Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting Into A Great Business School

This time our MBA handicapping series goes after some provocative targets: HBSGuru.com founder Sandy Kreisberg tells a Stanford wanna-be with some powerful touch points  how she could write her all-important ‘What Matters Most’ essay. He also tells a woman with a 780 GMAT why Harvard Business School doesn’t overly care about her leadership profile. 

And then there are these fascinating profiles of prospective applicants who want to get into one of the world’s best business schools: 

After spending two years at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York, this 23-year-old female professional is heading to the West Coast to work for a private equity shop. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.8 grade point average from a top liberal arts college, she wants an MBA to help her eventually move into a leadership role at her PE firm.

He can boast one of the more unusual extracurricular activities: Dancing for 46 hours straight in a charity marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer.  This 25-year-old Penn State grad has worked for three years in finance and corporate strategy for a healthcare concern. He’s hoping an MBA will help him climb the corporate ladder more quickly.

He’s a 29-year-old midwesterner who now works at Coca-Cola in market research. After scoring a 650 on a GMAT practice test, he wants to get a graduate degree in business and use it to transition to job outside the U.S., either with his current employer or a top three global consulting firm.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sandy 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.

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.)

And if you just have a short question, he is happy to answer that, too. So just post it in the comment section below.

Sandy’s candid analysis:

 


dancer

Mr. Dance Marathon

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Penn State
  • Work experience includes three years in finance and corporate strategy for a healthcare/biotech company
  • Extracurricular involvement includes participating in a 46-hour dance marathon for pediatric cancer charity (no sitting and no sleeping; captain of the cross country team; volunteer for the national running club; leads employee running group
  • Goal: To return to current company or a similar role elsewhere in corporate strategy
  • 25-year-old male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 30% to 35%
Dartmouth: 40% to 50%
Virginia: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: What we got here is a lot of silver, a little bit of gold. I don’t think you are getting into Harvard Business School or Stanford. In God’s eyes, what we have here is a likable, athletic, marathon dancer, philanthropist, and all around nice guy. What we don’t have is anything super special. We don’t have enough prestige in either the GPA, or the GMAT, or the prestige company to get one into HBS or Stanford.

Saying that you want to return to the same company requires that is not a good idea. That is Executive MBA stuff, for people who work for mid-level, non-brand companies who just want to do better at their own firms. Harvard, Stanford and Wharton doesn’t want guys like that for their MBA programs. I would advise this guy to say that he likes the function, he likes what he is doing, and he wants to be an impactful and innovative leader in that industry. Then, he should Google the leading company in that industry and say he wants to lead that company.

At Wharton, it’s a numbers game and there are going to be athletic guys just like him with better numbers. For him, Dartmouth and Darden are gold. It’s not a long reach. He could get into Dartmouth and he sure seems himself. And this guy has UVA written all over him.

  • 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)

    Extracurriculars:
    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

  • InvestmentBanker

    Hi Sandy,

    I would love a profile assessment from you, and I would also appreciate a comment from you on what to write in the goals essays. My profile is as follows:

    26-year-old Indian male, 780 GMAT

    Work experience includes 1.5 years with a Big-3 consulting firm followed by 1.5 years in a PE firm based in India (at the time of applying in Sept 2015 ).

    8.5/10 GPA
    Undergraduate degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology

    Extracurricular involvement includes winning President gold medal for Best All rounder student (batch of 800); Best sportsman of the year award for all years in college. Under 19 sports champ, held national records at that time.

    Schools of interest: Stanford, Wharton,HBS and Booth.

    I am a little apprehensive about the goals essay. I absolutely love PE job at the moment and my eventual goal is to open my own fund after few more years of work experience after MBA. Is it too ambitious to write in the essay for someone who has just 2 years of work-ex in investing?

    Thank you so much for your time.

  • JuniJrr

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my post:
    – 330 GRE (168Q/162V)
    – 2.9 UGPA from Small liberal arts school in NC.
    – BA in Accounting
    – 3.6 Masters GPA
    – Masters in Aeronautical Science from Aeronautical University in Arizona
    – 7 years with a major US airline (think American, Delta, United)
    – Roles include Operations, Revenue Management, Internal Strategy (including as a Manager)
    – Began working as a Junior in college as a Baggage Handler before working my way up
    – Extracurricular include D-II Men’s Basketball Student-Athlete, Campus Activities Board President, Resident Assistant. Volunteered at Boys and Girls Club (NC and AZ), Big Brother, Big Sisters Association (NC), Habitat for Humanity (AZ)
    – Goal: Pursue a career in management consulting advising airlines around the world particularly in Africa on sustainability and competitiveness.
    – First Generation to go to college
    – 28 year old African (US Citizen)

    I am wondering my chances at:
    – Harvard
    – MIT
    – Stanford
    – Kellogg
    – Booth
    – Columbia

    Thanks again for your help

  • Cullen

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Please evaluate my profile:

    African-American

    Male

    Age: 26

    UGPA 2.9

    Undergraduate Major: Mechanical Engineering

    Institution: Texas A&M affiliate school

    Internships while in school: Design engineer for NASA and a
    quality engineer for a major airline

    Post Grad experience: 2 years

    Current Job: Tax Analyst – State Controller’s Office

    Career Goals: Work at a Top 20 Consulting firm specializing
    in federal and state tax

    Current GPA for business graduate pre-req classes: 3.2 Top
    50 Public University

    GMAT score: 680-720 (will take in two weeks)

    Needless to say, engineering was not for me. I made a career
    change to auditing and want to continue pursuing this field.

