Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on

After spending more than two years working in a male-dominated field, managing men who were four to 40 years older than her, she is now employed as a project manager at non-profit in New York City. With a 660 GMAT and a 3.67 grade point average, this 25-year-old professional hopes to go to a top business school to help her work as a non-profit consultant.

This 26-year-old Indian male went to Stanford University for a master’s in engineering management after earning a degree in computer science from a well-known regional university in India. He now works for a Big Three consulting firm but wants an MBA to advance his career.

After graduating with honors from West Point, he served his country as an Apache platoon leader and battle captain, earning multiple awards for courage under fire and commitment to mission accomplishment. This 27-year-old man is now transitioning to civilian life after suffering injuries in a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan.

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. Strategy

 

  • GMAT unknown
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school
  • Work experience includes two years of consulting with Bain, two and one-half years in corporate strategy with a mid-sized financial services firm in Australia, and two and one-half years with Deloitte doing strategy consulting
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer teacher in Tanzania at an orphanage, teaching English to refugee immigrants, and volunteering at an animal shelter – plus lots of work related activities (practice development, website building, training module development, coordinated volunteerism events
  • Extensive traveler to some 45 countries, having lived in four countries including the U.S
  • Fluent in German and English
  • 29-year-old female

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 20% to 30%
Chicago: 50%+
Northwestern: 50%+
Michigan: 60%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like including 3.7 from Ivy and what I take is career progression leading to Bain. Plus what seem like some interesting extras, including teaching in Tanzania at an orphanage (bonus points). And what appears to be real solid leadership at work, “practice development, website building, training module development, coordinated volunteerism events.” Of that list, the last one, coordinating volunteerism, probably scores highest because it is peer leadership, and you are trying to get your busy co-workers to do do-gooder stuff.

GMAT? That can be an issue, especially at Stanford, which if not a GMAT whore (more likely a pretty GMAT woman who gets drunk easily and forgets what matters most, or what she claims matters most). At Stanford, especially in the final cut of high-performing consulting types, GMATs are an easy way to make a decision. I am assuming you are currently working at Bain, if not this career progression seems odd.

Age, at 29, is also a potential issue, as is three jobs. That is one job too many for most applicants. You will need to explain all that, somehow. Are you working in Australia now? Jeepers, sure hope you are from there, if not, that would be another odd piece of data? Of the schools you list, Stanford/Booth/Kellogg/Ross, you should be real solid at all but Stanford, which is always hard, and you might think about Wharton and HBS as well.

You got a lot pros and some cons, so outcomes could be varied at top schools (H/S/W) but worth covering the waterfront. I don’t care what you want to do later in life. Just go to the best school you get into, my go-to advice unless you can make a strong case why not.

Given the ripples in this profile, this is a case where solid execution counts a bit more than your average case: you really need to explain why you’ve had three jobs and why you zigzagged from consulting to corporate and back to consulting and also how an Ivy kid winds up in Australia (if you are not native). That can be done, and you need to do it with some care and cogency. FYI, for other schools, any ol’ 700+ GMAT with even splits (near 80 pct) is fine. That is what Her Majesty Dee Leopold says about HBS and it is, for the most part, true.

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  • Justin

    Hi Sandy.

    I would very much appreciate your input. I plan to apply next year (matriculation 2015), so I have some time to improve my resume somewhat.

    27 / Caucasian / male / environmental engineer from rural Alabama

    GMAT
    Will be taking in April; most recent practice CAT was 710

    EDUCATION
    -BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Alabama-Huntsville; 3.38 GPA, 3.51 major GPA, 3.97 GPA senior year (all engineering courses)
    -MS in Engineering (Environmental Engineering) from the University of Alabama-Huntsville; currently hold a 4.0 GPA one year into the program, and will complete the degree a year from now

    WORK EXPERIENCE
    -(1 yr) Co-op with a regional design build firm. Work consisted of preliminary design of commercial facilities, and some minor project management on small projects (<$200K).
    -(3 mos) Civil Engineer at a very small, local utilities department. Work consisted of design and project management of ongoing facilities expansions
    -(1.5 yrs) Environmental Engineer at very large (top-5) private engineering, construction, and technical management firm (think URS, CH2M Hill, Parsons, Bechtel, etc.). Work consists of environmental remediation projects for private clients and government agencies (primarily DoD); some project management on small projects (<500K or so). Identified as an "emerging leader" within my organization, and serve as a team lead for our early career development program (help new hires get oriented to the company, provide mentoring, etc.).

