Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

by John A. Byrne on

She’s a 27-year-old professional from a working class family who currently works in product management for a growing technology company. With a goal to move into an executive role, she wonders if she has a shot at getting into Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or MIT—and whether the degree is really worth it.

An account manager for a Big Data startup in Boston, this 24-year-old woman wants an MBA to transition into the educational technology industry. She’s also certain that three Harvard Business School alums will write her letters of recommendation.

When she was all of 15, her family immigrated to Canada from China. Now a risk analyst for TD Bank, this 29-year-old woman is the mother of two young children but would like to use the MBA to transition into consulting.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these 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 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 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.)

In this week’s batch, Sandy assesses the chances for three women and two men: a drilling engineer for Shell Oil, an Asian American commodities trader, the product manager for a tech company, the account manager for a Big Data firm, and the risk analyst for a bank.

Sandy’s candid lowdowns:

computer gal

Ms. Tech


  • 1530 GRE (old score)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in English from a ‘Little Ivy’ (Think Amherst, Williams, Tufts)
  • Work experience includes three-plus years at a growing tech company with a focus on peer-to-peer e-commerce
  • “Came in at an entry level position in Customer Support (god love the English Major), taught myself to program, was pilot candidate for an Associate Product Manager program, moved into a strategic Product Management role within 1.5 years”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a tutor and mentor, also do pro bono work, alumni organization, and have taken continuing education courses in math, econ and computer science, running
  • Goal: To return to same industry and move into an executive role within five years focusing on strategic development and operations. Want to disrupt inefficient systems (think education, media, transportation)
  • “Coming from the tech sector, where business degrees are often scoffed at, I’m a little unsure what my chances are/whether or not it’s even worth applying. Every MBA I talk to seems to have a differing opinion.
  • 27-year-old white female from a working class family, upstart from the Midwest story

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%
Stanford: 20%
Wharton: 40%
MIT: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Women in tech are always a plus and three years in a “growing tech company with a focus on p2p e-commerce” could be the right platform to show those schools you can walk the walk and talk the p2p. I myself have little idea what p2p (peer-to-peer) e-commerce is (Napster?) and a few minutes on Google did not help all that much, but who cares about me?

Most adcoms are about as tech savvy as me and will care more about the metrics of the company you work for–its headcount, its number of customers, its products, its revenues, its VC backers. So make sure your resume, your company description, and your discussion of what you do includes that. Schools are conservative and prefer companies with track records of any kind, especially since it seems to be your only job. That is key info for any tech applicant who does not work for a household name company (Microsoft, Dell, Oracle, Facebook) and it is too often overlooked.

Teaching yourself to program is also a good one. Well, I’m certainly impressed. As to GRE/GMAT, try to get near 80 percent on both sides.  Reporting to me that your old combined GRE score of 1530 was not all that helpful, especially for English majors.

Beyond that, business schools are really concerned about the Quant score, which we do not have for you.

A little Ivy GPA of 3.7, which you already have, and a GMAT/GRE 80/80 score and a job at a legit tech company, with what appear to be increasing responsibilities, is a workable admission platform for H/W/MIT, all of whom are looking for Women In Tech. Stanford might go for this, too, but the peephole is smaller there, and you may wash out on do-gooder, and even low-wattage employment pedigree. Stanford is the most snobby about both. See PQ’s diligent and correct analysis of this issue: Top Feeder Companies to Stanford Graduate School of Business.

As to goals, you said, “return to a p2p platform (not necessarily the one I’m at), move into an executive role w/in 5 years focusing on strategic development and operations. Disrupt inefficient systems (think education, media, transportation).” Hmmmm, get your head out of your p2p and get it into tech in general. It’s a big world out there and you are going to business school to e-x-p-a-n-d your horizons.

Say you want to be an impactful tech leader, look up some female tech leader stars, a good place to start is here and work up some inspiring jive about disruption (a great buzz word you already used), impact, and making a difference, especially using technology to help a, b and c (underserved groups, victims, conservation, education–you had the right idea). I think your career road map should be: MBA, plus tech-based consulting to learn best practices or work with tech stalwart for same reason, and then project some increasing leadership roles until you become Ginni Rommety, who is not Mitt Romney’s wife but the CEO of IBM. She is number one on the link above of the most powerful women in business, and while she does not have an MBA, well, times are different. You can troll that list for gals with MBAs but schools don’t really care. Marissa Meyer, the razzle-dazzle CEO of Yahoo and former Google wunderfemale, is an easy example.

Think Big but sound humble.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
  • IIT Solar Guy

    HI Sandy,
    Heres hoping you could give my profile a lookover in your next post
    Undergrad Insititution
    Age 24
    GPA (8/10 – top 10% of class) (how do adcoms view Indian grades?)
    GMAT – 1 attempt 750
    Work Experience :
    Post College-
    3 years in a tier 2 management consulting firm (think Delloite,E&Y etc) first years across sectors and then I chose to specialize in the solar consulting space.(all college and school projects were in the solar energy space. I took the first year at my firm to learn about other opportunities but then decided to stick to the field Im passionate about.
    2 years (by 2015) in the Solar project development (sales) and execution team at a major solar company.Company is well known and has sent multiple employees to the top business schools over the last few years
    Goal :- to get an MBA so that I can understand the intricacies of structuring business models and then use that knowledge/contacts developed to help the solar industry grow in india (over a 100 million people with no access to energy today and another 400 million with partial access)
    Target schools
    etc – basically all the schools having sister universities with strong alternative energy programs

  • Steve

    Hi Sandy, these posts have been a tremendous help for me and would love to have your insight on my profile and odds of getting into a great business school.


    -26-year old Asian male
    -710 GMAT based on practice tests
    -B.S. in Environmental Chemical Engineering with 3.1 GPA, but 3.6 GPA in final 2 years
    -Graduated from reputable engineering/sciences school in Northeast (WPI/RPI)
    -3 years working experience

    Work experience:

    -Worked 2 years in a global operations leadership development program for Fortune 400 manufacturing company. 1st year as a global operations project manager, traveling to global manufacturing sites to work on operations excellence, process improvement/six sigma, and cost reduction projects. 2nd year I worked in supply chain and product portfolio management.

    -Currently working at Fortune 100 retail/e-tail company as category manager making strategic sourcing decisions, developing merchandising strategies, negotiating with suppliers and managing P&L. I have been with the company 9 months and have been recognized as a future leader by multiple senior VP’s. I would be able to get strong recommendations at the SVP level as well as my current manager, who is a Wharton alum with 4-5 years at McKinsey

    Career goals:

    Short-Mid term: Management consulting or corporate strategy for retail/CPG

    Long-term: International business development for CPG company – creating global brand presence, opening retail stores/launching products into new markets


    -Traveling, blogging, photography, cooking, music/guitar/songwriting, basketball
    -President of Korean Student Association (through college)
    -VP Operations student government (college)
    -VP Christian Bible Fellowship (college)
    -Active in Church outreach, including missions trips, soup kitchens, charity fundraisers, helping in-need urban youth
    -Active leadership roles at current church, including worship team leader, bible study leader, youth Sunday School teacher

    Going to a top business school will allow me to build the network and rapport that I need to become a global leader. Could you please give me feedback on where you think I stand at the following schools or if there are other schools I may be a good fit for? Any advice on how I might want to spin my application letter would be great too.


    Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

  • Dr.C

    Hi Sandy – Ive been reading these posts for a while and wonder what your take would be on me – Im a bit non traditional.

    GMAT – 660 – (97th percentile verbal/47th percentile Quant)

    UGPA – 3.0 (Mandarin killed me) at Ivy (Think HYP) in Psychology – 3.4 GPA Major

    -President of religious club on campus; Treasure of Black Female acapella group
    -PhD in Psych (large private religious school with great reputation) – 3.7 GPA

    -Started non-profit that takes students to Middle East to volunteer in various organizations and promote economic development in the region (small business consulting, management projects, etc) – design program, budget, recruiting – this is the 3rd year of running it

    -Work experience – 5 years as a college therapist (lots of high risk clients – suicidal, sex offenders, depression, bipolar, etc) during my PhD, as well as teaching college psychology to undergraduates (org behavior, etc), conducting assessments, etc

    -Career goals – organizational consulting – want to take the theories and knowledge from my PhD and apply them to better leadership and talent development in Fortune 500 Multinationals (very interested in working in global companies and helping execs function in cross-cultural environments given my experience)
    – Strong skills in case formulation – taking small bits of info and creating treatment plan (project plan)
    -2nd generation college student – Bi-racial: African-American and Hispanic female

    Not sure where Id apply looking for guidance and info – pretty open to options that would launch my path

  • Lee

    Hi Sandy, I’ve been following these posts for a few months and have found them incredibly helpful, informative, and entertaining!

    I am wondering how business schools evaluate an applicant that attended community college for two years and then transferred to a university. For instance, suppose someone earned a 3.0 gpa during time at CC and then earned a 3.9 or 4.0 at university. Do you simply average the two or do mba admissions teams only consider university performance?

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.



  • Chris


    You say schools love Big Oil guys. I definitely see that for engineers, but what about Big Oil Finance guys?

  • hbsguru

    love there is less clear, oil finance guys have to compete with finance guys fr. banks, pe, vc etc. While Oil engineers also compete with engineers from Boeing etc and tech companies, in all cases Boeing, tech, oil–the engineering is deemed central to the mission. Banks are about finance, oil companies are not. All that said, oil finance is OK, just not as good as oil oil.

  • Mr. NFL Update

    Results update:

    In case anyone’s interested, reposting my capsule from last summer. I was admitted to GSB, Kellogg, Tuck, and Sloan (didn’t apply to HBS) and am headed to Stanford this fall. Sandy nailed the write up!

    (Full disclosure: I am not a client of Sandy’s. I just really like this feature and he suggested I post an update).

    Mr. NFL

    770 GMAT (99 V, 85 Q)

    3.8 GPA

    Undergraduate degree in human and organizational development as well as English and history from Vanderbilt University

    Work experience includes more than three years in licensing/marketing/business development at the NFL Players Association, with some interesting, high-level involvement during the NFL lockout (on the commercial side, not labor side); overhauled licensing business and launched an e-commerce site

    Extracurricular involvement in intramural sports and fraternity leadership position

    26-year-old white male

    Odds of Success:

    Stanford: 30+%
    Harvard: 40% to 50+%
    Northwestern: 50+%
    MIT: 60+%
    Wharton: 50+%

    Sandy’s Analysis: Schools love #1 entertainment and sports gigs like Disney, NBC, and Viacom, even ESPN and the Gold Channel. The NFL Players Association is close enough, although you would do better with the NFL period. (A lot of girlie adcoms may not know the difference, although many others probably know more about sports than me—an aboriginal Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and have tuned out lately amid the alien and corny Sox Nation types here in 02138.) Plus a 3.8 from Vanderbilt, which is a manly and well-regarded regional school, and a boffo 770 GMAT make you quite the solid fellow.

    Also, it seems you been doing actual work there, and have a lot of support.

    Getting into Stanford is like a 55-yard field goal where a lot of things, some intangible, would have to line up. Your What Matters Most essay would need to find the sweet spot somehow. I’d also try HBS, which has way more room, and is just as star struck. Your chances there, just based on solid stats and prestige-y job are pretty good, and you barely have to explain what goals are. As often noted, Sloan takes just about anyone with a 770 GMAT and a pulse and the pulse is sometimes optional if some family member can pay tuition. I also think your chances at Wharton (which has a lot of sports management courses) and Kellogg are real solid.

    As to your goals, “To develop quant and leadership skills in order to pursue a senior-level strategy/general management position in sports. . . .an MBA . . . in combination with an appreciation for technology – [to] bring a more progressive perspective to an industry that often lacks innovation.”

    Sure, try to flesh that out, and mention you might be interested in media as well, since sports is a big chunk of many networks’ income stream, not to mention the challenge of monetizing digital. Your experiences with licensing and e-commerce are actually more interesting than the lock-out/labor stuff, which is hopelessly so last century, in terms of goals. However, you might have some powerful stories there for old-timey essays like discussing a significant accomplishment or a time when you contributed to an organization.

  • StilltheLeanguy

    Hi Sandy,

    You didn’t chose my profile previously but I’m gonna give it another try.

    GMAT: 720 (Ok split, bit tilted on the Quant side)

    GPA : 3.6 / 4.0

    BA Economics from a top liberal art college in the Midwest.
    Past Internships: FDIC, Boutique Investment Bank in Shanghai, IT solutions company.

    Current job: Continuous Improvement Specialist (Lean)
    Company: 2+ years in Privately-owned small-midsize Construction (little less than a billion in revenue)
    Top 75 General Contractor ranked in ENR (Engineering News-Record)

    Job is basically an internal management consulting role. Consult, facilitate and implement improvements in all corporate departments (think process re-engineering) from BD-Marketing to IT to Risk Mgmt to Finance. Daily interaction with VPs and above. Also assist other operation presidents across the country.
    I also manage-design the company intranet and implement new features (Dealing with Google search, new UI-UX).
    Currently assigned to help out with >$100 million hospital project where I led the core lean team with innovations, scheduling and implementation. Also involved in several other projects ranging from $5-50 million. Company is a niche in healthcare buildings and work with 5 out of the 10 biggest healthcare system in the US.


    Internationally ranked fencer in 2007-2008.
    Varsity athlete 3 years in college (study abroad for a year), top 15 in the midwest conference.
    Currently volunteer coach for college’s fencing team (2nd season) and led men’s saber team to top 4 finish in the midwest (we’re div 3 and we compete against Div1 like OSU and Notre Dame).
    Was mentoring a class in entrepreneurship last spring for my college (invited by my professor along with other accomplished alumni).
    Studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt and spend a summer in Shanghai, China during college.
    Spoke Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Arabic and Malay.

    Target schools:
    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Berkeley, Duke.

    Undergrad send kids to Kellogg with very high acceptance rate. One of our alumni was an award winning professor there. 50% of our most successful alum went there.

    Work tends to send kids to Masters in engineering rather than MBA. But we hired engineers off MIT, Berkeley, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Stanford.