    What are my chances of getting into: Georgetown, Carnegie
    Mellon, University North Carolina and Yale?

    If my chances are slim to none as far as getting into these
    or similar schools, should I pursue a M.S. in accounting or finance and then
    reapply to these programs later?

    Thanks,

    Mr. Snowball’s Chance

  • Mr. World Traveler

    Hey Sandy,

    I would love your help weighing my chances at B-schools given my background. Here is what I am working with:

    -28-year old white male, from the West, married

    -700 on the GMAT

    -3.55 GPA in Liberal Arts major from BYU (minors in Business Management and Communications). Received Global Management Certificate from the Marriott School of Business (BYU) after meeting international business course requirements and participating in a business study abroad (visited London, Rome, Salzburg, Prague, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Beijing, and Bangkok). My education was a great mix of liberal arts and business with an international flavor.

    -2-year LDS mission in Hungary (Fluent in Hungarian, Basic Spanish)

    -Worked for 3 years at Stanley Black & Decker (fortune 500) in sales and marketing development program, managing multi-million dollar sales territories, (was promoted every year while with the company)

    -First in family to graduate from university

    Goals:
    Use my successful track record in sales and marketing as a foundation to transition to a leadership role in brand/product management in a Fortune 500 company or possibly a smaller marketing firm.

    Concerns:
    I’m not sure if MBA programs consider rotational programs as competitive/valuable work experience.

    Looking at:
    Stanford, Kellogg, BYU, Haas, Anderson, Fuqua

    I would love to hear your feedback. Thanks for your time!

  • YoungAmbition

    Means I start at law for 2 years, then a full year of MBA, then the last year is classes at both programs. So I’m class of 2018 for both law and business.

  • hbsguru

    thanks for the update, and good shooting. what exactly happened at Stanford, you got in to both MBA and JD programs? what does deferred mean in that context?

  • YoungAmbition

    Hey Sandy – my cycle finished up late in June (was wait listed and waiting places) and I thought I’d update you. Interview at HBS, but denied. Acceptance at Yale and deferred admittance to Stanford, which I have accepted. I think the law admission helped a lot, and the career goal is a unique one – ultimate goal is to work as a GM for a pro sports team. Turned down the JD/MBA at Yale in favor of doing it at Stanford in the end.

  • raj7desai

    Hey!

    You told me to post on your handicapping thread. So here goes…

    Profile: 24 y.o. Indian male. Did my Finance degree from one of the top colleges in India w/GPA of 3.3 GPA. GMAT : 740
    Worked with a major IT company in domains and hosting as Product Manager for a year and half. Post that for 2.5 years started and worked on 2 cos ( 1 tech based an d1 non-tech) which did just ok.
    Extra currics: College General Secratary. Active member of the Alumni Group. Started a not for profit to help make websites to solve ground level issues in mumbai. Featured in major dailies in India

    Really want to be at stanford/harvard/sloan/wharton.

    What should I focus on in my essays? Is there anything specific I should talk about?

  • mba2morrow

    Hello Sandy

    Thank you for the extremely insughtful posts that yiu put up. i would like to put up my profile here:

    Your qualifications: Chemical engineering degree from an a non-IIT top 20 engineering college in India,
    – academic performance : cgpa – 6.7/10 . class 12-86%, class 10-91%
    – GMAT score: quant/verbal break-up, 730 gmat – 50Q, 39V
    – Work-experience: Total work experience 3.5 years; worked as a research analyst for a year after college in the Strategy team of a smallish-company, worked for 2 years in one of the big 4 audit firms in the Risk advisory team which included internal audits, advisory to clients on process improvement etc, was a Legislative assistant of a Member of parliament fellow for 1 year where I worked in the ministry of information and broadcasting

    – Major achievements at work and/or outside –
    at work : work with diverse teams, on diverse engagements, worked on international client locations, was an achiever at work – got promoted in the fastest time possible.

    – decent sports extra cirriculars throughout

    – Career goals – want to get into consulting or into a tech VC after an MBA

    What are my chances of making it to the top bracket – H/S/W, booth,sloan,colombia, kellogg? should I look at other schools ONLY like duke, tuck,tepper NYU etc.

  • Mr. International

    Sandy,
    I am a huge fan of your articles and now that I have taken the GMAT I’m hoping to get your feed back on my profile.

    GMAT 700 (below 70% Q above 95% V)
    3.65 GPA from mid tier big ten school
    Undergrad Major: International Relations

    Work Experience: 3 years Automotive. Brand Management. Currently on expat assignment in China. Did internship and study abroad in Europe.

    Extra curricular: Volunteer for environmental clean up group in China. Founding member with friends of an investment club. Alumni association treasurer

    Intangibles: First generation American and first to attend college. Family fled eastern europe.
    25 year old white male

    Goal: Consulting or brand management at a top company.

    Target Schools: Northwestern, Michigan, Dartmouth, Notre Dame

  • Ha2207

    Would love you to weigh in on my chances of marketing-focused schools like Kellogg, Wharton, Harvard..etc.