    EXTRA-CURRICULARS
    (Undergrad)
    -Led a team that designed a solar water disinfection method for small, remote communities around the globe, and was one of 3 teams selected nationally to present at the 2011 ASCE-EWRI World Congress
    -Performed other leadership activities within school chapter of ASCE (organized teams for student conference competitions, etc.)
    -Participated in the annual Science Olympiad for local K-12 students (judged, tutored, etc.)
    (Current)
    -Active in local professional chapter of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)
    -Volunteer with the local Boys and Girls Clubs of North Alabama (mentor, STEM tutor, athletics)
    (Misc.)
    -Very active individual, and outdoor enthusiast (rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking)

    I'm a little old to not have more work experience, but I definitely fit the "late-bloomer" stereotype. I meandered for 4 years during undergrad, before finding my niche. After getting serious about my career, I performed well. Essentially, I’m pursuing an MBA to transition into consulting. I enjoy my career, and I’m passionate about my work, but I feel my impact will be more significant from that side of the business. Thus, my short term goal is to begin working at a consulting firm to gain more industry experience. Long term, I plan to start my own environmental remediation/energy resources firm.

    Do I have a shot at my target schools, or should I adjust my expectations? Any advice on what I can do over the next year or so to better my chances?

    Target Schools (definitely need to narrow the list): HBS, Stanford, Booth, Tuck, MIT, Fuqua, Haas, Ross, Darden, Tepper, UT-Austin

    Thanks, Sandy!

  • Mr. Delayed Gratification

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve read every one of your handicapping posts, but I haven’t found anyone with a profile like mine. I don’t need a full profile eval at this stage, but was wondering if you could give me some insight into my chances for H/S/W a few years down the road, as well as when I should plan on applying.

    I am a slightly older undergrad. I am in my mid-twenties, have taken a rather unusual path to get to where I am today, and am wondering how much (if at all) it would hurt my chances at the top three schools. I am also wondering what time would be best for me to apply – right out of undergrad or after a few years.

    A little backstory: I graduated high school in 2005, and pursued a liberal arts degree for ~3 years. My GPA from this time was about 3.55, and I was enrolled in the University’s honors program. During this time I helped to found a social issues student group that has thrived at my school for five years now, though I am no longer affiliated with it. Unhappy with my direction in the liberal arts, I took an extended leave of absence for about two years. During this time I worked as an owner-employee of a cooperative restaurant, as well as some other service industry jobs – nothing that would show particular leadership. After figuring out what made me tick and what I was good at, I returned to the same university as before, this time to pursue a degree in computer engineering.

    At present, I am a junior in my mid-twenties with two more years of school to go. My GPA in my current major is 3.8, and I am very near the top of my class at a university in the top 25 in engineering. I plan on graduating Summa Cum Laude and writing an Honors thesis. As far as extracurriculars go, I am in charge of fundraising for a student group that is designing and implementing a clean water project in Central America. I also have been working for nearly a year as an undergraduate research assistant, and am second author on two publications, one of which one an award for best paper in its venue. My research area is Big Data/Data Mining.

    At this point, I am more or less being groomed to go into research. And while I’m good at it, I really would like to open up my career to strategic management in the high tech industry. I still have a while before I graduate, but am seriously considering an MBA from a top school rather than taking the PhD route.

    Do you think I stand a chance? Also, should I apply to matriculate right out of graduation (I will be 28 then) or hold off and gain some work experience for a year or two but be an even older applicant? I plan on applying to internships at top tech firms next year (Google, etc) to add a little to my work history.

    Thanks for your input!

  • Maxime

    Hi. You never mention Tepper ,and very rarely Johnson in your assessments. Anything wrong with these two schools ? Tepper’s curriculum is one of the most robust I have seen . Need to take 32 courses to graduate, in 8 mini semesters !!! And Cornell is also very strong.

    What is your opinion ? regards.

  • hbsguru

    fr the New Yorker, worth clicking on, if you are facing an MBA interview

  • http://twitter.com/SassafrasMBA Sassafras

    I’m pretty sure the list is the applicant’s. HBSguru just estimates the likelihood of admission for the schools s/he has asked about. Indeed these are great schools!

  • Mr. Big Pharma

    Good morning Sandy!
    I’ve been researching pharmacist applicants on this site and I haven’t seen an applicant similar to myself. I am a 30 year old African American male. Please indulge me with your expertise.

    -680+ GMAT (Projected-Private tutoring)

    -3.64 GPA Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). University is well respected in the industry

    -Work experience-

    -Two years Clinical Services Director at a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) with about 200K lives. Roles include developing, implementing, and managing clinical programs. Provides
    clinical direction and leadership to in house staff including four pharmacists
    and twenty customer service reps and technicians. Increased revenue of one of clinical programs over 225% within six months of employment. Created a medication therapy management (MTM) program with a revenue model that positions over 200 independent pharmacists in the community setting to aid, what soon will be, a stress healthcare system due to 30 million patients gaining access to coverage in 2014. This program keeps independent pharmacists competitive against big chains and profitable against other PBMs who marginalize the dispensing of Rx medications. Trained and acclimated 200
    pharmacists to the new program. No other decentralized MTM program exists in the industry.

