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.


  • Layman24

    Hi Sandy!

    I’m a bit of a non-traditional finance/private equity candidate. I’m 29 years old, and I was never an investment banker, nor did I attend a ‘target school’. I’m originally from a small WI town of <1,000 people and currently live in a large Midwestern city (think Des Moines, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Fargo, etc.).

    Thanks to some serious networking and hard work, I’ve found my footing in an industry I’m passionate about (middle market private equity). I’m seeking a top-tier MBA (H/S/W) so I can use the education and network to help the rural industrial businesses we invest in to be more competitive and ultimately thrive (i.e., I’d like to come back to my current employer/area to deploy the education to help rural America). My dream would be to gain admission to Stanford’s USA MBA Fellows Program.
    Given my non-traditional background, I'd appreciate your thoughts on my profile and suggestions on what I can do to maximized my odds of gaining admission to H/S/W FT programs. Thank you!!

    – Age 29
    – White male with 7 years of professional work experience, including the 4 in middle market (<$500mm fund size) private equity (current employer).

    – 740 (should I retake as I have proven a +760 ability?)

    Work Exp:
    – 3 years as an analyst in a formal credit training program at top 3 universal bank (WF, JP Morgan, BofA).
    – 4 years at middle market private equity firm (current). Promoted 3 times in 4 years (now a Vice President) and recently allocated carried interest.

    Undergrad Education:
    – BA in Economics from small, private liberal arts university in rural MN (top 80 US News).
    – 3.7 GPA (cum laude)
    – Division 3 football team captain and 3-year letter-winner

    Continuing Education:
    – Completed intermediate accounting classes from CA-Berkeley as a part of the bank’s formal credit training program
    – Completed CFA charter in 3 years (passed each exam on first attempt).

    – Board member (+2 years) for non-profit group whose mission is to help local students and young professionals network, learn more about private equity, and give back (i.e., volunteer)
    – Member of University’s graduating class alumni committee, which is responsible for organizing the class and driving annual donations for students in need of financial aid.
    Thanks again!

  • Will Lynch

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d like to know my odds for Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and Penn

    23, American Caucasian
    BS in Economics and Ethnic studies at mid-tier Ivy League (3.5 GPA)
    – was the president of the colleges Big Brothers Big Sisters program
    GMAT: 750

    After college: 2 years at an elite boutique consulting firm
    – volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters

  • Niraj

    Hello John and Sandy;

    Please let me know my chances at Ivy League Colleges

    -26 years old, Asian, Neplaese citizen

    – Bachelors in Business Management and Information Systems

    -GMAT: 720 Thinking of taking the score to around 760 on the next try. Will it help?

    -GPA: 3.49 at top National university of the country, Kathmandu University

    Work Experience:

    -Parallel experience at family led business throughout my bachelors, 6months at a bank following 6 months of Intern at the same bank, then a start-up with an annual growth of 50%

    I control all aspects of management like Supply chain Management, HR, Sales, Accounting, Marketing and Finance and an employee team of 10 people


    -Member at Muscular Dystrophy following my social Intern there

    -Founder member of I plus, an organisation committed to recycle resources by donating them to the needy

    -Organised various social events at college

    -Strategic Member of team that led to the successful completion of KASAM project that raised sanitary standards of inaccessible district of Kalikot

    -Cricket Team participant at Community events

    -Proposed to lead the alumni team of High Scool (DAV, which has around 4000 students), unable to do so due to time constraints

    -Arranged an Informal team of people to help the needy during the earthquake

    I also have an interest in IT as evident from all the A’s in IT subjects during my undergrad. But could not do much in the field of IT due to low scope and compensation for job for student of my level in my country other reason being time constraint. I want to transition my career into IT and consulting, gain some corporate experience and start my own venture in the future related to IT and consulting. I am planning to apply to top 20 MBA schools. Please let me what will be best fit for me and what are the odds of getting into them.

  • William

    he is an exceptional person, Josh Klemme in Columbia. here is his profile: www DOT linkedin DOT com/in/joshklemme

  • hbsguru

    pretty much the same, esp. for Canada.

  • hbsguru

    thanks for the update, I’m not sure how hard I make it sound for 30 and 31 year olds.
    I’d like to know more about the 37 year old, was it the case he was going back to MCK, so for school, it was not an issue about him being employed as recent MBA and 40 years old??

  • Canadian CPA

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d like you to assess my profile:

    Canadian Male, 24.
    BBA from a Top 3 Canadian Business School – 3.2 GPA
    GMAT – 730
    Canadian CPA holder.

    3 years of work experience in a big 4 accounting firm. Working on clients in a variety of fields (insurance companies, security brokers, banking and capital markets). Involved within the firm (i.e teaching courses, planning socials, mentoring new hires in the CPA process, recruiting).

    Captain of a semi-professional sports team.

    Post MBA – Management Consulting.

    What would be my chances for Columbia, Cornell, Booth, Tuck, Stern and Kellogg?

    Thank you.


    Dear Sandy and John
    I’d love to get my profile evaluated

    Brazilian, Male, 26

    Bachelor in Industrial Engineering (apr 2014) in a top 20 University in Brazil
    GMAT: 700 (50Q/35V) / 6.0 AWA / 7 IR
    GPA: 3.2 (among the top 10% for engineering in my university)

    Morana & Lupo (local stores, each is part of a franchisee chain)
    Jan 2014 – Present
     Total revenue is growing at an average of 70% per year since 2014, partly because of a change that transformed sales team commission bonuses aggressively meritocratic
     Leads the group’s expansion, growing in the last 2½ years from one to three stores. Fourth store under construction
     Leads 3 teams with an average size of 5 employees each
     Creates and sets managerial controls and methods that improve management. New purchase system introduced, based on historic sales data, enabling more assertive purchase and reducing inventory up to 30%
     Performs and controls all financial functions and performed analysis on the expansion of the group

    Arbex Pina Empreendimentos Imobliários (Family-owned real estate investments and management company)
    Jul 2012 – Dec 2013
     US$40K saved in interest payments in one year by switching bank loans from no guarantee short-term to secured long-term, reducing the average monthly interest rate from 6% to less than 1%
     US$1.5MM negotiated in loans, assets and rental agreements
     Developed a Strategic Planning that led to a better management of group’s assets, anticipating the conclusion of construction properties that have been leased
     Assisted in the coordination of a group of 15 masons and carpenters, on charge of some functions such as workplace safety
     Developed executive construction projects and ensured that all other projects were approved by town hall

     2 Patents registered at INPI and others 2 under writing
     98th Percentile at Mensa International: the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world
     3 months exchange experience in Dublin, Ireland (Jan 2012 − Mar 2012)
     5 months experience Volunteering at AIESEC (Mar 2009 − Jul 2009)
     Language Skills: Portuguese (native), English (fluent), Spanish (advanced) and Mandarin (beginner)
     Elected President of the Student Council at High School, representing more than 1,100 students

    -> Short-Term: Be hired by a Top Employer (To save money and Acquire experience) on Tech or Bottom of the Pyramid sector
    -> Long-Term: Open my own business (Preference Tech or Bottom of the Pyramid sector)

    TARGET SCHOOLS: UCLA (Anderson), UC Berkeley (Haas), MIT (Sloan), Yale (SOM), Indiana (Kelley) and U of T (Rotman)

  • sherwinwill

    so basically Stanford is the toughest biz school in the US to get into. Harvard is second

    got 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

  • AlexK

    Generally speaking, experience as a military officer in any country is a respectable pre-MBA position. But since Canada is part of NATO, your experience would be considered right on par with a similar position in the US military. It’s a very apples to apples comparison.