    24 year old female
    690 GMAT (retaking and will likely get ~720)
    3.5 GPA from Barnard College (Poli Sci major)
    Current job: Community Manager at big name digital marketing agency in NYC

    Previous work experience (working sequentially backward):

    – 2.5 years as a litigation paralegal at highly respected international law firm
    – Am fluent in Spanish, and used language skills to spend a lot of hours working with pro bono clients. Received a pro bono award from the firm both years I was there
    – The last 6 months at the law firm I was also doing social media/strategy for a health food startup
    – Worked summers during college as a marketing associate at a small, no-name marketing venture in San Francisco
    – Also during college, I had various internships at a legal nonprofit, Universal Music marketing, and at a human rights memorial in Argentina (during study abroad)
    – Taught and designed debate and Business English courses in Korea for a summer during college as part of a fellowship program

    Major interests are health and nutrition. My vision would be to get involved in digital marketing and/or strategy for food or health products. Not sure if this last piece is relevant, but am thinking it might be part of my general story..

  • hbsguru

    The 2+2 ding does not mean anything –that program is lottery like and HBS itself is not sure what they are looking for –lots of amazing dings fr. 2+2 (and many later get in).
    Not sure a 760 GMAT vs. 730 would move the needle at HBS (assuming splits are OK). It might at Wharton and WILL at MIT and could at Stanford (secret GMAT suckers). Kids like you get in and dinged at HBS depending on execution, luck, recs, putting all this together, and NOT BLOWING INTERVIEW. But let’s leave interview out of it, for now. Just continue to do good work at consulting company, manage strong recs, and be happy.
    You seem like a natural consultant, I’d use that as goal (not super impt, and you cannot go wrong with consulting). Just don’t pick goal which does not have any seeds to your current resume. Goals don’t count all that much (if recognized and req MBA), but dumb goals can hurt you. [some general advice here for all readers, you seem to know this).

  • WannabeCentralBanker

    Dear Sandy,

    Thanks in advance for a critique of my profile:

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

    Best Regards

  • Erika

    Hi Sandy,

    These articles have been incredibly insightful! I would really appreciate it if you could review my profile:

    -730 GMAT (didn’t study much so will take again, aiming for 760+)
    -3.7 GPA
    -B.A. in Economics from The University of Chicago
    -Currently working at a management consulting firm (non MBB but Vault top 10)
    -Extracurricular involvement: Co-founded a non-profit recognized by UNESCO with campus chapters across the U.S.; Volunteers as a mentor and college admissions aid for low-income Asian students through a New York non-profit organization
    – Past internships in commercial real estate, hospitality, retail, and tech
    – Long-term goal: Continue in consulting or pursue real estate/finance
    – Female, Asian, currently 23, plan to apply in 2015

    – Dream school: HBS

    I applied to the Harvard 2+2 program during senior year but was rejected without an interview. I would love your advice on what areas to play up and how an improved GMAT score might affect my chances.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Sky

    The only reason I’m saying this is cause I went to Grad school at UT Austin – which is the go to place for Oil and Gas companies and I’ve seen several alumni from services companies go to top B schools and I’ve even seen the few from the Operators that do leave , end up at the top 5 schools

  • Sky

    Yeah. They’re not average. GMAT is atleast 10-15 points higher than the Median. GPA is towards the 75 %tile range.
    Plus not a lot of folks from Operators apply to B schools, given the low attrition rate at these companies.
    Also 2 Engineering degrees !! ( STEM score!!!!) . that is gold at Harvard and Wharton.
    Stanford might be the only iffy proposition, but I think you can crack it with good recs and essays

  • Mr. India-Ecuador

    Hi Sandy and John,
    I hope you can give me your assessment of my admission odds for the full-time MBA programs at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia.

    -23-year old Indian/Latin American male. Parents from India, born in Kenya, and raised in Ecuador.

    -Fluent in Spanish, English, Hindi, and Urdu. Intermediate proficiency in Portuguese, and basic knowledge in French.

    -680-720 GMAT (expected), given practice tests.

    -Undergrad: 3.8 GPA, Magna Cum Laude, Honors, from Bentley University. B.S. in Economics-Finance with a minor in Entrepreneurial studies.

    Experience:

    -2 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as an IB Analyst in their Latin America group in NYC.

    -Headed towards a position at a PE/VC firm focused on Latin America(think 3G Capital, or Advent).

    -Internship as an analyst at a boutique PE firm in Florida focused on real estate. (One HBS professor performed a case study on this firm, and another is on its board of directors.)

    -Continuous work with family company- logistics company in Ecuador where I have performed end-to-end analyses that resulted in yearly cost savings of $400k and brought new clients that resulted in yearly revenues increasing by $1.5M (these clients were also the company’s first Central American clients).

    -Sales associate at a mobile-payments, technology startup in the Boston area called Leaf.

    -Summer Internship at UBS Wealth Mgmt in NYC as a freshman.

    School involvement includes:
    -Analyst for the Emerging Markets sector at Bentley Investment Group ($750k long-only portfolio investing part of school’s endowment in stock market).
    -Vice President at the Bentley Consulting Group (club focused on helping students at a non-target school like Bentley penetrate the management consulting industry).
    -Honors Program (invites top 7% of entering class)
    -Beta Gamma Sigma (invites top 10% of students to join in almost 500 colleges nationwide)
    -Omicron Delta Epsilon (invites top 10% of economics majors worldwide)

    Long-term goals:
    I’m hoping that business school will help me acquire the knowledge, network, and credibility to start my own Private Equity/Venture Capital Firm in Latin America and grow it to unparalleled levels. I feel my experience at BofA-ML has given me the right deal experience and industry exposure for the Latin American region, and that I have the right connections and background to pursue this endeavor.

