Calculating Your Odds Of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on

He plays guitar and the trumpet and sings in a band when he’s not working as an analyst for a Boston-based investment management firm. With a Ivy League degree and a 740 GMAT score, this 27-year-old hopes an MBA will allow him to “build something—not just judge others’ ability to do.”

With the exception of a low grade point average, she is an ideal elite MBA candidate. She has a Stanford degree in management science, works as a health care policy analyst and boasts a 760 score on her first attempt at the GMAT. This 24-year-old Vietnamese-American woman also is the first in her family to graduate from both high school and college.

To get into a top MBA program, he had to overcome an obvious hurdle: his age. This 34-year-old African-American has spent the last eight years with a Fortune 50 corporation and now wants to go to a full-time MBA program to help him achieve the dream of creating an incubator program that supports under-represented minority tech entrepreneurs.

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 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. Healthcare Management

  • 760 GMAT (first attempt)
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Stanford in management science and engineering
  • Work experience includes on year in basic science research at Stanford, a year in clinical research at UC-San Francisco managing multi-site clinical trials, and a half- year as a health policy analyst; internships with Morgan Stanley
  • Extracurricular involvement as an officer in a female business organization; founded a non-profit science camp for disadvantaged girls and advised disadvantaged youth on science projects; have volunteered as a board member of a community clinic and advocating for more homeless housing in San Francisco.
  • “From a low-income non-English speaking family. Was first 
person in my family to graduate from high school and college”
  • Goal: To pursue healthcare management
  • 24-year-old Vietnamese-American female

Odds of Success:

Yale: 60+%
Stanford: 20-30%
Berkeley: 50%
Wharton: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like obviously, including your immigrant Vietnamese background and the fact that you are the first to go to both high school and then Stanford College! And a 760 GMAT, plus your genuinely impressive extracurrics, both in college (founding science camp for poor girls– that one is a winner) and after college, your current work at a Community Health clinic, where you seem to be active in fundraising,.

I am having a hard time figuring out your post-graduate work, viz. “1 year in basic science research (Stanford)-1 year in clinical research (UCSF),” what does that mean, exactly? Were you hired to be a lab assistant by a professor or a post-doc??? You say, “ managed multi-site clinical trials, oversaw 1 research assistant-1/2 year health policy analyst, managed 2 administrative assistants.” Is last job, the half-year as a health policy analyst, the same as managing clinical trials, if not, in what context did that happen? It is also a bit mysterious how someone with what appears to be a non-science background got so much authority so soon. I am not doubting you, just suggesting that you need to make this more clear in your application.

Your 3.1 GPA is low for most schools. Obviously you have a lot of evidence that you are a good performer in an academic setting, and your extras also show a lot of leadership. But that needs to be explained as either taking time to adjust to Stanford from your background or just mismanaging your many commitments.

All that said, and especially with a 760 GMAT as the anchor, there is a ton of accomplishments to like here, and many business schools will wink at the GPA, as either being an adjustment issue or just an outlier. You certainly can get things done when you put your mind to it. Nonetheless, that needs to be explained.

Because there is such a tight fit between your excellent extras (both in college and afterwards), your background story from a disadvantaged community, first-gen college, and your do-gooder goals, I believe schools will bend over backwards to give you the benefit of the doubt on the GPA and non-traditional work history.

Yale has a legacy of going for people like you, e.g. social service types, but in the past several years, with a new building and new dean, it is on a campaign to up their stats (which they have, average GPA is 3.5 and average GMAT is ~720). Yale is in a death-struggle with NYU as to which will be considered a Top 10 School on several rankings (they have been tied for 10th place in several recent years at USNEWS). So they take stats pretty seriously. Nonetheless, it is worth taking a close look at the stats in the recent Poets and Quants story, GPAs & GMATs: What You Need To Get In, which show the “10-90 percent window” of GMATs and GPA’s at 25 leading schools. According to that story, your GPA does fall off the charts at Yale, where the 10-90 percent GPA window was 3.10 at the bottom. Which means 10 percent of the class has a LOWER GPA than you — and I doubt most of those people have 760 GMATs or your other powerful features in terms of extras and personal story.

The 10-90 GPA window is not available for HBS, but at Stanford it is 3.36-3.97, at Berkeley it is 3.39-3.90 (which is higher than Stanford on the floor!) and at Wharton 3.18-3.87, and let’s assume HBS is similar to the 3.3-3.9 range. That means at those schools, your GPA will be in the bottom 10 percent (probably the bottom five percent, given bunching around 3.3.). But again, I doubt those other bottom five-percenters have your 760 GMAT and powerful extras. More likely those low GPAs are special cases – minority applicants, princelings, or stories like yours.

So, drum roll please. I think you have a real solid chance at Yale based on stats and story, and an acceptable shot at Stanford (might help there, as it always does, if you had a champion to ease the way, maybe one of those profs you worked for) and HBS (which is big enough to take risk cases like you, although I don’t see a whole lot of risk).