    Reason and goals:

    Fresh out of college, I’ve ditched finance after a summer stint in M&A and wanted to be a management consultant but couldn’t break in M/B/B due to non-target college. Current experience as in-house is probably on par with 1st year associate given my responsibilities in managing internal and external clients’ engagements.

    However, I found that to rise up the ranks within the company, I will need to run construction projects, which is not my passion. I like the innovation part, where we deliver projects with different engineering approach but I can’t see myself building a $100 million hospital.

    Thus, I would use the MBA to breakout the construction world. Less a career change but more of an industry change. Short term goal: Break into M/B/B for a wider consulting gig. Long term goal: Lead fortune 100 companies and leverage that experience in running for public office back home.

    Can get excellent rec’s from President of the company (well, he hired me) and VPs. Also excellent rec from my econ professor who send our kids to top grad school.

    Thanks and hopefully you’ll review this.

  • African Applicant

    I’m a very big fan of the results posts. (1) it serves as added motivation for those of us about to apply, and (2) its nice to see how spot on (or off) Sandly was.

  • FuquaHopeful

    Greetings Sandy,

    Love your site and thanks so much for all your hard work. I’d really appreciate an objective critique of my profile as I’m gearing up for admissions as we speak!

    700 GMAT (48Q 39V)
    Masters of Accounting from a southern state school (3.483 GPA)
    Bachelors of Accounting from same school (3.594 GPA)

    Work experience includes 1.5 years as a tax associate for a national CPA firm. Currently 2.5 years now in corporate accounting for a top 10 international law firm currently responsible for financial reporting as well budgeting, forecasting, and analysis for accounts totaling about $35M. Debating whether to switch to a tax analyst role for the next year to help broaden my finance perspective of the company or stay and possibly get promoted within the next 6 months.

    Extracurricular: Volunteer regularly at a local animal shelter where we try and rehabilitate animals and hopefully get them adopted. Also volunteer at a local soup kitchen as a cook and server and at a local asian youth services program where I tutor underprivileged children (sort of like big brother)

    Goal: Transition to a finance role in the tech industry with an established company such as an Amazon, Samsung, Linkedin. Eventually transition to a finance manager role with a tech start up and continue to grow with the company to hopefully become a Controller or Director of Finance.

    27 year old first generation of Vietnamese refugees.

    Target Schools (please recommend others): Duke (EA), Virginia, Michigan, Texas, UNC

    I do have a very high ranking professor (created a whole college essentially) at Duke who will write me letter to Fuqua basically signing off on my character and that I will be a great representative of the university (will NOT count as a letter of rec). I know this can backfire sometimes, but Duke is definitely my #1 and I will be applying early admissions too so hopefully as a part of the overall package, it will help a little bit.

    Thank you so much!

  • Mick

    Hi Sandy, great posts! I’d love to see my chances if you have the time!

    GMAT: 740
    GPA: 3.95 (small, fairly selective liberal arts college)
    Double major econ, marketing
    Double minor psychology, English

    Completed four marketing internships while in university

    President of university’s Marketing Club and held active leadership roles in other organizations

    Two years with the Peace Corps doing NGO development

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, NYU

    Goal: To return to the NGO world with a background in organizational consulting to better mobilize efforts aimed at economic empowerment and development.

  • WillieKeith

    Hi Sandy – repost here, not to spam you or anything

    29 year old white male

    GMAT: 720 (42V 47Q 6.0AWA 8IR)
    practice tested much higher and will retake (goal 750+)

    GPA: ~3.0
    Hold a BA Econ from a run-of-the-mill state school. 75% of my credits for graduation are from this school, and my GPA at that school was 3.4 w/ a 3.6 Major GPA. The other 25% were xfer credits from Vanderbilt, where I “studied” for ~2 years before basically failing out. I can spin to an extent but the bottom line is that I was regrettably just a very immature young man at that time who I didn’t take life very seriously. If you average all my grades from both schools it is about 3.0

    I have an alternate transcript with ‘A’s in Calculus, Financial Accounting, Business Statistics, and Math for Managers. All were taken in the last year.

    Work Experience: 5 years in the Navy as Surface Warfare Officer. 2 promotions and several awards. I have completed two tours, one as a general officer aboard a destroyer and the second as an operations officer on a destroyer squadron staff (deployed embarked in an aircraft carrier). I preparing to take over as the OIC (Officer-In-Charge) of a very high-profile east-coast naval facility. I’ve completed two high-profile deployments (Arabian Gulf, Southeast Asia) and can demonstrate all the leadership/responsibility/decision making experience that other military applicants can.

    Extracurriculars: Have participated in several community relations missions while deployed overseas, including a habitat-for-humanity type rehab project in Thailand, visits to orphanages in both Cambodia and Korea to deliver gifts and supplies and spend time with the children, and several other humanitarian projects. College tutor for sailors pursuing advanced degrees. Active member of Surface Navy Association. Studied abroad in China for a summer in college as part of a business exchange program.

    Goals: I am looking to transition out of the Navy and into the private sector, and I need an MBA to rebrand myself as a business professional and develop the requisite skills to be successful. I hope to join a consulting outfit upon graduating, ideally specializing in public sector and government consulting services. The young idealist in me wants to improve the way that large governmental organizations operate because I have seen firsthand just how costly large-scale inefficiencies can be. Ultimately I would like to strike out on my own within the industry.

    Target schools: Wharton, MIT, Duke, UCLA, UVA, Ohio State (Ohio resident)

    I know I am fighting an uphill battle given my academic record, and I really feel like I need a 750+ GMAT to even have a shot at my target schools. Thanks for the consideration for the column!

  • HGA


    Thanks for the opinion on Big Oil.

    I am in a similar situation as Mr Big Oil.

    Our Similarities:

    1) I work for Shell

    Our Differences:

    1) I’m a Petroleum Engineer responsible for the development of oil and gas fields such as building field development plans based on technicals & economics.

    2) I’m based in South East Asia and I am SEA-ian

    3) I’m a valedictorian (first class honours + academic awards) in electrical & electronic engineering a top engineering university in the UK (not oxbridge/imperial) and a masters in engineering from oxbridge/imperial.

    My rationale for going to BS is to move into the commercial/business development to learn about management of non-technical risks (negotiations, M & A) after developing a strong technical foundation through my current job.

    Hence, I’m only planning to apply after 5 years which is 3+ years from now.

    Question: With Mr Big Oil’s application after 3 years, should I consider applying earlier?

    Thanks Sandy!

  • Sam P.

    Hi Sandy,

    Please take a look at my stats and help me to come up with my chances.

    – 24-year-old female
    – Bachelors and Masters accounting degrees from a state university in the southeast
    – 3.5 GPA’s for both of my degrees
    – Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
    – Two years of experience in a Big 4 public accounting firm performing financial
    statement audits (also had a consulting rotation for a Fortune 20 company)
    – One year accounting internship at Fortune 50 company
    – One year as a graduate teaching assistant helping to teach business statistics
    -Involved in affinity networks at my job promoting minorities
    – First-generation college student
    – Hispanic

    – Get more professional experience in the professional services arena – not necessarily audit, but advisory and consulting related to accounting for mergers, transactions, IPO’s, etc. (4-5 more years)
    – Get a GMAT score between 680 and 730
    – Perhaps get an additional relevant certification (i.e., CFA)


    – Helping companies improve their financial reporting for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the capital markets
    – Education and allowing everyone to have access to a quality education
    – Children

    Target schools:
    – NYU
    – Columbia
    – Berkeley
    – USC
    – Fordham
    Please chance me, thank you!!

