Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting Into A Top MBA Program

She’s a 27-year-old American who is fluent in five languages and has been working as an analyst for the past three years at one of the big three consulting firms. This young professional has with a keen interest in international development and education and wants to return to her employer to continue her consulting work in emerging markets and non-profits.

He’s a 25-year-old business technology analyst at a top five consulting firm. With a 760 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA from a major public university, he is hoping to use the MBA to make a career switch to corporate finance at Facebook or Google. But he’s fearful that will torpedo his MBA application hopes so he plans to tell schools that he wants to upgrade to another consulting job at McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group.

For the past three years, this 26-year-old Asian female has worked as a senior equity derivatives specialist at Bloomberg LP in New York. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.4 grade point average from a Top 20 liberal arts college, she hopes the MBA would help her make the transition to a bulge bracket bank like Goldman Sachs or Citi.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of Boston-based MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants. This time he gives one Harvard Business School candidate 50%+ odds, a true rarity, even though her equivalent GMAT score is actually below 700.

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.)

Sandy’s candid lowdowns:


Ms. Dual Degree


  • 328 GRE (169V/159Q)
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a Top 20 university
  • Work experience includes three years as an analyst for a top consulting firm (think McKinsey/Bain/BCG) with top ratings, and two years on the strategy team of a “big name” educational tech non-profit in Silicon Valley
  • Internships in international affairs at the State Department, for international development non-profits, and work experience in more than four countries
  • Extracurricular involvement as a board member of a mid-size non-profit in California and pro-bono consultant for non-profits.
  • Fluent in five languages
  • Short-term goal: To return to employer and continue work in emerging markets and non-profit organizations
  • Long-term goal: To lead program/operations for a successful international development organization with a focus on education and literacy
  • “Applying to joint MBA/MA (Education, Int’l Affairs) and joint MBA/MPP programs; will apply Round 1 to all schools”
  • 27-year-old American female

Odds at Schools:

Harvard: 50%+
Stanford: 40%+
Wharton: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You’re a very impressive candidate.

If there is a student who could successfully present a GRE, it’s you because you’re applying for a dual degree. Your GRE score translates to a 690 GMAT and you are obviously interested in top schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. If you are going to present a 690 GMAT, you are better off reporting it as a GRE score because it won’t hurt a school’s ranking. That is just an issue for general consumption.

You have a resume full of prestige organizations and schools. And your story about what you’ve done and what you want to do makes sense. It is a tightly-knit story..

You’re a class act. You have such a tight narrative that the dual-degree may make sense for you. But I personally don’t recommend getting a dual-degree. I think it is a waste of a year and a waste of money. Here’s why: If you are shrewd about the way you handle the MBA, you can get the schmooze value of the dual-degree your second year. For instance, let’s say you want to go to Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School. My advice is just go to HBS and spend your second year schmooze around the Kennedy School. You can make all the contacts and you can save yourself a year of tuition and a year’s worth of income. In your second year, you could take a good number of the Kennedy school courses by cross registering there.

You have real Stanford DNA. The only boo-boo is your low GRE, but I think your chances are really good and even better at HBS. Wharton may say, ‘What is this person doing here?’ Wharton has a special person who recruits people for social enterprise, but Wharton might take a close look at this and say this gal is going to Stanford or Harvard.

  • SJA

    Sorry, I meant to say GMAT ****

  • SJA

    Hello Sandy,

    I recently Graduated from UCB with a degree in Communications, My internships included policy, Investment Advising and corporate finance. I have now taken a job as a Marketing Analyst at a Hedge Fund that specializes in trading corporate debt. I would like to eventually move over to the analytical side of the industry, and would like to get an MBA a couple of years down the road to make that happen.

    My GPA isn’t that stellar ( I worked full time throughout college to support myself) and ended up with a 3.48. I still have to take my GRE. If I do exceptionally well on the GRE, do I still have a shot? What else could I do to improve my odds?


  • FBNT

    Hi Sandy,

    I am a 28 year old female executive based in Boulder, CO. I graduated from a non-ranking private college with honors.

    For the last four years, I have excelled within the supply chain and logistics field. My sales career has led me to the executive team. I have experience scaling
    and running high quality service and operations organizations, with proven success in high-growth early stage startups and large, established organizations alike.

    I’ve heard from several schools stating that they would accept me into their Executive MBA program (CU, USC, etc), however I am curious if a top 10 would be an option.

    I am on the board for two non-profits and raise money for undergrad college students, so they can pursue careers within an industry that has done so much for me.

    Short-Term – Build the “Educational” part of my resume by attending a top 10 business school
    Long-Term – CEO/ Work within a venture capital company to identify viable start-ups

  • BV

    I am a 31 year old female currently based in the US (Colorado).