Wharton and Berkeley are the least sentimental of the top 10-ish, and assuming you are trying for the Health Care Management Program at Wharton, they might want to see a more traditional, and less “research” HCM background — not sure that running clinical trials is spot on enough for them — but it could be. The woman who runs that program, June Kinney, has been doing it for years, and probably has a good nose for attractive risk at this point. Also, the fact that Wharton’s “bottom” 10-90 GPA is 3.18 belies a bit the reputation the school has for being stats crazed (that may be more true when dealing with their meat-and-potatoes finance types).
You need to execute very clearly on what your current jobs are (and have been) and how they link up with your goals. Getting some very savvy recommenders to champion your case might also help.

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  • A Anthony

    Thanks for the feedback Sandy; it basically just reinforced what I know I need to focus on:
    *750+ GMAT (scoring in 700-740 range on practice tests with 6 wks to go before 1st attempt)
    *Compelling essays with great detail on short and longer term goals that tie my story together and show that I’ve done my homework on the school
    *Talking about what I can add to the classroom while also being open to new approaches/ideas that will be presented to me.

    I’ve also added Wharton to the list of schools that I plan to apply to

  • hbsguru

    well, good luck, I’m rooting for you, altho as noted, at HBS it is going to be an uphill fight.  You need to make them believe you can have the impact you claim, by not only saying it, but by offering evidence based on past accomplishments and testimony.  Having a champion weigh in on your side would also help.

  • Vico

    I’m happy to see an assessment of an  applicant in the 35+ demographic.  Good Luck!

  • wallace stevens

    Sandy….’Mr. Music’ here. i have to say i chuckled as i read your analysis. i am impressed, i think you have pigeon-holed me pretttty accurately. i most enjoyed your second to last paragraph, and your comment about staying busy at a high level. still trying to find a true passion in the corporate world, no question – but i do truly believe an MBA will help. i agree that stanford/HBS are a stretch, hence why i don’t plan to apply. and your point about staying clear and conventional is also well-received; no reason to write myself out of eligibility with rambling, lyrical essays. i will try to tone down the insecurities and general disdain for MBAs in my applications (hah), and just focus on presenting myself as hard-working, interesting, smart. maybe i’ll add LBS for the international bit.

    thanks for the help.

    cheers,
    me

  • A Anthony

    Thanks Sandy. 
    On the impact “believability” re:helping entrepreneurs front I’ve bootstrapped 2 small businesses with some measurable success (nothing earth shattering, but again measureble and on my resume) and lots of valuable lessons on positioning, pricing, ops, planning for scale etc to bring both to the classroom and my long term goal of the incubator (my short term goal is actually to found and run a company with a similar business model of what my current job is. @ matriculation I will have had years of exp dealing with daily ops & all stakeholders to add atop my programming exp, ops exp, and 4 years of sales exp. I need the MBA to learn how to manage a venture for scale and add to my network for funding and talent purposes). I also have a book published and available on Amazon targeted at helping small/startup biz folk. I also plan to quell the “how will we place this old guy” question with going right into my own venture. When you are employed by your own company career services can count you as employed @ graduation so that you don’t hurt that aspect of their rankings. I plan to invest a lot of time tying everything together in my essays as well.

  • A Anthony

    Thx Vico. John was very gracious about helping me to get included. I wanted to do it because there is such a dearth of material for that demographic. One thing that is often overlooked, however, is that the lack of representation of that group also has a lot to do with the fact that most  mid-30 somethings are way too settle into their cities, careers, families/kids, etc for a full time program to be a fit. If I wasn’t a crazy entrepreneur type, I’d probably be in the same boat…or have done the MBA earlier…but I think getting the real live entrep/practical skills up front has been a better road for me…if I didn’t have them I’d probably get laughed at w/in the VC community asking for funding so that I can be a “CEO” when I’d never successfully created a product or service, built a business around it and taken it to market. That lack of practical know-how (“street smarts”, as Sandy would call it) is what gives MBA/startup wannabes a bad name in places like the Silicon Valley

  • A Anthony

    Also for HBS I’m trying to decide whether to have my 3rd rec come from a former client or a non-prof d-maker. hmm…

  • wallace stevens

    [mr. music here again]

    reading this over again, i notice an error in my age: i am currently 25, will be 27 at matriculation. i assume this is a non-material difference..?

    cheers

  • JohnAByrne

    Yes. Don’t think that matters. Also, Sandy saw your original post, explaining that you would be 27 at matriculation. So his analysis is based on that info.

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,

    I am a big fan of your weekly posts on poetsandquants.com; I treat them as a sort of end of the work week treat. It’s gotten to the point where I read the new set of profiles, make my own probability % assessments and then compare my numbers to yours. I’m getting pretty good :D
    Anyways, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could paint some insight on my profile, I am looking to matriculate Fall ’13.