    This, to me, isn’t only a business opportunity but a chance to advance the region’s development with a social focus, by using the PE/VC model to invest in education, technology, and infrastructure, among others. As PE investment continues to climb in Latin America, I am eager to get started. Having grown up there, I see many opportunities that are yet to be seized, and I strongly identify with the culture. This would be the focus of my application.

    Questions:

    1. I have the option to get the Ecuadorean passport, but right now I only have the Indian. I have heard application processes discriminate in the sense that people with my Indian passport will be compared to other Indians, who typically will have higher GMAT scores and GPAS. What do you recommend?
    2. How much does it hurt my profile that I come from a school like Bentley? (Top 20 business school in Bloomberg Businessweek undergraduate b-schools, but not Ivy or near-Ivy school.

    Eagerly awaiting your response!

  • vardhu2388

    Hi Sandy,

    i checked out the youtube videos and i guess i have to post my profile here. well here it does.

    Profile:

    Age: 26
    sex: Male
    nationality: Indian
    Years of WE:3+ (non IT)
    GMAT: 710 (q47 ,v40)
    Undergrad percentage: 78% (distinction and within 5% of department)
    Major: (2007-2011)Undergrad degree in Mechanical Engineering (tier 3 school)

    Work ex:
    2 years full time ( 2011-2013) in a reputed South korean firm:Tageutec-india Pvt.Ltd

    Work profile:Technical and marketing support engineer for multiple branches across india
    -managed the tech and marketing activities for over 5 branches in 2 years.
    -managed productivity improvement projects for major customers like Hyundai,Toyota,L&T Ford etc
    -managed product campaigns across 15 cities in India.

    (2013-present day)

    Technical manager at my family business
    – manage a workforce of 30 members on the tool room section and have facilitated major changes within the organisation

    Start up: Co-founded a social enterprise in march-2014

    -i come from a small town in India. Being a artist myself i realised that we dont get a platform to showcase our talents due to lack of opportunities , we provide artists like us a platform to exhibit their talents and help them grow professionally within the art circle. so this is the nature of the startup
    -we organised a major event in our city in which 70 artists across the town participated and through the networking power of social media we managed to generate a foot fall of over 1500+ this helped the artists to gain a ground to network and market themselves.
    – on account of world environment day we managed to build a team of 40 volunteers to clean up our city bus stand and beautify in the best possible manner and v also planted over 200 tress across the city.

    extra curricular activities:
    -i am a professional pianist.
    – member of a rock band which for over 7 years
    – organised multiple concerts across our state
    -won multiple national level awards at battle of bands events
    – vice president of interact club ( a rotary international initiative). activities:participated and headed polio eradication drives, environment awareness camps etc

    MBA focus:
    technical Marketing( marketing of technology products to industries), non profit,entrepreneurship
    post MBA

    short term goal: broaden my skills in technical marketing and gain international exposure

    Long term goal:since our business is in need of technical marketing,i wish to head the business in sale and marketing and convert this company into a global brand.

    school targeted: HBS,Wharton, Kellogg, Kelley, Ross, Booth

    Also,i have a basic question in mind: i have got a gmat of 710. few of these schools which i wish to apply have an average of 720. Since i am from a over represented group of applicants does it hamper my chances of getting into these schools? and lets face it..any other Indian i meet has got a gmat of no less than 730!so i am a little worried!

    thanks! (my apologies for a lengthy mail)

  • Mike

    Thanks for your input, Sky. Just curious as to which parts of my background would actually stand out to the adcom. GPA and GMAT are really just average for the schools I am looking at.

  • Sky

    You’ll get into any school you want.

  • Sky

    I’m no expert but with a GMAT that high and GPA pretty low for a non-competitive major ( I know you’ll argue this but hear me out). MIT is a sure shot for you. Columbia will eat you alive but not blink at the GPA. They are notorious for this. I’ve been to several admissions events and its a pain how annoying they are. At one event one of the professors even said look a GPA tells us you didn’t really study in college and you’re probably not gonna study now.

  • Sky

    Thank you for the insights Sandy.

  • YoungAmbition

    Thanks, will do.

  • hbsguru

    hmmm, if you already have admits to HSY law school, well, that is something to fall back on, and you may not need an MBA, Stats and exper. are solid, issue will be lack of work ex., and not super duper extras (from Stanford do-gooder POV). Given 2+2 programs, H and S are taking less kids with no work exp. so that might be another issue. Also, what do you want to do? Kind of a one-off analytically, so not sure what will happen, would not surprise me if B school results were not as positive as Law Schooo. By the, way, if you got into Yale law school, just go. You can kind of write your own ticket coming out of there, altho it is 3 years, and it is LAW SCHOOL.
    Check back and let me know what happens.