    Undergrad: Top 10 liberal arts college, 3.9 GPA, Magna Cum Laude
    GRE: 165V/156Q
    I have not taken the GMAT

    Work experience: 9 years in non-profit, AmeriCorps, and higher education, including numerous leadership roles

    Currently: Assistant Director at a camp for children with special needs (3 years)
    Previously: 1 year at a University center for service learning, 2 years leading AmeriCorps teams in a variety of team-based national service projects, 1 year at another camp in a program leadership role
    Prior to college: 1.5 years of service (international and domestic), and 6 months door-to-door fundraising for a Washington, D.C. based advocacy group

    Career Goals:
    Short-Term- gain an understanding of business and work with for-profit companies that are doing innovative things in financial and human resource management, and/or contributing to society in positive ways.
    Long-Term- President or CEO of a Non-Profit or For-Benefit corporation, with the intent of bringing the efficiencies and learnings of my MBA and for-profit experience to bear on said company/organization

    Schools I am interested in applying to:
    INSEAD (France)- I speak French and this would also allow me to improve my French, give me a more global perspective and network. I love to travel and have lived abroad could see myself working for an international coorportation or NGO.

    HEC Paris- same reasons

    Harvard Business School

    Leeds School of Business (CU Boulder) – In-State Tuition and great program

    I would also need financial assistance for all of these schools with the exception of Leeds. I will need to assess the likelihood of obtaining graduate assistanceships or other sources of funding.

    Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated.

  • hbsguru

    ha ha, great news –so glad this worked out. Have a great two years!!!!
    Yes, love to see your app pdf and interview questions. Always helpful to know what works.
    Again, great news and good for you.

  • Elina

    Hi Sandy!

    Couldn’t afford your services and did in fact think I had bombed the interview… but apparently I didn’t and was admitted! THANK YOU! If you want to I can send you my applicaton + interview questions & my answers for your records.

  • hbsguru

    great, you should think about doing a mock interview.
    ahem–from my website, price is $550.00




    I did over 60 Mock Interviews for HBS Round 1 this fall and
    summer, those are interviews based on the very same new HBS one-question
    application you filled out–so I know the latest in HBS interviewing
    issues. I did over 100 mock interviews for HBS in Rounds 1 and 2 and 3
    last year. Over the past 10 years, I have probably done over 800-1000
    HBS mock interviews. My knowledge of how to prepare you for an HBS mock
    interview is based on those experiences.

    I know typical HBS questions, including questions often
    asked of investment bankers, private equity, venture capital and hedge
    fund associates, and questions asked to those employed in non-profits,
    the military, manufacturing, and technology.

    I know how to help you formulate your core story in ways which can be applied to many questions.

    I can predict trouble areas in your application and help you come up with talking points to deal with them.

    I can sense what your particular needs are in terms of
    presentation, for example, if you don’t get to the point soon enough (a
    possibly fatal habit) or if you appear too aggressive or too arrogant or
    confident in the wrong way for often thin-skinned (and just plain thin)
    HBS interviewers (some of whom are predisposed not to like bankers).

    I can help you create a back story for your goals which creates a solid platform for Why MBA, Why HBS?

    I can help you prepare a strong answer to the question “Why
    should we take you?” This questions is often asked in several forms:

    “What can YOU contribute to case method discussion based on background and experience?”

    “How will your classmates remember you?”

    “How have you grown as a leader?”

    I can calm you down, although that will not be the first thing that happens.

    I can help you formulate answers to ‘ice-breaker’ questions such as:

    “I already know you from your application, just tell me what you think the three defining moments in your life are?”

    “Pretend I have not read your application and I just met
    you. Tell me who you are, what you’ve done, and where you want to be
    15 years?”

    I can help prepare you to face such recently popular questions as:

    “What is one thing that is not immediately apparent about you to others?”

    “How would your friends describe you?”

    “How has the financial crisis impacted you, your friends, your industry and your goals?”


    If you want a mock HBS interview, send me an email to hbsguru@gmail.com,
    telling me
    when your interview is, what time zone you are in, what days and
    times are good for you, and attaching a resume. I will reply back w.
    dates and times, etc. Then you send me a pdf of your application. Mock
    interviews take about 60-70 minutes. The price is $550.00 dollars USD.
    You pay me when we speak and do the interview.

  • Elina

    Thanks for the encouragement – I did get an interview today 🙂

  • hbsguru

    2+2 is always hard and at some point (which you may or may not be at) lottery-like. The Life Science angle is deeply up their alley and you are genuinely strong there, so give it a shot. No real downside except the application grief and one day of being PO’d if you don’t make it. Good luck.