    Now if you were an officer in a corrupt developing country or one which has a joke of a military, then the merits of your position would be questionable. But you don’t have to worry about that. Good luck.

  • JMBA112

    Is experience in the Canadian Forces comparable to the US Army? I have 2.5 years in the Forces and a fairly good position. But it’s not AMERICAN.. It’s Canadian. How do these schools view military experience in another country, like your neighbors Canada?

  • emilivi

    I’d also like to know my chances for the following schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Yale.

    This is my profile:

    – 22 years old, white male, Spain
    – GMAT score: 720
    – GPA: 3.66 (economics undergraduate at a good european university)
    – Study abroad: Wharton (GPA 3,5/4) – probably can get references from professors within – and top Finnish Business School

    Work experience:
    – Consulting experience: IT consulting (payments) for a major conglomerate in Finland and Strategic and Operations Consulting (construction) for a Colombian company that provides housing materials for the BOP (i.e. population <$2 a year).

    Personal & community experience:
    – Entrepreneurship: started building own company a couple years ago (didn't fly). Member of the entrepreneurship society of my university (responsible for contacting sponsors, investors and companies to support the activities of the society)

  • Sankruti Mehta

    I would be keen on getting my chances:

    25 female Indian
    GMAT: Q48 V38 total: 700
    GPA: 3.8
    work: 4 years experience in Morgan Stanley and MSCI
    Social service: President of volunteer group at school and participated in volunteering events in office.
    Add-on: Learnt French for 9 years and Mandarin for a year and have CFA charter and FRM certification.

    I am aiming for HBS, NYU Stern, Columbia, Chicago Booth

  • jellybean93

    Hi i am an International Student aged 20 from India studying at Umass Amherst with a GPA of 3.76 and GMAT score of 730(first try)! I have played Soccer at National levels and roller bladed at national levels. I am a junior marketing director at a fertilizer company with a experience of 1 year. My goal is to become the CEO for the company. What are my chances at Harvard business school 2+2 program

  • 680goodEnough

    Hi, kindly review my profile and let me know my chances:
    GMAT score : 680
    GPA: 4.0 from top college.
    Field : Computer science
    5 years work exp.
    Extra : avid runner, trekker, filed patents in my field of work.
    What are my chances of admission in HBS, Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, Booth?

  • MrEarlyPlanner

    Edit 2: I’ve also been considering getting another degree before applying for an MBA, in particular a Masters in Technology Policy from the University of Cambridge. Would this be a definite positive on my profile?

  • MrEarlyPlanner

    Edit: I realise I forgot to include a goal, but that could be because I don’t have a specific one.

    I find technology interesting, but what I really like are the business aspects of technology-based industries eg. not just how to build an electric car, but rather how to create a hugely successful business around it. I am also quite interested in policy issues, but worried that a career in policy might be frustrating because you could have an idea that makes sense but wait for years for someone to implement it.

    I know I enjoy leading teams and solving business- and people- focused challenges, ideally in technology-focussed industries, and especially ones with social impact (which is why I’m choosing not to go further down the tech start-up route)

  • MrEarlyPlanner

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m a student finishing my undergraduate degree and trying to shape the next 3-5 years into a career path that gets me a shot at Harvard, Stanford, MIT or Yale.

    – Indian male
    – Undergraduate degree in Computer Science from University College London (UCL, one of the top 5 schools in the UK) + a year abroad at ETH Zurich (one of the top tech schools in the world)
    – GPA: 3.85 (by the strictest standard and 4.0 by a relaxed one)

    Work Experience:
    – Going to be joining Oliver Wyman in London as a strategy consultant (with the aim of gaining experience heavily in renewable energy, technology, and corporate governance cases) (One of the things that attracted me most to OW was that I could go up the ranks quicker than at most other firms, is this a plus in my book?)
    – Previous internship experiences include technology consulting with KPMG, renewable energy private equity (where I proposed a mechanism that generated a 7 million-pound return), research work on self-driving cars and 2 stints at a tech start-up (including one where I wrote my final-year thesis on detecting decision-making patterns in traders using data on their sleep, exercise and other indicators of physical health)
    – Also did a short stint at an Indian non-profit that installs solar power plants in small villages, retaining a very good relationship with them such that I can always get a job there should it prove to be the right next step at any point

    – Mentoring new students at my undergraduate university department (twice as a mentor and once as the leader of the mentoring team)
    – Various leadership positions at university and high school clubs, but nothing exceptional (even though leadership is a crucial part of who I want to be as an individual and a professional)
    – Learned French and some German by myself online, along with taking a lot of online courses in various non-technical subjects
    – A few half-hearted tries at entrepreneurship (implemented some part of 2 ideas, got interest from investors and did a few testing rounds with 100+ users, but couldn’t work on them with enough gusto alongside school)

    I’m ambitious, enjoy working to my fullest capacity (right now I work 2 jobs alongside university and learning French) but I know I lack direction and feel right now I have no X-factor and also lack in leadership (even though it’s something I have been doing since my earliest years in school, but I was always the guy with the second-tier positions i.e. School Prefect but not Head Boy, Team Leader but not President, etc.)

    I realise a lot of the other commenters have more pressing needs since they are applying right now, but I feel that if I could add the right direction to my efforts right now, I have the opportunity to mould myself into the right candidate. To this end, I would really appreciate any advice you have.

  • MechE

    John and Sandy –

    I’d be thrilled if you would evaluate my chances of getting
    into Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Duke and Rice. Just for fun Stanford.

    – 730 GMAT
    – 3.5 GPA
    – Undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Aerospace Engineering from Montana State University. Graduated in 4 years.
    – 3 years work experience at BP working as a Drill Site Manager in charge of all rig operations and crews while managing budgets up to $30M.
    – Bi-lingual in Mandarin Chinese and English. (Interesting upbringing. Grew up in China and lived there for a total of 15 years. Also, very well traveled around most of Asia.)
    – Goals: Management consulting with a focus in the oil and gas industry.
    – 25 yrs old, Caucasian male.

    – Extra: Real estate investor. I currently own 5 townhomes/condos, which I manage and perform maintenance on myself.

    Volunteer math tutor to junior high school students.

    Marathon runner and avid outdoorsman enjoying snowboarding, dirt biking, kayaking and rock climbing to name a few.

    Mr. Mech E

  • Mike Travis

    Hi! Looking for chances at: Cal, UW (Foster), Stanford and Columbia.

    33 year old white male
    GMAT: 740
    GPA: 3.68 from Gonzaga University
    Parents never graduated from college

    I went back to school at 26 and graduated at 29. Experience before going back to school was primarily with disabled individuals. After graduation, got job as audit associate with BDO (one step outside big 4). After two years, offered revenue manager position w state of Alaska, promoted again after one year to internal services to assist with financial statement development for state and lead large group trainings.

    Long term goal (7-10 ys): treasury management with publicly traded mining company

  • Healthcare Startup

    Hi Sandy, Let me know your thoughts for HBS and Stanford:

    GRE: 168Q / 160 V
    GPA: 3.88 from top tier public University (Michigan, UNC or UVA)
    Major: Double major in Mathematics and Finance
    Career: 2 years in Investment Banking, short stint at a hedge fund and left to join a leading healthcare software company (have been there for the last year and a half)
    Goals: Want to create a healthcare start up

    25 year old white male

  • ERM

    Hi, Sandly. I’d love to hear what you think about my chances for Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard.