    GMAT: 750
    Undergrad: UCLA Business Economics Major w/ a minor in accounting. Leadership experience includes acting as president of a professional business fraternity for a year as well as principal violist of the school symphony.
    GPA: 3.44
    Credentials: CPA
    Work Experience: 1 year of public accounting at a regional accounting firm right out of college and then a jump to the Big 4 where I also did public accounting for another 1.5 years. So essentially 2.5 years of public accounting experience in the Bay Area. I then found the opportunity to work at a unique 60-employee SaaS start-up in San Francisco as the Controller. (this is my current role) By matriculation, I will have worked at this start up 1.5 years. I work closely with the current EVP to manage the overall finances & accounting of the company. (main responsibilities include budgeting & forecasting, cash flow planning and management, management of company financial Big 4 audit, development of company accounting principles, and leading operational process improvement in the company)
    Extra-Curricular: In college I was highly invested in my business fraternity. A lot of what we did was personal and professional mentorship. I had several key mentors who helped me find my way and as time passed I in turn became a mentor to my younger colleagues and enjoyed the whole experience very much. After college I’ve been trying to continue that mentorship. For the past year I’ve been trying to start an organization that connects young working professionals with high school students via forums and Q&A sessions with an emphasis on colleges & careers. So far we’ve hosted a number of speaking events at my local high school. I will continue to try to grow this group and get more events going.
    Goal: I want to get a MBA to develop myself as a more well-rounded business person – not just a background in accounting/finance but also other areas such as strategy & marketing. I know, a very popular goal but unfortunately it’s the truth. Post-MBA I want to come back to the bay area and join a 10-20 person start-up in an executive role. The idea is to utilize my CPA & 4 years of accounting/finance experience to get my foot in the door and then my MBA and general charm to seal the deal (who am I kidding, I’m an accountant, I have no charm). If this doesn’t work out, I’ll likely seek out employment in one of the top 3 MC firms or a financial strategy role in a large corporation. (facebook, amazon, apple, msft etc.) Basically, I don’t want to be just an accountant all my life.
    Ethnicity/Gender/Age: Asian American Male, I will be 26 at matriculation.
    A couple additional notes to make my profile even more accurate:
    -          Ironically my GPA was brought down by pretty poor accounting grades. (and now I am a CPA) My GPA in my economic courses was what brought it up. Also, I tried out some programming courses, didn’t end well. (had to drop out of one right before finals)
    -          Recommendations: I plan to get recommendations from my Big 4 colleagues. I’m not sure if I can get any from my current work  due to the practical matter of, well, I’m not sure I want them to know I want to leave for B-School
    Schools of Interest (sorry for the long list): H/S/W, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Haas, Columbia. Also, if you don’t mind evaluating me for INSEAD and LBS that would be great.

    Thank you!

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy!

    Frequent reader – really appreciate the time you take to do these.

    I’m interested in the HBS 2+2  program but not sure if I stand a chance since I know they aren’t too keen on business majors.  If you could give me some feedback, it would really help with deciding whether to put together an app or not.

    Education:
    -740 GMAT
    -3.7 GPA
    -B.S. Business Administration at Berkeley-Haas

    Work:
    -Summer 2012: Summer Associate at Boston Consulting Group
    -Summer 2011: Summer Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google
    -Ongoing: Owner of a small shot glass manufacturing business which launched in late 2011.  Been running it part-time during school year, profitable, just a hair under $80k revenue since launch, on track to get past $100k by the time I apply.  Product has been featured in some mainstream media including Washington Post, TechCrunch, etc.  It’s a “lifestyle business” a la 4-hour Workweek.
    -2011: Various jobs in startup tech incl. Marketing, BizDev

    Leadership/extras:
    -Co-founded a service org and was President from 2010-2011.  Grew to 30ish members and did some interesting projects such as filming the official admissions video which got 40k+ views on YouTube.  Group collapsed under new leadership in 2012.
    -Rock climbing club, not competitive

    Goals: 
    -I’m really into technology and business.  MBA would round out my business education and give me a platform to reach my end goal, which is to shape corporate strategy for technology companies.  This could entail either staying in consulting and specializing, moving to VC, or joining tech company as an operating executive.

    Profile:
    -Male, Vietnamese, 21

    Schools: 
    -HBS 2+2

    Schools if 2+2 doesn’t work out:
    -HBS
    -Stanford
    -Wharton
    -Dartmouth
    -Kellogg
    -Yale

  • Guest

    Forgot to add this in, thank you in advance!

  • migsvult

    Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for putting these together.  They’re a lot of fun to read!  They’re also a great way to learn about the process, certainly better than message board gossip or (as if it needed to be said) the schools themselves.  
    GMAT: 750Undergrad: Columbia/Brown/Wharton  Double Major in Economics and PhilosophyGPA: 3.75Work Experience: M/B/B (not McK), hopefully with sponsorship.
    Extra-Curricular: 
    In college: I was a researcher of a sanitation-focused NGO in rural Kenya, spending several months in-country.  Co-founded an economics discussion forum during the financial crisis.  Led 20-30 person workshops on social justice, race, and identity.  Fellow in campus religious organization.  
    After college: Not a hell of a lot.  Done a bit of community service cleaning schools etc.  Looking to join the board of a local charity.  
    Ethnicity/Gender/Age: Born in Mexico, gained U.S. citizenship.  I speak Spanish, and consider myself 100% Latino, but I look pretty Caucasian.  
    Goal: 
    Option 1: Gain the leadership capabilities to direct strategy at major tech company.
    Option 2: Disrupt business models in developing countries (Mexico/Kenya) using technology.  E.g. car-sharing business in Mexico City to reduce traffic.
    Additional question:  How would this be impacted if I applied for a MBA/JD?  I have a 170 LSAT, but that was sort of taken on a whim and could be improved.Schools of Interest: H/S/W, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Haas, Yale
    Thank you!

