Your Chances Of Getting An Elite MBA

A 25-year-old Indian male, he has a strong personal story but a less-than-sexy work history. He’s currently employed in the Big Four trenches of transfer pricing, but climbed out of the slums to become the first in his family to graduate high school and college while caring for a depressed mother who was on complete bed rest. With a 750 GMAT, he wants to get an MBA to move out of accounting and into consulting or private equity.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he’s a submarine officer who teaches Sunday school and mentors younger sailors on financial management. With a 670 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA, this 30-year-old officer is married with two children and wants an MBA to transition into the energy or financial services industries.

Having scored a 740 GMAT and a 4.0 GPA from the University of Utah, he has spent more than three years in operations for Goldman Sachs. This 27-year-old wants an MBA to transition into strategy consulting, with the ultimate goal of becoming an executive at a global manufacturing firm such as John Deere or Boeing.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants 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 an invite? Or are they likely to end up in a reject pile?

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. HIs witty and incisive commentaries on each applicant’s chances at their target schools has become of the most popular features at Poets&Quants and the subject of our first published book.

If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. Our handicapping series usually runs weekly and appears every Friday morning on the site.

Mr. Transfer Pricing

  • 750 GMAT
  • Unknown GPA (“10th standard”)
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from an Indian university
  • Work experience includes two years with a Big 4 accounting firm in its transfer pricing division, planning inter-company pricing policy; recently promoted as an assistant manager
  • “Chartered Accountant (All India 16th rank out of 23,000 candidates–considered one of the toughest exams in he world), 
Chartered Financial Analyst cleared all 3 Level (Flunked level 3 last time, didn’t study much, though not a good excuse)
  • “No extracurricular involvement in college due to poor financial condition (used to live in slums) and the 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.
” Now volunteers for an organization that advocates financial self-sufficiency for poor and disadvantaged women
  • Goal: To get into management consulting or private equity and after four years start my own micro finance institution
  • 25-year-old Indian male, first generation high school and college graduate

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 30% to 40%
Chicago: 30% to 40%
INSEAD: 50% to 70%
London: 50% to 70%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, a compelling story, if told correctly, and if you get recommendations from your Big 4 partners to back you up. I seem to have missed your undergrad institution, but that could be important. I’d say the majority of Indian students with Indian degrees at HBS and Stanford are IIT or possibly a few other schools (private Catholic schools, St. Stephens? Sorry if that is wrong, someone correct me). I’m also a bit unclear about your GPA and how bad it is, that could also be an issue.  Most American adcoms don’t have a real feeling for competitive Indian exams, and saying things like, “Chartered Accountant (All India 16th rank out of 23,000 candidates–considered one of the toughest exams in he world) . . .” is probably more impressive in reality than it is to a normal adcom reader, who often imagines thousands and thousands of not very prepared students sitting for those exams, although sure, 16th out of 23,000 is impressive for most anything.

My point is, the one thing adcoms do understand is GPA, so that could be an issue. Another thing they do understand is GMAT, and your 750 is real good, obviously. At HBS, your fate will turn on what they think of your college, how bad your grades are, how much intelligent and detailed backing your rec writers can give you (real important since your last several years at Big 4 is your real calling card). You really need to make sure those rec writers take the process real seriously. It might be hard to fit a lot of your powerful personal story and extras into the HBS “skinny” application in the full way you would like, but get all of your many extras on your resume, go to two pages, and spell those extras out in full there, as well as in the 200 character slots they give you for extras in the app itself.

You say, as to goals, “to get into management consulting or private equity and after four years start my own micro finance institution . . .” Hmmmm, that is too all over the place and shows desperation, inexperience, and premature ejaculation. Not a pretty picture, which along with some of the more manic elements of your story, viz. “Chartered Financial Analyst cleared all 3 Level (Flunked Level 3 last time, didn’t study much . . .” makes us distrust you a bit. You need to clear all those off-message elements out of your narrative and present yourself as humble, hard-working and thankful, and someone who wants to be an impactful consultant, that wonderful job that adcoms love to hear about, especially from poor lads like you, who have worked their way up  from the slums, supported their families, and are on track to become humble, hard-working, prudent and successful.

Private Equity and starting your own micro finance institution are for rich kids who are already IN private equity, and not working in the stinking trenches of Big 4 “transfer pricing (it’s more of planning inter-company pricing policy, advisory and litigation)” which is similar to sorting out manure (both in fact and in the jaded eyes of most adcoms). An excellent place for a slum dog Big 4 like you to work and earn your ticket out, but don’t try to rise above your station in the application. Adcoms are quite conservative and don’t support fairy tale goals or romantic aspirations. Your consulting goals are good enough for them.

Stanford, which is even more class and caste conscious than HBS, may not get past the Indian Big 4 (and the low grades). They do admit Big 4 worthies, but they are usually USA minorities. Wharton, oddly, is the most meritocratic (well, not so odd, they don’t belong to a duopoly) and you have a real good chance there with “humble” and straightforward execution. Chicago, INSEAD and London should be doable with serviceable execution and no saliva stains on the app.

  • Diana Yu

    Hi Sandy,

    Appreciate some help.

    Age:30 at application
    Gender: Female
    Ethnicity: Chinese
    Nationality: Singaporean
    Education: BEng. Industrial and Systems Engineering from National University of Singapore
    GPA : 4.11 out of 5, or equivalent to around 3.28
    GMAT 730 (Q50 – 87%, V38 – 85%)

    Work Experience : non-traditional background:
    Worked for 6 years 6 months in total.
    Started as a Management Trainee at a Singapore hospital (1 year)
    After the programme, my role was focused on Healthcare Operations and Healthcare IT Project Management at the same hospital (1year)
    Entrepreneur-in-residence at a Digital Healthcare startup based in Singapore. Main role was digital marketing (9 months before it was acquired)
    Returned to the same hospital for a role in Healthcare innovation and change management. Current position is Assistant Manager for Innovation. Main role is to improve healthcare delivery with technology, secondary role is to foster collaboration with commercial entities(both global and local entities) and research academies.
    During the 6 years, I also started 2 companies – first is digital marketing consulting for healthcare practitioners, second is an e-commerce store on Amazon

    In all, can take it that i promoted 3 times while working for the hospital

    During university, was on 3-5 sports teams, one of which is a Varsity team. Was also team captain for one of the sport. Head of the Rag and Flag Committee, and at one point leading 20 committee members, and 300 seniors and freshman
    After I started work, I was an active volunteer/life coach for a Leadership programme, coaching individuals to achieve their personal life goals. During the leadership programme i lead a team of 12 to raise funds for a group of single elderly, in which we raised $60k in 3 weeks.

