Your Chances Of Getting Into An Elite Business School

He’s a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Captain who has had two combat deployments under his belt. With a 730 GMAT score on his first try and a 3.57 grade point average in accounting, he wants an MBA degree to transition back into civilian life.

He’s a 26-year-old analyst at a boutique management consulting firm after having spent two years at an IT support firm for hedge funds. Captain of his college hockey team at a liberal arts school in New England, he has a 740 GMAT and a 3.3 GPA. He hopes to use an MBA to shift to being a strategy consultant for the technology industry.

She’s a 31-year-old woman who has worked at the same financial service technology company for eight full years. But outside of work, she is clearly a person seeking adventure: she is into mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and yoga. With a 680 GMAT and a 3.4 GPA, this white female professional wants to earn an MBA to make a transition into consulting.

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, 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.)

This week’s batch is a special video collection of candidates’ chances. So you can watch the video tape dissection or simply read what Sandy has to say about each applicant’s odds to get into their target schools.

Sandy’s candid lowdowns:


Mr. Marine


  • 730 GMAT (first try)
  • 3.57 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Kansas, graduating in three and one-half years
  • Work experience as a U.S. Marine, having served two combat deployments
  • Was commissioned at the age of 21 and will come out as a captain
  • 25-year-old male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40%
Stanford: 30%
Wharton: 40% to 50%
Chicago: 40% t0 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a case where everything lines up. The University of Kansas is the kind of school that Harvard and Stanford like to accept people from if they can.

The 3.57 in accounting is a couple of eyelashes on the low side, but the 730 GMAT helps him there. And then he has had a distinguished military career with two deployments. As I have said many times, admissions officers have a very difficult time hashing out a military career. Ghey don’t know what a golden career is versus a silver or bronze. One of the things they do understand are deployments. He’s got that going for him and he seems to have graduated to captain in what seems like a fast amount of time. That’s helpful.

Depending on how this guy tells his story, guys like this get into Harvard certainly. Stanford there might be a missing X factor that we don’t know about. At Harvard, he is in the hopper for sure.

Business schools are open to the military, but in their minds, there is the good military and the bad military. They’ll never admit this, but in the bad military are those who conform to the stupid stereotype of military people: that they are gung-ho, that they follow orders, and aren’t very reflective. If he presents that way, he will damage himself. A good military candidate is reflective, non-kinetic in anything other than a combat situation, and likable.

It’s a question of how you come cross. Do you have a more fluid body language. If you go in there with the yes-ma’am, no-ma’am stuff, they don’t like it.

  • Carcosa

    Sandy, I greatly enjoy your articles but have a bone to pick with you. I think you are a little hard on 30+ year old applicants. I agree it is certainly harder to get into top schools at 30 or 31, but it isn’t as bad as you make it sound. I got into an M7 this year at 31 and had a high GMAT but many “flaws” in my application. Also, the president of the consulting club at my future school, who is also a McKinsey Emerging Scholar, got into school at 37. I disagree that M/B/B have a serious issue with older candidates. If most MBA hires only go to those firms for a couple of years, what is the big difference between hiring a 29 yr old or a 33 yr old? If your point is, they hire less married people who are more averse to travel and long hours, that is a separate issue.


    Hello Sandy,

    I’d like very much to know my odds for the following schools. And here is a bit about myself.

    American, White male, 27
    MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from University of Missouri, Rolla. Respective GPAs 3.6 & 3.8. Currently took GMAT with score (single attempt, 710 (91 percentile)(Q-49, V-38)). 2 years of work Ex with a Silicon valley core Hardware company (think Cisco/ Qualcomm/ Nvidia/ Cadence). Was VP for IEEE student group in the University and treasurer for HKN society for exceptional engineers on campus. 2 internships with also big Microchip producers during my student life.

    Social and leadership abilities:

    Disadvantaged student (read low income family, brought up by single parent in Rural Missouri, Grew up in a trailer park, worked part time all throughout my student life, was forced to work for couple years after high school graduation due to lack of resources before could go back to school, first member in the entire family to go to college for higher education, most family members are dropouts).

    Organized all high school friends and alumni to raise funds and awareness to build a skate park in the small town of Missouri where I grew up. Could organize and put my case to the town mayor and other people to convince them and got the park built which is a major re-creational place in town today. Recently over the past decade trade has been dying off in my hometown so joined hands with some old friends and people from town and currently working for ” revive ” mission. Want to use my MBA degree to help small start-ups establish themselves during initial times, help leverage contact and resources and financial planning for thriving of such business in both underprivileged location both domestic and international. Mentored a lot of college projects for juniors during school as a part of the clubs (IEEE/ HKN).