    -One year clinical pharmacist at OptumRx, a UnitedHealth Group company. Left to build clinical programs vs. being a cog in someone else’s system. Leaving was my best move.

    -Four Years staff pharmacist at Rite Aid pharmacy.

    -Extracurriculars-

    - In 2009, I won a business plan competition at a school with a top 14 MBA program vs. other
    undergrad and graduate students. **Granted, I have no business education.

    -Real estate development from 2008-2011. Accumulated over 800K in assets. Ultimately failed due to internal disputes/litigation with partners.

    -Rho Chi (Pharmacy Honor Society)

    -Guest Speaker at a well-respected city sponsored Entrepreneurs’ Forum in a major northeastern city, representing my real estate development company.

    -Guitar Player. Not any good, but just enjoy playing
    -Bodybuilder

    -Goals

    -Become a leader in the PBM industry. With the new healthcare overhaul and with 50%
    of the drugs in clinical trials being very expensive specialty medications, the
    industry is and will continue to look for new ways to manage drug spend while
    using the change in healthcare laws to its advantage.

    -Schools of choice

    -Harvard
    -Wharton
    -Stanford
    -Berkeley
    -MIT
    -Booth

  • Mr. Big Data

    Dear Sandy,
    I would love the opportunity to receive some feedback about my admissions prospects. Thank you in advance!

    Basics: 25 year-old biracial (White, African American) male and first-generation college grad. Will apply Fall 2013 (with four years experience).

    Education & GMAT:
    - 770 GMAT (Q50, V45)
    - 3.85 GPA (3.96 in major), Phi Beta Kappa, honors
    - BS in Economics at a higher-tier Big Ten school (one of UIUC/UW/OSU)

    Experience:
    - 3.5 years at a boutique business intelligence and analytics consultancy. I managed minor engagements and took over day-to-day (non-supervisory) project management with a major client before I left.
    - Recently joined the client mentioned above, a storied national news organization (one of the first you’ll think of) as an engineer-analyst in their BI/analytics group, handling valuable data-oriented work. It is an effective promotion over my consulting role: I now supervise junior resources, maintain product ownership over internal analysis systems, and work as a liaison between tech, business, and editorial groups. If buzzwords count, there is a significant “Big Data” component to my work.

    Volunteerism & Extracurriculars:
    - Undergrad: Worked 15-20 hours weekly in a paid software development internship. Volunteered as a peer tutor and with campus political groups, and other minor projects.
    - Post-graduation: Active in alumni association and a leadership committee of a chronic disease advocacy group (for a condition my wife has). I manage websites and outreach efforts for both groups, in “managerial” but not titled leadership roles (I hope to change this). I also award and present an annual scholarship at my high school.

    Goal: Join a (startup or established) technology or media firm in a strategic management or operations role, leveraging my understanding of the nuts and bolts of data management with strategy and leadership skills gained from a top-tier MBA program. I have considered reentering consulting as a stepping-stone to this down the road—I suppose I could use input as to whether or not that is a more viable short-term goal.

    Schools: Sloan, Haas, Booth, Kellogg, Anderson, HBS, Yale, Columbia

  • Justin

    Good stuff…

  • hbsguru

    Correct, the folks who write in name the schools they want me to handicap. Also, my guidance is mostly along lines of your chances of getting in, not the quality of the school, or its value to you. Those are often apples and oranges, although my overarching advice is to attend the most selective school you can (there are exceptions, esp. as to geography or specialty or age etc) and just use the school brand to build out your resume for your next job. If you read too many blogs you can get deluded a bit into thinking each school is REALLY different, in the big scheme of things, schools are more similar than different. You pay them money, they give you a diploma in two years. The name on that diploma counts a good deal. What happens in that two years in terms of curriculum, programs, “new” items like the Gyro Gearloose X-Lab, pontificating profs etc.soon becomes a generic drizzle, altho each school will take each raindrop from that drizzle and make it seem like Oz when you are applying. It’s school, get it?

  • rapplicanth

    Sandy – between Haas and Sloan, which do you think has a better name? Thanks!

  • kingfalcon

    You’ll be just fine. I applied with pretty similar stats (GMAT/GPA) and with a similar background (first-gen college grad) and got into Sloan/Tuck and have a few other prospects as well.

  • hbsguru

    Sloan but could be my Eastern location and bias. MIT is also a better “brand” than Berk, IMHO.