    -25 year old, caucasian, transgender male
    -GMAT score: 700
    -GPA: 3.9 (Graduate program in social work from ivy league univ.), 3.79 (Undergraduate – Psychology, 3.5 years, well known liberal arts school)

    Work Experience:
    -Consists primarily of internships in mental health and social justice settings (~3 years total)
    -Currently working as an outpatient therapist at women and LGBTQ centered nonprofits. First transgender therapist at a previously women-only organization, helping them transform their organization to become trans-inclusive (1.5 years)

    -Co president of LGBTQ school group in grad school
    -Various recreational sports leagues

    Goal: Work within larger corporations to aid in organizational development strategies, diversity and inclusion, and high performance practices.

    Concerns: Lack of traditional business experience. Possible lack of leadership demonstration if I don’t play my cards right.

    Thoughts? I’d greatly appreciate any and all feedback!

  • IowaCityHawkeye

    I’d love to know my success:

    -730 GMAT
    -3.83 GPA in Political Science and Geography from the University of Iowa
    -Currently in Master’s in Public Affairs program at Princeton University
    -2 years working in Myanmar for a social enterprise on solar energy
    -1 year working in Beijing for a non-profit on energy efficiency
    -Several national awards, including the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, Morris K. Udall Scholarship, Coca-Cola Scholarship
    -Fluent in Chinese

    I’m a 25 year old American and will be finished my degree at Princeton when I’m 27 (will have 3 years of work experience). I’m interested in social enterprise and wondering what my chances are for Stanford and Harvard are… Thanks!

  • MNRC

    I think your chances look very good. I am currently a student in a master’s program in applied math at a top 5 U.S. school. I can’t advise your on MBA programs, but generally speaking, business schools are looking for future leaders that will make a big impact on society in some way. If you can get excellent recommendations from senior executives or upper management at a prestigious company, it will go a long way in improving your chances of acceptance.

  • MNRC

    Marine captain – 730 GMAT
    Business analyst – 740 GMAT
    Woman – 680 GMAT

    How sexist can you get? First, the men all have titles–“marine captain”, “analyst”–while the woman is just a “woman”. That’s not even a title, that’s a gender! Where is the job title for the woman?? And why does the she have the lowest GMAT score? Thanks, your gender discrimination is really supportive to women interested in business school.

    I am a woman and a master’s degree candidate in applied math continuing to a PhD. I am at one of the top 5 applied maths programs in the United States. I have a perfect GRE quantitative score. I am far from the exception to the rule. You need to adjust your articles to better reflect the realities out there–that there are A LOT of women (albeit mostly Asian American or foreign-born) who are able to completely crush these standardized tests.

  • montanasosa21 .

    NYU (legacy)
    University of Michigan
    University of Pennsylvania
    University of California-Berkley

    22 Years Old, White-Latino Male
    GMAT 750
    GPA 3.9
    University of Denver, DU
    Work Experience:
    Shadowing Physicians, Private Offices
    Emergency Room Volunteer
    Possible Internship with JP Morgan in Commercial Banking (3 Months Summer Internship)

  • WannabeCentralBanker

    Dear Sandy,

    Thanks in advance for a critique of my profile:

    31 y/o Indian male
    GPA: 3.55/4 in Chemical Engineering from IIT (WES Conversion)
    GMAT: 720 (50Q; 38V)
    WE: 6 years – 1 year as a Petroleum Engineer in the largest (oil) energy company of SouthAsia. Followed by 5 years in Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the premier public management cadre of Indian Government – highly selective entry with 0.05% selection rate and assured career path – best people retire as Central Bankers or Secretaries of Treasury etc. Worked on assignments in 4 southeast Asian countries. Project finance and program management roles, 2 big awards by government and 2 quick promotions. Strong recs.
    ST Goal: To head the Investment Management Division of the chief capital market regulator of India. (think of Security Exchange Commission) – a PhD in Econ or a top MBA is huge plus and also a unwritten requirement. This position usually occupied by people of my service (IAS) with 7-10 years more experience than me. So an MBA cuts the slack.
    LT Goal: Central Banker/Chairman of (Indian) SEC
    Masters: Pursuing 2 year Masters from Harvard Kennedy School of Government (on Scholarship – so couldn’t take up dual degrees) – GPA: 4.1/5 might improve by 2015.
    Extracurriculars: Student General Secretary in undergrad, Leadership in Rotary Club, Led operations of the largest student run conference at Harvard
    Schools: Yale SOM, Kellogg (1Y), Columbia (J-Term), INSEAD, London

    Best Regards

  • Nikolaki

    John and Sandy,

    As another Marine Captain with a different profile, I request that you evaluate my chances:

    -Applying to CBS early decision and Stern first round for 2015
    -I will have just turned 29 by matriculation
    -White male who is about to get married
    -GMAT 710 (44q 44v) one attempt
    -GPA 2.98 in marketing at a Catholic school in Philadelphia
    -PMP qualification
    -12 years playing rugby at various levels including serving as club president for 3 years and team captain for 1 year during college, as well as 3 time All Marine Rugby player (1 time team captain against British Royal Marines) and 1 time All Armed Forces

    Work Experience:
    -3.5 years as a Marine logistics officer (at time of application) including a combat deployment to Afghanistan; various leadership positions and cross functional team development
    -3 years of experience in the international affairs program track working with various Latin American militaries including 9 total months working in the U.S. Embassy, Mexico City
    -I have done the “standard” military stuff of leading Marines in combat and serving on staffs at various levels (think logistic analyst) as well as the “non-standard” military stuff of being hand picked to advise the 5th largest Marine Corps in the world (who happens to be currently deployed all throughout their nation against the drug cartels)
    -I have a number of military qualifications based around strategic messaging, cross cultural communications, leadership and strategy/ planning

    -To attend a top ranked business school in NYC (there’s a reason I’m transitioning out of the Marines) and pursue employment in Latin American business development or global wealth management so that 3-5 years down the road I can transition to a non profit organiztion focused on Latin America

    -I have a strong geographic preference of NYC which severly limits my options
    -My poor undergraduate GPA will certainly not help me but I can show how the dip in my grades is partially related to attending officer candidate school and, more importanly, how I have developed strong time management skills and the ability to thrive in diverse, often uncertain environments

    Parting thoughts:
    -I will need to carefully craft my story of what I have done and leverage my diverse international experiences to create a compelling plan
    -As a reservist, I will work in the civil-military operations field also specializing in Latin America
    -While I won’t say that I am “extremely motivated” I will say that I have a “burn the ships mentality” and will accomplish my goals

    Thanks for the help! Please evaluate the chances of more military applicants as I’m sure I’m not the only one that would appreciate it.

    Also, FYI, promotions in the officer ranks in the military are mainly timeline based early on in ones career. For example, in the Marines you will get promoted to Captain at around 4.5 years time in service (+/- 3 months). There really isn’t much you can do to accelarate that.

  • Mr, Religious Institution Grad

    Hey I would love for you to give me my odds of getting into, Columbia University, Sterns, or Rutgers Business school (I choose these based on their being located in the tri-state area, if you think others would be more appropriate please share your thoughts) for a MBA

    This is my Profile

    -22 Years old, White male, American born and bred, Jewish Orthodox Religious.

    -GMAT score: N/A (Haven’t taken it yet)

    -GPA: 3.8

    -BA in Religious Studies

    Our school system just gives every one who actually completes it, the above degree. So instead of going back to a mainstream college for a bachelors of business, I’ve decided it makes more sense to only put in time and money of years worth of education to walk out with a MBA. A better degree, less years, and (possibly) cheaper.

    My only Full-Time work experience was

    Program Director for a local Elementary School that I did for one year as a volunteer,

    mentoring 66 college students in programs interacting them with the elementary kids etc… This was done as part of my certification to receive my degree.

    and summer jobs such as,

    -I’ve been a Curriculum Supervisor and Program Director for a camp of 100 kids.

