Assessing Your Odds Of Getting In

Tough Love

Talk about tough love.

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of Boston-based MBA admissions consulting firm, offers a good bit of tough-love counsel to this latest batch of MBA applicants whose goal is to get into one of the world’s best business school.

To the 25-year-old woman who has an Ivy League degree in computer science, a 770 GMAT score, and is fluent in five different languages, Kreisberg concedes he’s not sure what admission committees will think. “But you will probably get a lot of social interest from our readers,” he quips. The young woman has no work experience, yet wants to go to Harvard, Columbia or Wharton.

To the 22-year-old college student at a top university in the Netherlands with an interest in Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program, Kreisberg advises that her GMAT and grade point average is pretty much a deal breaker for a 2+2 program. She scored a 690 on a mock GMAT test without doing any prep.

And to the 24-year-old Asian-American woman who has worked for a retail/consumer goods consulting firm during the past three years, Kreisberg tells her “you are in a lot of traffic for the top five schools. Other drivers in your lane have elements of your story and often better stats, so my advice off the bat is to retake the GMAT, as many times as you can.” Right now, she’s sitting on a 700 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA from a top three public university.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

In every case, of course, Kreisberg offers some savvy advice to help each candidate improve her odds of admission. In this all-female edition of our popular MBA handicapping series, the admissions consultant 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.

Included in this batch is another video edition of our handicapping series in which Kreisberg assesses the candidacy of a 24-year-old Native American woman with an engineering degree and a 690 GMAT. Despite her “silver” GMAT score and the fact that she works for a 200-person construction management firm that is not well known, he’s far more bullish on this person’s ability to get into Harvard and Stanford due to her status as a hard-to-fill minority in business school admissions.

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. Project Engineer

  • 690 GMAT
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in civil engineering from a top 20 public university
  • Work experience as a project engineer for a management construction company with 200 employees during the past three years; received three promotions; co-led a team which identified inefficiencies within a software program used by operations on a daily basis
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer for a group that harvests fruits and vegetables and brings the to local food banks and soup kitchens; president and marshall of a civil engineering society when in college; tutor to fellow undergraduates in civil engineering courses
  • 24-year-old Native American female

Sandy’s Analysis: Let me focus on the elements that are really important.

You are a female engineer and that is a real plus.

You’re a Native American and that is a real plus.

And you have a job working for an engineering firm as an engineer. That is a super plus.

If you can be convincing on all of those issues, you’ll be a strong candidate.

Let’s start with the Native American part. It’s helpful if you claim Native American heritage to have a narrative that has deep support in Native American heritage and issues. Sen. Elizabeth Warren declared herself to be a Native American and she took a lot of flak for it because she is only 1/16th Native American. But it is among the most difficult, hard-to-fill minorities for business schools so that could give you an edge.

The second issue I see is, ideally if you are an engineer you want to work for a huge engineering company, one that everyone has heard of. It’s not necessary, but it is very helpful. You work for a 200-person engineering company and the one project you describe is fixing software.

That’s not adding luster to someone who is an engineer. What we want is someone who is out there with an orange vest with a whistle, stopping traffic and bossing around guys who are driving big rigs and then going back and doing planning to quarterback that. You want to upgrade that issue.

Aside from that, the 690 GMAT is silver, not gold. Schools like H/S/W want to see a 700 or up. They are certainly willing to wink at it and they probably would because you are a female Native American engineer. Still, a 710 or 720 would look a lot better. The median and the mean GMATs are real high at Harvard and Stanford.

Your extracurricular activities are great in God’s eyes and great in my eyes. I don’t think it is going to cut a lot of mustard among the cynical admission committees you’ll face. The fruits and vegetables thing is just not scaled enough and it doesn’t intricately relate to what you do. Being class marshall of a big school is something that an admissions committee appreciates because it shows leadership. Being the president of a civil engineering club isn’t going to move the needle.

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% to 50%

Stanford: 20%

Michigan: 50%+

Northwestern: 50%+

Duke: 50%+

USC: 60%+

Notre Dame: 60%+

  • jimmy

    Sandy, what you think of MIT Sloan Fellow program compared to other full time MBA program? It is interesting because it is full time but classified as executive program.

  • hbsguru

    WELL, qualify for what? STEM is not an award, it is a way for adcom folks who divide up the class into majors like liberal arts, STEM, etc into big, gummy groups so they can publish statistics about how many admits were STEM, how many were business majors, how many were liberal arts majors, etc. I’d say for that exercise, you would qualify.
    If you got a follow up, find the latest iteration of this feature on PQ homepage–math and business majors I believe, reading less so.

  • yihaoy

    Do I still qualify as STEM if I have an additional major in Business? (Primary major in math)


    Hi Sandy,

    Keen to get your thoughts on my chances:

    Background: Male, 29, Indian

    Undergrad: BE, Computer Science, Top non – IIT institutes in India

    Graduated with first class with distinction, ranked 3/65

    GPA: 3.8+

    Passed all 3 exams of CFA in minimum possible time

    GMAT (720, Q87%, V86%)

    Work experience:

    8 years throughout in Banking. 2 years as banking product consultant working for a software provider to top tier global banks and 3 years Business analyst in a big British bank. I took my CFA program while working as business analyst and switched from IT to Finance (trading control) at same bank and have been working there for 3 years.

    – working in Singapore for last 6 years


    1) Involved with an NGO providing image consulting to under privileged women in Singapore. I manage there website and work with core fundraising team

    2) Volunteer with an NGO conducting TED like motivational talks in Singapore

    3) Investment research and managing portfolio for family.
    4) Boxing, Badminton and Cricket

    Target schools
    Wharton, Harvard, MIT, LBS, INSEAD

    Goal: Move to a financial advisory consulting role and move toward my long term goal for becoming a CFO.

  • BoothBound

    Hi Sandy, I’d love it if you could assess my profile!

    GPA: 3.3
    Economics BA and Mathematics BA from top 20 school (non-Ivy)
    GMAT: 730 (99th percentile verbal)
    Current Job: business analyst at fortune 50 consumer products company focused on process improvement during an IT transformation (2 years of work post-college)

    Volunteered at adaptive sports camp for kids with physical disabilities
    Regular volunteer at habitat for humanity
    Runs successful personal analytics-focused sports blog
    Youth basketball coach
    Worked part time in now disbanded (due to executive personal reasons) ecommerce startup in business development and marketing
    Knowledgeable in several programming languages (C++, Visual Basic, Java, SQL, HTML)

    Goal post-mba: either work for a professional sports team front office or work for a tech company

    Target schools:
    Booth, Kellogg, HBS, MIT, Duke, Emory

  • Aishwarrya

    To add on I would like to say that I am fluent in four languages ( English, Hindi, Marathi and Tamil) and know the basics of French, Spanish and Russian. My interests include reading, swimming and dancing. I am a trained classical dancer, with 7 years of training in Bharatnatyam ( a south Indian dance form).