    Target schools – I am interested in schools with healthcare concentration:
    1.Haas Berkeley
    3.Duke Fuqua

    Post MBA goals:
    To secure a role in Silicon Valley(preferably), in business development, market planning, or strategy for a healthcare technology firm. Alternate is consulting

  • Sawant

    Hi Sandy,
    I am currently preparing to apply for an MBA this September to Wharton. Since, I am from a finance background, my aim is to get into Wharton. Below are my credentials. Please help me out. My only concern in the application process is that I have too much domestic experience.
    Nationality: Indian (currently residing in Mumbai, India)
    GPA: 80% in final public exams of BSc Business Studies from Mumbai University (1st in my college)
    Completed my MSc Finance from an internationally reputed UK university (think UCL, KCL) with a 2.1 (top 10%)
    Total of 4 years work experience, 3 years in Investment Banking and 1 year in Private Equity.
    Worked for 3 years in a major Indian Investment Bank. The investment bank that I worked for is the premier Indian IB firm who has conducted many Q&A sessions in Wharton as well as has a sizeable Wharton alumni as its staff.
    Worked for a year with one of the biggest private equity firms in India. The private equity firm is a Joint Venture between an Indian PE firm and one of the largest international PE firms in the world (think TPG, Apollo, Bain) and manages about USD 6 billion in assets
    GMAT: 670 (planning to give it again)
    Reason to study for an MBA: I have been working as an Analyst for the past 4 years and a promotion in my field is dependant on an MBA from a premier institute.
    Short term goals: Gain work experience at an Associate level in a real estate private equity firm (All my 4 years of work ex are focused on real estate)
    Long term goals: Start my own real estate focused fund which targets distressed assets. Currently the market for distressed assets is huge in India and not well explored.
    Extra-curriculars: Member of an NGO that promotes education among poorer sections of the society.
    Please let me know about my chances for getting into Wharton


    Hello Sandy,

    Indian American Male raised in a small town in Georgia. First to go to college my family. First military service from anyone in the known history of my family.

    GMAT: 740
    Will take again to increase my chances. Goal is to get a 760+

    Georgia State University
    B.S. Physics; Concentration: Astronomy
    Overall 3.23 GPA
    3.6 GPA last 4 semesters.

    6 months research in neurophysics on single neuronal dynamics.

    2 year experience in rubber and plastics manufacturing for a mid-size private company as a process quality engineer and internal auditor.

    4+ years in the US Navy as a submarine officer. One of the first Indian American Submarines officers, if not the first.

    Navy training included: 3 months of officer candidate school, 12 months training on nuclear propulsion at Nuke Power Schools and Prototype. It is known as one of the toughest and most prestigious programs in the military. Also, 3 months with submarine navigation, oceanography, etc.

    Extracurricular: Hands on Atlanta, fighting hunger organization, human trafficking awareness organization, golf, surfing, Muay Thai.

    Fluent in Gujarati, Hindi, and of course English.
    Conversational Urdu.

    What are my chances for a top 15 MBA school? I will be 30 years of age at the time of matriculation.

    Ultimate goal is to work as a strategy consultant for one of the big 3 firms and eventually enter into an executive level position at a fortune 100 company.

    Thank you!

  • PrincessMya

    Hi Sandy

    Age 26

    GMAT 710


    – BE (engineering college India) – 3.6

    -MS (Indiana University) – 3.45

    Work Experience

    – Big 4 consulting – 2+ years as a technology consultant with financial service. Experience in Big Data and tech strategy development
    Education is sponsored by firm, and I have a return offer as well

    -Ericsson – 1 year
    Good work experience

    Extra curricular

    – Worked for United Nations

    – Working for a non-profit that helps women who face domestic abuse

    Schools – Wharton, Kellog, Berkley, INSEAD

  • Neha

    Hi Sandy,

    Request you to evaluate:

    I am a born & brought up in India. I am a graduate of Economics(H) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, India (GPA 3.5/4) and I will have close to 4 years of work experience when I apply.
    I started my career with Ernst & Young(EY), India in Statutory Audit.
    After one year of working with EY, I got the opportunity to work with the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley(MS),India where I worked for 9 months.
    I had to quit MS to join my dad’s business due to crunch time for the business. I worked in the family business for one year, 6 months.
    After the business revived, I have joined International Finance Corporation (IFC). Its been one year that I have been working at IFC and intend to apply to B-schools this year.
    I am interested in pursuing a global MBA to have a career in finance and grow as a professional. I realize that I have switched a lot of jobs, though in all these organizations I have done substantial amount of finance related work. Do schools want applicants who have stuck around a firm for a long time? Also, is there any number of years of experience that the school prefers?

  • Chase the Dream

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you give me some advice on my odds and what schools I should target:

    650 GMAT (might not be able to take it again due to time constrains)
    3.86 GPA-Summa Cum Laude
    Majored in Finance, Business Sustainability, Econ Minor and International Business Certificate at a State University
    I Speak 5 languages.
    European Female
    Work at Goldman Sachs for about 3 years up to matriculation, in a trading operations role.
    Volunteer work outside of work with Children and Women Societies
    Short Term Goal: Start working within an Investment Management/ Hedge Fund in US.
    Long Term Goal: Open my own investment management boutique in my home country.
    Target Schools: NYU, Columbia (applied ED)

  • Pods

    Hi Sandy
    Could you please review my profile and let me know if i can get into the top B-scools such as Harvard, Wharton, kellogs, LBS etc.
    I am from India.
    95% scorer in school
    commerce grad from India’s best commece college – 75% score
    3 years of work ex in one of the big fours and a Chartered Accountant
    not much involvement in extra curriculur activities

  • leepakshi

    nice profile…how do I see the evaluation?