  • SamIam

    You’ve got a lot going for your man — I wish I had some of your stats lol. Assuming you do solid in the interviews and had strong essays, I’d say you’re a virtual lock for most of those schools (save for maybe HBS, which is always unpredictable). One word of caution: I’d pick one story (either the tech startup or corporate strategic management path), at least for the interviews. Those are too very divergent (and quite frankly opposite) paths, and you could come off as unfocused if you don’t pick one.

  • Mr. Logistics

    Hi there, I would love to hear your thoughts about my chances to get into an MBA

    - 24 years old (turning 25 on April)
    - Brazilian, caucasian
    - Fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish
    - Undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Fundacao Getulio Vargas (one of top 3 business schools in Brazil)
    - GPA ~ 2.8 (grade 6.76 out of 10, ~ 40% percentile of class)
    - GMAT 740 (Q 47 / 73% V 45 / 99%)
    - TOEFL 112 (L: 30 R: 30 S: 27 W: 25)
    -
    Work experience in the Logistics / Operations area, in one of my
    family’s companies (although a family company it is highly
    professionalized) with 6000 employees, will complete 3 years work
    experience in April. Started as a Trainee, where I remained for 15
    months, then spent 5 months as Operations Advisor, 11 months as
    Operations Supervisor leading a team of roughly 60 employees, and
    currently (~ 2 months) as Strategic Advisor to the Director of Dedicated
    Logistics Operations. Recommendation letter from the Operations Manager
    and Operations Director

    - Goals: I would like to return to my family’s company to work in the
    Operations or General Management areas, seeking to eventually climb to
    the COO or CEO positions. In the longer term (15+ years), I would like
    to start and manage my own business.
    - Extracurricular: not much
    here, basically just playing soccer and tennis in university, and
    participating in our company’s corporate social program/contest AmiGAB,
    which is an ongoing program which involves several activities aimed
    towards helping underprivileged communities, such as donations, visits,
    educational activities, etc
    - Seeking: an MBA education focused on
    enterpreneurship and general management, in schools such as (in order of
    preference): Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Pennsylvania, Chicago,
    Northwestern

    - Strengths: low age, from a developing country, fluent in 3
    languages, good GMAT score, work experience with rapid climbing in an
    unusual industry/area (?)
    - Weaknesses: poor extracurricular history,
    and low GPA. I went to a very tough school and I also had to move
    cities to go to university, and had trouble adapting to my new city, due
    to the big difference from my home town (born and raised in city with a
    300K pop, and moved to a 16 million pop city), which affected my
    academic productivity. On the plus side, my GPA showed an upwards trend
    during the course

    Look forward to hearing back from you! Thank you in advance

  • mrw

    Would greatly appreciate if you would evaluate my profile for admission to Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Wharton and Kellogg:

    GMAT: 730
    GPA: 3.67/4.0
    Undergraduate Degree in Marketing/Communications from Michigan

    Work experience: 2 years in marketing/sales at large media/entertainment company in NYC after internships with NFL team and Sports Agency. Don’t manage anyone, but solely responsible for bringing in advertising and sponsorship revenues

    Extracurriculars include: Founding member of charitable organization benefitting the homeless in New York, volunteer for organization helping people with all types of disabilities participate in athletics, member of fraternity at undergraduate school, write my own blog on advertising/marketing utilizing celebrities in campaigns

    Goal: To take the next step in the media/entertainment world by becoming a sales executive and consulting brands and companies on how to best utilize brand ambassadors
    23 year old white male raised in family of 8 (parents took in 4 additional children when I was 11 after tragedy)

  • Mr Brewer

    Hi Sandy, could you please help me with my profile? because i`m pretty different from others candidates:

    *24 years old Brazilian man

    *Gmat 620(Planning to retake it)

    *GPA in Business Administration, Brazil is a little different GPA but i was in a top 15% at a prestigious school

    *Work experience:

    When
    i leave the college i opened my own business, is a firm who put all
    smallers wholesellers and industries togheter to make a common large buy
    of raw material from big suppliers around the world,doing this they get better prices and
    payment terms, and we found the right quality to then, i`m employ 3 people on that business
    and i`m planning to open another office soon.

    *Extra curricular.

    At school i was class representative

    *Off school i aways had been a huge fan of craft beer, i started to drink
    after this i had learned how to do it and i become a homebrewer, but my
    brews start to make sucess so i opened a brewery with a partners and 2
    employees and today we have 4 beers year round and some seassonals, we
    recieved the prize of the best Beer brewed in our state, and i`m active
    member and assist our association president, and work hard to spread the
    beer culture around us i`m also had teach a lot of people how to brew a
    good beer.

    My target Schools is: Tuck, Stern (Accepting sugestions about that but must to be a top tier school i was thinking about Darden)

    Really aprreciate your help!