  • Aishwarrya

    I would like to add that my career goal is to work in the investment banking space with a specialization in portfolio management or derivatives trading

  • Aishwarrya

    Hi Sandy,
    I am Aishwarrya (female) and I am a 20 year old college senior from India.
    My GMAT score is 690 (87%).

    I have a 1.5 years work experience. I completed a 6 month fellowship with Skillovate (a talent development firm) in my first year of college. In my time there, I initiated a CSR campaign in coordination with the Art Of Living which focussed on rural youth development and disaster relief. I have also worked as an associate with Deloitte Haskins & Sells ( one of the big fours) in the audit and financial services department. Herein, I conducted statutory and tax audits along with tax and derivatives certifications. Though both these jobs were full time, I think it technically falls under ‘ paid internship’.

    Degrees : I currently have a 4.0/4.0 GPA . By Jun 2015 I shall hold a degree in Bachelor of Commerce and Diploma in General Management. I have also completed my foundation and intermediate studies in Chartered Accountancy (CA) and hold a degree of Integrated Professional Competency Course (IPCC).

    Extracurriculars : I have volunteered for 2 years with the Art Of Living wherein I was involved in organizing and conducting many social and cultural programs. I am also a member of the Commerce Forum in college which organizes and participates in national level inter college business festivals. I have lead many a teams to a win in these festivals.

    I am applying to the following colleges and would love to know my chances of getting into any one of them:
    Stanford, Yale, Booth, USC Marshall, NYU Stern, MIT Sloan.


  • MBA candidate

    hi! I would really appreciate your evaluation of my profile below. I am applying to H/S/W in Round 2.

    Middle Eastern Female. 25 yo.

    Speak 4 languages, have lived in 3 different countries, and travel frequently
    for work to various cities in the Middle east and Sub Saharan Africa. Past work
    Experience includes Blue chip Tech company (not google) and I am currently a
    Content Specialist at a leading financial data provider. Acquiring financial content,
    managing relationships with major financial institutions and regulatory
    authorities in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, and developing new products (ways of using and displaying this data). total 4 years
    experience upon admission.

    GMAT: 710 (49, 39) – 92%

    Top American university in the Middle East. BBA in Finance. 3.10 GPA. Graduated
    in June 2011. (dip in GPA due to family issues)

    Was a member of Toastmasters international, Business Student
    Society, and Gymnastics club during college. Currently volunteer for Tree
    Planting & environmental causes.

    Post MBA Goal: For profit social enterprise – related to
    financial services catering to the emerging markets in Middle east and Africa.

    Still working on my essay, but it is mostly focused on personal
    characteristics and experiences. Highlighting the diverse experience I have a
    vast network of contacts I have built and learned from.

    appreciate your feedback!

  • Young College Underachiever

    Mr. Low

    Sandy/ HBS guru,

    Please Check out my profile,

    Age 23

    Undergraduate: Ivy League Chemical Engineering and Economics Degree. 2.3 GPA. 3.0 GPA Senior Yr (I was young and inexperienced when I started. started college at 16.)
    Did research for a year in computational chemistry my junior year where i got published. (is this a knock, or a plus?) and took some classes where i got a 4.0 at a state college.

    Born in Africa, moved to US for high school and college.

    GMAT: 710. Took it once. I think i could do better if i applied next year (got a 740 on the practice test, and could improve quant dramatically if more time and effort was put in, so retake the test maybe march or april if i don’t get in), but i want to give it a shot this year. Q= 78-80% V-> 90-92%

    Work Experience: Will have worked for a semiconductor semi-startup for 3 yrs. by Aug 2015. Not a big name though.
    A fair bit of managerial experience and leadership stuff. Lots of operations and logistics. Also a lot of process work. Can put some numbers as improvements in resume and etc.

    Extra Curricular:
    Cancer research on prostate cancer.
    volunteer trip to Boston (where i helped organize a concert, and also assisted in construction and supported homeless outreach)
    I’ve also been there a couple of times to play guitar at the local food back and cheer up the homeless.
    volunteer trip to Honduras (where i worked with kids, and helped at an orphanage)
    planning on going to korea to teach english for a couple of weeks in december/january (should i mention this?)

    Schools im interested in:

    Harvard/Wharton/Columbia/Cornell (Alma Mater)/ MIT/ Chicago

    Does my GPA and low work experience basically disqualify me?

  • Supply Chain Consultant

    Hey 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

    -780 GMAT

    -3 years work experience in top boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain strategy with strong letters of recommendation

    -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

  • Ms. Independent

    Sandy, John!!

    Your blog has given me so much insight to what admissions at top Bschools expect from potential MBA candidates. Any advice for me?

    680 GMAT
    3.4 GPA
    Undergrad in Finance from Tier 1 state school
    Work Experience: sales and use tax consultant at a midsized corporate advisory firm in Texas with extensive knowledge in multi state tax laws and industry experience in healthcare and manufacturing; recently promoted to senior consultant
    Extracurricular Activities: tennis, avid gym goer, kickball league with coworkers
    Volunteer Involvement: Financial and Statistical Information analyst with the American Red Cross, Mentor for under privileged youth with local Girls’ Inc chapter, Habitat for Humanity, Energy and Utility Exhibit Hall Volunteer at Nature and Science museum
    Short Term Goal: move into either corporate finance or investment banking in the energy/oil and gas/utility industry
    Long Term Goal: transfer knowledge to working in house for a startup clean energy company in California

    24 year old African American female
    First generation college graduate

    Target Schools: UCLA, UC Berkley, Duke, UT Austin

  • OzApplicant

    Hi Sandy,

    Avid follower! Seeking some tough love and keen to get your thoughts on my chances:

    Background: Male, 26, Indian background (naturalised Australian)

    Undergrad: BE, Electrical Engineering from top 3 engineering school in Australia.

    Graduated with first class honours, Deans Honour list for all years at uni.

    Studied on a full fee faculty scholarship (which is uncommon for an international student)

    GPA: 3.65+ (As per a basic converter, Weighted Average Mean of 80)

    GMAT (680, Q76%, V78%) (weakest link on my application!)