  • prtm

    Hi Sandy,
    Could you please review my profile?
    I’m a 26 male from Indonesia
    Bachelor Degree in Computer Science from Reputable Indonesia University
    GPA: 3.69
    GMAT: 700+
    3 years work experience in performing yet unknown strategy consulting firm in Indonesia
    Extra: Experienced in community development project(assist rural people improving their standard of living)

    Goal: to get into a better consulting firm with international exposure opportunities

    Thanks in advance

  • Dizz

    I would really appreciate your input:



    27 years old

    730 GMAT

    3.81 GPA

    BS and MS in Accounting from top program (though University as a whole is well-known but not necessarily a target)

    Work Exp:

    1 year at top Economics Consulting firm.

    2 years at a start-up hedge fund where I was #2. The fund has performed relatively well.

    4 years at my family’s farm RE / operating firm (10,000 acres in 2 states) doing accounting / CFO-type work


    Student leader of organization that focuses on the community integration of individuals with various learning disabilities. I have continued to be involved after college and am currently trying to get a local high school chapter started. I am also an avid endurance athlete and have completed a full Ironman triathlon. Spent 2 years living full-time in Russia (fluent speaker) on a humanitarian mission.

    MBA goals:

    To be honest, I want to leverage it to get into a bigger, well-established hedge fund, essentially doing the same thing. This might change over time, though.


    Can I get general feedback / advice for M7 admission?

    One concern I have is that I am getting too old. If I apply this year for a 2014 start I will be 28 at matriculation, which I don’t think is old, but for family-related reasons I prefer to apply for the following year when I will be 29. Is that too old for any of the schools?

  • Jeet

    Hey Sandy,
    I am a 2 year old guy from india turning 23 this April
    Gmat:490 (1st Attempt).Giving 2nd attempt aiming for 640 +
    Education:Undergraduate in commerce @73%.Graduate in Commerce 72%(University of Mumbai).
    Work Ex:3 years in my own firm.
    Overall I am an average student whos good with numbers.I am planning for my MBA in finance in the USA.Is it possible to get in any reputed business schools with my academics after i score a 640+in my GMAT?

  • singaporeaninindia

    Hi Sandy,

    Hoping you’ll give my profile a look.

    760 GMAT
    3.5 GPA from a top BBM programme in Singapore
    Based in Mumbai for the last 1.5 years while working for the Education practice at a top tier Boston-based boutique consulting firm
    Was previously working in management consulting for a large technology company for 9 months
    Extracurricular involvement includes building schools in Cambodia while in university and being involved with an online non-profit startup
    Goal: To attend a top ten business school in order to start schools in emerging markets
    26-year-old, Singaporean female (half-Singaporean Chinese, half-Filipino)
    Targeting top 10 schools (especially Columbia)
    Thank you!

  • Nag

    education: M.S(UCLA) B.Engg(Private Univ in india) in Computer Science.

    GPA: 3.2 M.S, 3.1 B.Engg.


    Work Experience: ~4years( by 2014 spring). Working as a software engineer. Started with a small IT firm. Within an year, I moved into Cisco.

    Part Time: 1 year.Advisory role at family business.Played a key role in redefining the operations and improving efficiency in out manufacturing unit.

    Extra Curriculars: Class Ambassador for cultural and technical events during undergrad. No strong EC during or after masters.

    What are my chances of getting into Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, Stern and UCLA?

    What could be my areas of development in the next 6 months-1 year? Will a GMAT score of 740 matter for my target schools?

  • Guest


  • SE

    Hi Sandy,


    Work Experience: 3.5 years(for fall 2014 admission)

    Education: M.S(U.C.L.A) and B.Engg(A private university in India) in computer science.

    GPA: 3.2(M.S) 7.1/10(B.Engg)

    Nationality: Indian

    Work Experience: I work as a software engineer. 1 year with a small it firm. Got into Cisco after that.

    Part Time: Advisory role with Management at my family business. Played a key role in redefining the operations of manufacturing unit.(1 year)

    Extra Curricular Activities: No strong EC’s after masters. Served as a class ambassador during my undergrad and organized various technical events.

    Goals: I want to get an MBA in general management and take over my family business. I am from a rural village background.I want to use my business skills to create social value in my community.

    What are my chances of getting into Stanford, Columbia, Wharton,Stern, UCLA?

  • Hopeful

    Mr. HBS Guru,
    Would be eternally grateful if you could spare a profile review.
    “Mr. Horrible GPA”
    27 yr old Latino, naturalized immigrant male, living in NY.
    2.8 BA GPA top state school
    3.3 MA GPA
    770 GMAT (49Q/46V)
    4 Yrs work experience as a Sr. business analyst with 2 promotions.
    Goal: To transition into a more “hands-on” consultant role.
    Extracurriculars: Weekly volunteering with local schools (mentoring), have traveled abroad for and “worked” as a volunteer for non profit organizations. Currently setting up an education-based non profit in South America.
    Fluent in English, Spanish, Italian.
    I’m hoping my GMAT score outweighs my GPA enough to at least get consideration.
    Target schools: NYU, Columbia, Kellog, Booth, Harvard if they somehow fail to see my GPA 🙂

  • Mr. Drugs and Crime

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m a 30 year old Austrian working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as a Software Architect.

    Undergrad: Software Engineering – 3.35

    Master: Software Engineering – 3.65

    GMAT: 700 (q:48, v:37)

    work experience:

    – worked 4 years part time (20 hours/week) whilst studying in Austria’s biggest insurance company

    – worked 2 years at a startup, left for United Nations, CEO offered me to become a partner before I left, amongst clients where biggest hospital of Europe

    – since 2 years at the United Nations, developed data collection solution that is used now for 5 projects each ~50k

    extra curricular:
    – founder of Web Performance group with ~70 members now
    – organized tech meetups where 2 international speakers presented about newest trends in their respective field

    Goal: Switch to Finance, work for Deutsche bank at a FX trading desk in either London or NYC

    Target schools:

    – MIT

    – LBS

    – NYU

    – Columbia

    – ???