  • YoungAmbition

    Here’s a profile I think it would be interesting to see Sandy’s opinion on:

    -22 year old male
    -No post-college work experience
    -3.98 GPA @ large state school in south/midwest, degrees in Religious Studies and Accounting
    -Law school acceptance at H/Y/S/C/C
    -Joint degree applicant (JD/MBA, of course) -> to HBS, S GSB, Booth, Columbia, Sloan, Yale SOM
    -730 GMAT
    -Undergrad work of one year running business analytics for corporate relations of university
    -1 year with a startup tech company and 6 months consulting for a different software-based startup
    -Very strong leadership extra currics during undergrad – led the leadership program for top 4% of business college, led college ambassador program, competed (and won) in numerous business presentation competitions across the nation.

  • The Engineer

    Hi Sandy, thanks for all of your time and explanations! If you could
    please review my profile, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m looking to
    apply to top 10 schools: Harvard, Sloan, Columbia, London, Stanford
    (maybe Stern since it’s next door)

    – 3.76 GPA
    – BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology
    – 4 Engineering Internships (13 months of experience) with Tesla, SpaceX, iRobot, and a research lab at school
    – President of an intercollegiate athletic club
    – Did countless hours of tutoring for minorities at school

    – 690 GMAT 48Q/36V (Retaking in a month and can hopefully achieve a 710+)

    – 1.5 years work experience by the time I enroll as a middle office analyst at Goldman Sachs Asset Management

    – Outside interests include alpine ski racing, mountain biking, some introductory ballroom dancing, and working on motorcycles

    – 23 year old white male

    – Short term goals: Move into Mergers & Acquisitions consulting in Investment Banking
    – Long term goals: Executive leadership/strategy role at a large tech/engineering company


    Background: wasn’t overly thrilled with my internships and realized
    engineering was not what I wanted to do in the last 1.5 years of
    college. I recognized that what I truly wanted to do shape the future of
    these tech companies, not work for them as an engineer. I decided to
    finish my engineering degree but transition into finance afterwards. I
    needed to find a role where I could start from scratch and learn about
    the industry. Hence why I’m not in investment banking already (I also
    didn’t get the interview).

    – Interesting tidbit (not sure if this
    will help me at all, but it makes for good conversation in interviews):
    my parents came to the U.S. as political refugees from central Europe
    back in the days of the Soviet Union. However, both were awarded
    undergraduate degrees, so I am not the first in my family. I stay in
    touch with my heritage; I am bilingual, a dual-citizen, and I frequently
    visit my family in Europe.

    Thank you!

  • SilverplatednotGold

    You mad bro?

  • hbsguru

    you seem on track for Fuq. The issue will be a lot about what they think of your current company, as always, best guide to that is where kids fr. your current company have applied + outcomes, over past 3-5 years, if others fr. your company got it, you should be in the running, given solid stats and well rounded extras.

  • JKK103

    Thanks for doing this Sandy! Just curious about my chances at the 3 programs below given my stats…

    GPA: 3.82 from non-target state school (think SEC)
    GMAT: 710
    WE: 3 years total: year 1 was as top performer in Big Four audit, years 2-3 were in strategy consulting in Tier 2/3 management consulting firm
    Extras: CPA, currently involved in several community organizations (in leadership role at one of them), president of a national honor society in college, member of several others.

    Target schools: Fuqua, Darden, Ross (Fuqua is number one choice).

    Thanks!

  • William

    1000 Thanks for the reply! Haha it’s defiantly a known REIT and not a group of swamp land sellers. That was a hilarious point. I will defiantly clean up my goals and job description as I start to write apps. I’m admittedly at the very early stages of crafting my goals and such. I’m hoping that the level of work i’m able to do at a company without much name recognition (still a billion $ REIT), will equate to, or overcome the typical entry level work at a more well known brand.

    I sincerely appreciate your time to respond, thank you.

  • Whoops

    Was my post really snarky?

    Looks like I might need some serious help with my apps!

  • Mr. Pilot

    Thanks to both of you, and good luck jimismash!

  • hbsguru

    I dont fully understand your job or company, but so long as it is more prestige REIT and not a portfolio of shady dealers and swamp land sellers, a 3.5/720 should be a good platform to apply to schools sorta 4-10 USNEWS. MIT adcom is “nerdy-sanctimonious,” a real complex, and they might not fully cotton to your loosey-goosey goals and possibly shady employer–just saying, clean all that up as much as possible.

  • hbsguru

    was going to say what guy directly me just said: contact Armed Forces clubs at each school, those folks are pretty responsive to fellow vets.

  • hbsguru

    try resending. And read over first to be sure original email was not as snarky as this post 🙂

  • jimismash

    Mr. Pilot,

    you can track down the information for the veterans’ groups at each of the schools. So far I have received great response from everyone I have contacted (I’ve talked to a couple in the top 5 and a couple others a little further down). They have given me a great idea of where I fit in, and, like most veterans, they love talking to other veterans.

  • Menace Senace

    Hi Sandy, Curious to know my odds at Booth/Kellog/Darden/Tepper/Tuck

    -New product development. Part of 2 complete ground up product development cycles in a fortune 500 company. Strong experience in converting crazy marketing ideas into real products!

    Indian Male 29
    MS Electrical Engineering – Medium ranked school in houston
    BE from Mumbai University – Top 15% of class

    GMAT 690, Graduate GPA 3.43

    3 years work ex at the above company. Strong focus on developing architecture for future products.

    Involved in developing a change in the business. Awarded by the CEO for efforts. Multiple patents filed.

