Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

After a three-year stint in the U.S. Commerce Department, he launched a tech startup that is a blend of Groupon and social media. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.45 grade point average from Georgia Tech, he hopes to get an MBA degree from a highly-ranked school.

She has worked in public relations for digital media companies, an arts non-profit and a web design and marketing company where she is currently a project manager. With a 660 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA from the University of Florida, she is hoping to gain acceptance to a top business school.

After working as a research associate for a small hedge fund, this 27-year-old professional now works for a boutique investor relations firm. With decent GRE scores in both math and verbal and a 3.89 GPA from a small liberal arts college, he wants to get an MBA to help him land an internal marketing and communications job at a big firm.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these and other MBA candidates want to know is whether they have a chance to get into a top business school. In this best of version of the series, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As he has in the past, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting in. 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 half dozen or more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature next week.

Sandy’s take-no-prisoners analysis:

Mr. Tech Startup

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.45 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting/finance from a good school on the scale of Georgia Tech
  • Work experience at U.S. Department of Commerce for three years, first in the Leadership Rotational Program, then permanently assigned to work on early stage tech projects and investments
  • Interned twice and got a full-time offer from a bulge bracker investment banking firm but turned offer down because I became disillusioned with banking culture
  • Recently launched tech startup that is a blend of Groupon and social media
  • Extracurriculars include volunteer on local and national political campaigns, tutor inner city kids, and fundraising events for nonprofits.
  • Fluent in five widely useful languages
  • Future Goal: To become successful in business and use leadership experience to help formulate good business policies through special public service appointments.

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 20%
Stanford: 10%
Columbia: 40%
Wharton: 50%
NYU: 60+%
Yale: 60+%
Georgetown: 70+%

Sandy’s Analysis: I am assuming you are still with the Dept of Commerce and have not quit to work on start-up full-time. If you have quit, that is not good. Business schools despise entrepreneurs, especially ones at no-metrics, no VC-money, no professional websites, because anyone can be an entrepreneur and they have no way of knowing how to judge you. It helps if you have venture capital backing and revenues, but then, duh, why apply? As Mark Zuckerberg recently noted, he is seeking the best Harvard degree, honorary.

To business schools, entrepreneurs=burn outs with laptops. If you do strike gold, as per Mr. Zuckerberg, the school will be happy to become reacquainted over a cozy cashier’s check. Okay, assuming you are still at Commerce Department, here is the low down on U.S. Government jobs.

How hard is that job to get, how many kids from your department applied to business school and what outcomes did they have? I’m no expert, but the last time I looked, the Tea Party wanted to abolish the Department of Commerce and no one else was too excited about it.

If you were admitted into some selective leadership rotational program, as you say you were, that could help. But most government admits to H and S, especially for white boys (as I assume you are) come from the Treasury, the White House, and maybe the Justice Department. Anyway, that is my feel for it. If someone has data or inside-the-beltway anecdotes, please share. You got a reach chance at Wharton because of a quanty 720, the fact that you’re a bit older and they may put one finger up their nostril with the 3.45. If not, do a full nose hold. Same with Columbia, although just always a bit more easy. Yale, Georgetown and NYU, should be admits.

All that said, if you totally turned yourself into a diving bomb, and executed super-duper, and got lucky and had backing from some impressive sounding under-secretary, I could see Wharton. Somehow you just smell their type.