    Work experience:

    1) Internship at Canon Inc. (R&D arm)
    2) A small telecomm company for 6 months post graduation

    3) Presently employed at AECOM – a global construction & engineering company (think Jacob, Turner etc.) (3+ years)

    – promoted once.

    – accredited deputy project manager internally to assist with major project delivery and about to receive project manger status.

    – relocating to London next month to undertake a 2 year secondment.


    1) Student mentor with the international student services for a short time during university.

    2) Member of the graduate committee at my workplace. Was part of a team that organised charity fundraisers, professional networking events, professional development events such as tech talks by industry experts.

    3) Presently, I’m a member of the key account management team for one of our major clients which accounts for A$150m+ in revenue for the ANZ business. Responsibilities include liaising with client managers across different offices within ANZ, planning regular meetings with client and tracking actions etc. – great exposure to some big picture stuff!

    Why MBA?

    The engineering consulting market landscape is changing. I feel that in a few years time, our roles will evolve, placing greater emphasis on business strategy, building client relationships and focused project delivery.

    This is the right time for me to take a break and broaden my skill set.

    ST goals: A more traditional path of working with a reputed global strategy consulting firm

    LT goals: Would like to return to engineering consulting industry and leverage upon my experience in strategy consulting. Look to take on an internal strategy role.

    Target schools: MIT, Tuck, Duke, Kellogg and HBS (don’t fancy my chances but keen to try nonetheless!).

  • AK

    Hi Sandy,
    If you’ve got the time, would you still mind taking a look at my original post? Not sure if I gave myself my own odds by saying kids have gotten into HBS and Wharton. Specifically, I’d like to know how much my international experience (I’m a US citizen) and my extracurrics help balance my so-so stats.
    Thanks a bunch.

  • MechanicalEng

    Thank you for your time, I really appreciate your help.

  • hbsguru

    Tuff one, and let me say, I am an outlier on this, I believe, more than most other consultants and cert. more than public remarks of lying adcoms, that GMATs really count — more than anyone admits. My views are supported by confidential comments to candidates by adcoms after dings. This is esp. true if you are otherwise a generic candidate for whom they have no reason to cut any slack. Not sure what you should do, but that is my general thinking. With bubble candidates like you, adcoms just look for reasons to say no, and those reasons often becomes slight and unfair. You seem like a solid but no glitter applicant, why should adcom cut you any break? You need to make your own.

  • MBA hopeful

    Ok- I have taken it three times (600, 640, 710) in that order.

    I have a 70/90 split on scores (Quant vs Verbal), but to retake to increase my scores would take a few months of studying (which is why I am on the fence). I majored in Finance/ Econ undergrad and have a business analyst role currently.

  • hbsguru

    no one knows, not even adcoms (who lie about it anyway), this is a developing and depressing story with no end in sight. I would retake a 710 if Q was low (below 70 pct) and you did not have Q backgorund, I would also retake if rest of app. was similarly marginal, AND I thought I could do better. Diff between a 710 and 730 could be life or death in close cases, no one likes to make decisions, and given two nearly identical kids, who would you take? Both Kellogg and Tuck are less obsessed about GMAT scores than Wharton, MIT, Columbia, and Stanford but still, as they say, rich or poor it is best to marry someone with money.

  • MBA hopeful

    Does a 710 GMAT warrant a retake for schools like Kellogg, Tuck, etc? It is above a 700, but a hair below average, kind of in the twilight zone of scores. I have been told it is not worth retaking unless I can get a 740- is that true?

  • hbsguru

    That is a real solid story– solid gpa, you work for brand name company, you are an mech. engineer (solid job and not over represented in app pool), you seem well rounded (esp. for an engineer, lots of clubs, etc), goals to become engering consultant and start own company are sensible, I am not sure that saying you want to return to Middle East makes total sense, based on going to High School there, but just present that as a possibility once you define what type of consulting company you want to found, etc.
    MIT and Tuck like profiles like this, you seem like Tuck type (magic tricks, etc). MIT might like to see a higher GMAT than your 700, what were splits? To retake a 700 GMAT is now a toxic question, since the consensus wisdom used to be no. However, with average and mean GMATs rising (and other parts of app shrinking!!!! see stories about disappearing essays) and schools super focused on magazine listings, there has become a GMAT arms race (that no adcom will admit to, but… come the numbers keep going up). If that GMAT score has a lowish Q (below 80 pct) I would seriously think about retaking.
    Guys like you get into HBS with a 700 (the one school most indifferent, but not totally, to 700 vs. 700+ GMATs) with real solid execution. You got a nice first gen story. Just present it to them with solid recs.

  • MechanicalEng

    Sorry for the typo -Led* organizations during my years at university and was an active member of many clubs

  • MechanicalEng

    Hi, can you please assess my odds

    27 white male, first generation American

    studied high school in the middle east


    – Undergrad degree from Purdue University Indianapolis GPA: 3.7/4.0) in Mechanical Engineering
    -Masters from Purdue University Indianapolis Gpa: 3.75 in Mechanical Engineering
    -700 Gmat
    -Expecting to earn my PE license soon

    Work Experience:
    -two Internships at Cummins and Duke energy during my university years

    -been working as a Mechanical Engineer at Cummins(largest engineering firm in Indiana) for 4 years and received a promotion

    – Involved in many volunteering activities and civic engagement (was awarded a medallion during my university years)
    -Lead organizations during my years at university and was an active member of many clubs
    -I’m a sleight of hand artist who has been performing card magic for years (should i even add this?)

    Career Goals:
    I want to use my MBA to make a transition from engineering to consulting and eventually
    start my own consulting company in the Middle East .