  • InchoateGoalz

    22-Year-Old Male, Eurasian
    790 GMAT
    3.95 GPA Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of Florida

    Internship Experience: One summer with Disney, one summer with GE industrial

    Leadership: Vice-president of undergraduate research team, executive board of engineering honors fraternity, 15 years of piano experience (regularly perform charity events for elderly or sick), founded arts in engineering program, regularly volunteer with cerebral palsy patients at a local foundation.

    Goal: Haven’t thoroughly thought this part through yet, but possibly something at the intersection of operations research and management.

    Target Schools:
    HBS 2+2
    Stanford 2+2

  • DJCurrySpice


    Here are my Stats:

    – 25 years old (will have 48+ months experience when I matriculate)

    – University of Minnesota undergrad (Double Major: Finance and Marketing)

    – 3.2 GPA… my weakness

    – Extremely involved on campus – President / Leader of many clubs (named national undergraduate of the year by my fraternity across 7500+ members)

    – Post college: Joined Teach For America as High School Math Teacher; Helped bring in over $150,000 in grant money along with stellar classroom results; coached golf team

    – Post TFA: Joined Accenture in Strategy Consulting (I do work primarily in M&A)

    – 760 GMAT (50/51 on Quant)

    – Started my own pro-bono consulting firm to match TFA alumni working in consulting/banking/etc. to TFA alumni working as social entrepreneurs with related needs. Have people from McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Goldman, Harvard Business and Education schools on the board or serving as entrepreneurs, etc.

    – Want to run a Foundation for my career goal (see it as crossroads between Non-Profit development, Management Consulting, and Socially-focused Venture Capital)

    – My target schools are: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago, Columbia, and Yale

  • AC

    Hey Sandy,
    Here goes…
    I’m a 27 year old female from India.
    GMAT: 750
    Education: Undergraduate degree in Mathematics from St. Stephen’s College, College rank holder with 87% aggregate; Post graduate diploma in business management (specialization in Finance) from a top Indian business school; FRM holder
    Work Experience: 4+ years of experience in a leading Indian financial services firm with -> 2.5 years in risk management focused on proprietary trading activities, solely responsible for setting up risk practices for the structured products desk -> 1.5 years in Investment Banking – Private Equity Advisory focused on infrastructure/ renewable energy, achieved 2 transaction closures in the first year
    Other: Promoted twice in 3 years; Transferred internally to Investment Banking under a firm-wide leadership program – Youngest inductee in the program; Active participant in the firm’s non-profit activities – volunteered as an english teacher at a night school for underprivileged students for over 2 years
    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Haas, LBS, INSEAD
    Goal: Move to a green-tech focused PE firm/ development finance institution or start a social enterprise

  • Rico


    I’m a 25 year old white male. First generation college graduate.
    GRE Score: Verbal 157 Quant 162 = Gmat conversion: 660
    GPA: 3.85 Bryant University
    Undergraduate Degree: Double major in FInance and Economics
    Extra-curricular activities: 4 year Varsity Football Player at Bryant, Founding member of the United States Green Building Council RI Chapter, Appointed member of the Town of Smithfield Asset Management Commission
    Work Experience: Entrepreneur. Director of Business Development at family owned small electrical contracting firm Mallozzi Electric oversaw marketing, management operations and finance. Practicing Real Estate agent and investor. Actively rehab distressed properties to sell for market value.
    Goal: Start a real estate development company and become a serial social entrepreneur. Would also be interested in a working for a premier management consulting firm.

    Target Schools: Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Yale, Duke, Northwestern

    Your analysis would be greatly appreciated. Please let me know my odds and if you suggest any other schools.

  • youngandtech

    GMAT: 720

    GPA: 3.13 Undergrad Stanford University, Political Science Minor in Economics

    Extra-curricular Activities: 4-year Division 1 wrestler, Member of Staford’s Improv troupe, Voted as president of Student Athlete Student Council my last 3 years. Lot’s of service related activited

    23 year-old white male

    Job Experience: 2-years Sales at a tech start-up in silicon valley that has grown from 200 to 500 people in a year. Promoted to a position in under a year that typically takes 5-8 years of experience. Internships include working with as an intern for a Kansas Senator, my homestate, and working on the financial side at a company that gives microloans primarily to underbanked latinos.

    Target Schools: Reach: Stanford Harvard Wharton Colombia Maybe still a reach: Booth, Kellogg, Ross, Haas, Tuck Wheelhouse: Fuqua, Johnson, Darden, Anderson

    Goal: transition into consulting, specifically in the government sector. Long-term goal international politics

    Wondering if I’m accurate in the schools im targeting and my odds of acceptance


  • Rayver

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m a 23 year old ethnic Chinese male living in the Philippines.

    I have a 3.16 Cumulative point index similar to GPA in US from the top university in the Philippines.

    Degree in Management Engineering minor in Chinese studies.

    Passed CFA level 1 and doing CFA level 2.

    Licensed insurance agent and has a background in six sigma.

    GMAT: targeting 700

    work experience:

    2 years as second in command at largest private onion distributor in the country with 4 million usd in 4 million usd in revenues.

    – Helped design, and Operated the most modern onion cold storage facility in the country.

    – worked as Finance, operations and HR VP for the company.

    1 year as a management trainee for Number one airline company in the country.

    – worked with consultants and EVP in developing routes and distribution channels.

    – automated various analytic exercises.

    extracurricular activities:

    Donating to the local church every year since 1995.

    Volunteered as an altar boy in the local church

    worked as a cadet for the local high school for 2 years doing traffic control and food distribution.

    active in the local temple donating cooking materials and food.

    taught for 2 years in a housing development community.

    Goal: to help the local onion industry by involving farmers through social entrepreneurship, thereby increasing the country’s local supply, decreasing smuggling and protecting farmers’ livelihood and improving ours.

