What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

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.

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  • NC_MBA_hopeful

    Hey Sandy – I would love to get your thoughts on my profile. I am just a little unsure about what kind of schools would go for my profile

    *25 years old, male, Asian (American national)

    *GMAT: 730 – 48Q 42V (Also took the GRE – 800Q 610V)

    *Education: 3.4 in Math/Economics at top 10 liberal arts college

    *Work experience: I Spent 1 year doing an education-based Americorps program. I am currently working as a junior researcher for a research institute that studies health care and is affiliated with a large, reputable research university. My job primarily consists of doing statistical analyses (ie cleaning data, regression analysis, and a bit of mapping). I have been at my job for 1.5 years. Also, before my Americorps year, I spent three months at a large internationally focused NGO.

    *Goals: I hope to get into a top economic/litagation consulting shop (NERA, Analysis Group, Cornerstone, etc).
    *Extra-curriculars: I serve on the alumni board of the americorps organization I worked with. I also tutor students once a week. In college I was VP of the model UN club and tutored middle school students twice a week.
    *Target schools: Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, Fuqua, Sloan

  • MrOnlineRetail

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d appreciate your thoughts on my profile:

    -26 year old Asian Male
    -Have not taken GMAT, but expecting a 720
    -Graduated from WPI (reputable engineering school) with a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. I wanted to pursue a career in business – taking initiative, I enrolled in a part-time MBA program while doing business internships in order to transition my career. After a year, I was successfully hired into a Global Leadership Development program at a Fortune 400 manufacturing company. I now see the value of obtaining a top MBA in order take my career to the next level, and would be willing to leave the program I am currently enrolled in.

    -B.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering (3.1 GPA, with a 3.6 GPA in the final 2 years)
    -Currently enrolled in a part-time MS/MBA program (operations and supply chain management master’s), with a 3.7 GPA so far

    Work Experience:
    -2 years in Global Leadership Program at Fortune 400 company. Managed global operations projects, traveled to China, East Asia, Central America, Europe to collaborate with local leadership and complete projects. Also did a rotation in Product Management, which is my desired career path.
    -Transitioned into new role at Fortune 100 retailer (2nd online retailer in the world) in category management, driving the overall growth of the company in Technology categories. I have been w/ the company for 6 months, and I plan to start applying after I have worked here for 2 years. My current manager is a McKinsey-sponsored Wharton alum and would be able to write a strong recommendation for me.

    Career Goals:
    -I want to leverage my experience in supply chain and the online retail industry to be an influential leader at a large organization with a global supply chain. I want to be in charge of the strategy of a brand/product portfolio with a focus on global growth.

    -Love sports (basketball, baseball, snowboarding, golf, and many more), cooking, traveling, music, guitar, songwriting, blogging, photography
    -President, Korean Student Association
    -VP Operations, Graduate Student Government
    -Vice President, Christian Bible Fellowship
    -Worship team leader, bible study leader, and youth group Sunday school teacher at my church since 2006.
    -Active in Church outreach, including missions trips, soup kitchens, and charity fundraisers

    My top choices for schools are Northwestern, Chicago Booth, Wharton, UC Berkeley, UT Austin, Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA-Anderson

    I am also open to 1-year programs, where I might be able to transfer completed courses, and leverage the fact that I am already in the industry that I want to grow and advance in.


  • TeacherMan

    Mr. Kreisberg, I’d love your help judging my odds. Here is my background:

    -3.4 GPA; degree in Public Policy from Duke (GRE – 161 V; 162 Q)

    -Work experience: Currently a second year teacher with Teach For America (planning on at least one more year at the same school);

    -Extracurriculars: Created leadership development program for students at the school where I teach; college mascot (interesting twist?); managed 100+ person community service program in college; part-time job as special events manager in college

    -Goals: I want to improve the way schools and districts are managed, making them great places to work. Education consulting and eventually school/district leadership (hoping to combine with an M.Ed. or MPP) with the aim of leading a school district or education consulting firm

    24 year old white male

    I’m looking to apply to multiple joint-degree programs (for business and education), but should I still take the GMAT? Or will the GRE be fine?

    Target schools:



    Thank you!

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