do ?not usa zetisen!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I would appreciate your help on estimating my chances at HBS, Columbia, Wharton, Sloan as well as how to position myself to maximize my chances. I am reapplying to HBS where I was dinged last year after interview (only school I applied to) and am very interested in your advice on how to reposition myself on my next application. Here are my stats:

    – 28 y/o white male with US and European passport who grew up in European country
    – Bachelors degree in Engineering from Ivy League school – 3.5 GPA
    – Masters degree in Engineering from other Ivy League school than above – 3.7 GPA
    – 690 GMAT
    – 1 year experience doing (failed) internet start-up
    – 4 years work experience from top 3 consulting firm (fast promotions)
    – Recently left consulting to work for internet start-up and to train for iron man race
    – Extensive extracurricular activities in college but limited since then (some mentoring and recruiting at consulting firm)
    – Goal: Either venture capital or doing own start-up

    I just quit my job in consulting to pursue my passion for internet entrepreneurship and to pursue my personal goal to complete an iron man rave. Do you think the business schools will look negatively on quiting consulting? Do you have any advice on positioning this in the best way? Any other advice to increase my chances?

    Thanks for a great coloumn!

  • Guest

    I am having some difficulty posting my bio to this thread. Whenever I post it doesn’t show up. Is there a trick I’m missing?

  • Aryan Kenchin

    Further, post 2-4 years in MC or PE, i intend to start my own microfinance institution 

  • Prospectivecorpstrat

    It’s not one of those.  It’s a good corp strat team but not a big feeder to top schools because it’s almost exclusively made up of people post-MBA, which is why it would be kind of unique position – but I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

  • Hbsguru

    HMMM, tuff call without actually knowing the companies, cert. corp develp gigs are super feeder slots to HBS and Wharton and often Stanford. Disney comes to mind, and so does any other big media company (Time Warner, or any major studio). HBS is gaga over media. Disney corp development (preceded by prestige IB gig) is about as much a lock at getting into HBS as there is.  Unless you blow the interview (so hire me for that!)
    Record of kids getting into HBS etc fr. Facebook and Google is also good, so the real issue is what is your current company, how ‘hot’ is it, and how does move make sense or not for your career path.

  • Prospectivecorpstrat

    Not sure what happened with my formatting there… Sorry about that.

  • Prospectivecorpstrat

    Very interesting point, and not one I was aware of. 
    Thanks for sharing – this series on b-school admits and your responses in the
    comment section have been an incredible resource for those considering an
    MBA.  No doubt that if I end up using an admissions consultant, I’m going
    straight to you.

    I had a question for you relating to the idea of corporate strategy
    pre-MBA.  I’m working at a media/tech company now, although not in a corp
    strat/dev role.  I’ll probably apply to b-school in 1-2 years, meaning I’d
    matriculate with 3-4 years FT work experience.

    I’ve performed well, and as a result have the option to move into a corp strat
    role at my company, which is staffed primarily with ex-MBB people.  I’m
    also considering moving into a few top tech companies (Google/FB/etc.),
    although not in corp strat roles but probably more sales/marketing/operations
    related positions.

    My current company is big (F200-ish) and I’ve got senior people that would go
    to bat for me.  Plus, all the MBAs we hire come from top b-schools –
    almost all are from M7, and most from H/W.  However, I’m careful not to
    equate recruiting people from HBS to sending people to HBS, and we are
    definitely not a feeder to top b-schools, although there have been a few go
    since I’ve been here.

    Anyway, my question is – what do you think is the better option:  company
    without the sexy brand name (but still a very solid international corporation)
    in a more attractive role like corp strat, or a hot company that might be a
    bigger feeder like Google/FB but in a less competitive role like marketing? 
    I would have automatically assumed the former because I thought corp strat was
    a feeder to b-school, but your comments above have made me rethink this.

  • Life

    Thanks for the Info. Is always good to hear the truth, even if is not the nicest thing to hear. I must say that it is interesting that most people i know in Corp Dev went to HBS, Stanford, or Wharton but to your point, all did banking before bschool.

  • kingfalcon

    I’m pretty sure he was joking. DeVry and Phoenix’s programs are not very well regarded and are typically brought up derisively.