  • Giantism

    Hi Sandy, thanks for taking the time to review profiles, it’s one of the most valuable information sources I have seen in my research thus far.

    Here is my background, would love to be reviewed if you have the time:

    -26yr old (by Aug 2014 goal entry) white guy.

    -GMAT: 720 (44V, 45Q – 1st try – underperformed true Q ability – worthwhile retaking?).

    -GPA: 3.73 from hnrs program in college ranked 50-100.

    -Walked-on to Division-1 basketball team beginning Soph yr.

    -Full CFA designation.

    -Work at mid-sized investment consultant in major E. Coast city not NY (firm has sent to Columbia w/in 2 yrs).

    -Promoted to Sr. Analyst and have nearly sole oversight for $5B AUM portfolio. Outside shot at another promotion by departure time.

    -Using MBA as a career shift from investment consulting to security-level investment management, have something of a value orientation. Would love to eventually start my own asset management firm.

    -Developed photography hobby recently and within 18 months, have won a few minor awards/contests and been moderately successful selling images.

    -Have some volunteer work with local athletic organizations.

    -Believe that interview would be positive as I’m generally good with people/not nervous – think getting interview would be my biggest hurdle.

    -Interested in Columbia and Wharton primarily for finance focus, but if there was a possibility, would love to go HBS (seems unlikely given education/work/ultimate goal). Would apply early decision Columbia if it would be advantageous. Virginia is on the table as well.

    Thanks for all your help,

    Giantism

  • Ms. Strategy International

    Sandy – this was my profile. Thank you for your insight! Providing a little more information: my GMAT was 750. 80% quant and 99% verbal. Agreed my career progression is a little odd, but I like to think it makes me stand out from all the other management consultants applying. Went to Bain out of undergrad. Did >2 years there before deciding to move to Australia because I thought I wanted to do corporate strategy rather than consulting, and wanted to get international business experience. I did a lot of M&A for the Australian company until it went into bankruptcy during the 2008 downturn – I retained my position but resigned after 6 months of working for the distressed company after the work became boring and the writing was on the wall that we weren’t going to come out of bankruptcy. Came back to the states and wanted to go back to consulting – I had the option to go back to Bain but chose not to. Chose Deloitte because they do a lot of M&A work (which is a primary interest of mine), plus they have a great established program for hires not joining directly out of undergrad but pre-MBA. The program is flexible – they sponsor people to pursue MBAs under this program, or allow you to get promoted straight through the ranks. I achieved a promotion to the post-MBA level of Senior Consultant this year and also gained sponsorship to pursue an MBA and return at the next level higher than most MBA hires.

    With this additional information – how does that impact my odds? Thank you again for your insight!

  • 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:

    Harvard
    Darden
    Fuqua
    Kenan-Flagler
    Columbia

    Thank you!

  • GrandmaDogooder

    I am glad I found this site, because it’s making me seriously reconsider my thoughts of applying to business school.

    First of all, I am probably too old by a couple of decades – 48 (one of these articles said that anyone mid-thirties and above automatically go into the reject pile). I have been the executive director of a community based nonprofit (that nobody has ever heard of) for 12 years, and most of my career before that was in small nonprofits. I have a long history of growing organizations from nothing – zero budget – to real players in the community with real impact – my current orgazations is one of the largest and best known in our very rural part of upstate New York but our budget is still under a million.

    Now I’ve hit a ceiling – I can’t seem to find that next job/career. It’s easy to shift from for-profit to nonprofit careers, but impossible to go the other way, and most organizations with more zeros on their budget than mine seem to require MBAs now for the top level management positions. I want to learn, grow and do something bigger (fight climate change!) and I believe learning what is taught at the best business schools will help me be better at any future job and open many doors.

    A few more bits of information: I am a Yale graduate with a GPA of about 3.5 (it was a long time ago!); I haven’t taken the GMATS yet but expect very high verbal/not so high quant. Yale SOM is my dream school for MBA – I’ve been to some conferences, spent a day on a group tour and chatting with admissions officers, but my age and the “softness” of my background (and likelihood of not-great scores) make me wonder if it’s worth trying. I was thinking of going to my state school (UConn) but what I’ve been finding online is making me reconsider that too. (Not too interested in the insurance industry.)

  • Guest

    hi

  • Mr. Big Data

    Thanks for the kind words and advice, everyone. My stats definitely benefited from my original focus on more traditional “academic” routes, and it wasn’t until relatively recently that I came to realize that an MBA would be a better fit. Tailoring my story to the demands of that admissions process is still something I’m learning. Here’s to hoping that I get some more feedback!

  • indianwoman

    Hi! I went through all profiles to see if there is a match with mine, but since I could not find any – request you to do an analysis please.