    What would be my chances for :
    1. Kellog
    2. Hass
    3. Booth
    4. Sloan
    5. Stanford GBS

    Thank you for your time!

  • Devi

    Hi Sandy
    Could you please recommend me a list of b schools which I can apply in Early round with the following profile:

    GRE – 316 (Q170 (98perc) V146 (29perc)) AWA – 3.5 (38 perc)

    Current Designation – Deputy Manger (one promotion in fast track 5% employees achieve it in our company) in Production Engineering Dept (Techno-commercial segment)

    Total Work Ex – 5 yrs in India’s largest car manufacturing company with an elite experience of project management by handling 3 green field projects of Engine and transmission assembly line set-up in the role of project manager)

    B Tech – 7.64/10 CGPA in mechanical engineering from National Institute of Technology (among top 25 colleges in country)

    Achievements: Promotion in Fast track 2016, Rising star award 2015 (best 10 employees with 3< work ex <5, Best project Initiation 2014, Stood first in project presentation as graduate Engineer trainee – Star performer 2013

    Professional Skills : Project management, Logistics and Inventory planning, Technical and commercial negotiations, Experience in handling multiple green field engine and transmission assembly line projects

    Extra curiccular:
    Volunteer for poor children empowerment at an NGO
    Teaching experience in IIT-JEE Maths & Physics
    Directing Short films and choreography

    Kindly recommend some other bschools that I can apply this year with my profile
    – preference full time MBA operations & supply chain management

    Thanks in advance

    Best Regards

  • John D Costa

    Wow! Didn’t know that PoetsandQuants was so popular in India too. A huge chunk of the comments here seem to be from Indians.

  • Ronnie

    Hello, this is Rajarshi. I am a 27 years old, Indian male.I wanted to discuss about my chances at getting to the top B schools like HBS,Stanford,MIT, Wharton etc. I am presently pursuing my PhD from USA in Nuclear Engineering.I have MS also from Nuclear Engineering from the topmost institute in India. My GPA in undergrad is 3.33, in MS 3.5, in PhD 3.8. I have two publications in peer reviewed journal papers. Do u think I have a chance with high GMAT score? I am an acaedmic person. Will they allow that?? I am taking a class in entrepreneurship and have some business plans that I want to pursue.

  • Ayush Agarwal

    Hi Sandy,
    Can you please evaluate my chances for these business schools: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Wharton.

    This is my profile:-
    – 21 years old male from siliguri, westbengal, India
    – Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from St.Xaviers College, Calcutta, India, secured 1st division
    – A Chartered Accountant from ICAI, India completed in 2015
    – A Company Secretary from ICSI, India completed in 2015
    – GMAT 700(Q48/V41)
    – IELTS 8
    – first person in my family to went outside the city to study
    – wanted to become an engineer, at the age of 14, desirous of getting myself enrolled in IIT, India
    – belong to middle class family hence shortage of funds buried my desire of an IITian
    – for the past three years i m funding my studies on my own
    – was the chairman of hostel managed 70 people at a time
    – a handy poker player too


    – participated in all india maths olympiad
    – school captain
    – represented school in badminton
    – active participant in blood donation camps, charitable trusts


    – done my internship as a CA trainee in a very mediocre firm
    – apart from that managed family business from the age of 13
    – never wanted to do CA nor CS nor B.Com
    – but due to funding issues i was forced to do all these
    – dream to attend a top business school in USA


    – to make contacts through school with various alumni in diversed fields
    – will work in a pharmaceutical company(jhonson jhonson) to know about its working
    – to return to india n start up a pharmaceuticals company using general compounds for preparation of medicines and supplying it to the poor majority of india as it will be very low priced
    – employees to be selected from poor class of majority
    – to remove poverty in India by contributing towards their education n employment

  • Akshita Kapur

    Can you also help me guage which schools should i apply to :
    GMAT – 680
    GPA – Our University does not provide a GPA but I was top 10% of the class *80/100 percentage. Best commerce college in the country.
    Experience – 3 years in a Mining Conglomerate in Singapore, Australia and United Kingdom
    Major – Finance and Human Resources
    EC- Leadership roles in College societies and Company Clubs ranging from College coordinator, Business unit rep to Class rep for 3years in college
    Gender – Female
    Ethnicity – Indian