Calculating Your Odds of MBA Admission

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

A competitive figure skater until the age of nine, this 27-year-old Asian-American woman is an investment banking associate at a Bulge Bracket bank. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.3 grade point average from a top public university, she hopes to use the MBA to break into asset management.

After a stint on Capitol Hill as a deputy press secretary for a much admired Senator, she became a communications manager for a major K Street association. With a 680 GMAT and a 3.81 GPA from a respected liberal arts college in the south, this 29-year-old female professional expects an MBA will help her make the transition into consulting.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

With an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, this 23-year-old Indian male has racked up nearly two years with a Big Three consulting firm. With a 780 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA, he’s planning to go to business school to help him start his own consulting firm that would focus on the needs of small-to-medium sector companies.

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 in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

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.

As usual, 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, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s tell-it-like-it-is assessment:


Figure Skater Turned I-Banker


  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.3 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in political science from a top public university (Berkeley/UCLA/UMich/UVA)
  • Work experience includes one year as an investment banking associate at a lower-ranked Bulge Bracket bank
  • “I was a competitive figure skater since the age of nine, and while in middle school and high school, I was ranked nationally and internationally. Thus, school was never a priority; not only was I a part-time student, I also missed school for weeks at a time for competitions and to train with Olympic-level coaches around the country.” Quit due to injury.
  • Extracurricular involvement as treasurer and secretary of school’s Figure Skating Club, now teaching mentally  handicapped children to skate; interned with a well-known Congressman
  • “While interning 40 hours a week, I studied at Georgetown as a visiting student and received second honors. I decided I hated politics and turned to finance, landing an internship at a well-known elite boutique the following summer as a summer analyst in the bank’s asset management branch”
  • Goal: To break into asset management, a field where she had been a summer intern at an elite boutique
  • 27-year-old Asian American female

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth (my absolute dream school): 40% to  50%
Columbia: 30% to 45%
Chicago: 30% to 45%
Wharton: 20%+
Harvard: 20%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, lots to like here. Everyone loves figure skaters, especially highly accomplished ones, and “teaching mentally handicapped children to figure skate” is a heart-winning extra that could make a powerful essay in several contexts. Deciding that you hate politics after working in it is also a plus in many quarters, provided that you also achieve success in something else, which it seems you have done since you are getting along just fine at what you describe as a “lower-ranked Bulge Bracket.”

I would just call that place a bulge bracket, but point taken, e.g. if it is NOT on PQ’s lists of most popular feeder firms to top schools. Working for the figure skating team after injuries forced you out as a competitor is also a halo of some kind, not enough to change your fate any place, but as part of a very winning package, real solid. We get the idea, you are one of those actually nice people. And that, and a 750 GMAT, and what looks like an alternative transcript from Georgetown (I am not sure what second honors are? 3.6??? ) maybe  enough to bury your 3.3 from college.

NOTE: For those readers with similarly bad  GPAs which need burying, pay attention: we are talking about burying a low GPA  with a 750 GMAT and an alternative transcript. And a 3.3 is NOT a 2.7. So, what we got here is a pretty solid package in terms of work, GMATs, and a forgivable GPA.

As to your goals, “my decision for pursuing an MBA is to break into asset management because I enjoyed it as a summer intern while at the elite boutique.” Hmmmmm, not critical, but what you do mean by ”asset management?” If it is managing money for rich people, an acceptable calling in my eyes, you might think twice about overly committing to that, at least on paper, since top schools (H/W/S) look down on that a bit as being less selective than ‘straight’ investment banking.

At Dartmouth, you can get a feel for how they break down finance types from  their Class of 2012 Employment Statistics where, in a section called “Base Salaries By Industry,” they list the future jobs of  22 “Financial Services” grads into the following sub-groups:

Investment banking 10
Investment management 4
Private equity, venture capital  4
Other 4

Yet another section of the same report, “Base Salary By Function,” has a smaller group (don’t ask me why) called “Finance” with 20 grads and these numbers, by function:

Private equity, venture capital–6
Underwriting, advising–6
Corporate finance–4
Investment, private wealth management–3
Sales and trading –1.

I’m sure there is some explanation,  or passable excuse,  as to why the groups are differently defined and sized, and why, in one there are four grads in private equity and in the other six, but I don’t care. “Close enough for business school work,” as they often say about the government.

