Handicapping Your Business School Odds

The first in her family to graduate from college, she now works in marketing for a Blue Chip tech company in Silicon Valley. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.47 grade point average from a top-tier University of California school, she believes an MBA will make her more strategic marketer and provide a path into management.

After a three-year stint as an equities trader, this 27-year-old recently won a promotion out of the analyst pool at a venture bank. He’s worried that his 2.76 GPA at a public Ivy university will keep him out of a world class MBA program.

A software developer for an Android maker, his only extracurricular involvement is his time in a gym. This 23-year-old works out six to seven days a week. But he has a 750 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA in computer engineering, and he wants an MBA degree in two years to transition into operations management.

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. Blue Chip Tech

  • 710 GMAT (Q85%, V83%)
  • 3.47 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics and Asian studies from a top-tier University of California school
  • Work experience consists of two years at a blue-chip tech company (not Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft) in marketing operations and B2B marketing; fastest amongst peers to receive promotion, with a second promotion expected in my third year
  • Extracurricular involvement in leading a student account planning team and presenting advertising campaigns; guest lecturing once or twice a year at a local, private university on real-world marketing topics; avid Yelp Elite reviewer; 5K and half-marathon runner;
  • “I plan lots of social group events and cook a lot of food”
  • Goal: To understand different parts of the business to become a more effective marketer, focused on strategy, and eventually in a management role in the tech industry
  • “Should I wait an additional year to beef up my work experience? Or apply now?”
  • Southeast Asian-American female; first in family to graduate from college

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 10% to 20%
Wharton: 30% to 40%
Northwestern: 50+%
Chicago: 50+%
Berkeley: 50+%
Harvard: 30% to 40%
MIT: 35% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a case of lots of silver and probably not enough gold to get you into Stanford. A 3.47 GPA, from what I assume is not Berkeley, but some other U Cal school (top tier in your words) is solid but not outstanding. A 710 GMAT with 80+ plus on both sides is good substantively but not a finalist in a GMAT beauty contest, which is often what the GMAT is (although good enough for all schools if there were other golden elements).

You’re in B2B at a Blue Chip tech company, but not an iconic one. That is again impressive but not as impressive to schools as working for Google or Apple. Great career advancement over two years is solid and will help your recommendations (that is gold, but a lot of how it will be interpreted will be the name of the actual company and how experienced your recommenders are, although, sure, great). Extras are all industry/school-related and not helping lepers, which again is OK, but not gold.

Being an elite Yelp reviewer? Phew, that could cut two ways. Why would any normal person with a full-time job, and what seems like a lot of 3-D friends, do that? Well, you have a reason: You are a social media wonk, and that is part of your story, so it works for you. It might be interpreted differently for other applicants, especially for those on geek alert.

On the plus side, your entire bio, work, hobbies, extras and goals are all tightly bound, which is good, but again, for Stanford, maybe too good. They prefer more out of the box accomplishments for the non-elite (in terms of schooling, favorite feeder firms and stats) applicants like you. First generation college, Asian female are all pluses — but not to beat a dead horse, that is “silver” minority status and not gold (Native American or Black).

I like you a lot, and so will most business schools. I am just not seeing this as Stanford. Any chance you work for Caribou Coffee (see Top Feeder Companies to Stanford)?

You might try HBS, although you did not ask. HBS is bigger, more diverse in terms of firms it is willing to consider, and you seem their “spark-plug” type. And my guess is, Dee Leopold spends more time on Yelp than Stanford’s Derrick Bolton.

At other schools you note—Booth, Kellogg, Wharton, Haas—you are totally in range, on all counts, and it just a matter of luck, execution, getting your rec writers to perform, and convincing them you want to come. MIT/Sloan might go for someone like you as well, since you are well rounded, “soft-techy,” interesting, smart-enough and female.

LAST WEEK’S COLUMN:  What Are Your Chances of Getting In