  • Elina

    Saw your concerns regarding the GPA. You are correct, it’s not stellar, but more like… good enough. Honors means top 10% of the university, but within my program (#1 in NL & v. selective), it probably lands somewhere in the middle. That being said, I’ve taken the toughest courses on offer, which will be highlighted by one of my recommenders.

  • Elina

    Hey Sandy,

    I decided to give 2+2 a go, and there are a few updates to my application:

    – GRE: 162V, 164Q, 4.5 AW (89%, 89%, 80%). Decided for GRE so I can apply for PhDs next year. Actually not sure whether to retake or not- it’s a 700 converted score on the GMAT. From a GRE perspective it seems like a solid score and should be enough for all grad programs I’m applying to.

    – Interned with Silicon Valley Bank in London, in their life sciences & tech departments (venture debt) over the summer. Excellent experience, which gave form to my aspirations and triggered me to start my own “project” this academic year.

    – This school year I created a biometric equine surveillance system, which won the university business plan award (13k cash prize) + another regional award (sponsored by a global chemistry conglomerate), plenty of press coverage and I was invited to speak about my experience at a small conference in the US next month. I will be visting HBS!! 🙂

    -My bioinformatics research has turned into a quest for brain cancer biomarkers. There are some very interesting results, which might lead to a patent + spinout company.

    Recommenders: Head of the University Center of Entrepreneurship and Engagement Manager of the Pharma Consultancy. I assume both will be excellent.

    Goals still very much the same: healthcare/life sciences technology BD in the short term and VC in the long term.

    I have mixed feelings about the essay, not really sure what to write.

    After seeing this year’s very impressive 2+2 dings, I don’t have much hope, but maybe I’m the unicorn! What sets me apart I feel is my strong yet blended experience within the sector, both on the commercial and research side of things + international exposure (lived/studied in 8 countries in the past 5 years, of which worked/interned in 4).

  • Hale Turner

    As someone that does a lot of hiring, I actually find Toastmasters a benefit if I see them in your resume.So while it while not matter getting in the Top MBA program, it does have weight and value AFTER the MBA program is through.

  • MDV-27

    Hello Sandy!

    I would like to evaluate my chances to be admitted for 2016 intake (INSEAD, HEC Paris and American Top 5)

    – Age: 26 (turning 27 next month)
    – Nationality: Peruvian, living in Peru
    – Gender: Female
    – Undergrad: Pharmacy and Biochemistry (best sciences university of the country), top 20%
    – GPA: 3.4
    – 2 Diplomas: pharmaceutical marketing / healthcare humanization
    – Recognitions: scholarship for the best research project / scholarship to participate in a country’s young leader’s meeting
    – Professional experience: almost 3 years working in Novartis, 3 months in a national Radiation-Emitting Products for Medical Imaging manufacturer and 1.5 years working in Roche as a drug safety analyst (current position. Leader of a market research and patient’s support programs project).
    – International exposure: job trainings in Argentina and Chile, turistic travels to argentina, chile, uruguay, usa, grand cayman, honduras, mexico, belize)
    – GMAT: not yet taken (expecting a 670 aprox)
    – Extracurricular activities: volunteer firefighter (since 2011)
    – Languages: spanish, english (TOEFL 106), French (DELF B2 certification)
    -Long term goal: to get a regional management position in an international pharmaceutical, cosmetic or luxury company to have the opportunity to travel to many affiliates around the world.
    Thank you very much for your time!

  • Mr. Determined

    Hello Sandy,

    Be brutal and honest, im used to it!

    I have a fairly unorthodox background and would like to hear what you think my chances are at some of the very top mba schools.

    I am a 27 year old scandinavian white male. I speak 3 languages fluently.
    I started my career in the military, spending a total of 6 years and
    reaching the rank of Liuetenant before leaving to pursue a career in
    consulting. During the last two years (in the military) I was actively
    in a position that required extensive leadership capabilities.

    I received my undergrad from the national military university. It is more
    of a rule than an exception that students have fairly weak GPA’s in this
    specific school, partially because of hard courses and partially for
    the fact that almost everyone focus on enchancing their professional
    skills rather than academic ones. However, my GPA was only 2.4 in the US
    scale, equalling the 67th percentile of the graduating class. I majored
    in Strategic studies.

    I knew I had a very bad Undergrad GPA so I took time to enroll into some university business courses (a total of 67 ECTS credits) and received a GPA of 3.8 in the US scale.

    I then took the GMAT and got a score of 750.

    I was accepted to the Master of Finance program in my country’s best
    business school (ranked top 25 Europe). I received a GPA of 3.9, with
    one semester as a transfer student at Duke University Fuqua school of
    business (same courses as the 2nd year MBA).