    Target school: MIT and Tuck (my preferred options). also HBS, Kellog, Haas, , Duke

  • hbsguru

    DEPENDS. an HBS prof can, if so minded, demand you get in, in some diplomatic way of course, and assuming you are not totally low in gpa/gmat etc.
    The trouble is, the prof knows that, and also knows he (she) can only go to the well so many times, and they often have children and friends of their own to look after. I am assuming this is REAL HBS prof and not some Jr newbie or adjunct or any one of millions of so-called profs they got handing around the honey-pot over there. Those people can also help, if so minded but not sure they have demand powers.
    Moving right along, that is best case: 1. real prof, 2. loves you, 3. you are not a basket case, 4. prof is willing to just tell Dee (in totally patronizing and tentative and humble way) to Friggin Take You Or Else.
    There are a million variants of that. The most usual is that prof kinda likes you but is not willing to ‘spend’ personal capital. In that case he just writes a rec, does not make phone call, etc. and signals that you OK by him, but. la de dah, Dee can use her equistite judgment and take you or ding you on the merits. In that case, rec fr. prof is no diff than rec from anyone else.
    A really sad variant of that is that prof does really like you but is too socially inept to actually write note or make phone call, and he acts like above, and you get dinged. I been thru that w. clients, altho it is always hard to know if the socially inept part is a disguise for not really liking you, HBS profs are both really dumb and selfish and shrewd all at the same time, and also indifferent and super busy (in their own minds, but that counts).
    A common variant, is that prof does not really know he feels about you, he is to indifferent/busy/inept/ ADD, to have feelings about you, and in that case, you have to convince him that he really likes you. This only sounds crazy, it actually happens. Prof has no real thoughts about you, you ask him for a rec and during that process, you kinda get him on your side, so that just making your admission happen becomes a tiny project of his, the project begins to count more than any thoughts he has about you, in the same way that downlaoding an app and making it work is often more impt than the app itself which you will never use. We are pretty deep into psychology and context of this, but I assume most are still with me. IF not, happy to cont. on this theme, the “social stupidity” of profs and HBS profs in particular is one of the GREAT passions of my life.
    As to you, if you only worked on one project w. the guy, and nothing extraordinary happend, and he does not really know you, don’;t expect miracles. In some wacky way, he will be happy to write you some left-handed rec which counts for zero because it gives him more credibility with other kids who he really wants to get in. “Hey Dee, it’s me again. That schmuck from last year was OK, and you dinged her, no hard feelings, but this kid really counts and here is why (message, you owe me one!).

  • afaf

    for hbs application.

  • afafaf

    @hbsguru:disqus how does getting a rec from HBS professor after doing a project with her/him help in the application?

  • hbsguru

    phew, those are the right schools, altho I dont think this is HBS, too many jobs, too much zig-zag and entrep. is not a goal they value–well for applicants. Also one may ask, if current gig is going so well, why do you need an MBA. Your edu, National Guard, and yeoman Booz/IT stuff is all of a piece–we get the picture, smart guy fr. scrappy background, trans. to real good school, etc. All good. Just make the narrative make sense, and lead to an MBA. Experience and solid stats should make you real competitie at Duke, UNC, UVA,–my tuff love, tell them you want to be a consultant, you are the type. Explain the chicken coop gig as some kind of sabbatical and enviro project pre B school.

  • Kad

    Hi Sandy,

    Can you help me analyse my profile :

    Demographic – 29 year old. From Niger (not Nigeria), Francophone West Africa (poorest country in the world I guess). Social Entrepreneur, Activist. Married, father of 2.

    – French CPA. 3.78/4.0 GPA, National record of 18/20 in one area
    -GMAT mock test 550 (yeah, poor…)
    -Speak fluent french and several african languages

    – 9 years experience in France, Senegal, Niger and about 20 other countries
    – Managing partner of the 2nd largest consulting firm in Niger
    – Brought the company from collapsing firm to the best in the area, with staff from 15 to 40 in 3 years, client base from 50 to 200.

    – Youth Empowerment through technical and ethical excellence
    – Fighting Corruption at national level
    – Promoting Women leadership
    – Promoting Islamic Finance at national level

    Have been selected as top 1% of 50 000 young african leaders to be part of President Obama’s YALI Washington Fellowship in june 2014 http://youngafricanleaders.sta

    Transformative experience to to reach full potential and give back to my country some of the benefits I’ve been privileged to

    Target schools
    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – MIT
    – Kellogg
    – Dartmouth
    – Columbia

  • Rehtulx

    Hi Sandy,
    I would very much appreciate you profiling my chances at Duke, UNC, UVA, or possibly HBS.
    Demographic: 28 white southern male
    -3.35 GPA from a top 5-10 university (I transferred in from a small state school after National Guard duty)
    -700 GMAT
    Work Experience:
    -Recently left consulting for my business building chicken coops and urban farming equipment; the past three months have averaged 30000k in documented sales. The business has been incorporated and making documented sales for nearly two years now.
    -5 years at three different consulting firms in IT strategy–the last was at Booz Allen Hamilton as a project manager
    -10 years in the Army National Guard as a NCO(not an officer) including time in Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America. I am currently still serving.
    -Patent for a method using unmanned aerial vehicles
    -Certified yoga teacher
    -Published more than 50 non-academic articles
    -On the board and cofounder of a childhood nutrition non-profit
    Goal: Entrepreneurship

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sandy: Would you mind handicapping my odds? Thanks!


    2-years as Associate at emerging market office of Big 3 strategy consulting firm
    *American woman who chose to recruit internationally instead of at home to gain emerging market experience—have worked on projects internationally in 3 different languages

    ~1-year as Fulbright Scholar with weekly teaching responsibilities

    ~1-year with international NGO’s before college (serious work that resulted in promotion to team leadership role–not cover story for travel)


    GMAT: 760

    GPA: 3.6 at top Ivy, major in public policy

    Won 3 major scholarships/fellowships (think Fulbright, Truman, Gates-Cambridge, Boren)

    Active student leader—won campus leadership award

    Studied abroad in India and conducted fully funded research projects in Latin America and Africa—thesis research was finalist for international award

    AGE: 25

    TARGETS: Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Harvard

  • Mike

    Hi Sandy,
    I appreciate all the time you have taken to help us all out! I was wondering what my chances at acceptance are at a few schools. I plan on applying at the end of 2015 so I can gain some work experience beforehand. Here is a little bit about myself:
    – 730 GMAT
    – 3.73 Undergrad GPA in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech
    – Masters degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech
    – Work experience as a structural engineer at Chevron for the past year. I have worked a unique assignment in deepwater offshore Gulf of Mexico for two months.
    – I switch to another position within the company at the end of 2014.
    – Extracurriculars – From College: President of American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter, Vice President of Civil Engineering honor society, Social chair of Engineering honor society.
    – Extracurriculars – Outside of College: Fundraised/Ran two marathons with charities individually raising over $2500. Various volunteering within company’s outreach. Running club group leader.
    – Career Goals: After business school I would like to switch into management consulting within energy so I can use my prior experience. Then to transition back into an energy company in a managerial role to move up the ladder.
    – Target Schools: HBS, Wharton, Stanford GSB, Sloan.

  • ArmyGuy

    Thanks Sandy! I appreciate it.