    Target schools: Harvard, Wharton, Yale, LBS.

  • CSR_gal

    Thanks so much for writing all of these… I’ve found them incredibly helpful. I posted this once before, but I think I did it in the wrong spot. Sorry for clogging up the comments… not trying to be irritating!

    Regardless of if you select my profile or not, I’ll be pouring over everyone else’s profiles and your responses to feed into my application process. Many thanks!

    -GMAT: not yet taken, figure 700+
    -Undergrad GPA: 3.67, Berkeley: Development Studies (emphasis in econ, geographical focus on sub-Saharan Africa), w/ honors

    -3 years work experience for a start up renewable energy developer with projects in Africa (I was employee #2 – company now has 75+ staff in 3 countries). Initially based in London office, now based in West African country (not Nigeria), managing the corporate social responsibility program and local operations.
    -I was a part of the company from inception (started as an independent consultant evaluating the potential investment in West Africa before the company officially existed), was brought on full time when the initial contract was signed with the gov’t — company will have IPO’ed by time of my application. It’s been a wild ride.

    -Will have solid letters of rec from CEO of the company (who was my line manager when I worked in the London office), and a from a director (Harvard EMBA)
    -Extras: strong background volunteering with NGOs (especially in Africa)
    -Widely travelled (~40 countries, 6 continents), avid sports fan, coffee snob
    -Homeschooled through high school (self motivated and independent, not weird and nerdy). I doubt high school extras matter, but I was pretty successful in speech and debate (several national accolades etc.)
    -First in my family to graduate from college

    -Goal: To work within companies with large scale investments in Africa to bridge the divide between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Interested in developing new best practices in CSR, and in how the NGO world can compliment the growth spurred by investment in infrastructure (particularly energy).
    -27 year old white female

    -Targets: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Dartmouth, Berkeley, Columbia, Chicago, Yale, UCLA
    -Also considering joint degree programs such as the MBA/MIA with Columbia’s SIPA, or Johns Hopkins’ SAIS has a few dual options with Stanford, Wharton, Tuck

  • engineer

    forgot to add, my career goal is to become an exploration manager at a major mining company, and maybe some day to start my own engineering firm.

  • Engineer

    Hi Sandy,
    Age:35 upon matriculation

    Gender: Male

    Ethnicity: caucasian

    Nationality: American

    Education: BE Mining/Economics from University of Queensland, S.M. in Geotechnical Engineering from MIT. M. Eng. Mining and Materials Engineering from McGill University.

    GPA 3.8
    GMAT 760

    Work Experience:

    Worked for three years for a junior mining company, as a junior engineer for two years, and the one year as a project engineer. Have since worked for two years as a project engineer for a big cap mining company in the oil sands.


    I grew up on a small family farm in the midwest, always loved working with machinery, and when I went to a local state college, I loved the math and physics classes. So I decided to become an engineer, since it would combine what I really liked doing, working around machinery and numbers.

    I have mostly done normal charity, working has been most of my life, that and going to school.

    I speak French, German, and Spanish as well as English.

    My hobbies include hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, running, etc. pretty much anything you can do outdoors.

    Target programs would be
    Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Stanford, MIT-Sloan, London.

  • Gina

    Hi Sandy – would you be able to help me out?

    GPA: 3.7 from Penn
    Work: Bain & Co

    Female – lot of activity in Women’s Initiative activities at Bain


  • unemployed consultant

    Hi Sandy, If you can advise on my profile.. Thanks a lot!

    Singaporean Chinese / 27 / M / First generation college graduate

    Post MBA Aspiration:
    Break into MBB (or rejoin consulting), then into PE or Entrepreneurship

    Education :
    Business with major in Finance & Accounting GPA 3.5 / 4.0
    GMAT 690 Q47 V38 on first try, going for 720+
    Degree from one of the 3 state university – all 3 universities in Singapore are considered top tier in the region

    Professional Profile (all based in Singapore):
    Audit and middle office internships at Big 4 and a top Swiss bank respectively
    “Got interested” in consulting post graduation, did 5 months of pro-bono / freelance consulting work for friends and relatives before breaking into a consulting role with a top 20 market research company (10 offices globally) which serves top tier FMCG clients and government agencies for 1.5 years. Awarded “Consultant of the Year”.

    Transited into full fledged management consulting with a German boutique (approx 10 offices globally, think Vault 50 “best of the rest”. Worked for 5 months before closure of office resulted in retrenchment just this month.

    Lead a team of 20 to rural Indochina for a two week community service project as an expedition leader back in University. Consistent voluntary record before I started work.
    Used to be competitive handball player / marathon runner
    It is to be noted that consulting is a very small and competitive industry, and doubly so in this part of the world. Local hires typically have a top tier degree / MBA from US / Europe who are relatively abundant in supply so chances of local graduates that actually made it like myself are rare. Hence the decision to use MBA to “re-break” into consulting.

  • Dominator

    Hi Sandy!

    Thank you for the hard work! Would be delighted to hear your insights:
    GMAT: 600 (took 3 years ago, definitely plan to retake)
    Education: BA and MA in Sociology from a top private university in Ukraine. Undergrad GPA 3.4, graduate 3.7. Also got a Master in Finance from IE in Spain, finished 2nd in class (GPA 3.8). Passed 2 levels of CFA.
    Gender: female
    Nationality: Ukrainian
    Age: 25
    Work experience: started working while doing my masters in sociology – worked 1.5 years for a Ukrainian alternative energy start-up and among other things found them an investor (large international conglomerate) who bought it for $25 Mln; interned at the European Parliament in Brussels (4 months) and at EDP Renovaveis (one of Europe’s largest alternative energy companies) in Madrid (4 months). After getting my Master in Finance in 2011 have been working for a year now as an analyst in Citi’s IB division in London.
    Extracurriculars: worked in the organisational committee of an international political forum in Ukraine that brings top politicians from all over the world (with the likes of Bill Clinton and Gerhard Schroeder) and the first meeting of the European Youth Parliament in Ukraine.
    Goals: to go into PE with a focus on alternative energy
    Schools (in order of preference): Stanford, HBS, Wharton

    Thank you in advance!