    I have now worked for Mckinsey and co. for one and a half years and have been promoted once so far (from BA to associate). I have specialized in corporate finance
    and restructuring cases.

    My extracurrical activities include:

    – Supporting the war veterans by hosting and organizing fund raisers
    – 3 years and counting @ Lions Club, an active member and a contributor

    My current career plans include:

    Short term: Using the MBA degree to help me land a job at one of the top 3
    consulting firms in the U.S. I would like to continue to specialize in
    finance sector. Transition within the company (Mckinsey) between Europe
    and USA has proven to be near impossible without an MBA.

    Long term: Transition over to Fortune 50 corporate finance

    I am currently looking at following schools:

    Georgetown (an alumni with 24 years of top consulting experience is a friend of mine and will vouch for me)

    Thank you Sandy!

  • UF Grad

    -27 year old male

    -700 GMAT

    -3.5 undergraduate GPA in business administration from University of Florida

    -Five total years of work experience: 1 in a rotational “leadership development” program (an attempt to clone the GE process) at a publicly-traded specialty finance company; 2 years as an analyst at a prominent middle market investment bank; and 2 years as an associate at a southeastern-focused venture capital firm (firm manages a total of ~$400 million)

    -ECs in undergrad: President of a 100-man fraternity; inducted into the school’s highest leadership honorary; founded an on-campus philanthropy benefitting the Muscular Dystrophy Association which raised thousands of dollars in its first year

    -For the past four years (while working) I have volunteered at a high-risk elementary school where I tutored classes on financial literacy, budgeting and financial planning
    -Long-term goal is to start a VC fund that focuses on green-tech initiatives in the Southeastern Unites States
    -Interested in applying to Virginia, Duke, Cornell, MIT, Northwestern and Dartmouth
    Thanks for your time.

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d like to know my chances for an M7 school (namely, HBS, Booth, Columbia, & MIT)

    -BBA In Operations Management from a large state school (Think Penn State)

    -3.3 GPA (worked throughout college)

    -780 GMAT

    -3 years work experience in top boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain strategy

    -Had multiple internships in college, including one at a Big 4 Advisory. Also ran a semi successful start-up and was part of the school’s tech incubator. I was also part of a $2m venture capital fund associated with the university. Was also VP of my service fraternity.

    -24 year old Asian Male

    -Interests include mountain climbing (climbed Denali in Alaska) and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity

    -Goal- To eventually become a COO of a large manufacturing firm

  • Mike

    Hello there,

    I’m just wondering where I stand for the H/S/W schools, as well as MIT and Columbia (first choice).

    – BS in computer science from Wayne State University

    – 3.6 GPA, awards/honors from college

    – 710 GMAT (first try)

    – Worked as software developer at Ford Motor Company for a year, then received a software development engineering position at Microsoft’s Seattle office. I was promoted to senior after 1.5 years of working there.

    – Will have 4-5 years of work experience by the time I apply

    ECs: Lead and created a few community service projects with the purpose of helping disadvantaged children receive education. I also did tutoring for kids with special needs in a small Detroit school and helped implement a library there.

    Background: 25 year old Asian, first generation college graduate, lived in a poor household and made it through

    Goal: I’m interested in investment management (portfolio management, equity research, hedge funds, PE, etc.)

  • Vikas Ravi

    Hi Sandy,

    I found the detailed analysis provided by you very useful. Here is how my profile goes:

    I’m a quantitative developer with a U.S. quant hedge fund. I am an engineer from IIT (2009 undergraduate) in India and have been working with the firm for close to 5 years now.

    I have an undergraduate GPA of 8.49/10 and I am a silver medalist of my batch. My GMAT score is 740.


    I have been promoted once and now I am undertaking management of programs in my group. I have led many programs in last two years of my career and also worked with cross functional teams.

    Career Goals:

    Short Term – Financial Technology Product Manager
    Long Term – CEO/CTO of a Financial Technology company such as Bloomberg, etc.

    Extra Curricular Activities:

    I worked (for round about two years) for a non-profit organization trying to foster social entrepreneurship in educational institutes in India. Currently, based on my connection with social enterprises, I am leading the CSR department of my company.

    Applications till date:

    2012 Jan – Texas McCombs (Ding After Interview)
    2014 Jan – Sloan (Ding w/o interview)
    2014 Jan – Booth (Ding w/o interview)
    2014 Jan – Wharton (Ding w/o interview)
    2014 Jan – Tuck (Ding w/o interview)
    2014 Jan – UCLA Anderson (Ding w/o interview)
    2014 Jan – Duke Fuqua (Ding w/o interview)

    This year I am planning to apply to following schools:

    UCB Haas, NYU Stern, Yale, Darden and Cornell.