  • hbsguru

    HMMMM, tuff one, I do not think your application will become stronger in 3 years, even tho you will drift up in the Shell org chart. Applying after 3 yrs cld be ideal, but not a super big deal, the days when HBS was negative on 5-6 yrs of work ex. are gone (but may come back). I would make this decision on your own life timetable, but maybe apply duing year 4 at the outer limit, if possible.

  • hbsguru

    :-) as to that NFL player assoc guy + Stanford, I was pretty spot on about two things. 1. NFL players association gig, while not actually NFL, still had halo effect since adcoms a. love celeb sports and media and b. don’t fully understand (or care) about diff between NFL and NFLPA. 2. A 770 GMAT cuts a lot of mustard at Stanford. That, and solid execution (guy told me after the fact what he wrote) equaled a Stanford admit.

  • hbsguru

    hmmmm, yes and no. Some schools (‘Philadelpha calling on line 2 Mr. Kreisberg’) have become metrics focused b.c. of USNEWS etc. rankings. To them, GPA is GPA. But even those places make exceptions, based on merit. It would seem that 2yr 4.0 GPA at Uni says a lot about your ability to sit still, eat crap and spit it back, which is what GPA is a proxy for–and what you will be doing in B school for about 80 pct of your time. So if you can explain how you Came To Jesus in year 3 of your college career and changed fr. an independent-minded and restless spirit at Com College into a castrated and accommodating Empty Suit at Uni, well, they may like that.

    I’d be interested in hearing that tale myself.

  • HGA

    Thanks Sandy.

    Will definitely take that in consideration.

    As far as chances go, I’ll take your assessment of Mr Big Oil as a rough assessment of my own chances.

    Do correct me if I’m wrong though.

  • derpie

    Will big corps (think Schlumberger, Shell, GE, GM, ) in South East Asian become less prestigious than in America (same position?)

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,

    Wanted to throw in that you profiled me a couple years back as well (Mr. Fortune 50): http://poetsandquants.com/2011/11/18/assessing-your-odds-of-getting-in/4/

    I applied to all schools last fall (R1) and ended up being admitted to HBS and interviewed, but got rejected, at Stanford. I applied to Kellogg and Booth as well but withdrew applications after getting into HBS so I never found out whether I was accepted or not.

    Thanks for the continued feature…and for answering all the ad hoc questions. Hope to run into you in Cambridge sometime over the next two years!

  • Lucy

    Hi Sandy,

    I would like the benefit of your critical eye and expertise in the industry to assess my chances of admission into MBA program

    Age 41

    3.5 undergrad (state school) political science and 3.5 graduate degree (traditional and online school) MBA health care management

    GMAT – not taken yet

    Work history

    State Legislature ( 3 years) and Office of Governor (2 years) – Legislative Liaison to several elected officials, both legislative and executive office.
    Public Affairs executive (10 years) at a top ranked global health care company.

    An engaged executive experienced in advancing multi- billion dollar business objectives across multiple states in escalating hostile political environments. I bring a unique combination of business insights to effectively build coalitions between uncommon alliances including large employers, advocacy groups, and competing health care companies.

    In addition to negotiation, my strength is identifying threats and protecting revenue streams by connecting external stakeholders with internal leaders to drive new and innovative partnerships. Key brands are protected while developing pathways for new product entry; many with competing marketshares.

    I routinely bridge corporate business objectives with public policy and government affairs. Creative, strategic, and nontraditional pathways are created to drive public policy and legislative agendas designed to further business objectives.

    In addition, my diverse background allows me to effectively assist senior executives and business units with conflicting priorities come to consensus during the strategic planning process.. This is accomplished by leading high performance teams in a complex matrix environment.
    GOAL: Achieve a second MBA that will grow and diversify my strategic abilities with the projected outcome of obtaining an VP position.

  • hbsguru

    not sure of question but those firms will cont. to send a steady cohort of kids to top B schools and it don’t matter much in which area of the world applicant works.

  • DisneySFA

    Hi Sandy,

    Hoping for a profile evaluation.

    – 25 year old white male

    – GMAT: Not taken (goal would be to break the 700s)

    – UG: Honors Program at average state school. 3.8 GPA. magna cum laude.

    – WE (in order): 2 years big 4 audit (CPA), 1 year big 4 valuation,
    currently 1 year as an SFA in finance and planning at Disney. my group
    plans the P&L for an entire business segment, tracks and analyzes
    performance, and works on various ad hoc projects related to strategic
    initiatives and plans. Plan would be to matriculate after 1 more year
    here, or possibly 2. That would put me at 5 or 6 total years of post UG
    experience. Is there a downside to having 6 years of WE?

    – Extras: worked part time throughout college, honors program and
    professional fraternities participation during UG, and recently
    participating in employer sponsored charity events. honestly, nothing
    special, but could improve this piece fairly quickly.

    – Goals: Not totally decided, but either banking/consulting focused on TMT
    industries, or corporate strategy type role working in the technology
    and media space.

    -Schools: H/S/W/MIT/Booth…Beyond those I might pick a few #10-15 schools and hope for scholarship $$$. Possible?


  • MS

    do you have a sense of how top business schools look at smaller boutique investment banks? specifically, a small, technology focused bank (managing directors were formerly at top banks, well connected, etc). we don’t do the multi billion dollar public deals that the large players do, but we pitch (and often win) against the big brand name shops. as a small firm, lots of direct CEO/CFO-level interaction with clients on deals in the $50-$500m range.

  • hbsguru

    Report Calls for Socially Conscious Investing by Colleges

    With more than $400-billion in endowment assets at their disposal, America’s
    colleges are well positioned to invest in the financially struggling
    communities in which they may be located

    Case Western Reserve University, Duke University, and the
    University of Pennsylvania are offered as examples of institutions where
    administrators led successful community-investing campaigns . . .
    Among the authors’ recommendations are stimulating campaigns at “game changing”
    institutions, like Harvard and Stanford Universities, that could spur
    other colleges to follow suit.

  • Jennifer Webb

    Interesting story, but I don’t think I fit into any of your profiles at all. Licensed Architect with nearly 20 years experience and started my own consulting practice three years ago after I got laid off of the local Florida architecture firm I was at for 5 years. I had worked for large architecture firms such as HDR, Jacobs and Flad and have been a Project Manager for science and healthcare building projects that required considerable leadership and technical skills such as the LEED Gold Certified University of Florida Biomedical Sciences Building. I plan to get an MBA to enhance my business skills since I love being an entrepreneur and am starting to see my business finally grow after struggling for the past three years. I am published and have written an article on Laboratory Design in Lab Manager Magazine and have been in webinars and am a subject matter expert for NIH. I did not go to a “mini-Ivy” unless you consider the University of Illinois School of Architecture in Chicago a mini-Ivy and I graduated over 20 years ago. I have applied and got accepted to the EMBA program at Rollins in Florida; however I waived the acceptance since I’m not sure I can afford the $80k price tag. I’m a single mom with two great kids who loves the outdoors and have assisted at various community events and sat on community boards (too much to list here). What would my odds be and what schools would be best for me? BTW I took the GMAT and my score was really low and realize I need to take it again…

  • hbsguru

    “I love being an entrepreneur and am starting to see my business finally grow after struggling for the past three years. . . . .”
    Most full-time MBA programs ranked 1-30 USNEWS etc. do not cotton to profiles of experienced, 20+ years, professionals like you who start their own firm and then want an MBA to gain solid “business building” expertise for their own firms. That is classic EMBA territory, or even part-time, as you seem to have discovered. You dont need the pedigree or leadership blah, blah so PT is the way to go. Unless I am missing something? Don’t you want to keep working, as well???