  • Mr. NPO

    Hello Sandy,
    I have enjoyed reading your insights for quite some months now, and I am now at the point where I am hoping to get some advice for my own situation.
    Age: 27 (28 at matriculation)
    Gender: M
    Race: Caucasian
    Nationality: American
    Education: University of California at San Diego. 3.56 overall. Major: Chinese Studies; Minor: Political Science (both very strong programs there). Spent 7 months studying in China as well. Also completed about 8 courses through UCSD extended studies in the finance certificate program and the non profit management certificate program (received a scholarship to do so). Straight A’s in those classes.
    GMAT: 700 (44q/41v). However, I plan on retaking this shortly, and raising the quant score significantly (practice exams have all been around 750 total, but I made some errors in timing during the actual GMAT and ended up not being able to answer the last 6 questions).
    Work Exp: 3 years at a non-profit that assists wounded veterans. Started as Grants Coordinator, Promoted to Program Director after 1 year, and have been Executive Director for the past year. Have gained comprehensive insights into the operation of NPOs (program design/analysis, fundraising, accounting, dealing with the board of directors, etc.). My fear is that the organization is too small to catch the eye of adcoms.
    Post-MBA goal: Work at a leading non-profit consulting firm (Bridgespan, etc.) for several years, eventually leave consulting and contribute to the development of social enterprise in developing countries (namely China).
    Extra-Curriculars: Not much to speak of – my working years have been spent in a non-profit setting, so any of my ‘volunteer’ time contributes to the same cause. I am quite passionate about the work our organization does. Hobbies include running (several half marathons), traveling (extensive), boxing, and scuba diving.
    Other: My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor while I was in college, and passed away within 1 year. I spent much of my free time with family during and after this period, so my extra curriculars are quite weak during my college years. My grades also suffered as a result. He was a big inspiration to me, and I would do it the same way if I had another chance.
    I am typically quite good at writing essays and weaving stories. With proper research and introspection, I believe that I will be able to spin a cohesive story in my applications. However, I think that my weakest point is the lack of brand recognition of my workplace. Given my leadership experience, is this a deal breaker?
    Target programs: Yale, UCLA, UCBerkeley, Duke, Columbia, Northwestern, Chicago, Stanford (a huge stretch, but a fantastic non profit program). Are there any other schools that look favorably on applicants with my background that I should be considering? I know HBS/Wharton have soft spots for the ‘social enterprise’ type, but is it worth my time to apply?
    Any thoughts or reality checks would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

  • mrs engineer

    Hi Sandy!

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    Just took the GMAT this weekend, so I’m feeling pumped!

    29 year old first gen South Asian American female
    GMAT 740 (Q50 V40)
    BS Chemical Engineering from Best Public University in California (GPA 3.02)
    MS Chemical Engineering from a UC down south (GPA 3.7)
    3 years in Fortune 500 Engineering Firm – Instrumentation Engineer in the Energy Industry in West Coast
    2+ years Government Consulting – Defense/Homeland Security in East Coast
    Professional Engineering License
    Extracurriculars: Volunteer tutor in College; some run of the mill charity work off and on since then

    Schools (want to apply this year to start school fall 2013, I want to move back to CA)
    Berkeley Haas
    UCLA Anderson

  • Hamza

    Hi Sandy!
    Thanks for taking the time.

    28 yr old male with South Asian background.
    BA in Economics from top Canadian University. 3.5 GPA.
    Masters in Accounting from top Canadian University. Top 5% of class.
    2 years in Big 4 accounting. International travel.
    1 year in strategy consulting at Big 4.(Deloitte consulting/Accenture)
    CA(Canadian accountancy) and CFA.
    Extracurricular(Varsity squash, volunteer teacher, etc)
    Goal: Strategy consulting with MBB.

    Harvard, INSEAD, Wharton, Columbia, Stern.


    Hi Sandy,
    Please let me know what you think:
    – 27 year-old White Male (28 or 29 at matriculation)
    – GMAT (not yet taken; 720-750 est.); will take until at least 700+
    – BS in Management (Accounting major) with 3.34 GPA (upward trajectory – switched into business school after 1.5 years undeclared) from Boston College
    – MS in Accounting with 3.39 GPA (also from BC)
    – CPA in Massachusetts (all 4 parts 1st attempt)
    – CFA Charterholder (all three sections 1st attempt)
    – Work experience includes 3 years at Big 4 firm in audit practice – focused on investment management clients (promoted early among ~5% of class) and 3 years in the Corporate Accounting group at a global leading mutual fund company in Boston (promoted to manager after 1.5 years)
    – Will have an additional 1.5 – 2 years of experience by matriculation (potentially applying last round for 2013, more likely for 2014), which I hope will be in a more FO role on the investment side of the business at current company (interviewing internally now)
    – Extracurriculars: mostly sports and run-of-the mill charity work during/since college; in discussions to launch a financial literacy program for in-patients and their families at Cambridge Health Alliance (Harvard’s teaching hospital)
    – ST goal (IB; interviewed at 2 leading boutique banks in the past 2 years through networking efforts; explicity told by these banks and PE shops I’ve also interviewed with that I need top MBA as I’m too old for analyst role)
    – LT goal (growth equity PE; providing capital to growing health care services companies – or something along those lines; could use advice about the best way to spin my goals)
    – Schools:

  • MrH

    Hi Sandy,

    Please take a look at my stats. I appreciate any input you can provide.

    29 year-old Hispanic American
    750 GMAT (only took it once, didn’t study much, but no point in taking again)
    BS in Chemistry and BS in Physics with 3.65 GPA from tier 3 US school. I lived with my parents during college.
    MA in Physics from top 10 US school with 3.4. The physics department grades very hard and has the lowest average GPA in the graduate school, so 3.4 is considered good.