    Short term Goal – Work at an elite consulting company with a focus on strategy development to gather work experience

    Long term goal – Switch to a marketing/leadership role in a consumer technologies company

  • Query

    Hi Sandy,

    Just wondering if you still check your gmail inbox – mailed you a while back, and am hoping you’re just busy rather than having given up the consulting game!

  • Mr. Pilot

    Thanks, Sandy. In regards to looking at some of the schools mentioned (Wharton, HBS, etc.) I think it’s difficult to gauge what the military cohort stats look like as the class profiles aren’t that specific. Also, these schools **seem** to put emphasis on community involvement, volunteering, etc. This is the area of my application that I would be most concerned with.

  • William

    Howdy
    Sandy,

    Would very much appreciate some tough love on my potential
    application in R1 2014

    I’ve slowly realized after reading every single one of your
    handicapping articles that my chances at H/W/S are slim to none. I would love
    to be able to get into a top 10 school, in particular MIT or another with a
    strong entrepreneurial presence.

    – 25 yr. old white male (boring, I know)

    -720 GMAT (Strongly considering retaking)

    -Duel degree, Finance and Real Estate from Top 50 B school

    -3.5 GPA

    – Currently work co-heading acquisitions and dispositions
    for publically traded REIT. “Right hand” to principal and majority owner of the
    company. On top of work for the REIT I am directly involved in many outside
    investments with the owner, mostly consisting on sports related ventures.

    – Recommendations would be very strong

    – Extracurricular Activities: “Big Brother” for Big Brothers
    Big Sisters. VP of largest business organization on campus.

    -Long term goal- To start my own real estate investment
    firm, and eventually be able to take it public. (Similar to what my principal did,
    who is my inspiration, and main encourager for getting my MBA)

  • hbsguru

    ps: brand new Wharton essay question, sure sounds like your extra currics and leadership ARE SO IMPORTANT TO THEIR PROCESS:

    This year we require one essay with a second being optional. For the second optional essay, we recommend that you to use your best judgment and focus your energy on highlighting new information that we are unable to ascertain from other sections of the application.

    Required

    What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

  • hbsguru

    I giggle. That story is fill just to spill some ink for the authors. Also, once you decide to go through the elements of the application, piece by piece, and pixel by pixel, and churn out pretty useless features about each, well, by the time you are done, you might think the font on your resme is often the decider.
    RESUME FONTS–10 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW,
    –we put your application in bold and italics.
    Truth be told at elite schools, some extra currics can be damaging, e.g. president of the Future Business Club or anything like it, especially if you jaw on about great it was to have all those business majors in one room.
    The only extras the really count at H and S are orgs which have an impact beyond yourself, e.g. those that help victims and poor people.
    And even then, those don’t count much unless you can either demonstrate something with real impact or tease out what you learned about you from the experience (classic Stanford self-insight tool). See the model Stanford essay I have posted in this very version of My Odds, under Ms Stanford Essay Writer.

  • hbsguru

    extra currics are not going to move the needle for you–your problem is low GPA, an issue WAY MORE IMPT TO B schools than leading some idiot club or mentoring a poor kid. Given lowish GPA and your solid work experience in an arguably hot area (big data, altho many are already bored) my suggestion is GET THE BEST GMAT YOU CAN.

    Here is fun fact out my collection of SMALL DATA:
    .ANYONE can be a leader, only 15 percent of the people can have a

    GMAT score in the top 15th percentile.

    Get it. Also leadership is in the eye of the beholder, GMAT scores are black and white, literally (well, off gray and white). .

  • Something2Consider

    Hi @hbsguru:disqus

    Hoping to get your opinion on my chances at Top 10 Bschools w/ an emphasis on the Top 5

    -650 GMAT (will retake and I’m also considering taking the GRE)
    -BS in Business Admin from small liberal arts w/ minor in Environmental Science (3.2 GPA)
    -MS in Information Mgmt from Ivy League (3.5 GPA)
    -5yrs at Top 3 Bank- started as an analyst and left as an associate
    -2yrs at Top 5 Consulting firm- started as a consultant and will leave an associate
    -Extracurricular- served leadership positions (3) for local and national service orgs
    -Short term goals are to acquire more tech strategy experience either with a MBB firm or strong tech firm (Google, FB, Amazon). Long term goals are to start my own startup and become a prominent player in the tech space (still fleshing out some ideas now)
    -1st generation college graduate, 29 African-American male (from mid-west inner city)

  • Ramalo

    Hi Sandy

    Really appreciate what you’re doing here. Its extremely beneficial to read about admission issues from someone as knowledgeable as you. I was wondering if you could judge my odds at INSEAD, KELLOGG, BOOTH, IMD and DARDEN.

    – 27 y/o Indian male

    -Graduated with a bachelors in accounting and finance from a UK Business school with an upper 2.1 degree (topped my degree in first year) My final year score messed my overall grade (had to take 2 months off because of dads ill health)

    -710 (Q 81, V 88) ….think I can improve this by 20-30 points

    -working in the business development division at a firm based out of new delhi that has interests across hydropower, education and textile. Worked across all these sectors. Currently leading a team responsible for implementing the expansion/diversification of the education vertical (the idea was my brainchild). Youngest at the firm in a senior managerial role. Have interesting leadership experience to share through my essays

    -couldn’t get international work ex post graduation because of my fathers demise (3 weeks after final term ended). He had blood cancer….had to move back to India to take care of family affairs. Darkest period of my life.