  • Hbsguru

    Selectivity, as DaBears noted. Adcoms use pre-MBA jobs as filters –they assume that consulting and banking firms are lookig for the same traits they are, plus adcoms have the added advantage of seeing how candidate has performed in a cohort of 15 kids etc, at Bain or Goldman.  After B school, my guess is, that jobs at McK , Bain etc are still harder to get than corp develpment.  Also, you cannot compare to the BS adcomsand others tell you  about what happens after kids leave program, to what their inner and honest, and often unspoken thoughts are about admitting kids.

  • Mr. International

    Sandy and John,

    I really enjoy this series and hoping to get myself evaluated this time.  My profile is:
    – South Asian (not Indian though) male, 30 years at matriculation
    – GMAT – 770
    – Undergrad: Math and Econ (GPA 3.5) from a small liberal arts college in the U.S. ranked between 40 and 50 by U.S. News nationally
    – Master’s degree in Math from a Big 10 school
    – WE 1:  2 years at a large U.S. financial institution focused on credit cards.  One promotion after an year… pretty standard. 
    – WE 2 (current):  3+ years, started and currently running own commodities import/export business back in home country.  Lots of international clients and some intl travel for work.  Business had great initial success followed by stagnation more recently.  
    Extracurricular:  Great in school.  Moderate at best after that.  Currently volunteer as a tutor for slum children with local non-profits.
    Goals:  Transition into management consulting with a major firm with emerging markets practice by leveraging my prior experience of running a business in an emerging market and my MBA education.

    Target Schools:  HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago, Tuck

    I hope you get a chance to evaluate my profile this time.

    Thanks in advance!!!

  • u0422811

    Here are my stats:

    Target date: Fall 2013
    Schools: HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, and Yale SOM

    Caucasian male, 25 (will be 26 at matriculation)
    GMAT: 740 (Q48 V42)
    GPA – 3.63 from University of Utah – Honors Finance

    Current job – Associate at PE/VC Fund in NYC – $500m AUM – top decile returns for our vintage – lots of very brand name investments with good stories to tell on their returns and how I was involved. I have been working at this job for almost four years now. Out of college I was lucky enough to get both offers from investment banks (bulge bracket in NYC) as well as the PE firm I am at now. I was able to start at the associate position right out of the gate.

    I had a ton of work experience in college:
    I spent three years working for the largest student run venture capital fund
    I worked for the University of Utah Endowment
    I interned with UBS special situations group (research on public equity for buyside clients)
    and I worked for a private equity arm of a family office
    Also while in college I helped run the student investment fund
    I also helped produce some data and run some analysis on a best selling book (Breakthrough).

    While working I have also spent some time volunteering – doing consulting for small businesses as well as doing some charity races. In addition I have also run a small fund (of family money) on my on for the past five years that has nicely beat the market. 

    I spent some time growing up in Japan (3.5 years) otherwise I have lived stateside.

    I ultimately would like continue along in the alternative asset management industry maybe making a bit of a switch by focusing a little more on public equity rather than private equity. One day I would like to run my own fund which would have an opportunistic mandate (i.e. I can invest in both public and private, debt and equity). 

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. 

  • researcher

    I’ve read through the different profiles in your series, but I’m still having a lot of difficulty gauging the chances of someone:
    -who is first generation and went to a great school but didn’t get great grades
    -who got offers on Wall Street but didn’t want to work there
    -who is doing more academic research than industry research
    -who wants to get involved in local politics possibly in the near future

    Your assessment would really help. Thanks!

  • researcher


    Your help would really mean the world to me!

    Profile:Age: 24Ethnicity: Vietnamese-American
    Gender: FemaleCollege: Stanford
    Major: Management Science & EngineeringGPA: 3.1
    GMAT: 760 (first attempt)
    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
    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. This is my current job.
    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, no longer public health. My absolute dream would
    be to go to Yale…do I stand a chance?

    Also, it would be great if you could chance me for Stanford, UC Berkeley, Penn, etc.

  • FutureMarketer

    Hi Sandy,

    Apologies if this is coming through more than once. Thanks for your
    ongoing column. Would appreciate your input on where I should be
    targeting given my “low” Econ GPA.