    Work experience: (4 yrs full-time experience by the time I matriculate)
    Aug 2011-When I start business school
    Business Analyst at Accenture working mostly in pharma, including product launch, clinical development, and lifecycle management i.e. minimizes sales lost when a blockbuster goes generic. So very broad pharma experience, but not very deep.

    Apr 2009-Aug 2011
    Research Assistant/Research Fellow in Physics
    I was a doctoral candidate during this time, but never defended my dissertation bc my adviser kept moving the goal post once I told him I was leaving academia to go into business. I did extensive work in areas too esoteric to be elaborated here, but one of those areas was drug design, so I can show the link to my current pharma work.

    Jan 2002-Jun 2006
    Research Assistant
    I worked part-time in three different research groups while I was in undergrad and have very diverse research experience. I’ve worked in biology, chemistry and physics.

    I have three scientific publications to my name, two of them as first author.

    I will have good recommendations from two of my supervisors, and another good recommendation from a mentor I found within the company. None of these people are very high on the hierarchy, but they all think very highly of me and will write good to great recommendations.

    Personal Background:
    I lived in a housing project as a kid, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Many of my family members on my mother’s side still live in that neighborhood. Both of my parents are immigrants and I am the first in my family to graduate from college.

    My main extracurricular activity over the past few years has been mentoring students in math and science. I mentored one student in particular since the 6th grade and he is now in the 10th grade. I took a very strong interest in him once I realized how much potential he had in math. He is now very advanced in mathematics for his age and is all but guaranteed admission to top 10 schools when he graduates from high school. He comes from an economically depressed African-American community.

    I also participated in science outreach activities in undergrad.

    Short-term, immediately after my MBA, I want to join a biopharmaceutical company, preferably a small to midsize biotech, working in portfolio planning.
    Long-term, 5-10 ysr post-MBA. I want work my way up within portfolio planning to reach a director level position.
    Portfolio planning is a great area to gain useful knowledge about all aspects of a pharma company and I believe it is an ideal place to make my career if I am eventually to rise high within the hierarchy of a pharma company.
    Portfolio planning requires knowledge of R&D, sales, marketing and analytics, I have experience in all of these areas, and my extensive research experience gives me a comparative advantage versus most business people in portfolio planning who have no firsthand research experience.
    I like small and midsize biotechs because they seem like they will give me more responsibilities and opportunities early on in my career.


    The list is big because my fiancee is also looking for post-doc or lectureship positions and of course we’re trying to end up in the same city.


  • Hi Sandy, I’m not sure if my comment work,
    I’m 28 years old french student, I retake my studies in order to do a mba program.

    at the end of the years I will graduate with a bachelor of business
    management with a low gpa (2.8), because I have been during 1 year, and
    recored during my final year I cannot assit to the whole year and have
    some subject to retake. The illness, leave me with hearing disability,
    and trouble of concentration..

    I never heard about disabled student who want to apply or success in mba program ?

    I have a non common background I guess I will have to score a high gmat

    My background :

    french black woman (with hearing disability) 28/29 yrs, my parents come from french caraibes Island
    grow up with single mother

    professional dancer/ rythmic gymnast ( first with good level in my region)

    teaching diploma in sport

    worked as Manager in a sport club during 10 years

    entrepreneur, I own my company during 3 years work with two chineses company (sportswear)

    both diploma are for improve my skills, knowledges, and application on mba course

    bachelor in business management 2013

    master in marketing 2014

    extra curricular activities

    childcamp every summer

    Help children in difficuty by learning values in sport

    train a team two time France champion

    work with association and school for help disavantaged and poor family

    I am currently preparing the gmat and I will try to achieve a 650-720.

    My disability is quite recent I’m still not use to it wearing hear help and other thing..

    after a look this is The school I really like, and Wharton is my best choice, and







    but accortding to my profile I think it will be better for my profile to target in the top 10.

    WHat do you think about my profile, my project and chance to get in that type of school

  • TA

    Honestly JC I think you are aiming too low. “Aim high and miss” is better than “aim low and get”… I would keep one safety school out of your list( unless you have specific economic and geographic reasons). Bear is mind while admissions are competitive the sheer volume of seats in the top 10 schools is huge.(HBS- 920 Wharton -850 Kellog-700+ Booth ~ 600 , Ross ~ 600 etc etc) . Then there are others like stern UCLA Haas Ross with huge intake. What you need to keep in mind is say the average acceptance rate is 15-20% . Its the same people that apply to the similar choices of top 10 schools. So almost everyone who is good enough(which you are) gets into atleast 1 of the top 10. If you wanna be conservative and aim for 10-15 go for it but I dont see the point in having more than 1 back up. Plus why rotman? are you an international student who needs permanent residence? if not you are way better off applying and staying in USA. Schools here are more recognized. Your profile looks solid to me just wrap it nice and tight and present it well. I would have atleast 1 in the top 8 , maybe 2-3 in 8-16 range , one more 16-20(mccombs, kenan flagger etc) and 1 back up. That should give you a good balanced approach

  • JC

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m not aiming for a crème de la crème school per se but I’d appreciate if you could give me some insight into my chances. I have a pretty unusual profile and maybe it’d be helpful for other readers who are trying to handicap their shot at getting into a school outside the top 15 or so. Here it is:

    Age: 21
    Nationality: Canadian (first-generation immigrant)
    Education: Undergraduate Management degree from small public university in New Jersey (first-generation university graduate)
    Ethnicity: East Asian
    GPA: 3.1/4
    GMAT: 680 (first try, no study), 6 AWA

    Work Experience: Worked for 2 years full-time in an administrative role for a professional sports team while attending high school. Finalist for an industry award for services I provided to my company. 3 years working in the public sector in the aviation industry while pursuing my undergraduate degree (work and study full-time), achieved promotion to supervise 20-30 employees. Only person in company history to achieve a perfect score on a workplace performance metric. Closely involved with organised labour and was an important player in collective bargaining processes as well as organisational planning. 1-1.5 years of freelance experience providing communications and product sourcing services in various locations in Asia for North American/European companies. “Veteran” of many of the major trade fairs in Asia. Currently have a job offer for a six-figure salary, highly competitive position in the Canadian aviation industry but weighing my options.

