Your Chances Of Getting Into An Elite Business School

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by John A. Byrne on

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.

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Air Time - Comments
  • 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

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