What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

An Eagle Scout, he works in equity research at a large asset management firm. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.55 grade point average from a highly ranked university, this 27-year-old professional wants an MBA to some day start his own investment management company.

A first generation college graduate, he boasts undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology. For the past two years, he has been working in a quantitative derivatives role for a bulge bracket bank and now wants an MBA to help him make the switch to venture capital.

After a stint as a law clerk for a federal appellate court judge, this 26-year-old attorney has been working in corporate law for a Top 20 law firm. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA from a state university, he is hoping an MBA will allow him to transition into investment banking or corporate strategy.

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:

Mr. Eagle Scout


  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.55 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a well-respected, non-Ivy school (think Georgetown, USC, UCLA, UVA)
  • Work experience includes four years at a large asset management firm, with $400 billion+ assets under management; started out as a junior PM and transitioned into full-time equity research; firms has hired MBAs from Harvard, Wharton and Tuck but has no history of sending anyone to an MBA program
  • Extracurricular involvement as an Eagle Scout; studied abroad in Rome; worked for a professional sports team during college; assisted undergrad athletic department with game-day operations; mentor and two sequential leadership positions for a national non-profit helping low-income students get into college; member of city’s young professional civic engagement group, which assists the mayor in shaping city policies. Attained CFA charter; avid sports fan, completed a marathon, and enjoy traveling to beaches all over the world (Sicily, Florida, Australia, Thailand, France, Caribbean).
  • Goal: To develop a global network of intelligent investors and business contacts.
  • Long-term goal: To start my own investment management firm (could probably use some guidance)
  • 27-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20% to 30%
Wharton: 40+%
Chicago: 50%
Columbia: 50%
MIT: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmm, Eagle Scout with 3.55 from a UVA-type school and a 740, with “4 years at a large asset management firm ($400 billion+ assets under management)” doing lots of things and landing in equity research. Totally regular white guy, well-meaning (“mentor, and 2 sequential leadership positions for a national non-profit helping low-income students get into college”) and “member of city’s young professional civic engagement group.”  And importantly, “firm has hired MBAs from HBS, Wharton, Tuck, but no history of sending anyone to an MBA program . . . .”

Close one, but guys like you often do not get into HBS or Stanford but often get into Wharton. Beyond that, you are “solid” at places like Chicago, Booth, Columbia, MIT (add Tuck, they go for straight arrows like you) — all of which will like your smarts, your many and strong white-bread attributes, and your accomplishments. At HBS and Stanford, there is just nothing driving you in, and your legacy of “silver” not “gold” schooling and employment often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The issue there is whether your real solid extras and solid enough stats will be enough.

I take very seriously your firm’s lack of success in placing people in MBA programs — either because people do not apply or do not get accepted. That just strikes me as odd. The one long shot is to have a big-shot at your firm call or bang on the table at HBS and Wharton and say, “Hey there, we hire clowns from your programs, sooooo, how about a little reciprocity???” (Well, that would be the sentiment; I assume big shots know how to communicate that idea.) At Wharton, that could help too but they could like you all by yourself since you are solid, have a super GMAT, and they don’t consider finance a dirty word.

“Goal: to develop a global network of intelligent investors and business contacts. Long-term: to start my own investment management firm (could probably use some guidance).”

I would recast this along the lines of becoming a leader of an investment management firm focused on A, B or C (do some homework) where A, B and C are interests, passions, and experiences of yours. It really helps to sound focused on some part of the market, although, sure, it is just whistling in the dark.

Here’s a list (from Wikipedia!), bang on 20 of these and you may get the idea.

Ideas could include investment management firms focused on types of investments or types of investors.  It’s all B.S. but it helps to sound smart and informed and focused.

If you read the websites of some of those companies, you will get the right buzzwords. Then, it is just a matter of finding the ones which work for you and making them your own.