    -want to work for a top tier consulting (MMB) firm in new geographies (outside India) and new sectors

    -volunteer with one of the most prestigious environmental NGOs in India

    -have organized blood donation camps as its a cause near my heart.

    -redrafted and implemented the new corporate social responsibility charter at my current firm, with emphasis on providing sanitation facilities to the poor and improving female financial literacy

    Thanks

  • P&C guy

    Hi Sandy,

    Big fan of your feature here and have also been following you on a couple of other forums for some years now. I’m planning to finally take the plunge and would like to know my chances at the following schools: Booth, Kellogg, Wharton, Harvard, Stanford. Plan to apply to 4 of these schools; only one of H or S.

    – 26 year old Indian male working in the US for the last ~2 years, applying R1 2014
    – 750 GMAT
    – GPA 7.0/9 (top 10%): 2 year PgDip in Management from one of the top 3 Indian Institutes in Management
    – GPA 8.3/10 (top 20%): Bachelors in Computer Science from BITS (India)

    – Current job: Strategy Analyst at a Swiss multinational P&C insurer in the Chicago area (coming on 2 years, will be 3 at matriculation). Project work for a few months each in Switzerland and D.C.

    – Previous jobs: 1 year as a software programmer in India for Oracle R&D and before that a few months at a mobile software startup (both in the 1y between my bachelors and masters degrees)

    – Summer internship during my masters in equity research for an Australian investment bank in Mumbai

    – ECs: quite weak frankly, have begun pro-bono consulting for a big name NGO for the last couple of months

    – Goal: Management consulting at MBB immediately post MBA; wish to work in Financial Services and Healthcare; eventually move to one of the two after a few years

    Thanks!

  • Sky

    Sandy,
    Is this specific to Harvard alone or do the other top 10 schools also follow this path.
    Reason I’m asking is I have pretty significant work ex in silicon valley in big data analytics. I am slam bam in the middle of all the big data work(for a start up wing of an Indian IT company) being done nowdays. I don’t have anything super special. Im Indian . Ive gotten a MS and BS from top 5 schools in the United States, but my GPA is low(between 3 and 3.4).

    I don’t have significant extra curriculars on paper. In person I have all the right communication skills that the schools are actually trying to get to through this haze of saving africa etc and I was wondering if I should apply this year or wait another year and apply with some extracurriculars on my resume

  • hbsguru

    I guess real HBS students are not beautiful enough: fr. story in NY TIMES (June 1) about HBS’ move into MOOCs:

    “Professor Christensen did something “truly disruptive” in 2011, when he found
    himself in a room with a panoramic view of Boston Harbor. About to begin
    his lecture, he noticed something about the students before him. They
    were beautiful, he later recalled. Really beautiful.

    “Oh, we’re not students,” one of them explained. “We’re models.”

    They
    were there to look as if they were learning: to appear slightly puzzled
    when Professor Christensen introduced a complex concept, to nod when he
    clarified it, or to look fascinated if he grew a tad boring. The
    cameras in the classroom — actually, a rented space downtown — would
    capture it all for the real audience: roughly 130,000 business students
    at the University of Phoenix, which hired Professor Christensen to
    deliver lectures online.”

  • hbsguru

    quickie reply: Wharton maybe w. serviceable execution–they will go for the stats alone and rest is ok.
    HBS–reach–nothing driving you in, might depend on what they think of your current company.
    Stan: not seeing this–they will take guys like you w. more prestige tech backgrounds .

    – Career goals are to work in digital media, rising above the endless PR
    spin cycle by keeping business rooted in logical, results-oriented
    thinking.
    WTF DOES THAT MEAN, SERIOUSLY–consultant, operations, etc.
    you really need to present something clear and comfy to them. Also it is rarely a good goal plan to reform an industry– e.g. I am going to straighten out this whole confused industry which is stuck in “PR spin cycle” etc. That just makes you sound young and untrustworthy.

  • hbsguru

    dunno, you seem real solid at those schools, given background and stats. The question is do you want to apply to Wharton, HBS, MIT, Columbia with this record, which is totally soid and well rounded. I’d apply to one or two of those schools–you seem more of less in line w. military cohort at those places.
    For the schools you list it is ‘just’ a matter of serviceable execution and convincing them you want to come.

  • Mr. Pilot

    Sandy,

    Thanks in advance for a critique of my profile:

    30 y/o white male
    GPA: 3.52 in Civil Engineering from an ACC School
    GRE: 163Q/162V
    GMAT: 710
    WE: 7+ years as an Army Officer / Helicopter Pilot – Multiple combat deployments and experience / responsibilities commensurate with my rank (Captain)
    Goal: Work in defense consulting (Think Booz-Allen, etc.) or defense related technology (Lockheed, Bell, United Technology, etc.)
    Target Schools: Darden, Tuck, Fuqua, UNC, Vanderbilt, Georgetown

  • Dig Media

    Hi Sandy. I’d be very interested to hear your take on my odds at Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Sloan

    – 26 y/o male
    – 760 GMAT
    – 3.7 GPA in liberal arts from a “public Ivy”
    – 2 years mgmt consulting at a 2nd tier firm (e.g. Oliver Wyman, Deloitte, Booz)
    – Currently working in business advisory group at a successful B2B tech/media start-up
    – Extracurriculars are somewhat weak. Very little during college, but am now heading up marketing for an online tutoring charity
    – Career goals are to work in digital media, rising above the endless PR spin cycle by keeping business rooted in logical, results-oriented thinking.