    Indian Woman, 27 years old
    GMAT score- 740
    Total 5 Years of work exp. 2 years as a management consultant in UAE, 3 years in New Delhi in Corporate HR in a French energy MNC handling talent management in a leadership role (building leadership pipeline, Competency assessments, development of potential).

    Undergraduate from Delhi University in Economics Honours with 70% (not sure how to convert in GPA), Post graduate diploma in HR management from a reputed Indian management institute with 7/10 CGPA.

    Extracurricular activities include Public Speaking, I hold a leadership position in Toastmasters Club, have won many debates throughout school & college, also have formal training in Hindustani Classical vocal music

    Social Contribution – Counselling for Rape Victims in India – work for a Womens’ NGO

    Goal: A career in consulting in Mckinsey post an MBA from Harvard/ Stanford (pls feel free to extend my analysis to the top 10 schools)

  • golfer

    Hi Sandy, here’s my profile for your review:

    Mr. Entrepreneurship Development

    GMAT 700 [80%ile + in both]

    ~3.5 GPA at Undergrad from India’s best& most selective liberal arts/sciences college India with dual major in Economics and History

    Current Workex :
    -Volunteer Consultant at a top non-profit [think Endeavor/ TechnoServe] in India since April 2012, doing entrepreneurship development for tibetan refugee settlements in india. lead team of 4 peers to mentor 40 tibetan entrepreneurs in total. [taken 25 businesses from ideation to fruition]. fantastic perspective, stellar experience. other peers in group have top MBAs and stellar prior workex. also helping my firm grow presence in India by doing significant biz dev/ fund raise [70 hrs/week]. migrating to a full time role in April 2013.
    - Co-Founder of an online marketplace for skills in India [50 hrs/week]. 3 months since launch, 10 months since company incorporation.

    Past-
    2 years of corporate strategy with country’s top law firm [unique role, great impact, model replicated by other law firms]. 1 promotion
    started by career in operational consulting role with a Big4, spent ~3 yrs there, 1 promotion [one of the best ever analysts, handled toughest clients].

    Recs:
    will get great recs from top guy at current firm [absolutely bat and vouch for me as one of the best the firm, and he has ever seen]. he holds a top mba, past jobs include PE and McK. Likewise for my Big4 reco.

    peer rec from my strategic advisor at my startup [currently wrapping up with mba at HBS]. known me for past 8 yrs and has stellar insights

    ECA
    -tremendously active in undergrad, led three student clubs, two of them with massive impact and creating trends [liberal arts undergrad recruitments from bulge bracket employers], 1st ever all color yearbook.
    - incubated a friend’s startup in delhi, serve on their board currently
    - invited to hold consulting workshops at alma mater and even IIT
    - interviewed MBA candidates for a premier indian MBA programme
    - surreal multi-tasker all my life. lead and win bread for my family, overcome thousands of obstacles to get to where i have reached [accomplishment/resources available ratio in my own estimate is very high].

    Goals: continue in entrepreneurship development
    ST: Work in Entrepreneurship Development with an investing focus on early stage entrepreneurship [investing team at Endeavor/ Acumen/ Omidyar/ Kauffman] in silicon valley preferably for 2-3 yrs / If my startup becomes huge scale, can even think of coming back [fallback]
    LT: Set up my own investing fund focusing on early stage entrepreneurship in minority communities [think refugee venture capital]. absolutely commercial investments though but will impact society. small ticket deals

    Need the MBA to transition from Consulting focused to Investing focused career in Entrepreneurship Development. CFA plans underway too. 5 yrs 10 months workex as on date.

    26-year-old male

    target schools:
    2013 intake : Stanford R2
    2014 intake: MIT Sloan [R1], Berkeley Haas [R1], Tuck [EA], Columbia [ED], Duke [R1 not ED]
    2015 Jan intake: INSEAD

  • Ms. Financial Stuff

    Dear Sandy, here goes about me:
    25 year-old female

    3.9 undergrad GPA in engineering in prestigious (top 3 in the country) European university

    Exchange program in top-50 American university with 4.0 semester average

    2.5 years work experience in BCG

    770 GPA score

    Extracurricular: Did some project volunteering in an education-related NGO

    Lead small organizations in during undergrad

    Goals: If I get sponsored by the company; after continuing with consulting for a couple of more years (I am most likely to get sponsored, but do not want to if I can get scholarship or can find funding in another way) I want to do finance strategy in banking, that is why I want to specialize in finance during my MBA.

  • Ms. Financial Stuff

    Forgot to add the schools: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT

  • hbsguru

    have you looked into EMBA?

    Also you say that you want to transition from Not-For-Profit to Profit but your goal is to battle Climate Change? That is OK with me, but does not sound like a coherent story, nor are we clear of need for MBA to do that, given your background. Sorry, but age and need for MBA could be deal breakers, have you spoken to any schools and presented your story at Info Sessions, etc. ?