  • Queenfrostine5

    Hi!

    I am on the fence about taking the GMAT again/waiting one more year to apply so I would LOVE any advice you had to share. I know my GPA is low, but not sure if retaking the GMAT would offset that or confirm my laziness during my first year in college.

    *26 year old white  female
    *3.17 Ungerdrad GPA in Marketing from Notre Dame – low in first year, higher later on
    *Extracurricular involvemnt as an officer in undergraduate women in business council
    *710 on the GMAT (first time)
    *4 years experience at a Fortune 50 Retail Company (2 promotions)
    *Lead a team and manage $275M Global Sourcing Strategy
    * e-mentor to 6th grader, volunteer coordinator for sickle cell research charity, volunteer coordinator for alumni network at work
     
    Schools:
    HBS
    Booth
    Kellogg
    Wharton

    Thank you thank you thank you!
    @SleeplessinSourcing

  • Renee

    When you do a piece like “Top Feeder Schools To Wharton’s MBA Program” it would make MUCH more sense to know which schools truly have a “better feeder” record if you take into account their  UNDERgraduate institution’s size (not the number they represent within Wharton’s class size)!  For example, while 62 of Wharton’s students are coming from UPenn undergrad (7.3% of that wharton’s class in your article)  compared to Harvard (55 students, or 6.5% of that wharton class)….it would make more sense to compare those numbers to their respective undergraduate institution’s size.  For example,  UPenn: 62@ wharton/2300(one undergrad class size @ UPenn)= 2.7% of a given undergraduate class “feed in” to wharton from Upenn undergrad.  Harvard: 55/1700=3.2% of a given harvard undergrad class “feeds” into wharton. Stanford: 26/1950=1.3%.   Williams College:8/520=1.5%  Your Top Feeder schools article/chart will look VERY different and be much more accurate regarding which schools feed in more students.

  • Renee

    Sorry, I meant to put this comment below the appropriate article on “Feeder Schools”….not here.

  • Mr_Plan

     Hi Sandy,
    I love your analysis and have read all of your previous entries.  I’m hoping you can evaluate my profile since it seems to be off the beaten path a bit (you know, not finance or consulting) and tell me a manufacturing kids’ chances since I’m sure there are others like me.

    26 year old white male
    Double Major from a non-elite Pac-12 state school (ASU, UA, Colorado, Utah etc.)
     -B.S. Finance and B.S. Supply Chain Management, 2007
     -3.64 GPA
    GMAT 700 (44Q 66%, 41V 92%), planning to retake to boost that terrible quant score

    Almost 5 years of work experience at Honeywell Aerospace (still employed) in supply chain management.
    -Started in a 2 year rotational program moving through 3 different procurement, planning, and production scheduling roles
    -Next moved into a research and development planning position (15 months)
    -Current role is a team lead in a
    strategic planning group responsible for planning multiple production lines producing a combined $15-20 million in revenue per month (no direct reports)
    -In between my last two jobs I also was a key part of a team deploying a new planning system, responsible for troubleshooting and training about 75-100 people (while holding down my regular job).  This lasted for about a year.
    -Top performer in every role I have had. Not many of my colleagues leave for full-time programs (mostly part time).
           
    Marginal Extra Curric’s, nothing special
    -Some intermittent volunteering at a local community center doing fundraising and tutoring
    -In some clubs and intramural teams in college, standard stuff
       
    Goal: To move into a supply chain or general management consulting role

    After reading the other ‘Handicapping’ articles I now know that
    staying at one spot for 5 years was not ‘playing the game’ as you have
    said.  One of the big reasons that I’ve stayed with the same company is
    because a parent developed early onset alzheimers so I transferred back to my home town 2.5
    years ago to be a partial caregiver.  This is one of the big reasons for my lackluster XC’s but among other things the experience has given me some good essay material.  Do schools care about that kind of real-world family stuff, is it worth writing about or do they want business examples?