    1. What do you think did not work in my favor in 2014 application season. I am really disappointed with no interview calls. Can you suggest some pointers about things that you think worked against me.

    2. What can I do to improve my chances of selection when I apply to above mentioned schools for 2015 fall admissions?

    Many Thanks!
    Vikas Ravi

  • hbsguru

    I am glad those genius profs at Wharton are all over this–this issue has been puzzling me for years.
    New research from @Wharton professors explains why high status firms attract top MBA students: bit.ly/1qEbg1w

  • hbsguru

    hmmmm, you are correct that 3.5 is low for 2+2 type programs which usually look for super-stars in both gpa and gmat (or other extraordinary factors). Nothing you can do about that now for 2+2, I dont think you will be admitted to selective 2+2 progrmas (e.g. HBS, Stanford, Yale). As to GPA issue when you apply in 2-4 years, An MA degree in hard subjects with solid A grades might help burnish your app, but 3.5 at that point, your current GPA is not that low in that context, schools will take 3.5 kids with impressive work history, higher!!! GMAT scores, and compelling stories. Sooooo, I would not enroll in that MA program UNLESS you actually want to. It will not help you a super amount in reg. MBA admission process.

  • ZM4AQ

    700 GMAT (thinking of taking again)
    3.5 GPA
    Undergrad business/foreign affairs degree from Top 3 undergrad business schools and top 3 public university
    Work experience: 3 years in retail/consumer goods consulting firm (well-known retail consulting firm that competes with Deloitte, McKinsey, LEK); promoted at 2 years
    Grew up working for family business (entrepreneurship background/spin to story)
    Extracurricular: Local Project Manager for faith based “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” program. Started program in New York for pilot year partnering high-risk youth with mentors and am continuing growth into close-by states
    Long term goal: To start or be a part of a business focused on social change through sales of specialty goods or services (think TOMS)
    24 year-old Asian American (US citizen) female
    First generation American and first in family to graduate from college

  • Elina

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m not sure whether to apply to HBS 2+2 now, after Master’s degree or not apply at all. You’d do a lot of good if you gave just a bit of your much valued perspective.

    -Eastern European national, 22, Female, Middle Class background

    -GPA: 7.4/10 (qualifies for honors) BSc within maths & life sciences (interdisciplinary degree) from a top (think +/- best in country) program in the Netherlands.
    – Writing my thesis in bioinformatics in cooperation with the university hospital (brain cancer research).
    -GMAT: a week ago scored 690 on my first mock test, no prep, near perfect verbal., plan to take in August and obviously put in hours for practice

    – Internships:
    -Semester long internship in Munich, Germany at a pharma consultancy (decent boutique, clients- household names like Pfizer, Bayer, Roche etc.)
    -freshman year internship at a commercial bank back home- corporate credit analysis department;
    -now very involved at a university backed consulting project for the European business of a top animal pharma company
    – Jobs: part time job (2 years already, continued from long distance during semester abroad) as a
    research assistant in data analysis at the university politics
    department. This + govt grants have really got me to places.

    Could get decent recommendations from pretty much any of the above.

    – International involvement: high school exchange in Denmark, bachelor’s exchange in Hong Kong, last summer went to a Yale SOM Pre-MBA Program (fully sponsored by Goldman), later same summer went volunteering in Latin America
    – Leadership: key roles within the study association of faculty, also national level involvement; ex-chair for local chapter of a national charity organization
    – Bilingual, considerable skill in another 2 languages
    – If that’s of any worth, recreational runner, racing distances up to a half marathon

    Long term aims:
    – Shape the future of the personalized, data driven healthcare
    – How: moving into healthcare & life sciences VC (will they buy it?)

    Other scenarios:
    -Master’s from a reputable school in Europe in Computational Biology/ Bioinformatics
    -Hopefully, moving away from Europe. Getting some job experience, ideally, in Russia or another BRIC. B-School few years down the line.

    Why my question? At Yale I was given feedback that for the Silver scholar they were
    looking for more academically strong people and I should be a strong regular candidate after a a few years of work experience. In essence, my question is, whether a more focused Master’s degree would strengthen my statement.