    25 y/o White Male

    3.3 Econ GPA : Northwestern750 GMATWork Experience: 3 promotions to Manager role at Nielsen (large marketresearch firm, does not hold elite status but has started sending somepeople to top schools); a lot of leadership/achievements, experienceconsulting fairly senior clients…EC’s – Executive board of fraternity, chairman of philanthropy org inundergrad, tutor/recruiter for tutoring org, active in company’scollege recruiting; not much leadership overall hereMBA Goal: Marketing/Brand Management: Developed interest/expertise inConsumer Goods and general Marketing working with CPG marketingclientsTarget Schools (not sure what my range should be): Wharton, Kellogg,LBS, Ross, SternBest,Chris

  • Ohhai

    test post please ignore

  • Finmaster7

    -Indian, 27, Male, Single
    -720 GMAT (Expected, Not taken yet)-7.27/10 in Mech. Engineering from a reputed non-IIT university. -10 months in a top two-wheeler company in India. Worked in production. Was the only one from my college who got selected for the job out of at least 60-70 candidates.- Working since mid-2008 as mechanical designer in India’s biggest Defence Research firm. Team Leader since last 1 year. – Got promoted in 3 years under ‘Outstanding’ category, the best there is.- Level 1 candidate in CFA program. Missed it by a whisker (band 10) last time. Should clear it this time.- Extra-Curriculars – Good at College level. Played leading role in setting up my office canteen. Engaged in employee welfare activities. – Confident of managing good essays and pretty strong recos. Have pretty good rapport with both the recommenders.- Future goals – Work in the field of asset management/Equity Research for a few years. Start my own co. down the line.- Please evaluate odds at,

    Chicago Booth

    For me, it’s either one of top 15, or none.



  • ned fizzle

    – White, male American; will be 27 at matriculation.
    – Undergrad: Ivy league (Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia), 3.6 GPA, Linguistics major/English Lit minor. Graduated cum laude, top ~35%. Strong improvement through years (~3.4 –> ~3.75), though few quant classes (A in calc 1). Study abroad at University of Auckland (school sponsored), Athens Greece (independent study w/professor of Linguistics/Greek from Boston Univ).
    – GMAT: 740 (Q76%/V99%).
    – Work Experience: Investment management at established, Boston-based company. Analyst in leveraged loans (high-yield, non-inv-grade loans) group; company is mid-sized shop overall ( research associate –> analyst (current); hope/expect promotion to AVP this October/November. August 2008 – Present.
           –> Last 4 to apply to business schools from my group (over last 6yr period, as we hire infrequently): attended Tuck, Kellogg (2), Sloan. Most recent accepts at Kellogg, Sloan (in 2010).
    – Extras: Big Brother – active participant for 3yrs, and recruitment leader at work (have recruited 7 new members in last 1.5yrs). Sit on company’s internal non-profit committee (<10 members, incl head of HR, chief legal officer, among others. Decide which non-profits to officially sanction each month; then organize promotion and fund-raising effort for the month). Play guitar, trumpet, sing in band (Cambridge, MA). Significant ECs during college, incl: member of elite a capela group (yes, seriously…huge time commitment); weekly op-ed columnist for daily paper (and guest columnist in 2 other publications); paid research assistant (linguistics); tutor (english, linguistics, calculus); club soccer, tennis; brother at fraternity; social chair of senior (secret 'til graduation) society. Long history of musical involvement prior to college, including membership in elite bands (MYWE, MA districts) and head of jazz band in high school.
    – CFA: Level III candidate (June 2012). Levels I and II passed on first attempts.
    – MBA: because, while education in corporate finance, industry research, etc. has been robust and quite interesting, I am ready to leave the ivory tower judgments of finance and desire transition to position with more intimate involvement w/company development and operations. Want to build something, not just judge others' ability to do so. Post-MBA, would be interested in general management positions at fortune 500 types (esp. international development), brand management/marketing positions (esp international development), management consulting (w/intent to later transition to management position at a company). A top business school would provide both hard and soft business education (there are holes in mine, having never studied business in college), excellent networking opportunity, ability to fill holes in business education and transition from finance to general management/marketing; also extremely interested in international business practice/development/marketing. 2yrs at school would allow me to focus 100% on personal development, learn languages (I am excellent but unfortunately know only Latin/Ancient Greek currently…), network, transition to general mgmt/marketing and then use my powers of adaptibility/versatility (zero finance experience before current job, now a top analyst) to accelerate career in a new direction.
    – Targets: Haas, Columbia, NYU, Wharton. Also Kellogg, and am considering NU's JD/MBA program (given significant experience w/law, humanities background, strong verbal scores, college internship w/elite law firm).