    -As well as Assistant Director and Director of Drama for a camp with 300 children.

    Personal Business Experience:

    -Founded and built a eBay business in my senior year of High School, sales for this past year exceeded $70,000 all as a part-time enterprise while in college.

    -As part of the eBay business have managed 3 part time college employees effectively raising their productivity and profit margins.


    -Short term I plan graduating with an MBA then going into either manufacturing or technology to get a feel for the fields and decide where my true passion lies (as well as make my mistake while working for someone else).

    -.Long term. My dream is to go into business for myself, building up my own company until its impact is felt everywhere (One can always dream XD “There are no limits to your imagination, just how much effort you manage to put into making it a reality” My personal motto)

  • Mckoy Jackson

    This is my profile:

    – 25 years old, Afro-Caribbean, Male
    – GMAT score: 730
    – GPA: 4.10 weighted BSc. Economics and Finance, The university of the West Indies, Mona, Dean’s list right throughout my studies along with the University’s Honour society.
    – first person in my family to ever go to college

    Work experience:
    – Short internship with the head business analyst of Jamaica’s largest media group(TVJ).

    – 3 Month summer internships at British High Commission Jamaica

    – 3 month summer internship @ Bank of Jamaica
    – 2 yrs work at ScotiaBank Jamaica as a Financial analyst.

    -Participated in multiple research projects assisting professors. Most were research lead by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

    Personal & community experience:

    -Lead mentor, Debate Mate Jamaica. Debate Mate is an international debating society that tries to empower underprivileged youth through debating
    – Member and volunteer of the Jamaica Red Cross.

    -short term after graduating from an MBA school I want to continue in investment banking and private equity, preferable in the USA or Europe as those markets are more dynamic and developed, they almost offer better remuneration packages( compensation is a big factor for me) which will tie into my long term plan.

    – long term, 10-20 years after graduating with an MBA. I plan to use the wealth I would have accumulated through the years to start my own private equity and investment firm. I plan to use this company to invest throughout the world but more so in my country as there will be multiple investment opportunity arising in my country in the coming years with the development of Jamaica as the four link in the Global logistics hub chain along side Singapore, Rotterdam, and Dubai.

  • DoWell+DoGood

    Dear Sandy,
    The afternoon I’ve now spent reading your post have left me cackle and in fear. Here is to the proverbial throwing myself on the flame:
    GMAT: 700 (will probably re-take)
    GPA: 3.3 in International Studies from Johns Hopkins
    Business Fraternity, Head of Alumnae Development for my Sorority, Head of Student-run Think Tank, Finalist in Business Plan Competition
    Spent two years as a strategy and innovation analyst at a global financial services firm (helped to design microinsurance business in the Persian Gulf)
    Won a fellowship for those who want to use private sector skills in social sector
    Worked on Innovative Finance team working to build private public parternships for multi-billion multilateral focusing in vaccines.
    Recruited to work as Special Assistant (Chief of Staff role) for Senior Executive at the World Bank
    Founder of JHU Young Alumni Chapter in NYC, Junior Board member for major Angel investor nonprofit for social entrepreneurs, founder and publisher of nonprofit literary magazine focusing on social justice (now closed)
    Goal: Need a master’s in order to continue to rise in chosen field. Want to harness private sector (both entrepreneurial and corporations) to meet social challenges and to build strong PPPs. Long term dream: social entrepreneur
    I am 26 years old (will have just turn 28 on metriculation)
    Harvard – MBA & MPP
    MIT – MBA
    Columbia – MBA & MIA
    Tufts – Masters in International Business

  • Bozhidar Georgiev

    Hello Sandy and John,
    This is my profile and I will be very thankful to read your assessment:
    21 years old; I want to apply for MBA in 2 years;
    I study International Relations at University of Essex (top 15 for Politics and International Relations);
    At the moment I am applying at University of Warwick for 1-year conversion program in Economics;
    Predicted GPA: 3.5 ~ 3.65;
    Predicted GMAT: 720;
    Summer internship at Allianz Bank Bulgaria
    Analyst at a family construction company. I have participated in
    negotiations of $30 million water-piping project financed by the
    European Bank for Reconstructuon and Development. My role was to find a
    licensed company and to negotiate the initial pricing of thepips which
    will be purchased. The company had been part of Asamer Holding one of
    the biggest Austrian corporations.

    Aim: Interested in management
    consulting. I want to find a job as a business analyst in a top
    consulting company and to climb through the corporate ladder following
    Junior Associate, Associate and so on..

    University Aim: US IVY League Business School.

  • Guest

    Hello John and Sandy,
    This is my profile and I will be very thankful for an assessment:
    21 years old; I want to apply for MBA in 2 years;
    I study International Relations at University of Essex (top 15 for Politics and International Relations);
    Predicted GPA: 3.5 ~ 3.65;
    Predicted GMAT: 720;
    Summer internship at Allianz Bank Bulgaria
    Analyst at a family construction company. I have participated in
    negotiations of $30 million water-piping project financed by the
    European Bank for Reconstructuon and Development. My role was to find a
    licensed company and to negotiate the initial pricing of thepips which
    will be purchased. The company had been part of Asamer Holding one of
    the biggest Austrian corporations.

    Aim: Interested in management
    consulting. I want to find a job as a business analyst in a top
    consulting company and to climb through the corporate ladder following
    Junior Associate, Associate and so on..

    University Aim: US IVY League Business School.

  • Mr. Road Less Traveled

    Sandy, could please assess my candidacy?

    There is very little incentive for me to quit/sell my companies and go
    back to school at this point, but I am curious about my odds — whether I
    would even have a shot at my target schools coming from a non-traditional
    career path.

    Thank you in advance.

    26 Asian male
    GMAT: 740

    Education: major in business from top 5 public school with 3.3 GPA, minors in accounting and computer science
    **Worked 20-30 hours/week through college to fund education, didn’t leave much time for studying or extracurricular activities.

    Experience: 2 years tech consulting at a no-name, however clients included global brands and a Fortune 500; started my own tech consulting firm 2 years ago with some momentum and also acquired an existing small business this year to achieve synergy between both companies. Total employee headcount today is 6.

    No extras: To be frank, all of my time is spent working around the clock running 2 businesses.

    During/Post-MBA Goal: Create a scalable tech product in order to transition away from consulting and its relationship-based selling model. Interested in business incubators, networking with bright individuals and venture capitalists. Not interested in banking, management consulting, or private equity/hedge fund.

    Target Schools: Harvard/Wharton/Stanford

  • Sugu

    Appreciate the support! I’ll definitely try to frame my story to differentiate myself from the typical Indian-American engineer/consultant mold. Thanks for the advise!

  • Mr. Not I-Banker Finance

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I would love to hear your thoughts on my selection and recommendation for alternatives:

    GMAT: 720 (4th attempt, even split, progressive score all 4 times)
    GPA: 3.4-3.5
    School: University of Texas
    Major: Finance
    Experience: 3 years as an analyst in a rotation program of a top 10 US bank (1 promotion). Most of the work involve strategy, risk, and credit analysis
    Extra: Help some leadership experience outside of work but is pretty scattered among several organizations
    Post MBA career goal: I-Banking or Management Consulting. Investment analyst for Columbia

    Target school: Booth, Columbia, Dartmouth, Wharton, and Harvard (know H/W are stretches but will regret if I don’t give it a try)
    Safe school: Duke, Cornell, UCLA, Yale

  • Do It

    Hey Blue, definitely 100% without exception apply to the Consortium. They exist specifically to help people like you get to the next level. Once accepted, which will be a cinch based on your profile, you can apply to most of these schools you list with 1 single application and will be eligible for a full-ride scholarship/fellowship. I don’t know nothing about nothing but I would think that if applying through the Consortium, your chances at all those schools are as close to a hole in one as one can design. Just be sure to visit all the schools you apply to so you come across as genuine and not just milking the Consortium crutch (which it’s not, I think it’s a great program to give a boost to profiles like yours, ie awesome everything except for one Achilles that should easily be overcome through explanation via optional essay). Good luck!