  • hbsguru

    well, this is no update with new information but it is more speculation: I don’t think the GMAT scores at top 10 B schools have a ~20 point gender difference. My guess is the difference is less for admitted kids, and possibly also less for applicants.
    I think the reason is that there are some 3,000-4,000 women (the admitted female cohort of the top ~10 schools (someone do the math on that,but you will get the idea) who can do well on the Q part of the GMAT, which my guess is, what accounts for the 20 pt differential in the first place. I would not be surprised if the 20 pt difference among all test takers is in good part based on lower Q scores for females (for lots of reasons, including fewer females in Q type courses in high school and college– save the hate mail). But in terms of elite admissions, all you need is some outlier of talented females, e.g. 3-4k of them (versus entire GMAT test-taking pool) and you can fill all the spots in top 10 programs with equal gmat scores.
    Just blathering here, folks, but enjoying it. Any REAL FACTS are welcome, including facts that there is NO 20 point gender diff. but I do think I heard about that someplace.

  • rv

    Hi Sandy, John,

    Can you please assess my chances of getting into top MBA schools? Appreciate your help. Here is my information

    I am a 30yr old male born and brought up in India.

    – Undergrad degree from IIT (GPA: 3.0/4.0) with Biotechnology major, (summer student at a UK univ)
    -Masters from Northeastern University (3.91 GPA) with Biotechnology major
    -GMAT: 750 (50Q, 41V)

    Work Experience:
    -Currently working since 2.5 yrs as an R&D Engineer at Genzyme. Leading projects that impact development timelines of life saving drugs, Bringing in new technologies/solutions to the group. Speaker at conference.
    -2 years as a patent analyst in one of the largest technology research companies in India. Worked in their health care sector serving big pharma/biotech clients. Sent to overseas projects at one of the top 5 US law firms. Team awards.

    – Company running team, Marathon runner. Organised fund raising events.
    -Mentoring school kids in maths and science;
    -elected Head of student council, College Annual Event Head (led 50+ member team), co-founded college clubs.
    -Helped preserve indigenous medicinal knowledge of tribal people in India

    Career Goals:
    Short-term: I want to use my MBA to make a transition from engineering to business side of biotech to get into a position of higher impact. I am thinking strategy/ business development in a big biotech company before moving to help develop a start-up.

    Long-term goals include starting my own company that will change the way health care solutions are provided in India and other emerging markets.

    Target school: HBS, Wharton, Kellog, Haas, MIT, Duke

    Thanks a lot

  • hbsguru

    Great question and I am not sure, from my own observations, probably not at elite schools, that would mean schools because they are more interested in 1. magazine rankings (which are gender neutral as to GMAT as far as I know), using GMAT as ruff
    yardstick as to whether you can do the work, in general, esp. Q score. [Or V score if low and English is not first language. ) Just speculating, if anyone has any data, reliable gossip, etc. well please post.

  • a woman candidate

    Any updates here? Does anyone know if this would be true?

  • hbsguru

    I want to use my finance, accounting, and investment experiences to
    make a transition into equity research (buy-side or sell-side),
    preferably at a long-only shop.

    Target Schools
    – Chicago (I really like the academic aspect of the program)
    – Kellogg
    – Haas
    – Anderson
    – Ross

    Hmmmm, those schools should be in reach, given your solid stats.Here is another question, do the people doing Equity Research at your firm or at other firms you know, have MBA’s? Even if so, I am not sure that is a desirable way to position yourself (well, Chicago may go for it ), most B schools don’t fancy themselves turning out researchers vs. doers, etc. and deal makers, even if some percent of grads wind up there.

  • cdq_21

    Hi Sandy – thank you for the reply. To answer your questions, by Top-55 I mean by the US News standard, and as for the selectivity of my position, I was the first to get the role right out of college. I imagine this is tough because there are a lack of comparable scenarios. However, it is still very selective based on the firm’s standards. Thanks again!

  • hbsguru

    real impt metric that could help us here: how many kids fr. your ‘middle office’ role below ever applied to B school and what outcomes, real impt!!!

    Work Experience
    – 3 years (if a fall 2015 start) at a top 5 Private Equity firm
    – Considered a “middle office” role, fund ops/valuations and reporting/forecasting
    – 1 summer internship at a top hedge fund

    You got a winning story of D-1 athletics, accounting major, Rhodes applicant, and valedictorian of Top-55 school (not sure what list you are using). Where it gets dicey, is what you do at that job and how selective it is. As readers of this thread know, the classic roadmap for guy like you is 2 yrs IB and then two years PE, in both cases highly selective gigs.
    You are in a less select cohort, my guess, so the Work Ex becomes real impt.
    Rest of your story, as noted is very winning.

  • hbsguru

    You will also be competing against her

    Victoria’s Secret Angel Kloss recently said, “Tyra [Banks] did it.
    She [attended classes at] Harvard Business School. I can do it, too.”

    Kloss, who posted an Instagram picture of herself studying at Harvard
    library, took Professor Anita Elberse’s course “The Business of Media,
    Entertainment and Sports,” which ran last week at Harvard Business

  • hbsguru

    I don’t know how many Goog, FB, and Twitter applicants there are, if some does, please post, I got a strong feeling that success rate of those applicants is higher than some random set of applicants fr. non-name tech companies, not sure if rate is higher than from Oracle, MSFT, etc. altho it might be by a little. One reason schools like applicants fr. Goog, etc. is that many cases and discussions revolve around those companies, so it is thought that kids who worked there can make real insider comments to contrib. to those cases, etc. (true or not, and in most cases, barring issues of corporate culture, NOT, but who cares?). Your competition would be engineers, if you are engineer. All that said, as noted, lots of people fr. GOOG HR go to Stanford, a cohort (HR) not usually known as being competitive at other schools. BOLTON HEART GOOGLE. 🙂
    E. Euro not much a factor in your story, unless I am forgetting something about you escaping over the Berlin Wall in a balloon or growing up in orphanage (Stanford loves orphans, etc).

  • cdq_21

    Hi Sandy,

    Would very much like to hear your advice regarding my candidacy. My information is below.

    – 24 year old white male form New York

    – 4.0 in Finance/Economics from top 55 University
    – Valedictorian, Rhodes Applicant (endorsed by president of University), various other academic fraternities/honors
    – GMAT – 710 (one attempt)

    Extracurricular Activities
    – D-1 team sport (30-35 hours/week)
    – Service trip to Panama
    – Tutored inner-city high school students (1-3 hours/week)
    – Volunteered at local health clinic (6 weeks, junior year)
    – Other academic clubs, organizations
    – Freshman mentor (2 years), and still a professional mentor for the sports team

    Work Experience
    – 3 years (if a fall 2015 start) at a top 5 Private Equity firm
    – Considered a “middle office” role, fund ops/valuations and reporting/forecasting
    – 1 summer internship at a top hedge fund

    – I want to use my finance, accounting, and investment experiences to make a transition into equity research (buy-side or sell-side), preferably at a long-only shop.