    How do I look? I am most worried about personal branding – want to make sure my goals don't seem too flaky. I really am rather flexible, and am sincerely interested in a fairly broad variety of career paths. Personally, I don't think that's a bad thing – not so sure adcoms will agree. Considering hiring an admissions consultant to guide me through the process (given long working hours, issue w/personal branding).

    Sandy, thank you for the service you provide here…a really interesting column. Not sure my profile is 'interesting' or unique enough to warrant consideration, but here's hoping…

  • Gustavo B.

     Based on what ?

  • Mattod8

    -25 yr old White Male
    -700 GMAT
    -3.1 GPA in finance from top 50 liberal arts school, D3 student athlete
    -Work Experience: 4 years at major media & entertainment studio in LA, first 1 1/2 years was in creative roles in rotational program at the studio, then transferred over to corporate finance role in FP&A. Have held creative roles in film development, TV production (during summers in college), reality tv development, consumer products development.
    -Extracurricular: Boy Scouts adult leader, Schools on Wheels tutor.
    -Goals: Media & Entertainment financing at a PE shop with the hopes of eventually opening my own financing and production companies. 

  • Person

    DeVry: 94+%
    U. Phoenix: 60+%

  • Life

    Thanks for the info. I talked to people at HBS and Wharton and of the non banking/Consulting/PE/VC cohort most aim to get into these type of roles and take rotational programs at FT companies to get in those groups so just wondering why a job that is so sought after (after the most traditional one) seems like not a good feeder.

  • DaBears

    I don’t want to speak for John or Sandy (and I would love to hear their take as well), but I’ve heard/read that switching from banking or consulting to corp dev prior to getting an MBA can be viewed negatively because it’s considered a slower track and not as selective (both of which I personally think are not true in many cases).  There’s also the notion that being in corp dev pre-MBA means that you couldn’t get a PE job after your analyst stint (again, absolutely ridiculous).  I’ve known all along that I didn’t want to do PE and that corporate development was what I wanted to do post-MBA, so I figured getting a solid position pre-MBA would be extremely beneficial.

  • Life


    Why is corporate development viewed so negative by adcoms? I am under the impression that Corp Dev and Strategy are some of the most sought after jobs for MBA’s. A lot the MBAs that I talked too on my campus visits had their eyes on similar roles but it seems to be viewed very negatively. Also from my understanding those are the hardest jobs to get in FT100 and most rquired IB or MBB experienced. Any info will be helpful

  • Gustavo B.

     …Corporate Finance role…

  • Gustavo B.

    – Brazilian, 31y , married
    – 700+ GMAT (expected)
    – Undergrad: Computer Science (“GPA”: 7.5/10), Top 5 University in Brazil (in Computer Science field).
      Master`s degree in Macroeconomics: (“GPA”: 8/10); one of the Top 3 University in Brazil, with international experience: Exchange at Kellogg (1 quarter, 25% of credits).
    – Work Expecience: Accenture (3 years), joined as intern, then  IT analyst;  now at Top Brazilian Investment Banking (6y), Corporate role, team leader of 10 analysts, with Intl experience (3 months at US branch) and promoted 3 times in the last 5 years (in 2007, 2008 and 2011 – 2009/10 promotions were freezed due to merge with another bank) and received 1 award for outstading perfomance.
    – Extracurricular: volunteer as a tutor in an educational program for High School students, also some
    participations in collecting donations for charitable institutions
    – Goals: High level position in the current employer, or IB/Investment Mgmt in Brazil, or entrepreneurship. 