  • Magatx

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you handicap my odds for the following schools?

    – HBS
    – Wharton
    – MIT Sloan

    – 720 GMAT
    – 3.73 GPA
    – Undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech
    – Graduate degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech
    – Work experience includes 2.5 years working as an engineer for Chevron with experience offshore and international (Africa).
    – During college, I was president of the American society of civil engineers chapter, vice president of the civil engineering honor society, and social chair of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. I have been an intramural sports captain to a few teams since graduating from college. I have run two marathons for charity and put in several hours of
    community service each month.
    – Goal: To transfer into management consulting focusing on the energy sector, and eventually return back into an energy company working towards an executive position.

    – 25 year old Asian male

  • DanielMV

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for all of your helpful analysis in your posts and videos. You have offered a lot of insight into the shrouded world of MBA admissions. When you have the opportunity, please let me know what you think of my profile.

    720 GMAT (might retake to compensate for somewhat low cumulative GPA)
    3.4 Cumulative GPA, 3.8 in final 2 years
    B.S. in Biochemistry/Chemistry (single major) from UC San Diego
    Caucasian 27 year old male

    Work Experience:

    2 summer internships during college at Roche pharmaceuticals (top 3 pharma company)
    6+ months as Staff Research Associate at UCSF (top 5 med school in R&D) but became disillusioned with nature of academic research.
    1.5+ years in Project Management role at Autodesk (top 15 software company) on the Enterprise Business Models team. As part of Autodesk’s cloud initiative, helped implement new usage-based pricing model for enterprise clients which resulted in 70% increase in market capitalization.
    1+ year in Analyst role at boutique VC/PE firm which specializes in life sciences and technology.

    • In 2011, Published research on methods of successful drug discovery in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the leading journal in Biotechnology; Co-author on paper cited by 300+ sources.
    • Paper selected by Nature Reviews Drug Discovery as one of the most highly cited and downloaded articles in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery within the last ten years.
    • Research featured in Forbes and NIH White Papers

    • Captain of collegiate club soccer team; led team to club soccer national championship tournament.
    • Helped raise over $67,000 for local branch of the Alzheimer’s Association; member of UCSD Alzheimer’s Association
    • Volunteer soccer coach for youth girls soccer team; coached team to state cup soccer tournament.

    Career Aspirations:
    I aspire to improve VC funding for rare and neglected disease discovery within the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. As we enter an era of unimaginable progress in medicine and technology, I hope to advocate funding for technologies that offer substantial improvements in quality of life as opposed to arcane biomedical technologies that are expensive for the consumer and offer marginal benefit.

    Target Schools:

  • Rooting for the Indian dude

    I am rooting for you, but is there something more to you than the engineer and consultant. Are you a poet? Do you play the guitar? Do you write your own music? You have to spin your story that you are not like every typical Indian-American enginee/consutlant. You will get into a good school, but not great school. You have a good job, but not great job. You have a good GMAT score, but not great GMAT. This is what is barring you from breaking the top 5. I think you could do it. Can you show them that there is something in your character that you not the typical consultant? You are one level lower than what Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton will accept. Maybe make a video presentation showing that you paint, cook, skydive, or bunji jump. Do you have passion? Show it baby!

  • Mr IT

    Could you please evaluate my profile.

    -31 years old, Male, India (Permanent Resident of US)
    -3.0 cumulative from University of Wisconsin, Madison
    -Majored in Electrical Engineering
    -GMAT 690 (48q, 36v) will retake

    Work Experience
    – 8 years of IT work experience, all in major manufacturing, media, retail, and luxury brand companies. Working as a Development Lead for ERP applications at Fortune 500 company.
    – Led custom development efforts and, designed global footprint for $6B chemical company as part of a $50M global ERP roll-out project for 6000+ users worldwide.
    – Led software development teams in U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Brazil.

    International/Cultural Exposure
    – Worked in Brussels, Belgium for a year and a half, Worked in France
    – Born in India, raised in Dubai, living in midwest for the past 15 years

    Community Service
    – Organized a hunger campaign. Member of foodbank org.
    – Organized events for education related org for the past 5 years.

    – Cricket. Developed youth development program in local high schools, scouted for talent, and coached new players.
    – Tennis

    Post MBA Goal
    Product Development and Management for a Tech company

    I am looking for a strong general management program and the programs I am interested in are Tuck, Fuqua, Cornell, Kellogg, Ross, UCLA

    Thank you very much for your assistance.

  • Guest

    I think schools 5-10 but I would apply to a few of them to increase odds. I think Northwestern, Columbia and NYU would be good choices. MIT is ranked lower in a couple of rankings compared to kellogg but the class is so small. The dean of admissions, I believe, is past Accenture so I thought I had a chance there but no dice. It could be me though so apply if you want… I just know that applying to four schools was a long process for me. If I were you then I would apply to those three which are your targets then maybe another school or stick to those three. Hope this helped

  • Sugu

    Thanks for your response! That’s unfortunate to hear, but makes total sense. Would you say our professional background would give us a decent shot at schools ranked 5-10? Also, did you apply to other M7 schools by chance? Again, thanks for your help and good luck with your upcoming interview!

  • Bass

    Hey Sandy,

    I’d like you to asses my profile:

    Indian Male, 25
    BS in Biology 3.2 GPA (This was a three-year degree. Will that be a stumbling block? Also, this the cumulative GPA, worked hard and managed a 3.6 in my Last Year of Graduation)
    GMAT – 790

    After college, I was a full-time musician for two years. Did loads of gigs, played with some big people, etc.

    A year in a start-up in the education sector.

    Current Job: Two years at a Digital Marketing firm – working with clients across domains such as oil & gas, travel, banking, etc. Involvement in three verticals of the company. I’m also Reporting to the GM of one of India’s biggest private sector companies.

    Google Analytics Qualified

    I have also completed two online programs:
    Content Marketing Strategy by Northwestern University (Brownie points for Kellogg?)

    A Online Calculus Course offered by UPenn on Coursera – I did this because I wanted to showcase some proficiency at Math & Calculus since schools like to see it and I’ve been out of touch at it since high school.

    Volunteer Work includes working for an organization that caters to mentally challenged children. Also experienced in working with a Department of The Police that helps women who’ve suffered hate crimes.

    Post-MBA – Work in Management Consulting.

    Looking at schools like Kellogg, Tuck, Berkeley maybe Darden or Fuqua too. Is there any scope for me to get in any higher ranked programs than these?


  • ACN

    HI Sugu,

    I have a very similar profile to yours. I was engr from big ten. GMAT 740 gpa 3.6. I am SI for 2.5 years at ACN. I applied with good essays (HBSguru read my HBS one and said it was pretty good.) I got dinged at HBS/Wharton/MIT without interview and will be interviewing at an M7 school. I think ACN SI is kind of an app killer. It puts us into the consulting cohort which is ultra competitive. It is tough – back in the day Magna cum laude in a hard engineering from U Michigan would have been gold enough to get into MBB or another gold plated job. I know I had troubles and was not thinking MBA when I went to ACN. If I were you, I would concentrate on schools ranked 5 to 10.

