Handicapping Your MBA Odds

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

He’s a 26-year-old African American in a leadership rotational program at a leading corporation. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.1 grade point average, he believes an MBA degree will help him achieve his goal of becoming a senior executive in a Fortune 100 company.

An Eagle Scout, this 27-year-old software engineer at General Dynamics had led several technical teams on critical assignments. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.7 GPA, he wants an MBA to assist his transition into technology consulting.

He’s a professional rock climber who has scaled many big peaks in the Himalayas. A market research analyst on the clean tech industry for Bloomberg, this 26-year-old is hoping the MBA degree will allow him to transition to a top strategy consulting job.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these 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 tell-it-like-it-is assessment:

Mr. Fortune 100

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.71 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business and accounting from a private liberal arts college
  • Work experience includes three and one-half years in a leadership rotational program at a Fortune 100 company; in such areas as financial planning & analysis, corporate accounting and treasury
  • Extracurricular involvement as a mentor to high school seniors; led a finance workshop for minority teens
  • Goal: To become a senior executive in a Fortune 100 corporation; also “would like to improve the financial literacy of the entire free world”
  • 26-year-old, African-American male, first generation college graduate

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40+%
Stanford: 35+%
Wharton: 45+%
Chicago: 50+%
Kellogg: 50+%
Carnegie Mellon: 60+%
Michigan: 60+%
Columbia: 50+%
New York: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hey buddy, this one is easy since you touch all the stations of the cross: GPA (3.71)-GMAT (710)-Fortune 100 Rotational Program and Fortune 100 Job (after that)-Black-Do Gooder.

Guys like you get admitted and dinged at HBS and Stanford depending on serviceable execution and recommendations, and not screwing up the interview at HBS.  As noted here often, the Stanford interview barely counts and was implemented as outreach to their under-employed alums (who do them)  and because candidates wanted it — so a two-fer for the adcom,  with nobody interviewing nobody as far as they are concerned.

You are also strong at Wharton although the interview process there is slightly more serious. The new “Zen” HBS app is a gift to you since you can use your financial literacy campaign as one answer and then come up with some “work” story for the other. I’d combine the first-gen college angle into the financial literacy story. At schools like Chicago, Kellogg, Tepper, Ross, Columbia it should just be a matter of convincing them you want to come.

“Universal financial literacy” is a great banner to fly, though I would not make it the centerpiece of your long-term goals. All that said, you got a solid and tight story and if your Fortune 100 company gets behind you with detailed and enthusiastic recommendations, you should have great success in this process.

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  • helpagirlout

    Hi Sandy! It’d be great if you could help me on this:

    GMAT: 760
    GPA: 3.44 (UCLA – Political Science)
    Work Experience: Big 4 Advisory: has worked my way up to manager from associate.

    Interested in switching to strategy consulting to really get better work experience. Fluent in three languages and would like to eventually use these consulting skills to expand business in Asia, since the private sector is rapidly growing. Ultimate goal in life is to build schools in rural China to help bring educational awareness to the country and create educational reform.

    extracurricular: involved heavily in finance groups in my undergrad, joined numerous committees and took on leadership positions, director of my fraternity, volunteered at ucla ronald reagan

    please let me know your opinions are on these schools:


    and what you think would be good safety b-schools for me.

    Thank you!

  • Paco

    Hi Sandy, thank you for the hard work!
    GMAT: Expected 700 – 750
    Education: two degrees from Texas Christian University, Economics & Political Science in 4 yrs
    Hispanic, 24 years old (25 by time program starts). Dual citizenship (English as second language, some French)
    Internships: think tank in DC, think tank in Lima, Peru (most important NGO in that country). While working in Lima, I wrote a chapter of a thesis for a Stanford student who was conducting research there. Wanted to “save the world” but after these internships decided socially responsible business could be more impactful and switched to Economics.
    Work experience: 4 years at two different automakers (a Japanese and an American) in their captive finance arms. Both in top 50 of Fortune 500.
    I used statistical analysis for +100,000 yearly used vehicles sales that resulted in XX$$ million gains “money ball” style, provided analysis to change corporate policy (i was the “new ideas guy”), helped price a financial contract for first electric vehicle (most fun assignment!). Then moved to another OEM’s financial arm to do subprime lending and assist with transition to becoming a full captive.
    Want MBA because I am not doing enough of the “socially reponsible” part and want change. Want to go to Stanford because they encourage you to take courses outside business, would like to take some basic engineering to become less of a ‘bean counter’. Long term goals are to innovate in the transportation industry, I think we should be flying to work in safe and fuel efficient vehicles, and need leadership to make it happen.
    Extracurricular: plays guitar/sings in band, soccer, 150 of community service when I was in highscool, some limited community service in college and after graduating (one hour a week).
    Can you recommend me options besides Stanford if I want to grow in the auto industry?

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