  • BYU Navy Guy

    –750 GMAT
    –3.6 GPA in International Relations from Brigham Young University (heavy on upper-level economics)
    –U.S. Naval Officer. 3 years as P-3 Aviator: Mission Commander of 11-person crew on multi-mission aircraft. 3 years as Regional Engagement Officer: working with other nations’ naval forces (primarily Black and Caspian Sea countries) to build regional cooperation and interoperability.
    –Consistently ranked in top 10% of peer group
    –Extracurricular: Initiated tutoring program for enlisted sailors in my squadron taking college classes. 2-year LDS mission to Bulgaria. Soccer coach.
    –Goal: To transition to the private sector, working to establish good business practices in the Black Sea region.
    –Languages: Bulgarian, German, Hebrew
    –31 years old.

  • EP

    Hi Sandy,

    Any feedback you could provide would be much appreciated:

    – GMAT: 680 (retaking – 700+ goal)
    – GPA: 3.6 (undergrad business degree from top 50 undergraduate business
    – Work Experience: 2 years as an analyst at a bulge bracket investment bank in
    New York followed by 1 year as an analyst at a small private equity firm and 3
    years (at matriculation) as an associate at a middle-market private equity firm
    – Extras: multiple leadership positions with the American Diabetes Association –
    raised over $10K in 2011. Various leadership positions in college including
    teaching assistant for two classes (Business Finance and a liberal arts class) and
    co-founder of a student organization. First in family to go to college.
    – Goal: Return to private equity industry and utilize my MBA to accelerate my
    career track.
    – Schools: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck
    – Background: 28-year old (at matriculation) Hispanic (50%) male. Father born
    in Cuba.


  • Yguy

    Not sure what the purpose of your comment is, but I graduated from high school at age 17 (not that unusual) and b-schools consider your full-time work experience at matriculation, which for me will be just shy of 3.5 years.

  • Hbsguru

    715 is explained below, by the aviator, as being composite of 710+720; all that said, by bad a bit.  when I go over these profiles, I am running a lot of programs in my head, including reading the raw profile which is typically not as neat as the one John prepares for publication, and trying to get clear in my own mind the important milestones: age, gender, stats, pedigree and intangibles like extras and goals.  I’m in holistic thinking mode, which is not a 100 percent excuse for not catching this, but an explanation, along with fact that tracking down inconsistencies in a profile is not as high a priority as taking the facts I have been presented and using them as touchstones for helpful notes about the admission  process for all readers.

  • DaBears

    Hi Sandy and John,
    Any feedback you could provide would be much appreciated:
    – GMAT: 750
    – GPA: 3.91 (undergrad business degree from top 15 business school)
    – Work Experience: 1.5 years as an analyst at an elite boutique investment bank followed by 1.5 years (at matriculation) in current position in international corporate development at a brand name US media company (not a typical b-school feeder though)     
    – Extras: Study abroad, economics teaching assistant, intramurals/clubs, and numerous ongoing volunteer positions in college; currently involved in multiple positions with alumni association, math tutoring, teaching English, and volunteering with Special Olympics; advanced Spanish and currently trying to learn conversational Arabic
    – Goal:  Return to corporate development with a Fortune 100 company (preferably with a strong international focus) and utilize my MBA to accelerate my career track 
    – Schools: Harvard, Chicago, Wharton, MIT, Kellogg, NYU, Berkeley, Michigan, UCLA
    – Background: 25-year old (at matriculation) white male
    – I’m assuming the pre-MBA switch from IB to corp dev will raise some eyebrows but the corp dev position is something that seemed like a phenomenal opportunity (based on my personal interests, the international focus, etc.) and something I thought would really benefit me before going back to school (did not have much of a desire to go into PE).  Is this the correct way to angle it or is there a different approach I should take?

  • Mormon guY

    4 yrs college + 2 yrs Mormon mission + 3 yrs FT exp = 9 yrs. you should be attest 27 unless u exaggerated ur work experience or graduated in 2 years from college which is it?

  • Justadrummer

    Sandy & John – Now that we’re near the end of another application cycle, you should do a follow up piece to see how some of your previous candidates fared! It would be interesting to see if anyone “beat” your odds and where they ended up.