  • Army Sniper

    Hello John and Sandy;

    Long time reader, first time poster. My situation may be a little unique because I actually applied second round and got called to interview at a lot of places. My real question is whether (per a friend’s recommendation) I should apply third round to HBS.

    -22 years old, white male, US citizen

    -current senior, B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Marketing

    -GMAT: 700 (61% Q, 93% V, 6.0 Writing) (low quant perhaps offset by college quant courses (Calc, Finance, Acc, Econ, Stats) that all = As

    -GPA: 3.77 (current cumulative) @ Big 10 College (think Penn State U, Ohio State, Rutgers) and will have completed entire BS degree (taking as many as 28 credits a semester) in a total of 20 consecutive months.

    Work Experience:

    -3 years active duty Army enlisted, 1.5+ National Guard; was an infantry leader, highly specialized sniper, sniper leader, and sniper trainer (6 promotions)

    -12 month deployment

    Buzz words: strategic, operational, and functional manager, leadership, logistics, human resources management, quality management, trainer


    -Eagle Scout & TKD black belt

    -At home campus founded and am president of an organization of student veterans looking to head into the business field

    -Veteran’s Club member at home and sister campus

    -ROTC cadet and TA at sister campus

    -Home campus Golf Team participant

    -Home campus Academic Integrity Board Member

    -Sit on a local Boy Scout council

    I served with the active duty army for three years before leaving to transition to the National Guard and pursue a degree at a Big Ten school. Have taken as many as 28
    credits a semester, currently hold a 3.77 cumulative GPA (I am in my last semester), and will have completed my entire Bachelor’s degree (120 credits) in 20 consecutive months.

    Due to my uncertainty as to where I would be accepted I applied 2nd round to 11 top 20
    schools. Have received interview invitations at all with the exception of MIT. So I was called in to interview at Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Duke, ect. My question is whether (as a friend has advised me) I would be competitive in Round Three at HBS-probably for
    the ability to put a check in the box as a military veteran. Capping my odds at Wharton and Booth would be much appreciate too, though!

    I am looking to pursue a career in management consulting.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Sugu

    Gotcha. And yep- I swore by the Manhattan GMAT books when I was studying and was hitting 740/750 pretty consistently. I unfortunately didn’t perform quite as well on game day, but I’m confident I’d be able to work out some of the kinks for this second time around. I’ll definitely start paying closer attention to the Assessment Reports though and target certain weaknesses. Again, thanks for the advice!

  • Need Better Stats

    Also, there is a big difference between the 94% and the 99% percentile, just to let you know.

  • Need Better Stats

    As Sandy has said it, you could say that you want to go back to Accenture to be a product manager. This would definitely sound like a more fluid, tight, and progressive story.The transition from IT Consulting to Strategy Consulting sounds weird. What does that mean? Sometimes the best story is: KISS– Keep it Simple Stupid. If you even elevate the GMAT up 20 more points, it will even make your story that much more stronger. Have you taken Manhattan GMAT CAT exams. You can analyze your weaknesses through the Generating Assessment Report.

  • Sugu

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for your response! I appreciate the insight, and definitely agree with your points. Ideally, I would like to get into a top 10 school so I’ll try my best to structure an appropriate story.

    I feel like I can do better on my GMAT although I certainly get your point- investment in effort may not be worth a POTENTIAL return, which may be marginal at best. I’ll have to evaluate this decision a little further.

    Thanks again for your advice!

  • Jon L.

    Eh, the jump in GMAT (720 to 760) will help, but not as much as the other commenter makes it out to be. A 720 is in the 94th percentile, and a 760 is 98th percentile. Both are indicative of your intellectual ability, as demonstrated by your 3.65 GPA in engineering from UMich. Not one adcom (including H/S) will think you cannot handle the academic rigor of their programs.

    The issue they may balk at is your future leadership potential (read: employability) vis-à-vis your work experience. ACN SI is good-not-great (or as sandy would call, silver or even bronze). That is what will keep you out of H/S/W. Yet if you can craft your story right, you could have a shot at over M7 programs. Sure, the boost in GMAT will help, but if you want to do MBB, they recruit at all top 10 schools and beyond. Big 4 + Accenture recruit beyond that to top 20 schools. The good thing as that while they’re great schools, you don’t need H/S/W for your career goals.

  • Sugu

    Thanks for the evaluation! That’s what I figured as well. I’m currently studying to retake the GMAT with the hopes of hitting a score in the high 700s

  • Need Better Stats

    You profile sounds good, but not great. You should definitely retake the GMAT and try to get 760. Focus more on the Verbal, if your quant was high. You can improve your score with critical reasoning. Your chances for admission increase drastically with a 760. Nothing really jumps out that separates you at Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, or MIT. The others I do not know about. You have an ok shot with them.

  • Sugu

    Hi Sandy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you very much for your consideration.

  • OP

    Thanks. Yeah I can look up historical series of these mags. But in the pre-internet or I guess pre-comments boards era, the record is lacking, and that’s where the question is.

    For example SK and/or maybe JB, not sure, but I remember it was someone credible, has said Stanford only became untouchable in the past decade or 2, prob due to Tech proximity, and a decidedly less competitive market than rest of the country.* Right? That might show up as just hte start of a trend in the rankings, but there are 2 problems there. 1) the rankings aren’t infallible and people definitely over-obsess about 1 or 2 spots in something that swing 3 or 5 spots every year – that’s what my BoD calls “false precision”. 2) rankings only go back a few decades, so they don’t show Stanford’s prior path.

    Further, people who are old enough agree that it used to H-W-B or H-W-K back in the day. Not a ranking, but the actual perception. So BW rankings even if they went back 80 years wouldn’t be relevant here. The grad-school going public’s collective opinion, or commonly accepted wisdom, is what we’re interested in. Seriously the rankings mean nothing half the time…so I’m asking, when/how long was HWB undeniably tops, and what other groups have held unassailable positions at the tops over the years. Hopefully that makes sense bc I’m not a novelist by trade so typing this behemoth post is making me tired.

    *Less competitive for suppliers – way overcompetitive on the demand side. Eastern seaboard has a ton of legit schools. Midwest has several – Kellogg AND Booth in Chi are hard to beat plus Michigan (Ross) and WUSTL – but West coast only has Stanford. And maybe Haas. So that whole population competing for stupid-scarce spots makes the class out-of-this-world competitive and the alumni quality directly leads to ratings.

  • Jon L

    I couldn’t disagree more. I love the insight that John and Sandy provide, and the new video element really adds a positive dimension.

    I can get school profiles and admissions statistics from a variety of websites, most notably, the schools themselves. If you want updated profiles, check out the shiny PDFs/brochures the schools put out.

    Insider information is best found on blogs and the variety of forums that exist (GMATClub, WallStreetOasis, BeatTheGMAT, TheGradCafe, etc). The internet is a great place for user experiences to be shared, and it often occurs organically. I think it would be silly and a waste of time for John to spend seeking out advice from current students since it’s currently so readily available.

    Furthermore, adcoms are notoriously politically correct and tight-lipped. Their answers will be predictable (“we evaluate all applications on a holistic basis…”) and not much information for business school applicants.

  • Disappointed

    What are the interview notification & decision dates for Round 2 schools? Is there a link to a central repository for this? Or if not I’d appreciate insight from anyone with the time to list.

    Fairly certain I blew my Interview at my top choice (by far) so now ‘Safety’ schools are in the mix. My responses were fine and rapport was great. And then a runny nose struck out of nowhere. Never happens to me – at work or out or home – so pretty much worst timing possible and very disgusting. If Sandy read this he might say I’m overly concerned but at this high of a level I’d consider that a horrific mishap. Going from hopeful for their top Fellowship (a super-long-shot, but then, isn’t it for everyone?) to imperiled in 5 minutes makes a person nervous. I’m looking for the dates too but some of them are apparently state secrets so I thought others might have this question and it could help to have organized.