  • Duke

    Hey Sandy would love a read on my profile for the Harvard/Stanford 2+2 and other deferred admission programs.

    3.8 gpa at UCSB (Sociology Major)

    730 gmat (expected)

    paid intern at heart center (first summer)

    paid intern with financial planner who is family friend, got insurance license (second summer)

    paid intern at Openheimer (third summer)

    for my last summer before I apply I was either considering either volunteering or interning with the largest peacekeeping nonprofit in the world which my uncle founded in order to get a letter of rec from him or alternitivaley going for a tried and true internship at Mckinsey, Boston, and the like.

    member of martial arts club… I have been doing martial arts since I was 9 and have some minor awards

    president and founder of The Guild, a student social/business interest club which promotes networking and invites guest speakers to talk to the club members

    White and privileged male from Los Angeles

  • Lee

    I found this quite amusing. It’s a fair bit of Jesus, certainly, but there are other changes that I’ve made to improve myself and my quality of life. I will happily tell you the tale two years from now.

    Thank you so much for the response, Sandy.

    Kind regards,


  • hbsguru

    This is classic EMBA or part time profile, esp. since you are 41 and already have an MBA: There are plenty of EMBA specialized programs in Health Care, Public Affairs, or whatever else you want to do: above has some great jargon, but after the smoke clears, I am not clear if what you do is lobbying or dispute resolution, or ???? but such mumb0-jumbo as below has EMBA written all over it, and that is true given your stats, age, story, etc. it is still EMBA. Becoming a vice-president should happen to guys like you in due course, based on 1. job, 2. performance, and 3. continuing ed (a bit, first two are necessary 3 is not per se).

    “my strength is identifying threats and protecting revenue streams by
    connecting external stakeholders with internal leaders to drive new and
    innovative partnerships. Key brands are protected while developing
    pathways for new product entry; many with competing marketshares.”
    BRAVO!!!! Man, that is jargon, in next iteration, some reality might help balance this, but you got the right spirit.

  • herpina

    why not hbs ?

  • Yash

    Indian Engineer (Mechanical) – 65%
    Not from the IITs

    Joined State Bank of India (fortune 500) as a part of the national recruitment project – Officer cadre

    made significant tangible contribuition in terms of business. worked with SME units and financing them.

    also participated in drive to bring financial inclusion in the area posted as a part of the nationwide project towards the same

    other tangible commendations too

    Associate of Cost Accountants Institute (equivalent of CMA, USA under an MoU)

    CFA, USA – Level II clear

    Foreign languages spoken – French, Spanish (diplomas held for both)

    GMAT 750

    Pursuits: Travel enthusiast, personal travel diaries – pics, notes (on computer), Biker, no blogs though, visits to Monasteries in India, Himalyan trips.

    Goal: To switch over from banking to Investment banking Industry – Buy side.

    So, this is a profile different from the typical “Indian I.T. male from IITs”
    Let me know what are the odds of me into HBS, Stanford GSB, INSEAD.

  • hbsguru

    you tell me, how many kids from your firm have applied to B school, and what are the outcomes, that is the best benchmark in the world. Beyond that, if depends on rep., size, and deals firm has, plus location a bit. If this is first job out of college, and firm is unknown, could be tuffer, but still sounds good. If you got there as Job 2 from bulge bracket firm, wld prob. be fine.

  • ChicagoGirl

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love to hear your opinion on my profile.


    710 GMAT (47Q 41V)

    3.7 GPA (Honors Program and Honors in the Major)

    24 year old white female

    Undergraduate degree from a top 10 public university, triple major in Political Science, International Studies and Latin American Studies.

    Work experience includes two years as a 5th Grade Teacher with Teach for America, started a gender-based mentoring program with my students and mentored first year corps members. Coached teachers through TFA for two summers and am currently working for a smaller education nonprofit as a program coordinator (managing family services and developing new systems to aid organizational growth). Promoted within one year from volunteer coordinator position where I recruited enough volunteers to double the size of our tutoring and mentoring programs.

    Extracurriculars: I am currently consulting for an online education start up in my free time and like to run races. In college I was selected as a VP for PR and Communications for the Panhellenic Executive Board and started an environmental campaign that reached over 3,000 students. Spent a year abroad where I held an internship with an NGO and returned to intern with a Senator’s office for a year.


    Short-Term Goals: Work on the social sector side of a consulting firm like McKinsey or Bridgespan to help social businesses, nonprofits and education organizations maximize outcomes.

    Long-Term Goals: Run my own social business focused on improving educational outcomes for underserved populations internationally.

    I’m looking at schools that have strong entrepreneurship, social business and international components. Would love your thoughts!



  • Mr. Nate Silver Jr.

    Hey Sandy,

    I just read through each of these posts and got a lot of great advice and ideas on how to position myself as parts of me were in a lot of these profiles. You had several Mormons, 2 Blue-Chip Tech, a decent number of politicos, but only 1 gay guy (less than .3%). Want to take on all 4 in one applicant?

    – 700 GMAT goal (Haven’t taken yet)

    – 3.2 GPA – graduated early in 3 years just after turning 20 while working full-time to pay my own way

    – Undergrad degree in Political Science from PAC 12 state-school with 1 year at BYU (with terrible GPA due to struggling with coming out at BYU and then being Rusticated)

    – Work Exp. 3.5 years & 2 promotions at Google/Apple/Facebook/Microsoft blue-chip tech firm in Political Sales with 2 years additional exp. on State/local & US Senate political races and DC-based business trade association (Not U.S. Chamber) as digital director

    – Extra Curriculars:
    * Leadership in Church congregation, No LDS Mission but Eagle Scout.
    * Junior Olympic/National-level fencer in HS/early college
    * LGBT activist including helping overturn Gays in Scouting
    * Volunteer Communications Director for largest & oldest LGBT/LDS organization helping to bring the Church into 21st century on LGBT rights,
    * Leader of Gay employees for our smaller sat. office
    * Section leader in large (300+) Gay Mens Chorus.
    * Media Citations for LGBT Activism on local TV, and print in MSNBC (Print), WaPo, Politico, Gay 7 Utah papers .

    – Goal: Increase growth at the intersection of politics and technology where, outside of Obama, both sides of the aisle are far behind Corporate America (by ~800%) and bring hard data to the gut-run world of politics

    – My Issue: There are a couple of seemingly unique stories to tell here and I could use some help telling each one or avoiding some as needed.
    * Gay Mormon kicked out of BYU for being Gay goes Do-Gooder for other LGBT Mormons including suicide prevention. (I see this playing better at Stanford than HBS)
    * Tech-Savvy politico, backed by blue-chip tech and political campaigns experience looking at the political game with a business perspective that it often-times lacks in an age of general consultants who mostly win by luck.