    Targets:
    UCLA
    Berkeley
    Booth
    Kellogg
    Stern
    USC

    Reach:
    H/S/W (don’t think I have the star-dust, just thought I’d throw it in there)

  • software_dev

    Hi Sandy,
    I am a big fan of your analysis and evaluation; Anyways, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could paint some insight on my profile, I am looking to matriculate Fall ’13.
    GMAT: 760Bachelors and Masters: IIIT Hyderabad, India ( Highly selective non IIT school in India, top 2500 ranks out of 700,000 people get in)GPA: 8.5/10; Deans Merit in 4 out of 10 semestersWork Experience: 3 years at Amazon, 2 years as Software developer and 1 as senior software developer 
    Extra-Curricular: Alumni club leadership in college , Alumni Fund Raising after college, volunteered to teach underprivileged poor school kids, member of a team which delivers educational content to rural schools using technology, 
    Goal: Post MBA I want to join either Microsoft/Google in Product Management or strategy roles or do strategy consulting for tech startups
    Ethnicity/Gender/Age: Asian, Male, 25

    Schools of Interest (sorry for the long list): 
    Tuck, MIT, Berkley, Booth, Kellogg, Haas, Columbia.Yale INSEAD, LBS
    Thank you!

  • Mr. Marketer

    Thanks for reviewing my profile, your insights were extremely helpful. We’re actually doing a lot of exciting work at Nielsen at the moment that I hope will make for some compelling essays. Appreciate your advice, you’ve helped me figure out where I should target each round. 

    Best,

    Mr. Marketer

  • Nathan Krishnamurthy

    Sandy and John, would appreciate a review of my profile:
    760 GMAT (80% Q, 99% V)
    Economics degree from respectable NE liberal arts college (not Amherst/Williams though)
    3.3 GPA, with Honors due to 3.7 in-major GPA
    26 year old male, mixed race, but not the kinds that get special consideration

    - 2 yrs investment banking at bulge bracket retail/apparel group
    - Left to work with early stage companies, specifically creative and artisanal products
    - 6 months attending culinary school, while consulting on business planning, strategy and  launch for a restaurant that is successful and still in operation
    - Current job: 2 years at NYC consultancy/incubator for launch-stage fashion, food and lifestyle brands; promoted to lead our strategy team w/direct reports; also retained by investor-funded ecommerce client as their acting CFO
    - Current job: Founded a made-in-USA cycling accessories “micro-business” with a partner, where I serve as Product Director. Profitable, national distribution, high end press. (No intention of quitting day job).
    - Extracurricular: 2 hrs per wk volunteering prepping meals for people with debilitating illness; personally raised four figures for that organization through a cycling fundraiser; several projects at a NYC food rescue non-profit; member of local community supported agriculture group. Ongoing freelance business planning for restaurants. Food writing for online “magazines” (relevant?). 
    - Career Goal: Cultivate the consumer market for creative, artisanal and design-driven products without comprising authenticity or craftsmanship – more immediately, join a young brand through its growth stage, or a consumer VC (in general is VC a bad idea as a goal on applications?)
    - Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Haas, Tuck, Sloan, Kellogg, Darden. If there are others you think are a strong fit or more likely, I am all ears. Thanks for your help.
     

  • kn53

    Sandy and John, would appreciate a review of my profile:
    760 GMAT (80% Q, 99% V)
    Economics degree from respectable NE liberal arts college (but not Amherst/Williams)
    3.3 GPA, with Honors due to 3.7 in-major GPA
    26 year old male, mixed race, but not the kinds that get special consideration

    - 2 yrs investment banking at bulge bracket retail/apparel group
    - Left to work with early stage companies, specifically focused on creative and artisanal products
    - 6 months attending culinary school, while consulting on business planning, strategy and  launch for a restaurant that is successful and still in operation
    - Current job: 2 years at NYC consultancy/incubator for launch-stage fashion, food and lifestyle brands; promoted to lead our strategy team w/direct reports; also retained by investor-funded ecommerce client as their acting financial officer
    - Current job: Founded a made-in-USA cycling accessories “micro-business” with a partner, where I serve as Product Director. Profitable, national distribution, high end press. (No intention of leaving day job).
    - Extracurricular: 2 hrs per wk volunteering prepping meals for people with debilitating illness; personally raised four figures for that organization through a cycling fundraiser; several projects at a NYC food rescue non-profit; member of local community supported agriculture group. Ongoing freelance business planning for restaurants. Food writing for online “magazines” (relevant?). 
    - Career Goal: Cultivate the consumer market for creative, artisanal and design-driven products without comprising authenticity or craftsmanship – more immediately, join a young brand through its growth stage, or a consumer VC (is VC an inadvisable “goal”?)
    - Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Haas, Tuck, Sloan, Kellogg, Darden. If there are others you think are a strong fit or more likely, I am all ears. Thanks for your help.