    Target Schools
    – Chicago (I really like the academic aspect of the program)
    – Kellogg
    – Haas
    – Anderson
    – Ross

  • a woman candidate

    Since this post was about women only, I have a question regarding this subject: if the average gmat for women is some 20 points lower than men’s, does this apply to business schools admissions as well? if the average at harvard is 725, does this mean that the average for men is (maybe) around 735 and for women around 710?

  • A A

    Nationality: Indian
    GMAT Score: 730
    Undergrad: Electronics and Communication with Honours
    Work Ex: 4.8 years
    Industry: Telecommunications Ericsson, Nokia
    Target Schools: Top US/Europe/Asian Schools
    Specialization MBA: Strategy/Consulting
    Plans while pursuing MBA: CFA L1 & CFA L2, along with any industry recognized marketing certification. I feel that for strategy/consulting, one needs 4pi radian view of business.
    Ultimate goal in life: Use my skills for the betterment of society, planet, my parents and myself.
    Professional plans:
    5 year View: senior Analyst/Consultant->Strategist->CSO
    10 Year View: CEO – Entrepreneur- Social Activist- Politician/Government Advisor
    Should I apply to top 5 US Business(MBA) schools.

  • Kad

    Hello Sandy,

    Thanks for your feedback

    Demographic – 29 year old. From Niger (not Nigeria), Francophone West Africa (poorest country in the world I guess). Social Entrepreneur, Activist. Married, father of 2.

    – French CPA. 3.78/4.0 GPA, National record of 18/20 in one area
    -GMAT mock test 550 (yeah, poor…)
    -Speak fluent french and several african languages

    – 9 years experience in France, Senegal, Niger and about 20 other countries
    – Managing partner of the 2nd largest consulting firm in Niger
    – Brought the company from collapsing firm to the best in the area, with staff from 15 to 40 in 3 years, client base from 50 to 200.

    – Youth Empowerment through technical and ethical excellence
    – Fighting Corruption at national level
    – Promoting Women leadership
    – Promoting Islamic Finance at national level

    Have been selected as top 1% of 50 000 young african leaders to be part of President Obama’s YALI Washington Fellowship in june 2014

    Transformative experience to to reach full potential and give back to my country some of the benefits I’ve been privileged to

    Target schools
    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – MIT
    – Kellogg
    – Dartmouth
    – Columbia

  • Dave

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate your advice on my application process. Let me tell you my stats.

    Demographic – 23 year old white European.

    -Graduated from London School of Economics in June 2013 with BSc business degree in top 20% of class
    -GMAT 700.

    -Working since September 2013 in no name private equity firm making energy investments globally as an investment analyst. London based with extensive travel.
    -Summer analyst in trading at bulge bracket bank, London
    -Summer analyst in M&A at bulge bracket bank, London.


    – Captain of local football team
    -9 months volunteering in emerging market prior to university (3 months in political think tank, 3 months at a school, 3 months in the army)


    A.Join energy investment firm with station in frontier market eg DRC, Iraq, Nigeria (Commodity trader/Private equity/Energy major)
    B.Work for private entrepreneur as a manager in frontier market in any industry but probably energy/resources

    Target schools
    -Kellogg 1 year

  • hbsguru
    Sheryl Sandberg Harvard’s Speaker & Students Couldn’t Care Less — #HBS “seat on a rocket” quip hard to top. … via @BostInno

  • hbsguru

    as noted often about military apps, adcoms are not super clear about how to judge military careers, thus GPA and GMAT become real impt. (fairly or not). You got a real solid GPA and solid GMAT, so you could be in the running at top schools, depending on
    recs, luck, app. execution, and not blowing interview. Your post seems to capture the leadership lingo and content adcoms like, so if you expand on that, you are on the right track, consulting is totally fine thing to say (dont worry about being different w. some one-off goal statement). Family is a plus, just based on diversity (most b school students do not have children) b.c. that makes you think different (in theory). HBS takes and dings guys like you, Stanford might like a higher GMAT or some other Stanford-y element (under rep group, or amazing social impact: your church volunteer work is impressive but not bonus range in their eyes, despite Bolt-ons church-y presentation style, the prefer NGOs). Man, you should be solid at schools you note outside H/S . . .if you can convince them you want to come.

  • hbsguru

    as noted in 2+2 profile story and footnote in article above, 2+2 is tuff and at HBS it has a bias towards STEM kids (not you, since you say concent in finance and ec systems, next time try air conditioning, not kidding). You got a 4.0 and are a varsity D-1 athlete, I’m impressed, isn’t that Rhodes Scholar material, THAT is a good way to get into B school, what district do you come from? If some underpopulated one in MidWest give it a try. “Co-founded a life-stock breeding operation” NOW that is a good one. If you got some story about using technology to make healthier and cheaper meat, etc. that is a great angle.
    You also got lots of other extras, which impress ME, but to adcoms are vanilla, but still impressive. How come. they are all well established orgs (Big Bro/Big Sister etc) and are not cool enuf for jaded adcoms, nor do they serve the right kind of poor people, Dude, giving it to you straight.
    Sooooooooooo, what we got is lots of real solid stuff (4.0, D-1 athlete, jobs, volunteer) but not STEM per se, but near STEM. Hmmmmm, assuming a 720+ GMAT, you got a chance at H/S/Y, altho my guess is Stanford will find you too vanilla. Working for MBB cuts two ways, it is an accomplishment to get that job, but, hey, why do schools need to pre-admit you, they already got you, MBB kids almost always apply down the road anyways. THat being said, 2+2 programs at HBS and Yale admit a bunch of MBB, sorta because they can and the kids are there.
    Yale seems not worth it on this profile, you WILL get into H/W/S etc. down the road, so why bother?

  • Will

    Hi Sandy,

    Would you evaluate my chances for 2+2, GSB deferred admission, and the Silver Scholars Program?