    – Questions:
    * Given HBS’ high scrutiny of Mormons with anything less than a 3.9 out of BYU who have language & mission skills and my low (but explainable and bury-able GPA) do I even have a shot at HBS?
    * Will I look too old if I wait until after working on the digital team of a presidential candidate (28 yrs old & 8 yrs exp. at that point)
    * In a post-DOMA world should I be out in my application? There seems to be little guidance on that from most sources.

    Demo: – 24 year-old Gay-Male

    Thanks! and ps. I saw the Japanese BYU LGBT Ally profile from a couple of months ago but you didn’t talk about how he could use the LGBT work or sexuality (when you thought he was gay) to his advantage. Am I over-thinking the Identity Politics play that being a Gay Mormon has?

  • eliterun

    Hello Mr. Kreisberg,

    Does your commentary extend to Ph. D admissions for these schools? If you feel so inclined as to handicap my odds in that arena, my profile is below:

    Small liberal arts college (affiliated with ethnic/religious affiliation)
    GPA: 3.89 (identical GPA @ state school)
    GRE: 168 Quant, 164 Verbal

    For my undergraduate experience I spent the first two years at a large state school on the cross country team (perennial championship contender), studied abroad in Europe (one semester in France, one semester in Germany), and learned French and German. I returned to aforementioned small liberal arts college (SMLAC) in the Midwest, and completed my degree while running cross country, winning the business plan competition, and being a member of the touring choir.

    At my SMLAC I fell in love with organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. After graduation, I did a year of Americorps voluntary service in San Francisco, and immediately after was hired on at a real estate investment startup, which has gone from zero to $15 million in annual revenue over the last 1.5 years. I’m the financial manager for the firm and do many things–HR policy, hiring, financial analysis, revenue projections, etc. I am also an active member of my religious/ethnic group, have helped host SMLAC recruiters, and volunteered for six months at a local music label, running their marketing and sales campaigns. I’ll have three years of work/FT volunteer experience when I would go off to grad school.

    But I’m looking to move on in a year and pursue teaching or consultancy in Management or Real Estate. I’m really inspired by cutting-edge Management philosophy from the Googles, Dan Pink’s Drive, and Adam Grant’s research on altruism. Both of my parents are also teachers. I’m looking at these grad schools:

    Wharton: I have lots of ethnic/religious ties to this area, with family ties stretching back 100s of years
    Kellog: My dad is a Ph. D chemist from Northwestern, I have ethnic/religious ties to a place in Evanston
    Duke: no special connection
    Stanford: no special connection

  • Steve

    To be frank, I think I’d be a shot in the dark at best at hbs or wharton due to my low undergrad GPA and not coming from one of the sexier feeder schools. if anyone has any thoughts would love to hear other perspectives or advice.


  • hbsguru

    I’m no expert on Ph.D. admissions for B schools, but my guess is, what they look as #1 is research interests and history of actually doing research, not so much the many nice things you have done.

    “I’m really inspired by cutting-edge Management philosophy from the
    Googles, Dan Pink’s Drive, and Adam Grant’s research on altruism.”

    I dig, but that kind of wannabe interest probably won’t cut it You need to walk and talk and have a history of seeming like an academic, a special duck, indeed. Also, most PhD program admits have real high GRE’s –my advice to you would be get involved in something that is close to actual research, you seem to prepping yrself for humanistic MBA program but PhD program is not that.

  • eliterun

    Thanks Mr. Kreisberg. I appreciate the app review, I’ll have to whip out the polish & research credentials.

  • Jacques

    Hi Sandy,

    First of all, many thanks for the sharp analyses and the zingers. I have rather a strange profile, which I feel you may be well-placed to assess (I am in any case going to use an admission consulting service).

    I am a 27 year old white British male, with a degree from Oxbridge in History with Spanish and Management as a minor (I know, I know!). GPA translates as 3.6 for the History component, but is pretty weak (say 3.2) for the Management component due to various complicated reasons. I also flunked out of a programming course – which was in fact pretty easy, looking back – with a grade equivalent to a C.

    Work experience is very random; a long-term internship in equity derivatives sales at a European investment bank in London, followed by 2 years at a ‘big data’ research, news and analytics service serving the energy industry. Essentially ‘quantitative journalism’, if you will. A niche company with presence on every continent, pretty international work, lots of travel, conferences.

    I took the GRE due to thinking I might want to combine an MBA with something like an international relations MA, although that is now unlikely as I want to focus on a 2-year MBA focused in marketing. Scores – 85th percentile verbal, 80% quant.

    Aim to get into analytical/data-driven marketing, especially in the utilities/energy industry, leveraging my prior experience in the field. While the company I am at has very high revenues, growth rate and profits (think 32% PA plus), it and similar organisations have rather poor strategy and execution in many regards and I would need fluency in business disciplines to really turn that around.

    Target schools are UCLA, Emory, UNC Kenan Flagler, NYU Stern.

    Many thanks in advance!

  • VC_Tech_Social

    Hi Sandy,

    It would be fantastic to get your opinion, planning to apply to Stanford, MIT and Berkeley MBAs

    – Computer Science Engineering undergrad. GPA 3.5
    – GMAT 760
    – 1 year software engineer
    – 2 years top consulting firm
    – 2 years (upon joining the program) in a recently created social division of a top 10 direct sales company
    – Planning to move to VC – with an eye on investing in companies with social objectives
    – Sport scholarship receiver as rugby player, president of the rugby club back in school. Action sports lover – motorbikes, outdoors, etc.

    – Lived/worked in 6 different countries

    Thanks a lot!!

  • The Tourist

    Sandy, I’ll throw my stats into the ring:

    750 GMAT

    3.9 GPA

    Undergraduate degree from College of Engineering at at large private Christian school.

    Work experience: 5 years experience with growing consulting firm focusing on sustainability in the built environment (think green building, renewables, energy efficiency, etc.). Was promoted to manager of small team (fewer than five) after one year with firm. I’m also an Instructor at a private university teaching a certificate program in sustainable facility management.

    Extracurriculars and service: Served as leader in volunteer organization in Mexico for two years. Eagle scout who has served in various capacities with the Boy Scouts of America continuously. Organized tours for international trade show.

    Goals: To help a Fortune 500 company currently dragging its feet in CSR to become a leader in the industry. Broad experience as sustainability consultant provides multiple avenues to effect that change.

    Demographic: white male 27 y.o.

  • The Tourist

    Forgot to mention schools in my excitement! Here they are:


  • Mr. Steel

    Hello Sandy,

    Please shed some light on my ” Odds of Success” with the following back ground

    Indian Male
    GMAT Score – 770 Q89 V99 percentiles

    Undergraduation in Electrical Engineering from a state university in India GPA 8.04/10

    4 years of myriad work experiences in the manufacturing sector more specifically in the steel industry. My responsibilities started with Level-II automation maintenance, moving on to managing a shift of 17 personnel engaged in the Electrical maintenance in India’s largest steel manufacturer. From there on I have moved to a short stint in Project management and further on to the Corporate Operations and Logistics Division of the Company.

