Handicapping Your MBA Odds

A West Point valedictorian, he’s a military intelligence officer who has had direct leadership of more than 100 soldiers. With a 700 GMAT, this twenty-something officer wants an MBA so he can return to the U.S. Army and eventually guide its cyber intelligence unit.

An Ivy League grad with a 750 GMAT and a 3.75, he’s a consultant for a top-three firm. But this young professional wants an MBA to help him achieve a goal to direct strategy at a major tech company or to create disruptive business models in developing countries using technology.

After playing varsity baseball at a top 100 university, this 26-year-old professional works on strategy and partnerships for a large health care provider. His goal is to move into private equity, working with healthcare companies on growth strategies.

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?

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

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. But for the first time ever, we’ve included a video portion of the series featuring Kreisberg live evaluating the prospects of one of our candidates. In this debut video, Sandy evaluates our West Point valedictorian and addresses many of the issues facing military candidates who apply to highly selective MBA programs.

Given the fact that Sandy hard at work for MBA candidates on their Round One applications, the remainder of this week’s column is a best of collection.

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.)

Let’s go to our video analysis first:


Basic RGBMr. Army Intelligence


  • 700 GMAT
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from West Point
  • Valedictorian of his class
  • Work experience as a military intelligence officer who has had direct leadership of more than 100 soldiers and has managed large private contracts
  • Has earned a dozen professional cyber network certifications
  • Extracurricular involvement as team captain of a national champion fencing team while at school; volunteer for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Special Olympics; tutors autistic children
  • Goal: To eventually guide the Army’s cyber organization through its expansion over the next 20 years.
  • “Looking at HBS or Wharton to geographically match my wife’s applications to Med School programs but would consider others”
  • Male in mid-twenties
  • “I heard that admissions panels emphasize different things when looking at active duty applications. What can I do to maximize my chances?”

Target Schools:

Harvard Business School
Stanford Graduate School of Business
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton_
University of Virginia (Darden)

Sandy’s Analysis:  See the video above for Sandy’s blow-by-blow assessment.

  • UNMtoGStoMBA

    Sandy, You say HBS plausible, Stanford less so, Wharton good, and Yale for sure. Can you quantify those measures into %. Is Wharton good equivalent to a 60%? Plausible = 30%? etc.

    Thank you

  • Des McGowan

    Hi Sandy,
    Age: 26
    White Male
    GMAT: 780
    Work Experience: 2 1/2 years auditing financial services firms at a Big Four in New York, transferred within the Company to its Real Estate Valuation department where I’ve been for 2 years. Expect to be promoted to manager right before beginning the application process.
    Education: Top 30 university, 3.3 GPA. Graduated from the Business School’s Honors Program with concentrations in Finance and Accounting
    Professional Licenses: CFA, CPA
    Target Schools: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Columbia
    Extracurricular: Member of the Board of Directors (Finance Director) at a neighborhood elementary school.
    Goal: To work at a late-stage startup after graduating

    Thank you!

  • OfftoBschool

    Asian American female
    Age: 25
    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.5
    Education: B.A. in Econ and Int’l Relations @ a top liberal arts school

    WE: 4 years in financial analysis and management at an ivy league institution with significant and diverse responsibilities and exposure to senior leadership; 2 promotions

    Extracurricular: admissions interviewer for alma mater, admission counselor for low income high school students, tutor at local middle school, founded an entrepreneurship course, various leadership roles in clubs during college

    Other: first generation college student passionate about education opportunities for disadvantaged students, fluent in mandarin, 1 year study abroad

    Goal: transition into product management at a medium/large tech company(with relevant work experience to support this goal), then take on senior management role at company

    Schools: Wharton, MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Berkeley

    Thanks for your time!