    Any top10s/whatevers you’re interested in

    I have noticed HBS & S-GSB went out because the “Round 2 Dings” article was released. Thanks.

  • HBSorSuicide

    LOL. I’m pretty sure John has more important things to do than get advice from some foul mouthed punk who dares to insult the HBS Guru. IMHO these videos represent the apex of modern day admissions consulting and cinematography. From reading your ignorant comment I’d rate your chances at gaining acceptance to HBS at 0-0%.

  • hbsguru

    if they otherwise like you, they will use a solid GRE score as a proxy for GMAT.
    if they REALLY like you and GRE is low, that can be an advant. b.c. it will not bring down the GMAT average.
    if you are cookie cutter in terms of school in question, e.g. GPA, jobs, and present a normal GRE, they may wonder why you took GRE instead of GMAT.
    if you think you can do “a chunk” better on GRE than GMAT, esp. in Quant –by all means take GRE. All adcoms care about is the score first, their pref for GMAT over GRE is very slight.

  • getbetterBRO


    Please update the rest of the site. The school comparisons, profiles, and dean interviews are way more helpful than watching some craggy troll dude tell me what he thinks about people he doesn’t even know. He also said here that Bain is perfect for business school but earlier that “H/W/S are always looking for reasons to ding Bain kids, just to say that they do.” Genius.

    Providing current stats and some insider info would help educate candidates and help them find their best fit. Maybe interview some current students or adcoms in these videos or something actually useful.

    You have the forum to show what all these schools are actually like today, but instead we’re watching Sandy give condescending commentary to random 3.57 GPA’s.

  • Jon

    the site, and this series of articles (and now videos) in particular.

    I’d really appreciate some insight from either John or Sandy on how adcoms view

  • honesty

    I think his disagreement was with the idea that Tuck is a top 4 “prestige” school. Most bschool applicants wouldn’t rate tuck above MIT/Columbia/Chicago. Yes, Tuck is a great school…but I don’t think most consider it to be on par with the aforementioned schools (reputation wise that is). Even if we are just to look at parent institution reputation as opposed to Business schools, MIT/Columbia/Chicago would still probably be ahead. The usual top 5-7 is


    Not saying the other schools outside this group aren’t great, i’m just saying that those are the usual power players

  • Iceberg Slim

    Andy — where do you disagree? “Facts” response pretty much substantiates my claim that there are a couple schools that stand out above the rest. From my perch Tuck is in that top 6 and Sloan and Columbia round out the top 8. Where was I wrong? Also, I think most would agree there are 7 schools after the top 8 that are a cut above the rest (Haas, Yale, Stern, Ross, Duke, Cornell, and Darden). So, please elaborate on “what I dont know about”.

  • Mr. Blue

    28 years old (at matriculation) mult-racial male (african-american, korean, portuguese)
    GMAT score: 710
    GPA: 2.3 in international relations from average state school (think Iowa, Kansas, Arizona). Created alternative transcript (finance, accounting, statistics) and got A’s in all 3 classes.

    Background: My low GPA was due to numerous family issues, which are extremely embarassing to admit. As a result, I suffered from severe depression and my spirits were incredibly low at this point in time. All of it at one time was tough to swallow, but somehow I managed to graduate. I tried to surround myself with positive people and keep busy as much as I could. My parents went through a nasty divorce, which got extremely ugly. They fought over money/assets over a period of 5 years. As a result, my sister battled drug abuse and was sent to rehab numerous times, while having a family over her own (she was in her mid 20’s at the time). My freshman year my mom developed a heart condition and was in and out hospitals for 2 years. During this time, her company closed her branch due to funding and she was laid off. She was unemployed for about 6 months before finding a job, but it was overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq as a government contractor in some of the worst combat areas possible. I am the 2nd person in my entire family to have a Bachelors degree. Dad obtained his 1 year before I did after serving 28 years in the military. I will be the first person in my family with an advanced degree.

    -3 years at a well known, but not elite consumer packaged goods company (think Reynolds, Dixie, Mondelez, Solo Cup, Georgia-Pacific) and 1 year at their direct competitor in an account managerial role
    -international marketing & sales/analytical analysis role (think financial analyst/startegic management)
    -manages 1 regional market manager and 2 international market managers
    -personally responsible for managing $25 million dollar piece of business

    -Heavily involved in my local college alumni club (think NYC, LA, Chicago). Volunteer experiences includes our state’s special olympics, feeidng the homeless, etc..
    -Big Brother/Big Sisters mentor
    -The First Tee, youh organization run by the PGA which promotes leadership and life skills through the game of golf to underprivleged children.
    -During my senior year, I was a campaign manager for a state representative that was facing a 7 term incumbent and majority caucus chairman. Organized funraiser between my candidate and a top US Congress leader from the same state. This fundriaser brought in enough funds to eventually win the election.
    Hobbies include skiing, traveling (been to numerous countries for educational/personal reason) and volunteering/mentoring inner-city kids.
    I would like to transition into management consulting or movie into a managerial role at a CPG company.

    Target schools are Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, Michigan, Duke, Cornell.

  • Mr. UN

    Hello John and Sandy, what are my chances?

    25 year old Hispanic male from the Caribbean.

    GRE 322/340 (160 Q, 162 V)
    GPA 3.85 in Economics from top IT in the country.
    GPA 3.50 Math Master from same IT.

    Work Experience:

    4 years as an external sector analyst for the country’s Central Bank. Promoted after 2 years. I am currently the person responsible for compiling and producing the official imports and exports
    statistics for the Balance of Payments, specifically those corresponding to free zone companies (which account to roughly 50% of the country’s total exports).

    1 and a half years teaching math to public high school teachers through the government agency in charge of quality in education (while working full time in Central Bank).

    Increased the family consulting company revenue 300% by distributing innovative teaching resources to educational institutions throughout the country. Dealing in bulk allowed me to sell below market price, which translated into a win-win situation for everyone involved.

    I study, work full time, help to run the family business, and teach simultaneously.


    Awarded for outstanding participations in United Nations committee simulations in the UN headquarters and in a couple of Latin American countries.

    Personal Improvement coach for an online site that specializes in the use of psychology to help men overcome anger and depression.

    Rookie Stand Up Comedian. Did a paid performance to a group of a 100 people, and got a lot of laughs.

    CFA Level III candidate

    Goal: to transition into an investment advisory, or asset management role in an International Development Agency such as the World Bank or the International Finance Corporation that promote poverty reduction in developing countries.

    Target Schools:
    Columbia, MIT, HBS, Wharton, Yale, IE

    I took the GRE a couple of years ago, I could increase that score or go for the GMAT what do you think?

    Thank you both.

  • rmac-8

    typo on my gmat – the break was 45Q 50V

  • rmac8

    Sandy – id greatly appreciate if you would evaluate my profile / odds – I am hoping to go top-5 or 10 max – but assume stanford / HBS are very long stretches and may not be worth applying? – anyways my profile is as follows

    -25 year old while male (will be applying for next fall so by then i will be 27 once i enter)
    – GMAT Score – 44Q 50V – 750 (only took it once) – curious how/if my low quant scores will hurt me a lot.
    -GPA – 3.5-3.6 at Brown University in Commerce Organization and Entrepreneurship (but semester abroad will take GPA down a bit to 3.5 or maybe a little below), not too challenging of major – also founded a club golf team at the school
    -Taking CFA level II in June

    -Work Experience
    – Capital Markets / Strategic Communications Senior Consultant – top 50 consulting firm (but considered market leader in strategic comm. niche) – have direct client interaction with CEO’s CFOs and IROs, all clients are public traded companies ranging in size form $1B market cap to $100’s B.- was promoted upon first eligible period.