  • 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
    Stats: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:M.S  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 and will be touching 3 years of work in Dec.I’m looking to move onto a global platform now and work in management consulting or explore entrepreneurial or start up options in technologyregards

  • Deviseatul

    Hi Sandy, I really admire your acute understanding of the process involved in B-school admissions.
    could you please evaluate my profile.
    GMAT-760(expected;scored 730 in GMAC preptest)
    GPA-5.3/10(not sure how the conversion goes)
    Bachelor in Fashion Technology(apparel manufacturing) from NIFT, India’s best fashion college.
    Work-Ex:(will be 3 years in May’13)
    From may’10 to Present
    Working as Merchandising Auditor(not merchandise auditor, no quality inspection involved) in India’s largest and world’s fifth largest leather garments manufacturing company. Job responsibilities include-
    -Supervising a team of merchandising executives in handling accounts of international brands, their communication with them, and negotiations with the client.
    -Supervising a team of 9 pattern cutters and taking care of fitting and construction issues in the garment. Frequently interacting  with the European and American buyers regarding technical and delivery issues.
    -Currently involved in devising and finalizing operating strategy and for 113 strong prototype production floor. Played a key role in convincing 100+ sewing machine operators to agree to become salaried employees and to agree with new company policies rather than working on per piece rate, preventing a strike situation.
    Can get a very favorable recommendation from my immediate boss who happens to be a British national(don’t know if that matters at all.), and MD of the company.
    Extras: Amateur poet (not published yet), played basketball for college, helping local school students with science and math subjects.
    MBA goal: will pursue a general management role in operations and strategy ;may be consulting for the MBB.
    I know my GPA is depressingly low but I’m hoping that my not so usual career and evidences of people management will help.
    Targeted schools: Tuck, Chicago Booth, ISB, MIT,INSEAD ,Kellogg . Do I have even a remote chance in Harvard/Stanford/Wharton ?If you don’t mind could you please suggest me schools where might have favorable odds and which will help me realize my goals.

  • MBA2014App

    Sandy, would love your always honest feedback at how I look for my target schools.  Looking to apply in 2014 so I’ll have another year of experience by then.

    *25 year old American (white) male
    *3.25 GPA at top 10 liberal arts school as an accounting/finance major
    *730 GMAT (48Q 42V)
    *Varsity baseball and captain in college
    *Co-founder of Student Athlete Advisory Committee in college and arranged semi-annual athletic dept. community service events (coordinated contributions from 25 varsity teams)
    *Treasurer of fraternity (150k budget)
    *Editor of student newspaper

    Work exp: 1.5 years in Big 4 Audit, then transferred to Consulting arm (real consulting, not semi-audit advisory) for a year, and recently joined Start-up Finance Operations consulting firm
    *Start up firm already has doubled in size since I joined, and has multiple F50 clients
    *Lead multiple projects, internal and external
    *Published first company whitepaper, started company Brownbag series, and others

    Post Grad EC’s:
    *Started Networking Group in my city using LinkedIn/current network, already with 50+ members (started 4 months ago)
    *Coach and mentor for inner-city baseball organization
    *board member of post addiction rehabilitation house, where I’ve led multiple projects (finance related, mostly)
    *Accepted to do Streetwise this fall, providing resume/job/interview advice to the unemployed

    Goals: Get into strategy side of consulting, preferably focused on start ups at M/B/B (could get a lot more specific about this, but it blends my consulting and entrepreneurial backgrounds with my desire to move to strategy)

    Target Schools: Wharton (maybe), Tuck (first choice), MIT, Columbia, Kellogg, Darden, Stern, Yale,

  • W2012

    Sandy:

    How do you define exert influence beyond your own community? i.e. help and influence people underprivileged? or those people whose bakcground / life styles are totally different from mine?

    Thanks,

  • airballsonly

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Great series, I really enjoy some of Sandy’s snarkier comments.  I’d really appreciate it if you could review my profile and give me a little feedback

    27 year old white male
    760 GMAT (Q:71%  V:99%)
    2.76 GPA from a public Ivy (UNC/UVA), double major in economics and geography

    I spent the first 3 years of my career as a proprietary equities trader during the crash, but it never quite fit and I wanted an opportunity to interact more with the real economy.  I found that opportunity in venture banking where I have been for the past 2 years (will be here for 2.5 when I apply).  I started in the analyst group and have earned 2 promotions in the past 2 years, the second was a promotion out of the analyst pool.  I expect a third promotion at mid-year, but I’m not counting my chickens.

    A little background on my firm: there are only 2 true venture banks as opposed to mezz-debt and venture debt funds.  We tend to hire MBAs from top schools as opposed to sending employees to top programs.  Since I’ve been here I’ve known 3 people who applied to b-school; the first attended Kelley, the second attended Columbia, and the third will attend Booth in the fall.  I’m hopeful that my experience in the venture industry will help as I may be able to bring a slightly difference perspective to the classroom.

    My goal is to use an MBA to work for a debt fund on a higher level – more of the management and strategy than the bus dev or analysis pieces.  I would like to parlay that experience to raise a fund that partners with VC and PE firms to provide credit to companies in developing economies where access to credit through traditional avenues is a challenge, particularly for growing companies that might not be throwing off enough free cash flow to meet traditional debt service.  I’m aware that that’s a very specific goal, and I’m not sure if it’s too specific.  I’m also aware that my interests might change once I start a program, so I’m open to any suggestions you might have for my goal.

    Clearly, my GPA will be a major barrier for me, and I don’t have a great excuse.  I worked through college, up to 3 jobs at once including 2 finance internships, but my GPA is more related to a lack of direction and maturity.  I plan for one of my recs to comment on maturity and leadership and the other to comment on analytical ability; hopefully both will address work ethic as it relates to the other subjects.  I’m hopeful that recs and over 5 years of separation from school will instill some confidence that I have overcome my prior academic issues.