  • hbsguru

    Hashir Arif

    14 hours ago

    Hi Sandy, My name is Hashir, I am an undergrad student from the top
    most Business school of Pakistan; Institute Of Business Administration. I
    am studying Finance and Supply Chain Management as a Major, and have
    also done a one-semester U.S State funded exchange at Florida State
    University. I scored 2100 on my SAT’s. Wharton is my dream school, would
    you please tell me what I need to get on my GMAT, and where should my
    work experience specialize in order to get in?
    I also plan to give my CFA’s in the coming year.
    I still have 2 years of undergrad school left. I am 20 years of age.
    (Middle eastern race). I also am a Public Relations Manager at an NGO.
    ANSWER: My general advice to undergrads is to focus on the numbers–get a high GPA (courses are less impt, altho sometimes schools lie about this) and get a good GMAT score, this is especially impt for Internationals or kids applying from schools or companies that adcoms are not aware of. I am not sure of well known your college is to Wharton ADCOM, how many kids from your college ever went to Wharton? That is real, real impt question. If not many, you need to tell them it is No1 biz school in Pakistan. Adcoms are lazy and often pretty uninformed, esp. younger ones, all they typically know is one school per country (outside US, Canada, UK, China, where they know two ) and about 20 companies and banks and consulting companies, If you do not have that on your resume, you need to explain, and more imptly, if you do not have those famous names on your resume, your NUMBERS (GPA and GMAT) become very impt!!!! Do not listen to adcom lies. they have to lie, that is why they get paid so little. Lying is easy and everyone likes to do it.

    CFA is nice but about 1/20th as impt as solid GMAT and GPA –lots of morons have CFAs, in fact most CFAs are morons, but sure, it is a good stamp on your passport to B school, just dont think it will be getting you in to Wharton.

    For the record, Wharton average GMAT scores are around 720 and RISING. they have become quite vicious in demanding high GMATs except for certain groups (under rep’d US citizens and attractive oddballs, that aint you babe!!) and GPA is 3.6

    GET those and let the rest take care of itself. Take a job at selective employers if you can, e.g. consulting companies and banks, or famous NGOs (UN, World Bank, Clinton/Gates Foundation) etc.

    Sure, lots of exceptions for the beautiful people, but that aint you, again.

    You are a hard working shmuck that schools like to ding to keep their ratings up and make room for the beautiful people.
    Sorry for the tuff love–but it is TRUE!!!!!

  • easypart

    sandy, can you chance a similar profile but with a blue chip manufacturing firm, and 3.8 GPA? for those same schools.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks Matt. It’s aggravating at times, I know. We also just changed our registration system and those changes went into effect this week. Hopefully that will improve the experience.

  • Matt

    Hey John, just to weigh in, I do have the same problem. I have a registered account but it never actually logs in and just continues to redirect (just like devils is describing). It hasn’t caused me many problems since that page is pretty rare, but it definitely does happen.

  • Yash Sharma

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d like to get an assessment of my chances at Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, and INSEAD.

    Age: 27y (28y in 2015 at admission time)
    Undergrad in mechanical engineering from mid-top tier university in India (non IITs and NECs). Scored Distinction honors (university is known to be extremely low scoring with topper scoring about 76%). Completed 4 years worth credits in 3 years and interned for 2 semesters at TATA motors. Got interested in supply chain and lean so decided to get into industrial engineering.
    Graduate degree in Industrial engineering from Virginia Tech, again mid-top tier for ISE but far from Ivy. 3.6 GPA. Got interested in statistics and quantitative analytics (operations research) so applied for jobs in risk management field.
    GMAT: 720
    – Started working in Risk Management at HSBC USA. Worked for a year there and then another 2 years in Risk management at another F-300 bank before moving to current role supporting risk management (credit risk, modeling, capital, strategies) for international credit lending portfolios in Africa and Europe for one of the biggest banks in the world, based out of New York. Manage 3 analysts (1 domestic and 1 each in the other country).

    Started a NGO with a few friends while in undergrad to educate kids of sex workers and other impoverished parts of the city. Raised capital & in-kind donations (computers, etc) from big IT firms there and used college facilities after-hours to educate these kids (mostly teenagers) to help them do better in schools and want to study further and/or to pass basic computer literacy exam in India to get a relatively better paying job eventually. Involved after-hours with volunteering here with career mentoring, resume help, college prep, etc for middle & high school kids.

    Goal: Want to work for MBB consulting in an area close to finance where I can get multi-industry & product experience. Eventually want to start my own VC to help growth of small companies & businesses, provide jobs in the community, in India and other emerging countries (working closely with Africa in my current job, comes to mind).

  • JohnAByrne

    Your profile may have required moderation. If so, it’s been approved.

  • JohnAByrne

    If you’re a registered user, you shouldn’t encounter any trouble at all. Not sure why you are having so much difficulty. If this continues to happen, contact me at my email address Byrne332@gmail.com and I’ll have one of our staffers work with you to resolve the issue. Thanks for your patience.