    -21 year old rising college senior white male from midwest
    -4.0 GPA from top Industrial Engineering program in ACC
    -Concentrating in Financial and Economic Systems
    -GMAT: haven’t taken yet and won’t until later in my career if I don’t like my chances for these early admission programs

    Extra-Curricular Activities:
    -D1 Varsity Student Athlete (25+ hours a week)
    -Part time job (during school year 6+ hours a week) in on campus Sorority kitchen
    -Big Brothers Big Sisters (5+ hours a week)
    -Membership Chair of Entrepreneurial Society

    Work Experience:
    -Internship lined up this summer at MBB firm
    -Assistant Director of an 8 week overnight boys camp; ran daily operations and managed 36 staff members and 80+ campers
    -Interned for a family-owned restaurant/event-venue group performing cost analysis and optimizing inventory ordering policies
    -Co-founded a life-stock breeding operation

    Continue to work for MBB firm after college, or perhaps do a start-up in the tech industry for an idea I’ve had for a while. At some point I want to get some exposure in the VC/PE industry (use MBA to move into that space). Eventually, want to take over family owned real-estate services/hospitality conglomerate leveraging consulting/PE experiences and MBA.

    Thanks for any advice you can give!


  • hbsguru

    Gallup is a brand name and household term. That is a huge help, even tho it is not, as you note, a typical feeder to B schools. If you have solid stats and can integrate your Gallup work with goals and make it sound impactful and quanty, you can present a solid app. in the same way kid you allude to who got into HBS did.
    The fact that company is ‘selective’ in some inside baseball way, with its own secret-sauce behavioral interviews, is way less important. I could be wrong, but Gallup is considered a solid job by elite adcoms but not a super selective one. It could be an interesting job, depending on what you make of it, and is a good place to apply from.

  • xt

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please help me assess my chances? Really appreciate it!

    Here comes my background:

    24 yr old Chinese female

    Undergraduate degree in Finance from a Top 2 university in China; GPA: ~3.5


    Work experience: 2 yrs of management consulting (non MBB); summer IBD analyst at a BB’s Chinese JV

    Extracurricular activities: board of a school club, where led and organized a mid-size competition across 10 universities; volunteered as a mentor of some impoverish students; co-organized company annual dinner(does it count?) => I think EA is my weak point…

    Career goal: not decided, thinking about MBB consulting or buy side
    Long-term: leadership in a corp/buy side in consumer/retail sector

    Target school: wharton/columbia/kellogg (although still want to know my chances to H/S)


  • Andrew

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate your advice on my application process. Let me tell you my stats.

    Demographic – 29 year old white male midwesterner.

    -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.
    -Speak very fluent Spanish, basic German

    -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 part time 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.

    A. Continue working w/Coke after school, working abroad
    B. Join Bain/Mckinsey/BCG, working abroad

    Target schools (open to suggestions if I’m to optimistic or too pessimistic)

  • Guest

    Sandy- I work for Gallup, Inc. We hire around .5% of applicants based off of a behavioral interview (we actually can quantify each applicant’s probability of success in a given roll). We do both Market Research (our world poll litterally polls 3/4 of the world’s opinion), and consult leading world orgs (private and public) with our data.

    How will this be viewed by an admissions committee? We sent someone to HBS from my department a few years back, but honestly people typically stick around here once they join, a lot of people don’t apply to FT bus schools. I just want to know what this would be viewed as in the application process because I don’t see anyone with this background on here.

  • Guest

    Sandy- I work for Gallup, Inc. We hire around .5% of applicants based off of a behavioral interview (we actually can quantify each applicant’s probability of success in a given roll). We do both Market Research (our world poll litterally polls 3/4 of the world’s opinion), and consult leading world orgs (private and public) with our data.

    How will this be viewed by an admissions committee? We sent someone to HBS from my department a few years back, but honestly people typically stick around here once they join, a lot of people don’t apply. I just want to know what this would be viewed as.

  • Jon

    Thanks Sandy. I’m graduating from a non-target next week, and since I couldn’t break into consulting (MBB or big 4), I took a gig at a large market research firm. Therefore, I defer to you on what b-schools look for or who are the largest players in the field. Again, great insight.

  • JohnAByrne

    What are your target business schools?

  • Edward


    Check out my profile and let me know what you think my chances are for a 2+2 or
    deferred admittance. I know I might be a little early, but I figured why not:

    Mr. DoItAll / Mr. Ambitious

    Quant-165 (91%) Verbal-158 (78%)

    3.33 Undergrad GPA at Cornell in Engineering (Graduate in May 2014)
    2 year MS at Stanford in Petroleum Engineering (Starting in Fall 2014)

    Undergrad Varsity athlete in major sport, Director of Project Team that Research-Design-Builds sustainable housing for local low-income families, Founder of a very successful engineering diversity event: Minority students town hall with the Dean, Undergraduate Excellence in Leadership Award and Diversity Commitment Award, Eboard position w/ National Society of Black Engineers. Started Finance club for student athletes with demanding schedules. Undergraduate research related to Oil/Gas, Philanthropy Chair for Fraternity

    Spent 1 summer in Ghana working at the country’s largest power company, Spent one summer with DOE at National Lab doing research related to Oil/Gas, I will spend the next 2 summers with (think Schlumberger/Haliburton/Baker Hughes). I will hopefully start a 2-3 year, potentially international, rotational program with (Haliburton/Schlumberger/Baker
    Hughes). Initially I will spend some time in the field and then later transition into the consulting services department. All of this is obviously contingent on my performance over the next two summers, but I’m really hoping it will work out.

    After getting an MBA, I want to work my way up the executive ladder at an Exxon/Shell type company. Eventually breaking off and starting my own global consulting firm that provides services related to my MS degree thesis in Oil/Gas field development and optimization with an emphasis on environmental responsibility. I think my logic and path might be a little unconventional because I’d rather start at a service company than one of the majors. I want the dirty field experience just as bad as the office experience. I think getting exposure to all levels of the industry (starting in the field with a service
    company/working in the consulting office of a service company/MBA/moving through different roles in an operating company) will give me a unique perspective where I’ll be able to provide a comprehensive and detailed service to clients. Getting an MBA would be the boost I need to get to all the places I want to go in the shortest time possible. Additionally, it would help give me the credibility and business sense required to eventually start my own company.

    Age after Masters Program: 24
    African-American Male

    Stanford, HBS, Wharton, UTexas (for its Oil/Gas connections)

    I will apply in fall 2015 for the 2+2 program at H&S and hope the other
    schools will allow a similar deferral.

    Should I consider UTexas more heavily based on my interest? What do you think my
    chances are at these schools? Should I take the GMAT? I was just going to use
    the GRE since I’ve already taken it. Can you recommend anything else to help my
    application be more solid? If given the chance to intern at a major should I just take it?

    Thanks for your time!