    My extracurriculars are a little scattered.  Was VP of my fraternity in college, though I doubt anyone will care.  I taught English in a Costa Rican school for a couple of months in the summer of 2009, though not in an official capacity - I had a friend who previously taught at the school and she introduced me to the English teacher/school administrators when we dropped off some school supplies.  I didn’t really have much to do while I was in the country to I helped out at the school a bit.  I do a yearly MS walk, I judged business plans for a statewide high school competition, and I’ve volunteered with a statewide stock market game that exposes at-risk elementary and middle school kids to finance in hopes that the exposure will lead to some goals and direction.  I also spend a lot of time doing things like getting a pilot’s license, but something tells me that won’t help my case.

    Statistically, my GMAT and GPA match decently well with the middle 50% of some top 20 schools – UNC, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Emory, etc., but I’d really like to know my chances of breaking into the top 10.  I’m not targeting any particular schools at this point; I will wait until I’ve had a chance to make campus visits once classes start next semester, but I’m looking at schools on the east coast.  Any feedback is much appreciated!  Thanks for taking the time to do this series

  • 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). I want to pick the best 4 I have a shot at and pick a back up school such as Schulich or Queens or University of Illinois.

    Cornell (1 year accelerated MBA program)

    Kellog  (2 yr or 1 yr wherever I have a better shot at)

    INSEAD

    Tuck (with early admission)

    Ross

    Columbia(with early admission)

    London School of Business

    Objective:I’m looking to move onto a global platform now and work in
    management consulting or explore entrepreneurial or start up options in
    technology

    Stats: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 to U of I and my gpa there would have been a 3.7-3.8
    so if the schools are looking to maintain admission stats my overall
    undergrad GPA is about 3.4-3.5

    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  so I decided to go
    to grad school:

    M.S  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 MBA courses at Mccombs’ – in financial risk management,
    supply chain , Global Financial Strategies and got A’s in them

    Also took 2 courses at Columbia GSB over a summer in Energy Finance and Marketing and got A’s in them.)

    Fully
    funded my masters myself by working as a research/ teaching assistant. My
    masters report was on optimizing silicon wafer production in fabrication industry.

    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 and will be touching 3 years of work in
    Dec.

    regards

  • CC

    Hey Sandy,

    Quick question:  All else equal, is working at a top-level company enough to offset attending a non-prestigious university for undergrad?  i.e., when you calculate the above odds, and when admissions boards review profiles, would they rather see a high-profile company on your resume or an elite undergraduate institution?  If an applicant’s GPA and GMAT are in the ballpark, I would assume most business schools would more heavily weigh a candidate’s employer vs. undergraduate institution but wanted to get your take.
    Thanks!

  • HBSGURU

    Well, yeah, I agree, most adcoms would be impressed that you were able to get that job out of college. But adcoms are impressed as well with solid performance at Tier 2 and 3 colleges, esp. if reasons you atended them makes sense in terms of your total story.  And if you combine A performance at a Tier 2/3 school with doing well at a selective employer, that can equal the playing field with Tier 1 school kids. 

  • PG

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I am all geared up to start writing applications and your inputs can give me the spark I need now.
    Hope you find enough info for evaluation:

    700/690 GMAT (2 attempts. Higher in attempt 1)3.1 GPA (Rank 3 among cohorts)Undergraduate degree from Top 5 Engineering college in India. Work experience includes work with Mining Supplier companies which are market leaders. 3+ years in an Australian firm, 1+ in a Swedish firm. Both Sales profiles. Looks after exports in neighboring countries.Extracurricular involvement: President of the Alumni Cell during Bachelor’s course. Community work: Nothing substantial.Goal: Pursue career in global Mining industry.28-year-old Indian Male

  • PG

    Hi John and Sandy,
    I am all geared up to start writing applications and your inputs can give me the spark I need now.Hope you find enough info for evaluation:
    700/690 GMAT (2 attempts. Higher in attempt 1)3.1 GPA (Rank 3 among cohorts)Undergraduate degree from Top 5 Engineering college in India. Work experience includes work with Mining Supplier companies which are market leaders. 3+ years in an Australian firm, 1+ in a Swedish firm. Both Sales profiles. Looks after exports in neighboring countries.Extracurricular involvement: President of the Alumni Cell during Bachelor’s course. Community work: Nothing substantial.Goal: Pursue career in global Mining industry.28-year-old Indian Male

    Colleges:

    Insead
    Yale
    NYU-Stern

  • Usefuldhn

    Hello John&Sandy!
    I’d love to get some thoughts and assesment on my profile as shown below:

    Area of interest: Finance, Entrepreneurship

    Education- Top 25 US liberal arts college Major: Economics Minor: Math/Stats GPA 3.49 GPA is trending upward(avg GPA during my freshman/sophomore was ~3.2 wheras the one during my junior/senior was ~3.7)

    Expecting to earn CFA charter this December.
    GMAT- 710 (Q: 49, V:39(Not sure), AWA: 4.5) -this is my second attempt and 1.5 month before that i scored 640

    Work Experience: Current Position is as Investment Analyst(2.5yrs in a local investment management firm( Assets under management ~30 Billion). Two years as an investment accountant at the same firm. 2yrs of Military experience.