  • hbsguru

    B school faculty members are more likely to respond to white males–by a lot. | Inside Higher Ed http://shar.es/T9fP1 via @sharethis

  • Gent

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m very impressed by the detail and quality of responses that you’ve given to others. Here’s where I stand:

    I matriculated from college a year ago and plan on applying in 2 more (for a total of 3 years of experience at time of application)

    BA Quantitative Economics, minor in Math from a top 50 US Undergrad Bschool
    3.74 GPA, 3.9 in-major, 3.9 in-minor
    Econ medal winner (highest avg in economics)
    740 GMAT (With some studying and retake, I could bring this to a 770+… but I’m not sold on the value of doing so)

    Middle-office financial control (credit risk management) role at a top-2 Bulge Bracket bank (MS/Goldman)
    Doing a great job so far. Always taking initiative w/ more responsibility, projects, etc. I’ll just continue to work hard and should have very strong letters of rec

    On a charity committee at work to increase participation in our office. I organize a monthly event with a local charity and regularly participate with 2 more.

    My greatest weakness:
    Nothing “gold-plated” on my resume. Great academic track record at a non-target school. Great employer in a non-target role.

    Fun facts:
    I am an avid guitarist and also very involved with health and fitness. Perhaps there is a way to work some of this in as a plus.

    I am very interested in moving into a corporate strategy or corporate development role. I am hoping for Columbia early decision and will also be applying to Wharton and Tuck as reach schools. More in my “range” (I hope) are Duke and UVA.

    I’d love to hear your analysis of my odds.Thank you for your posts!

  • 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 100+ 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 students in underprivileged communities through New-York based non-profit organization for 2+ years aiding them in classwork, college applications, and overall professional goals

    MBA Goals
    – Short Term: Transition from Technology Consulting to Strategy Consulting.
    – Long Term: Technology Strategy or General Management role in the Technology industry (Digital strategy focus would be ideal).

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

    Thank you very much for your consideration.

  • devils0508

    Can you please fix the random “Register/Login” page that comes up. When I
    try to send people articles on this site, it occassionally goes
    directly to that page, and they don’t read the article I want them to
    read. Furthermore, it doesn’t even work right. I have a username, but I
    just get stuck being permanetely re-directed/logged out. It also doesn’t
    seem to work with the comments system, so what’s the point? Your losing
    so many page views because of this…

    I am completely unable to read pages 2-4 of this article, no matter how hard I try, and this isn’t the first time this has happened.

  • DG

    I am a 27 year old Indian male currently based out of Singapore.

    Undergrad- IU Kelley- 3.3 GPA ; Major- Finance and Econ
    Grad School: Master’s in Finance- WUSTL Olin- 3.8 GPA
    CFA Level 3 candidate
    GMAT: 710 (46Q 42v)

    Internships during undergrad:
    – Real Estate finance at a large REIT based out of Chicago
    – Internal Strategy Consulting at a big real estate firm again based out of Chicago

    ECs during undergrad:
    – Director of Strategy for a club, Treasurer for another and International Student Ambassador for the school.

    Work Exp. between undergrad and grad school: 8 months of working in the family business as a business development associate. During this time I helped in acquiring one new contract, exploring different market sectors and also restructuring some of the debt. The business is a construction business with real estate and infrastructure contracts with a revenue of over $17 MM p.a.

    WE after grad school: 2 years in equity research as a research associate at a large bank in Singapore.
    – My coverage was mostly industrial firms.
    – Was ranked as a top research associate during my time there.

    1 years at a hedge fund/PE (3bn AUM) in Singapore focused on SE Asia and long growth equities. (Current job)
    – In a client facing role of advising and helping clients to find solutions directly.
    – In this role, I have met with a lot of high level executives and made a few good contacts. One of them would definitely write me a great recommendation.

    Extra-curriculars: Don’t have much time for this.
    – I am still involved in the family business as in an advisory capacities. This work usually takes up 7-10 hrs a week.
    – Manage a portfolio of $60,000 by myself. Started out with only 30k about three years ago.
    – Write for a local financial websites about macro-investing strategies to make money out of macro shocks in the market.

    Post-MBA goals would be a corp. dev or strategy job.

    1) Kellogg
    2) Booth
    3) Michigan
    4) Darden
    5) Duke
    6) UNC

    Going to apply R1 this year for FALL 2015 entry.

    Really wanna start a life in the US now. Spent a quite a few years there, quite fond of the place and still have many good friends there.

    Thank you.

  • Mechanical Engineer to MBA

    I just commented yesterday with a profile, and it would appear that it has been deleted. Not sure if there was a problem with the post…?

  • hbsguru

    ha,ha good place to start.

  • 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 – Transition into a position at a Management Consulting Firm.

    I know there’s no way I’m getting near HBS or Stanford; looking at schools like Kellogg, Tuck, MIT, Darden, Fuqua, UCLA and INSEAD’s January intake.