For YOUR purposes, both charts give you and readers an idea of what “Finance” types wind up doing at schools like Tuck: the vast majority do what we will call loosely IB and PE and a small runt of the litter does private wealth management and  “investment” (whatever that means). There is one poor bastard doing “Sales and Trading,” which as noted in a later profile below,  is not what folks go to business school for.

Apologies to my own broker and thanks for stocking me up on “Bitcoins” at a market peak because they seemed “weird like me.”

As to getting in to  Dartmouth, your first choice, the school  is banking friendly, friendly to social types like you, and, hey, and the baseline GPA/GMAT is 3.49/717 plus, semi-secret here,  they are  more convinced of your stats mojo by your GMAT than your GPA, so I’d say, for a gal with a 3.3, things looking possible over there.

Columbia, Booth, Wharton and Harvard? Columbia + Booth will go for the 750, might blink at the GPA, and will be taken with your story the way all schools will. At Columbia apply before December 1st, even if not ED (early decision). They have a habit of eating fast over there, and not eating any more once they are full.

Wharton will be the most difficult outside of HBS because they get lots of finance/banking apps like yours, some of them with stronger stats and work history. But, for sure, you are solid enough to be in the running.

HBS is worth the trouble, you may get lucky. A lot could turn on recs, how you present yourself (I would not say asset management over there) and how much you can combine your skating career and its ups and downs, your goals, and your  super nice personality  into stardust.  Always an iffy process, on the throwing and receiving end, but you got enough to work with.

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  • joe

    Hi Sandy,

    I would like you to assess my profile
    GMAT: 710+ (expected)
    GPA: 7.4/10 from an IIT, (highest gpa in my class was 8.8/10) (screwed up my GPA in first 2 years due to a long absence from college on account of a severe medical condition)

    24 year old Indian female.

    work exp: 1+ years with an automotive giant in supply chain management

    extracurriculars: working with underprivileged children and differently abled people

    interested in: Kellogg MMM program

    Why MBA: so that I am able to start out on my own and contribute to Indian industry scenario

    (this is a very brief description of my bio, but it covers the major points)

  • Guest

    Sandy –

    I am from India ,

  • Sugu

    Hi Sandy,

    Your posts have been incredibly helpful, and I would love your input on my profile:

    I am a 26 year old Asian-Indian from New York City.

    – BSE, Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor
    – GPA: 3.65 (Magna Cum Laude)
    – GMAT: 720 (Retake?)

    Work Experience:
    – 4 years with Accenture as a Systems Integration & Technology Consultant
    o Project experiences include work in application development, system implementation, and digital analytics
    o Individual role experiences have evolved from technical to more functional positions with heavy client exposure as well as experience managing an offshore team in China.

    – Managed 70+ person Accenture Volunteer Committee to organize, publicize, and participate in 30+ community service initiatives (soup kitchens, walk-a-thons, community clean-ups, etc.) with 15+ non-profit organizations.
    – Led $20,000 fundraising campaign to help build and implement clean and safe water solutions in Kenya, Uganda, India, and Malawi through a New York-based non-profit organization.
    – Organized Accenture-sponsored Blood Drive through local New York blood bank acquiring 29 blood donations for 87 people in need. ·

    MBA Goals
    – Short Term: Transition from Technology Consulting to Strategy Consulting.
    – Long Term: Technology Strategy or General Management role in the Non-Profit space. Ideally, I would like to integrate Technology into the way Non-Profit organizations operate so that they can better address their cause.

    – Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Columbia, NYU

    Thank you very much for your consideration.

  • Too Kind

    Hi Sandy,
    Do I get into HSW?
    I am African,
    3.58 GPA, Business Administration. Had challenges that affected my studies but do not want to shout about it. 3.88 in my final semester when problems eased.
    Did 18months business development in Africa for New York based boutique investment bank. Had fours work experience before bachelors education.
    Masters degree in Finance & Law from European School (7/10 final grade)
    Eight (8) months internship in venture capital, 6 months at a bank and presently a compliance Advisor at another bank: all in Europe.
    GMAT 710 (Expected)
    Age is 32 (too old?)
    Extras: Tutored colleagues at college, Merit Scholarship, Adult Bible Class Teacher for 10 years.
    Interested in HSW, Dartmouth, MIT, Columbia, Yale, Emory.

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