  • GrandmaDogooder

    HBS, you have of course hit on one of my greatest weaknesses: lack of clarity about exactly what I want – what my goal is. I know I want something new/more/different, and I don’t like the idea that I don’t seem to have options after working so hard and so successfully/creatively in my field, but none of that adds up to a coherent story that might thrill an admissions officer, as you have pointed out. One reason I thought to get an MBA is that it opens up a wide range of options, and I’d thought that by going through the program and meeting people I’d see what was out there in the big wide world, but it sounds like you are saying I should know exactly what I want before I apply …I am open to an EMBA (and am going to an info session for one next week) – the appeal of a full time program is that I can really focus in and immerse myself in learning rather than having to juggle work, family AND add a demanding academic program. But on the plus side, an EMBA would give me a set of knowledge/skills that would be very practical in a number of fields.

  • Mr. Infrastructure

    Dear Sandy and John,

    I am completely obsessed with P&Q and handicapping your odds. I hope you can take a look at my profile and tell me what you think.

    Education and GMAT:
    710 (plan on retaking, aiming for 740)
    3.53 GPA
    Bachelor of architecture from The Cooper Union in NYC (full tuition scholarship)
    3+ post graduation advanced courses in mathematics and statistics from Columbia (all A’s)

    Experience:
    2 years completed as part of a competitive architecture/engineering rotational program working on NYC infrastructure
    2 years prior of internship during undergrad in asset management at a government authority in NY

    Volunteering and Extracurricular:
    Started a foundation to help people living in South American slums access solar power energy alternatives (think Kiva style)
    Member of the Urban Land Institute
    Volunteer at local Hispanic foundation which helps with translations of legal documents as well as help with financial matters
    Volunteer in archeological digs off the coasts of Alaska
    Active in Alumni association

    25 yo Hispanic male, first generation US graduate.

    Goals:
    Hopefully to move into real estate, infrastructure, or energy investments. Would love to become part of a consulting company’s infrastructure wing (McKinsey)

    Looking at the following schools:
    Harvard
    Stanford
    Wharton
    Sloan
    Tuck
    Columbia
    Chicago

    Thinking about applying for a dual MBA/MUP at harvard, wharton, sloan and Columbia.

    Hope to hear from you!
    Thanks

  • hbsguru

    “but it sounds like you are saying I should know exactly what I want before I apply …” You got that right, if not exactly what you want to do …you need a general plan with some specifics, along the lines of “Based on X and Y {which I have done!], I am interested in 1 2 3 (can be general like industry, or start up etc. ] and that could mean doing X Y Z [need to list pretty specific outcomes which both are 1. plausible, given your background 2. require or are assisted by an MBA and 3. people fr. school you are applying to actually have done.

    The point being, esp. in your case, given age, that schools don’t like their grads hanging around w. NO jobs (bad for morale and stats) and schools don’t like applicants who apply without bothering to do some homework and sketching of why they need MBA. Even if you what you say is B.S., well, it needs to be plausible given totality of circumstances. I sure hope this is not news to you, but if it is, well, it is true.

  • GrandmaDogooder

    Sorry to say that while this shouldn’t be news to me (it’s sort of obvious now that you spell it out) I haven’t applied to school since 1981, and back then wanting a general liberal arts education leading to some unknown but exciting future was acceptable! It is VERY helpful information which I will run with – I appreciate you taking the time to give me this advice.

  • hbsguru

    Do you think I stand a chance? Also, should I apply to matriculate right
    out of graduation (I will be 28 then) or hold off and gain some work
    experience for a year or two but be an even older applicant? I plan on
    applying to internships at top tech firms next year (Google, etc) to add
    a little to my work history.
    ============================
    You need to get a high GMAT score and get a good job for 2 years right out of college at a selective employer, including consulting firms or brand name tech company such as ones you note above, or even IB–apply to B school when you are 28-30, that will be OK, not ideal, but OK, and given strong GPA and hopefully GMAT you will be competitive at top-8 schools fer sure and maybe top 3 or 5.

  • Mr. Delayed Gratification

    Very helpful advice. Thanks Sandy!

  • 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.

    Education:
    -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.

    Extracurriculars:
    -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, UT Austin, Ross, Carnegie Mellon, Kenan-Flagler

    Is it best to apply excluding my recent masters experiences?

  • Kyle K

    I would love to hear your opinion on this profile Sandy!

  • Kyle K

    true!

  • EngineerConsultant

    This is a wonderful series and I thank you for the perspective.

    Below are my specs. I hope you have time to evaluate my case.

