Your Chances Of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on

A former NFL cheerleader who teaches dance, this 28-year-old woman works in communications and marketing for a civil rights non-profit. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.95 grade point average, she’s hoping that an MBA will help her land a job in consumer research and marketing for a socially responsible corporation.

A former equities research analyst for Deutsche Bank in Milan, he quit his new job at KPMG after just eight months earlier this year. Unemployed, but with an impressive 760 GMAT and a 3.85 GPA, this 26-year-old man wants an MBA to make a transition into consulting.

After graduating with an economics degree from Morehouse College, this 24-year-old has worked for Teach for America. With a 670 GMAT and a 3.1 GPA, he’s hoping an MBA will allow him to shift gears and get a consulting job.

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.

In this, the 46th episode of our highly popular handicapping stories, Kreisberg is at his tell-it-like-it-is finest. He advises one career-changing Italian applicant that “U.S. business school adcoms are a frigid and humorless bunch when it comes to careers. They like folks to keep doing what they have been doing, or to make tiny, tiny transitions. They don’t like unemployed Milanos who have been sitting in cafes for 14 months throwing up nutty ideas about clean tech amid a tiny crowded table of espresso cups and Gualoises smoke.”

As he has in the past, 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 (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 early in the new year.

Sandy’s assessment:

Ms. Cheerleader


  • 700 GMAT (Q44 V41)
  • 3.95 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in Spanish and political science from a large public university in the southeast
  • Work experience includes three years in communications and marketing for a small but national civil rights non-profit; launched marketing campaign online with social media support that resulted in a huge increase in membership and recognition; campaign spokesperson in a battleground state during 2008 Presidential election and internship for a senior U.S. Senator
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer and member of a local non-profit dance company; also teach dance weekly; had spent three years cheering professionally for the NFL and have been on two overseas tours to perform for the troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Portugal
  • Goal: To work on the analytical side of consumer research and marketing for a socially responsible corporation; would eventually want to return to the non-profit sector as an executive director
  • “First generation college grad on my mother’s side”
  • 28-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 30%+
Harvard: 20% to 30%
Virginia: 50% to 60%
Chicago: 40% to 50%
Northwestern: 40% to 50%
Georgetown: 70%+
Maryland: 80%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, lots to like, including NFL cheering, dancing, volunteer work, entertaining the troops in Afghanistan, and working in battleground politics. We get the idea. You are a real firecracker and with a 3.95 GPA at SEC school and a 700 GMAT, well, not too shabby.  Also,

Work: Three years . . . marketing, PR, media, web content. . . for a small, but national, civil rights non-profit. Prior to me joining this organization, there was no online marketing, social media, or branding. Launched marketing and rebrand, which resulted in huge increases in membership and recognition.

That is a respectable set of experiences. My only suggestion would be to leverage it somewhat differently. You say that you want to “work on the analytical side of consumer research and marketing for a socially responsible corporation. Eventually. . . .  serving on some boards, and return to the non-profit sector as an executive director.”

Hmmm, feel free to do that, but I would toughen this up and say that you want an MBA to become a solid marketing expert, combining both data and message and placement at an innovative and impactful company or non-profit (name some and try to find marketing leaders you admire) and say you ultimately want to lead such an organization.

The dance stuff is great but I would not project that as your identity, I would think of yourself as Ms. Marketing Whiz instead, although sure, you can talk about dance in your essays. You may think that dance is your identity and calling card, but it is not. You have a had a respectable job and you need to feature and be proud of that, amid all the dancing.

You asked about your chances at Wharton, Darden, Booth, Kellogg, McDonough, and  Smith (Maryland).  Wharton is an acceptable reach and so might be HBS, depending on who exactly you work for now, and what those schools think about that company. You need to get your game face on and realize what a powerful professional resume you have, and let the dance stuff operate in the background.

In many ways HBS might like you more than Wharton. Harvard is always looking for diamonds in the thicker part of the fairway (not really the rough) and that could describe you. Kellogg also goes for profiles like this and they have a real marketing DNA. Booth is less of a fit, but as noted, lots to like. Man, you should get into McDonough and Smith.

Also try Duke and Darden unless you are sick of the South,  they would like you. If you need a pep talk about Duke, talk to this guy, Baosa, or maybe he can chime in here. He is a big Duke fan. See his comments in last week’s article.

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  • Karel Hiranjgarbh Missier

    I think your odds of getting look quite well! Keep up the good work. Karel Koes Hiranjgarbh Missier Paragh

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