  • Tipso

    I’m not sure you can change the world if you work at MBB

  • Suchintya

    Hi Sandy,

    Age : 32 y

    – Mech. Engg. undergrad from top tier school India with 74.6% (~3.5 GPA) 2006
    – GMAT 740 (2011)

    Work (total 8 years)
    – 2 years software dev experience with Oracle
    – Joined a product services startup where I helped setup teams, interact with clients, worked on product dev and implementations, conduct end-user trainings, etc. 3.5 years
    – Growth was slowing down in the above to quit
    – Next launched my own company (2011) where I worked with US based startups to help them build and launch products, setup and manage resources in US, India, Bolivia and Russia/Ukraine. (short business visits to US)
    – Recently shut down my company since growth stalled (2.5 years)
    – Currently planning another business focussed on the Indian market

    – Launched tech communities when in undergrad which still flourishes today
    – Awarded seed fund to launch a robotics startup (fizzled out since we had no idea how to do business)
    – Was startup developer of the year for consecutive years in my first startup.
    – Currently CFA Level 3 candidate

    – Launch a business with unlimited revenue potential
    – In some distant future, setup a seed fund/ incubator for Indian undergrads so that they don’t face the same startup issues which I did while in school.

    Why MBA
    – I need to step back and review my experiences and widen my horizons. I can do this by not working and just networking. An MBA school will add to the structured thinking needed and help avoid pitfalls.

  • Andrew

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate your advice

    -Graduated from Ohio State in 2011 with dual Political Science/Psych degree. (emphasis on international politics) 3.5/4.0 GPA (3.8 over the last two years)
    -Conducted honors research on Chinese oil market.
    -GMAT 650 (practice). Confident it can get to 700 in the next 3 months.

    -Spent 2 years working abroad for a German faucet company (akin to Koehler or Moen) in Germany and on the island of Cyprus. Worked in marketing and pricing.
    -Laid off from job in Cyprus due to the widely publicized financial collapse of the island
    -Currently working at Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta doing market research for brand managers of Sprite, Schweppes, a number of others.

    -Served a two year LDS mission in Peru, learned fluent Spanish
    -Interned in a U.S. Senator’s office in college
    -Served as the chief spiritual leader for 90 people while living in Cyprus. A position very similar to being a priest, rabbi, pastor.
    -Currently working part time doing market research for the non-profit branch of Coke finding locations for water filtration systems offering clean water.

    -Continue working w/Coke after school. Hopefully returning to South America.

    Real Goal
    -Join Bain/Mckinsey/BCG. Hopefully returning to South America

    Target schools

  • non-profit to corporate

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love to have you analyze my profile for MBA admission.
    · I am a 31 year old white female.
    · Graduated with 3.3 GPA from a top 25 university with a double major in communication and geography.
    · Served as an environmental education Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru for 27 months. This afforded me the opportunity to work directly with community members and develop
    partnerships with schools, health centers, non-profits, and various levels of government.
    · Completed a master’s degree in geography (at an SEC institution) with a 3.9 GPA. I
    received a fellowship to attend graduate school. While in graduate school, I was a teaching assistant, coordinated a graduate fellowship program, and was president of the graduate student government. I worked closely with various faculty and high-level university administrators. My master’s research was on climate change intervention strategies.
    · I worked in several short-term positions from the time in which I returned home from the Peace Corps to finishing my master’s degree (over summers and during breaks). I worked with a local conservation organization, the National Biodiesel Board, US Census Bureau, and a Chicago area university (doing research).
    · Spent the last year and a half working in the Office of Foundation Relations (Fundraising and Development) at a top national university. I have been able to survey the “landscape of philanthropy” as well as learn about some of the most successful people in the world who have/are creating private foundations (Gates, Buffett, Dells, etc.).
    · Current extracurricular activities: Board member for local alumni chapter of undergraduate institution. Trained in emergency response and am part of current employer’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
    · 730 GMAT

    Why pursue an MBA?
    1) At the time that I started my master’s program in geography, I hoped to pursue a career in academia. I came to learn that the life of a faculty member is not for me – for example, I am not well suited to spend my whole life studying how stream pollution affects the development of a specific type of fish.
    2) On the contrary, I have wide-ranging interests and am capable of seeing the “big picture.”
    3) I am (perhaps unrealistically) passionate about changing the world, and am particularly interested bringing about that change from the corporate world. CAREER CHANGE and CHANGING THE WORLD!
    4) Career goals: Would love to work as a consultant at a top firm (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) and in the long-term, I would like to transition into the role of a corporate social responsibility/sustainability manager of a fortune 500 company.