    25 year old Black Male
    African Immigrant. Raised in a historically disadvantaged community (Bronx, NY)

    - 3.3 HYP Engineering (BioMed)
    - 3.8 Columbia/Northwestern/Princeton Engineering Masters (Electrical) (on a fellowship)
    - 770 GMAT

    - 6 Months R&D national research laboratory
    - 2 years McKinsey/Bain/BCG Consulting

    - Collegiate ECs: Co-President Sexual Assault Education and Counseling Group, also President minority science and engineering organization, 2 summers teaching history to under-privileged youth in NYC, developed tutoring program during summers

    - Post-Collegiate ECs: Teaching Science to Inner-City students in Chicago, Volunteering at a palliative care hospice.

    -Goals:

    Immediate: Venture Capital with strong medical device exposure.

    Long Term: Strategy work in a medical device manufacturing firm managing R&D or tech transfer, or a start-up in medical devices.

    -Target Schools:
    Harvard
    Stanford^
    Wharton^
    Kellogg*
    Booth
    Columbia*
    Sloan*
    Tuck

    (* for schools with schools with joint Engineering Management/MBA programs
    ^ for schools with joint Bioengineering/MBA)

    I know the GPA is bad but do I stand a chance at any of these schools?

    Would it make more sense for me to apply as a dual degree applicant or an MBA only applicant?

  • CPA-to-Ops

    Mr. Kreisberg, I’d appreciate the benefit of your handicapping, if it’s not too much trouble.
    - 3.7 GPA from top 40 private university (attended on a full academic scholarship; national merit scholar back in the day); double majored accounting/finance and was president of my school’s accounting fraternity; worked all through undergrad, up to 50hrs/week, taking 15-21 credits per semester
    - Currently a 720 GMAT (first attempt taken cold, plan to retake targeting 750+)
    - Work experience (this is what has me worried):
    Internship with PwC in advisory
    Approx. 2 years with a major public accounting firm (think GT/McGladry); fell seriously ill during my second audit season and was riffed within two weeks of returning to work (office downsized by 30%) – managed to pass all parts of the CPA exam (first attempt each) while working full time
    Worked with a smaller public accounting firm thereafter until I was able to land a controller position with a gold-mining startup with properties in South America; eventually became functional CFO, raising capital and engaging PE firms until the company ran out of working capital, after which I was forced to depart for the sake of my own solvency.
    Currently work for one of the only $-billion-plus multinationals in the Tampa Bay area in a high-profile position.
    Run a small accounting/consulting firm on the side that caters to internet and local startups; operate on either non-profit or equity-only basis
    - Looking to obtain an MBA to shift to an operations/general management role; not thrilled with the manner in which CPAs are pigeon-holed and am enamoured with accounting to the point of spending the rest of my career acting as one.
    - Target schools: Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck
    - 27 year-old white male

  • Enlisted

    Good afternoon,

    I am intrigued with everything said about veteran applicants. My question is what about the enlisted veteran? Every case I’ve read so far deals with officers in the military. How do enlisted veterans measure up?

    I was an enlisted Marine, I served for six years and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was in the Marine Corps infantry and served as a section leader and Platoon Sergeant while in Afghanistan responsible for 27 Marines and over $5million worth of equipment and serialized gear. While in Afghanistan, I also led a machine gun team on 30+ missions. We pushed out the terrorists and helped establish villages and cities free from Taliban influence. We set up a local aid stations and schools and helped the locals with vaccines and helped train the village doctor on basic first aid. I was injured in combat from enemy fire and received the Purple Heart Award.

    I got out of the Marines and took advantage of the GI Bill and got a business management degree. I currently work for a fortune 500 company in their Financial Leadership Training Program (2yrs with company by desired MBA start date). I have learned that corporate finance is not where I want to be and I want to transition into consumer packaged goods to ultimately be a brand manager and help the world, especially the youth and younger generations of less-fortunate backgrounds develop healthy living habits and understand that there is more to life than what is currently theirs.

    I volunteer as the assistant coach for a high school varsity lacrosse team. Last year they won three games, and this year with the new coaching staff we are currently 8-1. I also volunteer as leader and supervisor of a local Boy Scouts of America troop. I spend 15+ hours a week with the lacrosse team and 10+ hours a week with the boy scouts.

    I lived in Brazil for two years as a missionary for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and managed 160-180+ missionaries and supervised missionary training for my mission. I speak Brazilian Portuguese fluently.

    Will my upbringing play a significant factor? I’m the first of my family to get a bachelor’s degree. I will be the first to go to grad school. Mom was 17 when I was born and I have been passed around from family member to family member because of my mother’s drug addiction and her time in jail. Maybe TMI??

    Undergrad GPA 3.72

    GMAT 600

    Dream schools: Northwestern, Duke, Michigan, Texas McCombs, BYU

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