    My extra currics during undergraduation included setting up of the Robotics Club in the university, Founding the Technical Festival and a Social service group. Post college I have been the founding member and secretary of a new Rotary Club in India.

    My professional achievements include being selected the best trainee in my batch and winning a company wide ideation contest (This was open to almost 7000 employees in the company) to form a model to Harness innovation in the Company.

  • Latin for MBA

    Sandy, I would love if you can handy cap my profile. Thanks a ton for all the valuable info you share with candidates!


    · 28-year-old male from Colombia

    Targets 1st Rd:
    · Tuck
    · Wharton
    · HBS

    2nd Rd
    · Haas
    · Yale
    · UCLA
    · Insead

    · 730 GMAT (V: 99%, Q: 68%)
    · LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) Cum Laude Rank 4 of 80
    · B.A. Political Science – Minor in Economics Rank 2 of 54
    · GPA 3.6 (Top 3% among graduates in the last five years)
    (Both LL.B. and B.A. from top Uni in Colombia)

    Work Experience
    · 2 years, Associate consultant in a specialized global risks consultancy -with 33 offices in the five continents- helping organizations manage political, integrity and security risks. Project manager in integrity and reputation risk engagements in seven South American countries.

    · 2 years full time + 3 part time years, in a management consulting boutique, focused on strategy and new market entry. The boutique is the local partner of a Tier 2 global management consulting firm (not MBB, but a well-known consulting brand …)

    Post MBA plans
    · Short term After graduation join a Tier 1 consulting firm, seeking to engage in public-private cooperation and public policy projects.
    · Long term Start own consulting practice, focused on public/private cooperation and policies affecting business and/or occupy a high impact leadership position within the government or the private sector, on areas that combine the private and public arenas.

    College extracurriculars
    · International Moot Court competition
    · TA for three law and polisci undergraduate classes
    · Semester abroad
    · Assistant on 4 research groups

    Other extracurriculars
    · For the last two years MBA teaching assistant in Colombia (strategy class)
    · 4 publications (chapters/articles) between academic and business
    · Passionate rock climber and mountaineer -have climbed “El Capitan,” at Yosemite National Park and other serious walls and mountains.
    · For three years runner on a fundraising run of a half marathon (21 km), benefiting injured soldiers
    · 3 languages – good international exposure

  • Mr. Energy Independence

    You da man Sandy! I’ve read all of your Handicapping posts while taking 15 minute breaks during my GMAT study sessions. I’d love to hear your take on my profile.

    * 27 year old white male (first generation college graduate)
    * From the Midwest/South central US
    * Undergrad double major (International Business + Entrepreneurship)
    * Minor in Mandarin Chinese (4.0 and top student award)
    * GPA of 3.98 summa cum laude from University of Oklahoma
    * GMAT 740 (47Q, 44V)

    Work Experience:
    * 2.5 years (directly out of undergrad) as a project manager for a real estate development firm focused on urban infill and greenfield development of walkable neighborhoods
    * 2.5 years (currently) for a large US-based oil and gas exploration and production company in a business development/strategy role. I work on a small team focused on increasing demand for natural gas in unconventional sectors – specifically transportation (vehicles, locomotives, maritime). Promoted twice in 2 years to a management position and our team has struck partnerships with well-known companies (3M, GE, BASF, Whirlpool, etc.)

    * Involvement in my church as well as a local movement called “Better Block” that focuses on temporarily transforming economically depressed parts of my city into thriving urban hubs for 2-3 days in hopes of convincing city leaders to invest dollars into those communities. Also, have completed several triathlons including a half iron-man.
    * Was Vice President of college fraternity (200 members) and helped lead student ambassador group that hosted visiting dignitaries (Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Al Gore, etc.)

    MBA Goals:

    * Move from the oil & gas/alternative energy (believe it or not, CNG and LNG are considered alt. energy) back into the real estate development sector. My first employer fell victim to the real estate downturn in 2008-2011 as our projects dried up. I then moved on to my current interesting position in O&G. My goal is to pursue a project management role with a large real estate group (Hines, Related Companies, Boston Properties, etc.) after graduation – all of whom recruit from the top schools.

    Target Schools:

    * Harvard
    * Wharton
    * UT-Austin
    * Others you would recommend

  • MrServiceAcademy

    Sandy I was wondering if I could get some of your candid feedback for my Profile…


    – Service Academy Grad – Operations Research Major 3.03 GPA
    (2.5’s Freshman Year/3.6 and 3.4 Senior Year…huge up trend)
    – Lead and Managed the schools intramural program Junior and Senior year ~4000 kids (mandatory for everyone)
    – 700 GMAT
    – Football Player
    – Currently a Captain in the military – 26 y/o
    – Lots of Community Service –
    Special Olympics State Games Volunteer/Special Olympics Bowling Team Coach
    Currently deployed to Afghanistan – run the largest volunteer organization in Afghanistan ~500 active volunteers donate clothes/shoes/school supplies to local afghans
    – currently Have 140 Outside the wire drive missions escorting personnel
    – Do Triathlons and Ultramarathons, also a member of my military service cycling team

  • Strat Man

    Sandy et al. Wondering if you could give me some guidance on what you think my odds are. Some brutally honest transparency below:

    GMAT: 650 (’10) fairly evenly split Q/V
    …planning on re-taking/avg’ing 700s currently
    GPA: 3.3 (Major: Poli Sci), 2.3 (Cumaltive…was PreMed first 2 yrs)
    Undergrad: Top 10 in Chicago…Northwestern/UChicago

    Experience: 4yrs in boutique start-up strategy consulting firm (promoted Analyst to Associate), 2.5yrs at Fortune 100 doing Corporate Strategy/M&A (Manager)
    Outside Office: Board Member of Tech Start-Up, Advisor for Non-Profit, Volunteer at Homeless Shelter

    Looking at: HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Tuck, Booth

  • Mr. Eclectic Entrepreneur

    Greetings Sandy –

    Thank you for running this series – as someone who has been looking into b-school for a while now, I’ve found your advice helpful, informative, candid, and very refreshing.

    I’m finalizing my school selection at the moment, and was hoping to consult a guru for a quick dose of objective realism.

    Overview: 30 at matriculation, white male, 3.4 GPA (upward trend), small private university, double majored – computer science and psychology. 710 GMAT (77% Quant, 89% Verbal).

    Work Experience: 3 years in IT Operations at a database marketing company (promoted, increasing responsibility), 2 years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, 2 years working full-time to launching an online startup (2 experienced founders working and funding it, and me managing technology and operations – great learning and mentoring experience, though sales did not pick up and we’re winding down.)

    Other: Took 5 courses via UCLA Extension over the past 2 years (economics, accounting, math), on the board of a local nonprofit supporting returned peace corps volunteers.

    Goals: Management/Strategy Consulting in the short-term (I loved looking at business processes when we launched our business and I think this would give me diverse exposure practical problems in a short period of time). Longer-term, I’m planning to launch a business (currently looking at taking a technology slant to traditionally non-technology fields: the possibilities of mobile money in Africa to serve the unbanked, for example, sounds very exciting.)