    Extra Curriculum:Few activities/voluteer work with somewhat leadership roles involved

    Others: East Asian male but have grew up in total of 5 different countries. I speak three languages.

    Target Schools: HBS(?) Wharton(?), MIT, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Yale, Cornell

    I will be applying for Fall 2013 matriculation!!

    Thank you!

  • ASR135

    Hi Sandy,

    Please provide me with your insight on my profile.

    Area of Interest: Healthcare Management (Seeking entrance into an MBA/MPH program- matriculation Fall 2014) 

    Education: Attended several undergrad institutes (some face to face and some online) but ultimately graduated with a 3.67 GPA  (cum laude) from an average university-National American University, South Dakota (online) in May 2011.

    Pre-MBA Certificate from UCLA – in progress.

    GMAT 700 

    Work Experience: 4+ years at a community hospital (3 yrs of which were f/t during school), position has changed with responsibility increasing several times during my employment as follows:
    Started as Executive Secretary to the Assistant Administrator, promoted to Executive Assistant to the CEO/Board of Directors within the first three months of employment. Took on management role of clerical staff from various department while maintaining role as CEO/BoD Assistant. Current position as an Operations Analyst (managing two Executive Assistant’s), also, chair a committee of executive support workers for general processes, policies, etc.

    Volunteer: Currently, volunteer at a couple of local nonprofits with varying missions but recently began sitting on the Board for the Cancer Resource Center (local Chapter).

    Background:  Middle income, Indian-American decent, first in family to pursue higher education.

    Target Schools: UC Berkeley, UCLA, ?? Open for other ideas.

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  • Janice

    Hi,

    I have not taken my GMAT yet but am considering changing companies, but wondering if this is a good move and how it may appear to MBA admissions.

    I currently work for Cisco Systems in Social Media marketing and am considering going to Verizon to do PR (still doing social media, but more like working with external PR team and training them on social media). I wonder if Verizon will viewed as a good company and moving from marketing to PR will come off something that doesn’t make sense to the admissions officers. I’m targeting Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton.

  • Janice

    Hi,

    I haven’t taken GMAT yet but am in the middle of making a decision on whether I should switch companies or not.

    I’ve worked two years at Cisco doing social media marketing, and am considering moving to Verizon to do PR (very similar to my last role except my job will be internally working with external PR people and training them on social media). I wonder if Verizon is a good enough company and if the switch from marketing to PR will seem random to admissions officers. My target schools are Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton.

    Thanks!
    Janice

  • ms.analyst

    I’d love to get some thoughts on this profile:

    Education: Graduated Cum Laude 3.7 GPA from California state school in Finance (double minor in economics and psychology) in 2011.

    Experience: Work experience includes undergraduate business honors programs (1 semester each at an accounting firm and large semiconductor company) and internship with Apple. Post grad, working at large global semiconductor manufacturing start up as corporate manufacturing cost analyst.

    Other: first place in undergrad’s intercollegiate business simulation competition, VP of Management Accounting Club.
    23 yr old female, Asian. Bi-Lingual

    GMAT: 650

  • Mr. Unbelievably low GPA

    I m digging your analyses. However, it seems like most of the analyses are of truly impressive candidates. How about one of someone less impressive:

    Nationality: Indian
    Undergrad degree in engineering: NUS (Singapore) on SIANOL scholarship
    App killer: GPA of 2.1
    Masters degree in Economics from SMU (Singapore)
    GPA: 3.4 (3.8 in year-1. I intended to complete only 1 year to provide an alternative transcript)

    GMAT: 750

    Work Ex (6 years by the time i matriculate for MBA): Marketing and Strategy for Renewable Energy in Germany and UK for 2 years
    Led water management strategic efforts for the Chinese and Australian marketsfrom Singapore (1.5 years)
    In order to specialise in strategy, I moved on to a completely different product group by joining HP as a portfolio strategist and marketing manager (2 years). Have my own start-up which recently raised 500000 USD in angel funding and is doing very well (1.5 years)

    Extra currics: Was president of the intercultural club at NUS, was chairperson of the business wing of NUS-IEEE, was a cast member for numerous dramas in the NUS drama club

    Post-college: Am a business technology mentor at a ‘volunteer business school’ that offers certificate courses to low-skilled immigrant workers. I mentor start-up ideas for these workers so that they can go back to their home countries and start their own business (Eg. internet cafe, or small restaurant)
    Am a part time volunteer police officer with the Singapore Police Force having undergone full police training and now serve 16 hours a week.

    My Target schools in order of preference: Kellogg, Duke, Tuck, Cornell

    Would appreciate it if you would let me know my chances :)

  • Lefty

    Yeah, you’re good.

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