  • hbsguru

    Nielsen may stand alone in market research firms b.c. of its brand clout–as poster noted, N. kids have gotten into HBS, Wharton etc. Usually b schools look for selectivity of firm, e.g. basically the firm’s hiring office, say at McKinsey or Goldman, does a pretty good job at sorting out kids in much the same way B schools, and McK and GS put more time and money into it, per head, sooooo, that is issue 1. Of course, only 10-20 brand names are ‘selective’ e.g M/B/B, major IBs, the prestige tech comapnes (GOOG, Apple etc), Disney etc.
    Once you get past that, another plus is just working for big company, like GM, PG, etc. At some level equal to that, or maybe a tiny step down, are well known places, like Nielsen or ad firms (Olgivy) etc. which are both selective and classy. If you work for them, and it is part of your story, and you also do stuff that is quanty, well, that is good. Market Research in general has a mixed rep, as does Human Resources, it used to be where attractive/prep people wient who were not all that interested in publishing,etc. That has all changed, but if you are in market research, it really helps if youi work for a big brand, e.g
    Arbitron, Forrester, Gartner International Data Corporation J. D. Power

    etc. although I am no expert, so if your are an insider and have a different list, let’s hear it.

  • Jon

    John/Sandy: If you choose this profile, can you please write (or speak) a bit about the market research industry, and how b-schools view that work experience?

  • Lo

    Hi Sandy – I’ve found your column very insightful & would appreciate your thoughts on my profile! I’m planning on applying round 1 in Fall 2014.

    25 y/o female
    730 GMAT
    3.7 from Cal Poly SLO
    Major Business Administration, Accounting; Minor Mathematics

    Work & Experience:
    – Senior Accountant at a Big 4 accounting firm in the Silicon Valley (3 years)
    – Served as Coordinator of my college’s Orientation Programs in college (a 5,000+ person orientation and leadership program with 3 years of lower level positions, and 1 year as student coordinator leading the program).
    – Volunteered extensively while in college, though much less so since.

    Goal: To apply my financial accounting project leadership experience to management of early stage start-ups

  • 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 Non-Profit space. Ideally, I would like to integrate Technology (digital strategy and capabilities) into the way Non-Profit organizations operate.

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

    Thank you very much for your consideration.

  • AK

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve been following the column for a while now and love the insight. I’m going to be applying Round 1 2014 and would love some thoughts on the profile, if you have a chance.

    2011 grad from a top-30 uni (Tufts, UVA, Wake)
    GPA: 3.53 Psychology
    720 GMAT – (89%Q/81%V)
    Additional coursework – Calc II after graduation to make up for the C I got sophomore year.

    2 years Nielsen in the US, 8 months so far in China (total work exp should be close to 4 years by matriculation)
    2 promotions, including one fast track promotion to my current position, have unofficially managed people

    Extracurriculars include various coaching and mentoring gigs in Boston and spearheading a sports initiative in China now – my extras haven’t really had social impact on the less fortunate because most of what I’ve been doing has been targeted to university students, but has been very leadership-of-people, if that helps.
    Goals: MBB –> leader in the CPG space.
    24 year old Asian American male
    A few have applied from Nielsen and gotten in to Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg.
    Schools: Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck, Yale, Booth, MIT
    Thanks for taking the time!

  • Aj

    Left out:

    Long term goals: move into leadership at current pe firm (think sequoia, silver lake, etc).

    Also, do you think I should retake GMAT to get 750+? I took in senior year without much preparation, so I think I can raise it 30-40 points with studying.


  • aj

    Sandy, I would love you to “chance” me…haha. I’m thinking to apply in the next year or so, so I was hoping to gauge my chances.

    23 year old female
    720 GMAT
    3.8 from a top liberal arts school (think Amherst, Williams, Pomona)
    Double major in Econ/Philosophy (extensive math and poli sci coursework as well)

    2 years IB at BB in new york (think MS, GS, JP)
    About to start working for west coast pe firm focused on technology (yay sun!)

    Extracurriculars in College:
    4 years as muslim students group president
    4 years rowing club crew
    4 years on student senate
    Research assistant in poli sci department
    4 years working with Autistic children after school in the local area
    “Studied” abroad in impoverished south american country, very focused on community service
    4 years on Investment club board (helped write about each investment opportunity)

    Extracurriculars after College:
    Continued work with autistic children in local area (autism has been integral in my life since my brother was diagnosed 10 years ago)
    Heavy involvement in alumni association (running receptions for admitted students, alumni in the area, etc.)

    Schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Dartmouth, Kellogg, Booth


  • Daniel

    Sandy, please tell me what you think:

    GMAT 700 (49Q/36V)..considering a retake

    Academy Grad (2007)- 3.25/Systems Engineering
    -GPA steadily increased over time-under 2.5 first semester
    -Big Brother Big Sister and Special Olympics

    UTEP Masters (2011)-4.0/Leadership

    Career (Air Defense Officer):
    1st assignment:
    Lived in Germany for three years where I had a couple of different
    leadership positions (lead 35+ Soldiers for a year and second in command for 140+ Soldiers for a year)
    3rd year- Responsible for establishing the US’s joint missile defense program with Poland
    2nd assignment:
    Worked as an instructor at the University of Alabama ROTC for a year
    (compassionate reassignment-father was in the hospital for an extended period of time)
    Currently working in DC for 6 months where I have 40 employees, both military and civilian, working on my team.

    Why I’m applying with 8 years time in service- signed up for a Grad School option upon graduation from West Point that extends your commitment to 8 years. At the time I planned on staying in the Army, but my Dad’s illness shaped 2+ years of my Army career and honestly put me behind my peers in regards to key jobs for promotion (not planning on explaining this too much, but that’s the reason why I’m an older applicant)

    Post MBA: Aerospace and Defense consultant with Bain (dont think I actually want to do that, but given my background, I hope it allows me to tell an interesting story)

    Volunteer- Awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
    Travel- Been to 30 countries
    Fitness- Completed 110 mile bike race, etc.

    Target Schools: HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Fuqua

  • ArmyGuy

    Hi Sandy –

    – 710 GMAT (47V, 41V)
    – 3.8 GPA in Economics from U.S. Service Academy (West Point, Navy, Air Force), graduated top 5% of class
    – 5 years W.E. as an Army Officer leading teams of various sizes around the world (Europe, Afghanistan, US), received numerous commendations and two promotions during that time frame; built cohesive and highly effective teams out of diverse set of individuals
    – extra-curricular activities include Big Brother program through college and extensive volunteer work at church to include two year mission to Southeast Asia
    – interested in applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, and Haas
    – post-MBA goal is management consulting at MBB
    – married/father of 2