    Volunteer Experience: Some involvement with political organisations and labour groups.

    International Experience: Lived in Canada, the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, been to over 30 different countries for either work or leisure.

    Languages: Native English proficiency, varying levels of proficiency in French, Korean and Chinese. (at least intermediate/functional)

    Other: Holds Commercial Pilot Licence, ~300 hours in light aircraft.

    Goal: To work as a consultant to develop socially responsible ways to tap into Asia’s newest emerging markets such as Burma.

    Target schools: Indiana (Kelley), Toronto (Rotman), Georgia Tech (Scheller), W&M (Mason), Pitt (Katz), Iowa (Tippie), Case Western Reserve (Weatherhead), Thunderbird

    Am I targeting the right schools for me? I tried to pick mainly “younger” programmes. Should I be aiming lower or should I even be thinking about aiming a bit higher (Kenan-Flagler, Tepper)? Thanks a lot.

  • Alex

    Hi Sandy,

    Here is my profile.

    Age: 26

    Nationality: Russian

    Education: Undergrad in Finance from a top Russian university.

    GPA: 4.6/5 (Top 10 of class)

    Work experience:
    Ernst & Young (Transactions Advisory Services), 2 years – As a Consultant / Senior Consultant workes on fundraising projects for the largest Russian banks and oil&gas companies. lead a team of one / two junior consultants. Having acquired relevant project finance experience, I moved in what I considered my ultimate goal: the non-profit industry (World Bank).
    International Finance Corporation (IFC), The World Bank Group, 3 years – As an Investment Analyst, I’ve closed a number of high-profile deals in healhcare, agribusiness and manufacturing industries in Eastern Europe and Middle East (Belarus, Greece, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine). The projects I’ve worked on had great developmental impact, for example, entailing investments in a leading Russian private hospital providing unique infertility services and maternity care or the largest Ukrainian agricultural producer and trader supplying North Africa with wheat and other crops. At the World Bank, I’ve gain great international experience working with colleagues from Cairo, Istanbul, London, and Washington.

    GMAT: 710 (85% / 83%)

    Immediate goal after MBA: Continue my career at IFC at an Investment Officer position

    Long term goal: To head and manage a developmental financial fund such as the IFC Cleantech Fund aimed at supporting investments in the green-energy-related technologies

    Extracurricular activities: volunteer at the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and Greenpeace; founding member of the Moscow IB (investment banking) club; have been playing soccer and hockey for more than 15+ years (was a captain of the university soccer team); black belt in martial arts (Daido Juku).

    Target schools: Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Tuck, NYU Stern and LBS

  • ayindafb

    Hi Sandy here is my profile
    age 26
    Nationality: Cameroonian
    Education: Bsc in Organizational Human Resources from a top Moroccan University (Africa)
    Work Experience: 3.8 years of strategy and operations consulting for Deloitte in west and central Africa offices, focusing on telecommunication, media,Technological services and finance services.
    GMAT:720( practice test)
    GPA 2.23 ( GPA is low because I was hired by Deloitte while at the beginning of my sophomore year, which made it difficult to study and travel for work all at the same time)
    Extracurricular activities: Set up a micro-credit for a small women’s association in Ifrane Morocco in order to help them start their own business and help other women in the region.
    Volunteered as marketing officer of the International Agriculture Salon for helping big and small size farmers in Africa get investors and funding in the transformation of their natural products into a more marketable commodity.
    Short Term Goal: To help expand the International Salon of Agriculture to the rest of world so as to bring more investors and farmers from all over in order to invest and provide opportunities for farmers.
    Long Term Goal: To leave strategy and operations consulting and move into Non profit and social entrepreneurship.
    * I learned business analyst skills on the job and requirements in gathering, guiding stakeholders to effective decision making and problem solving of computer based problem.
    String ability to multitask given that I worked for Deloitte in west and central Africa while blending with my studies.
    Target Schools: Insead, Harvard, Berkeley, Yale, Chicago, MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth,Tuck Kellogg, Wharton, Stern,UCLA, HEC Paris.

  • JohnAByrne

    Absolutely. I think Wharton is a good bet for you and within reach.

  • ankur

    Hi Sandy,

    I have a very similar profile to the individual on page 3. For the Accenture Technology analyst, you state that he has the following chances -‘Chicago: 20%, Northwestern: 20%, Columbia: 20% to 30%’.

    However, near the end you state also that ‘You should be a coin-flip case places like Booth, Kellogg, Columbia (try Early Decision) and maybe Yale as well.’ So I was confused, which one was accurate. Also could you provide the odds of making it to Wharton for this profile?

    Thank you!

  • Mr. Transfer Pricing

    Thanks you so much for taking out your time in doing such a detailed analysis of my profile. Btw, i got a First Class with Distinction (the highest grade category) in my final year graduation from from a college ranked no.1 by Mumbai University. Also completed my CFA all 3 levels. Thanks again

  • Ravine

    Here’s my profile:
    Age: 26
    Nationality: Indian
    Education: Undergrad in Aerospace Engineering from a top Indian institute.
    GPA: 8.5/10 (Top 10 of class)
    Work experience:
    Indian Space Research Organisation- Design Engineer for 3 years. Worked on several part designs and analysis of almost all present launch vehicles of India’s space program. Had wide interaction with private aerospace manufacturing industry in India.
    GE Aviation- Worked as a design engineer for aircraft engine parts. Involved in multiple top design projects.
    Extracurricular: Teaching volunteer for underprivileged children, Editor of college newspaper
    GMAT: 750
    Immediate goal after MBA: Move to engineering/technology consulting.
    Long term goal:To move onto project management at large corporations in the aerospace/automotive sectors (Eg. Boeing, Raytheon. Lockheed Martin, Ford, GE, GM etc.)
    Target schools: MIT Sloan, Tuck, Kellogg (MMM and MBA), London

  • “Mr Goldman Sachs”

    Thanks for the advice John. Should i stretch for Wharton? As clarification, i’ll be moving into the corporate finance roll (non-operations) in a month.