  • nozama


    Any insight you could provide would be greatly beneficial to me.

    Will be 25 year old male when entering a potential program.

    GMAT: 710
    GPA: 2.8 (consisting of a Chemical Engineering and a rare Paper Engineering dual degree from a top 75 institution. Have also taken business classes, including accounting and finance, to provide an alternative transcript post-graduation at a local school, GPA 4.0.)
    Work Exp: 3 years at a world-leading equipment manufacturer as an engineer. Organization is extremely flat (4 levels separate entry-level from the CEO) so promotions aren’t given out until reaching the 10-15 year range.
    Extracurriculars: building houses with Habitat, no special position. Investing and flipping small amounts of real estate with friends. In undergrad, team leader in a winning renewable energy competition.
    Goal: To transition into Corporate Strategy or Consulting upon earning an MBA.

    Would like to attend either Darden, Fuqua or Johnson. Interest in Kellogg, but would be a big reach.

  • TA

    Sandy ,I’d appreciate it if you could give me insight into my chances at the following programs( if you think I have a long shot at someplace better please let me know)

    Cornell ( 1 year accelerated MBA program)KellogINSEADTuckRossColumbia(early admission)
    Anderson UCLA

    GMAT- 730

    28 y.o Indian male(Will be 29 when I start in 2013)

    Undergrad: Electrical Engineering : University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign (ranked #2 after
    MIT for electrical engineering and is considered a blue chip school in
    the engineering world)

    GPA: bit low ~ 3.1.(extremely challenging program – rated to be the toughest major in the united states at undergrad level I did however spend 3 semesters in a college in India before transferring and my gpa there would have been a 3.6-3.8 so if the schools are looking to maintain admission stats my overall undergrad GPA is about 3.4)

    W/E  after undergrad –
    1 year at  a start up  company(started by a professor from the University in Champaign area itself) focusing on micro and nanotech based optical communication devices. Work was very high end  and catered to very niche  consumers such as US army . 6 months at another tech-start up company(started by seasoned people from the industry and not a bunch of college kids)  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.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. Decided to go to grad school:

    in Operations Research at the University of Texas Austin( Highly
    challenging quantitative coursework and again considered a blue chip
    university in the engineering world)Grad GPA – 3.6/4.0
    (Took a few
    courses at Mccombs’ – in financial risk management, supply chain ,
    Global Financial Strategies and got A’s in them).Fully funded it
    myself by working as a research/ teaching assistant. My masters report
    was on optimizing silicon wafer production in fabrication labs.

    Interned with Marriot hotel( Revenue pricing and modelling) for a semester while studying.

    W/E after graduate school:

    Presently  working in a mid size Dallas based analytics company as an operations research
    analyst ( Data Analysis, Supply Chain Optimization, Forecasting
    algorithms.) for over 2 years.
    Will be touching 3 years in december.
    I’m looking to move onto a global platform now and work in management consulting /explore entrepreneurial options in emerging markets.


  • Guest

    I’m the person this is supposed to represent—of course I didn’t get a 715 on the GMAT haha but I had been scoring consistently 710s and 720s on practices so this was my best estimate for chances, to clarify

  • pchristian

    Hi Sandy, can I get a feedback for my profile?

    25 year old South East Asian male
    GMAT: 710
    MD from top university in the country
    3.72 GPA (MD is a 6 years course straight from highschool)

    Work experience
    1.5 years internship at a state hospital
    Co-founder and CTO at an award winning and venture backed mobile health technology startup

    Programming since 10
    Classical guitarist and play in a band
    Volunteered at rural primary health care centers
    Organized health events (while volunteering)

    Realize that I have to get to management role to really make a difference in healthcare, while feeling grossly unprepared in my startup. I hope my MBA will allow me to get into health tech industry, preferably in emerging economies.