    – not much in terms of extracurricular, outside of CFA studies…

    Your thoughts would be appreciated

  • Sandy


    Would you please give me my chances at the following schools: Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Colombia, NYU, and Yale.

    – 26 year old white male
    – 780 GMAT (first try)
    – 3.25 undergraduate GPA, double major in Philosophy and Religion from top liberal arts school
    – JD from top-20 law school with a focus in business law, 3.5 GPA, graduated with honors
    – Passed CFA level 1 exam
    – Limited work experience

    Goal: transition into a finance career in PE or distressed investing


  • hbsguru

    some adcoms have vets on them, some do not. There used to be a vet at Harvard and for a while he intervwd lots of vets, but that became its own whirlpool, and b.c. of logistics etc, he wound up intervwing 60 percent of the vets, so you had the situation where 60 percent of kids were talking to vet and other 40 percent could WOW the adcom ladies with war stories. The vet-to-vet types felt cheated, etc. There is no easy answer. I worked with a guy in Iraq during the active part of US engagement there, and he had a phone interview with HBS lady. Her first question was, “Are you safe?” He was in HQ and prob safer than she was in Cambridge at that moment. He told me later the Q really threw him, he was all pumped up to talk about case method and leadership and consulting. Goes to show you never can tell. That guy wld have done better with shop talk with the vet. PS: he was dinged at HBS and got into Stanford (no interview, I think, this was a while ago, or maybe he learned fr. HBS interview).

  • Facts

    Poets and quants did an article about the last 12 years of US news rankings and when the results were combined (not sure the methodology) the results were

    4.MIT Sloan

    MBA50 also did a similar “history” that went back until 1990 and it showed that of the above top 5 none had ever been ranked below #6 and only Harvard,Stanford, and MIT had been ranked #1 in their entire history. I think their eventual conclusion was that in the years since the US news inception the top 5 above (and since about 2004 booth) have been the top schools in the country.

    Take all the above with a grain of salt if you wish, but that’s what the numbers say (and of course its just one publications rankings)

  • kfbs

    seems kind of lazy that admissions doesn’t know how to interpret a military career. Seriously, how difficult would it be to reach out to an veteran alumnus for help in interpreting the relative merits of military applicants.

  • Andy

    ??? It’s clear that this guy right here doesn’t know what he’s talking abt

  • floricele

    I’d also like to know my chances for the following schools: Harvard, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Yale.

    This is my profile:

    – 25 years old, white female, eastern european citizenship
    – GMAT score: 730
    – GPA: 3.65 (computer science graduate at a good european university)
    – first person in my family to ever go to college

    Work experience:
    – software engineer at a big Silicon Valley company (think Google, Facebook, Twitter) for the past 3 years (on a H1B visa in the US); first job out of college
    – leadership position on 2 projects, a lot of interaction with product management across different teams
    – mentored interns several times, mentored new hires as well

    Personal & community experience:
    – mentoring a group of 8-grade girls building a mobile app and building a business plan for it as part of an international contest dedicated to introducing more girls to the tech world
    – mentoring a woman as part of the Hackbright program which introduces more women to programming
    – other activities involve speaking at universities and panels for women engineers

    – short term after graduating from an MBA school I want to go into product management, also in Silicon Valley, for a tech company, and develop leadership skills
    – long term, I want to go back to my original country in eastern europe and have a high management position in a tech company (the country has very good engineers, but lacks good managers)

  • Iceberg Slim

    Just my 2-cents, but I think the “traditional / prestige” players in the MBA game have always been: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, Chicago, and Tuck.

    That is not to say anything against Sloan or Columbia – or even Berkeley, Yale, Stern, Michigan, Cornell, Duke, and Virginia. I think everyone would agree that these 15 schools are one tier, but within this tier the schools which have held the ‘prestige-card’ longest are the first 6.

    Frankly, if we are speaking just about “prestige” it really is 4 schools: Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, and Tuck. That is not a reflection of ranking or quality but in terms of just tradition/prestige these 4 definitely have an air about them.

  • Mr. Ed Reform

    John! Not that I don’t love this series – but you told me you would feature my story… I seriously double and triple checked P&Q the last week waiting for this article to come out! Any chance I will be included in the next one?

  • Serious”?” big value add 4 P&Q

    Sandy & John:

    I have a huge question that many of us younger generation are really interested in…it’d be a big scoop for your site, even if there’s no supporting written evidence for the answer. It’s crucial for considering long-term safety/momentum/potential yet surprisingly never discussed. But since you only do one “thing” at a time, and this is the On-the-Run tenor, gotta ask here.

    OK for the past decade plus, it’s been HSW, right? Now debatable if it’s HS, HSB, HSW, HSWB, etc. But I’ve heard a few older people say Stanford wasn’t always so great (blasphemy I know) and it was HBK or HWB or something. But not clear on when this was, how long it lasted, or how many other pretty much agreed upon leader clusters there have been.

    So my question is, what have been the generally accepted top programs
    been over the years? The rankings only go back so far, and most of them
    are pretty bizarre. So I’m not asking who’s been ranked the highest (i.e. Kellogg ruling BW for years, easiest example coming to mind, not tough info to find) but real prevalent opinion at various times – who people really thought were the top tier, say in each decade.


  • Sepujr

    Hi John & Sandy,

    I’m a huge fan of this awe-inspiring series, please check out my profile and assess
    my odds of getting into a top school:

    – 29 year old Hispanic/Latino male, 30 at matriculation (dual citizenship, US-Dominican

    – Business major from a top caliber school in the country; 3.33 undergrad GPA (received & maintained an entry academic merit-based grant despite having to work & study @ the same time); Aiming for +700 GMAT (have come a really long way > lost mother @ 11
    & have an absent father)

    – Currently working @ the Central Bank of DR as a Senior Analyst/Management Consultant for 5+ years across Corporate Strategy, Development and Project Portfolio Management to achieve superior alignment, efficiency and effectiveness in Strategic and Operational Plans. Earned promotion to join team as the youngest Analyst in a group of four Consultants (3 promotions, most recent one back in October 2013)

    – Business Analyst Volunteer, founding member of the country’s Project Management
    Institute Chapter, serving as lead bilingual liaison between the board and the Project Management Institute in management operations and local growth strategy (3+ years)

    – Business Analyst Volunteer at a Disaster and Humanitarian Relief non-profit,
    aligned planning and work-plan with key performance indicators and deliverables, and
    also created operating plan frameworks (1+ year)

    – Career goals: An MBA (with a strong focus on Finance, Non-Profit and Entrepreneurship) is the next indispensable step to leverage business competencies, gain leadership capabilities and strengthen soft skills:
    + Return to the institution as Chief of current Division in the short term
    + Long-term: Deputy Director of the branch- as an aspiring innovative-impactful leader in the organization, I’m committed to transforming our branch into a Center of Excellence for
    Business Analysis and Project Management

    – Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Columbia & Tuck (strongly considering a joint degree MBA-MPP/MPA-ID to fully integrate a
    policy-making and economic impact perspective)

    Thanks in advance for your time and cooperation, keep up the good work.

    Mr. Strategic Planner

  • JohnAByrne

    You might be right. When Sandy was handing out some of these odds, I was a bit surprised myself.

  • Devils0508

    I feel like you’re being a bit too generous with your odds today