    Schools on my list: Tuck, Darden, Johnson, Fuqua, Yale? (I value the prospect of a tight-knit community to build lasting friendship and connections among diverse people.)

    In your opinion, am I aiming in the right place? Is there anything here that sounds particularly weak or particularly strong?

    Many thanks,

    An Eclectic Entrepreneur

  • Turkish Consultant

    Hi Sandy, hope you get a chance to evaluate my chances! Thanks in advance.

    -26-year-old Turkish male
    -3.16 GPA from top university in Turkey
    -BSc in Electrical-Electronics Engineering
    -770 GMAT
    -117/120 TOEFL
    -Total 4 years work experience: 2.5 years work experience in boutique Italian management consulting company (10 offices around the world, working in Istanbul, Turkey), 1.5 years work experience in top-five commercial bank
    -International experience: high school exchange in the US for 1 year, 30+ countries visited
    -2 years extracurricular involvement in mentoring program under Alumni Association
    -Goal: Go back to management consulting in the US at McKinsey, BCG etc.
    -Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia (Regular decision), Northwestern

  • Healthcare Mad Woman

    Hi Sandy –

    I’ve read through a good deal of your profiles and actually can’t find one that fits me. If you have a moment, I’d really appreciate finding out what my odds are:

    – 26 Year old female, currently living in San Francisco
    – 3.5 years in Pharmaceutical Advertising at big name/ top 10 advertising agencies (Grey New York, DDB) with a client list including Merck, Eli Lilly, and Amgen. Strong background in the healthcare regulatory space.
    – 700 GMAT (Expected)
    – 3.2 GPA, Tulane University (low grades came from a stint in attempting pre-med)
    – Seeking MBA to move from Healthcare advertising to Healthcare Consulting at a top Consulting firm (i.e.: Bain, McKinsey) as I believe I’ll have a bigger effect on the big picture in healthcare through consulting versus advertising.
    – Extracurriculars: ASA certified sailor, Habitat for Humanity, NY Cares, Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

    Dream School: Haas (MBA+MPA Program)
    Other Schools: Kellogg, Dartmouth (MBA/MPH), UVA, (open to suggestions…).

    Thank you!!!

  • Alex14

    Hi Sandy,
    I graduated from the Isenberg school of management (ranked 45th in the nation); majored in finance and minored in economics. I have one year experience in a Competitive Financial Leadership Program in a fortune 50 company (maufacturing/Aerospace/Defense company). I have two years of investment banking experience for a top 20 Investment Bank. I am 25 years old with a GPA of 3.44 and a Major GPA of 3.8. My GMAT score is 730.
    what are the chances I get into a top 15 Business School?
    Your input is much appreciated.

  • mittens63

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d much appreciate it if you could take a look at my stats:

    – 24-year-old Canadian female (visible minority), currently living in Toronto
    – 760 GMAT (48Q, 47V)
    – CPA, Masters in Accounting from the University of Waterloo (top-tier school in Canada), Psychology Minor
    – 2 years work experience at a Big 4 accounting firm within assurance services + 16 months co-operative education work experience at same firm during undergrad years
    – promoted to senior level after co-op workterms – one full year ahead of counterparts
    – experience as teaching assistant in a variety of disciplines ranging from corporate finance to cost management

    – passion and goal is to move into social enterprise development and help NPOs apply commercial strategies to their existing operations rather than relying on grants and donations
    – active involvement within local community as Board Member of an inner-city education initiative and social enterprise development volunteer at a youth organization for marginalized teens (developed and launched a business plan to make use of an unused recording studio to both generate revenue and introduce youth to enterpreneurship)

    – typical “third culture kid” – grew up on 3 different continents, avid traveller as an adult
    – did a 10K Run for Kids with Cancer, currently working towards combat instructor certification
    – dedicated to French and Spanish language development (have attended immersion programs in both countries after graduating)

    Target Schools:
    – HBS
    – Columbia
    – MIT


  • Ms Asset Management

    I’d love your insight on my odds of getting in!

    – GRE 160 verbal, 162 quant
    – 3.7 GPA
    – CFA level 3 candidate
    – Honors BS in finance with a concentration in investment management from a private, selective school in the Midwest
    – First generation college graduate, parents are immigrants from South America
    – Schools of interest: Sloan, HBS, Booth, Columbia, Wharton, Haas, Duke, UCLA, Stanford. I am applying to MBA/masters in international policy joint programs. I would like to work in international development focusing on economic growth in developing countries, in particular in Latin America. The reason I’m pursuing a joint program is because I also want to work in finding economic development solutions with a emphasize on sustainability. UCLA and MIT both have MBA programs geared towards sustainable solutions.
    – I’ll be 24 at matriculation, and coming from a large asset management firm. I’m a credit analyst with 1.5 yrs of experience at my current job as well as internships as a summer analyst for the private equity investment team at an insurance company, at the D.C. office of a Congressman, at my college’s communications/marketing office, and working at a Fortune 100 company’s finance department. I’ve been performing very well at my current job, except I will not have letters of recommendations from my supervisor or immediate coworkers due to job security concerns were I to ask for them.
    – Letter of recommendations will more likely come from 1) professor/adviser in college, 2) former supervisor, 3) program coordinator at nonprofit where I volunteer or coworker (not in the same team or department) at my firm who knows me from my previous experiences. I’d like to hear your thoughts on my picks! Is professional versus academic preferred?
    – Extra curriculum activities: mentoring youth throughout 4 years in college, Latino outreach/engagement leader at a nonprofit organization helping plan community events in Spanish and raising awareness about the organization services to the Latino community, involved with the local YMCA in various capacities: keynote speaker at an event, career and college admissions workshop leader, after school high school level tutor in college, and international delegate assigned to Chile to help strengthen the communication and support between the two international branches (opportunity to travel to Chile a few years ago).

    Thanks!! K

  • Mr. MBA


    700 GMAT

    3.5 GPA

    Undergraduate degree accounting from a state school in California

    Work experience includes more than three years in
    in tier 2 accounting firm in London. My expertise is in external audits and tax work(individual and corporate)

    Extracurricular involvement- Played all 4 years of college sport. Captained the team in my Junior and senior year

    UC Berkeley

  • Mr. MBA

    Also a CPA

  • Bobby

    I’ll throw my credentials into the mix as well I suppose.

    Hi Sandy,

    My credentials are as follows:

    660 GMAT Score
    3.35 GPA from 3rd tier Northeast school (B.A. Government/Political Science)
    3 years work experience at one of the top 10 largest financial firms in the world
    Promoted twice to become a senior level associate
    Accepted to the firm’s 2014 Leadership Development program
    Personal Financial Coach (volunteer) for low income families at a local non-profit

    I currently reside in Texas and aim to stay in the south while I pursue my studies. My goal is to transition out of brokerage operations and into a more investment focused role (P.E., investment research, real estate). I hope to attend a school that has a strong reputation within the financial services community. Furthermore, a school that has a national (versus regional) reputation is something I seek.

    My top choices are as follows:

    UT Austin – McCombs
    SMU Cox


    UT Dallas – Jindal

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Warm regards,


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