    Target schools
    Stanford, MIT, Tuck, Harvard, Haas

  • Rogbot

    Hi John/Sandy,

    Would appreciate any feedback you could provide:

    -GMAT: 730

    -Undergraduate GPA: 3.2 (mechanical engineering, top-100

    -Graduate GPA: 4.0 (mechanical engineering, top-20 school)

    -Work Experience: 3 years as a microelectronics manufacturing
    engineer at Lockheed Martin on various missile defense contracts (production
    and development)

    – Extras: Intelligence Analyst in Army Reserve (enlisted,
    not an officer) for 7 years (throughout college and then some). Helped organized
    multiple fundraiser events at work for a wounded veterans charity. Top of class
    and distinguished honor graduate at intel school, design project innovation
    award from grad school.  5 or so other
    innovation/patent/performance type awards from work.

    – Leadership: Volunteered to lead performance management
    team on my first program (about 25 people) after only 3 months on the job.
    Learned a great deal about the finance/supply chain/quality side of the
    business and was able to help the team dramatically improve yields and reduce
    labor hours on the contract and win team of the year award.

    – Goal: I want to solve the problem of big defense contracts
    inevitably going over-budget and over-schedule and work towards some sort of operations
    management position.

    -Background: 27-year old white male

    -Schools I’m interested in: Harvard, MIT, Dartmouth,
    Columbia, Wharton

  • Aryan Kenchin

    Hi Sandy / John,
    Request you let me know your view on my profile:
    Indian, Male, 25
    First generation graduate. Motivated and sponsored the graduation of my elder cousins.
    750 gmat
    No GPA available, but 10th standard – 85%, 12th 76%, graduation 76%. (dint study much as i felt  these grades dint impact getting selected in jobs or my selection in future courses)
    Chartered Accountant (All India 16th Rank out of 23,000 candidates)(Considered one of the toughest exams in he world), Chartered Financial Analyst Level 3 candidate (Flunked Level 3 last time, dint study much, though not a good excuse)
    No extracurriculars in college due to poor financial condition (used to live in slums) and need to take care of my mom who is on complete bed rest. so basically managed all household work, studies plus helped my mom conquer her depression.
    Work experience includes: interned for 3 years (part of the chartered accountancy course) with a Tier 1 Tax and advisory company (Firm has also won many internationally recognised prestigious tax and litigation awards). 2 years exp (3.5 years work ex at the time of matriculation) with pricewaterhousecoopers in its Transfer pricing division (its more of planning the inter-company pricing policy, advisory and litigation). Recently promoted as an Assistant manager in less than 2 years despite the criteria of min 3 years. Have Independently handled important projects with large MNC clients in the absence of the seniors.
    Program coordinator for the PwC India Foundation (the CSR arm of PwC India). Lead the CSR initiatives for the Western India Cluster (Spend 40% of my time in CSR and 60% in consulting).
    Volunteer for an ngo which is into financial education of women in slums, educating them the need for savings, how to account them, how to bank, selling them microinsurance (seems like selling stuff but has a great social impact).
    Carrer goal: to get into management consulting or private equity

    Schools interested in:
    Harvard, stanford, wharton, Insead, London Business School, Chicago Booth.



  • Guest

    LOL at 715 GMAT. Sandy, really? I hope the acknowledgement (or lack thereof) of this was a fluke on your part. 

  • TA

    Also prakash can you share your stats if you don’t mind

  • TA

    @ prakash I would narrow it down to BU or smeal……. Being in a city always always helps…..that apart Smeal is one of the highest ranked s schools according to the wall street journal recruiter satisfaction rankings

  • kingfalcon

    Great work as always, Sandy!

  • Chowbeyprakash

    BTW, Getting a 715 GMAT is impossible!!!! its in 10 increments.

  • Chowbeyprakash

    To John Byrne,
     I have following admits, plz give ur inputs. thanks.
    1.Georgia Tech (Full tuition + 13K stipend total for 2 yrs)
     2. WashU Olin (No Scholarship, but non-cosigner guaranteed loan)
    3. Boston University (95% Tuition waiver)
    4. Penn State Smeal (Full tuition waiver plus 18K stipend for 2 years)
    5. Vanderbilt Owen (95% Tuition waiver)
    6. Carlson MBA (Full tuition waiver).
    1. Pure prestigewise ranking (disregarding the financial aids) withint the

    US (prestige as in average, i.e. Recruiters, General public, academics

    2. Ranking taking into account the financial aids given to me.
    3. Ranking purely by placement chance/percentage for an
    international(especially Indian) student.