Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

by John A. Byrne on

She’s a 25-year-old engineer at a leading medical devices company recently acquired by Johnson & Johnson. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.43 grade point average from Johns Hopkins University, she wants an MBA to help her move into a strategy or operations role at a technology or biotech company.

He’s a 25-year-old African-American who works as a business analyst for a global oil company. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.17 GPA in chemical engineering, he’s hoping the MBA will help him transition into the alternative energy industry.

After spending a couple of years at a boutique consulting firm and a short, failed attempt to get a startup off the ground, his girlfriend convinced him to take a shot at social entrepreneurship. With strong GRE scores and a 3.3 GPA, this 24-year-old is seeking an MBA program that will help him start a social enterprise or triple-bottom-line business.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

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 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 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 next week.

Sandy’s assessment:

Ms. Mechanical Engineer


  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.43 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University
  • Work experience includes three years in a fast track engineering rotation program at a leading medical device company just acquired by J&J, including roles in operations and product development and a yearlong assignment in Switzerland
  • Extracurricular involvement as director of a college outdoors program, four years of research in surgical robotics including guest researcher position in Japan, published at a major medical robotics conference, played club soccer, running half marathons; also volunteer at Habitat for Humanity and mentor at-risk girls
  • Goal: To move into upper management strategy or operations role at a technology or biotech company
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 50%+
MIT: 60%+
Stanford: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 60%+
Columbia: 60%+
Northwestern: 70%+
Chicago: 70%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Bingo! We have a winner.

This is great!

Female, Hopkins, Mechanical Engineering, 750 GMAT, 3.43 (OK, that is gold plated, not gold, but it was a 3.43 in a nerd major competing against many male tools), three years at a “successful” medical device company (recently acquired by J&J, so you got experience with super-big successful company), great engineering rotation program (engineering and rotation are sizzling words in B-school applications these days) and publications!, outdoors stuff, half-marathons, and mentoring “at-risk girls.”  And a yearlong assignment in Switzerland, which is neither here nor there, but sounds glam and fun. Surgical robotics! Dat is kool. And “guest researcher in Japan,” also mega impressive.

At Stanford, this could be one of those cases where Bolton says, “we took this person despite the essays . . .” (which he has said, along with saying that essays really count, so take your pick, although in your case, your pick is essays may not always count.) All that said, try to write some OK essays, in tune with the Stanford vibe. “What really matters to me is being a scientist who cares….”

Great applicants like you have blown HBS interviews, so that is something to watch out for (ahem, you might hire a great interview prep service like, ahem, ahem the one I run) and at other schools you note, MIT (woman with 750 GMAT, stop reading and admit), Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, it will just be a matter of convincing them you want to come. You got a lot going for you, on paper and maybe in reality, but it is on paper that mostly counts in this game, so I am predicting great succes

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  • Patricia

    Chances of getting into HBS?!

    GPA: 4.0 (top of the class) in BsC in Management
    GMAT: 730 – Top 5 EUROPEAN university
    Native in 4 languages
    3 years in top 2 Commodity Trading firm – Oil Trading Graduate Program with rotations in Africa, Asia and South America.
    Extra Curricular: 1st University Squash Team – 3 months of volunteering in South East Asia
    White Female



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