    Thanks in advance!

  • hbsguru

    How Stanford passed Harvard as to become the top ranked university in the US.
    Front page story in New York Times today says Stanford has replaced Harvard as the ‘smart sets’ school of choice for college. Reason (greatly simplified), tech now trumps stale liberal arts BS as something which excites people–both students and employers.

    And you should care because???

    Because it confirms in a different dimension what I have been saying about the decline of “Leadership” (viz. liberal arts BS and old school fuddy-duddiness) and the rise of technocrats who hire mommy leaders to take care of business while the hard work of killing the competiton, inventing new products, and buying companies with borrowed money is done by asocial nerds.

  • hbsguru

    man, you should get into Wharton with just serviceable execution on those stats.
    What is track record at your firm of placements to US B schools.
    That is best benchmark.
    At HBS, kids like you get in and dinged depending on execution, recs, not screwing up the interview and luck, but you are in the running. Will depend a bit on what they think of your firm and how you present.
    Stanford could be tuffer unless firm has book door there–you don’t seem their type, they are not interested per se in creating competition for KKR, not they protect KKR, just not an idea that super appeals to them, and more imptly, not an outlook that appeals to them, e.g. that is all you think about doing with your precious life. Dont get me wrong, great idea to me, it just does not have gravity on Planet Stanford Adcom, a very special place with its own rules. All that said, they will admit you if they need India/Aussies, your firm has connections, they somehow otherwise like you. Just guessing you aint getting in on facts presented. Feel free to write back with your Stanford beenie and say, HA HA YOU ARE A JERK, I AM IN.

  • Kangaroo

    Sandy, I’ve posted a couple of times in the Poet & Quants forums – but hoping to get a response from you i.e. with tough love (rather than sugar coated stuff).

    Am targetting H/S/W – and would like to know my chances in this new world order of fewer essays and greater focus on stats etc.

    Background: Australian (naturalised citizen) Ethnicity: Indian; Age 28 (will be 29 at matriculation)

    Academics: 760 GMAT, strong GPA (top 5%) of Bachelor Commerce / Bachelor of Laws at leading Australian University – included a bunch of major academic prizes

    Work: Since 2013: Vice President, Private Equity at one of Australia’s largest/most respected institutional investors (FUM >US$50bn, am the youngest VP level person across our 4 global offices). In this role – am leading transaction workstreams and am on the Board of a few portfolio companies.
    * Before this: was doing inv banking for 4 years at Australia’s #1 IB franchise (surprisingly: not GS)

    Extra curric: Started Entrepreneurs Society at university: co-led it for 2 years; have been on Board of a major US charity’s Australia office since 2012 – helped lead a major community initiative last year, continuing to do stuff this year. Also taught at an NGO school in India – leading a class of 30 kids for 2 months (in late 2012)

    Goal: To use the scholarship my current employer is willing to provide to attend a top MBA program and come back with a view to help leading our US expansion efforts – i.e. doing US PE deals (medium term) and eventually to become senior management/global CEO of my firm in 10-15 years (at which point it should be of sufficient scale & sophistication to genuinely compete with more established buyout houses such as KKR, Blackstone, etc)

    Recommenders: I report directly to a Harvard MBA alumnus – he’d happily recommend me. No other MBA’s in my current or old team (in inv banking) though.

    Am not sure what my ‘persevering through adversity’ style story is for Stanford – but suspect it will be something along the lines of the fact my parents battled extreme odds to move out of rural India – and the fact that I shouldn’t waste the opportunity they’ve given me to make the most of myself by having the most meaningful (positive) impact possible on the world on a global scale.

  • Mr. India-Ecuador

    Hi Sandy and John,
    I hope you can give me your assessment of my admission odds for the full-time MBA programs at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia.

    -23-year old Indian/Latin American male. Parents from India, born in Kenya, and raised in Ecuador.

    -Fluent in Spanish, English, Hindi, and Urdu. Intermediate proficiency in Portuguese, and basic knowledge in French.

    -680-720 GMAT (expected), given practice tests.

    -Undergrad: 3.8 GPA, Magna Cum Laude, Honors, from Bentley University. B.S. in Economics-Finance with a minor in Entrepreneurial studies.

    Experience:

    -2 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as an IB Analyst in their Latin America group in NYC.

    -Headed towards a position at a PE/VC firm focused on Latin America(think 3G Capital, or Advent).

    -Internship as an analyst at a boutique PE firm in Florida focused on real estate. (One HBS professor performed a case study on this firm, and another is on its board of directors.)

    -Continuous work with family company- logistics company in Ecuador where I have performed end-to-end analyses that resulted in yearly cost savings of $400k and brought new clients that resulted in yearly revenues increasing by $1.5M (these clients were also the company’s first Central American clients).

    -Sales associate at a mobile-payments, technology startup in the Boston area called Leaf.

    -Summer Internship at UBS Wealth Mgmt in NYC as a freshman.

    School involvement includes:
    -Analyst for the Emerging Markets sector at Bentley Investment Group ($750k long-only portfolio investing part of school’s endowment in stock market).
    -Vice President at the Bentley Consulting Group (club focused on helping students at a non-target school like Bentley penetrate the management consulting industry).
    -Honors Program (invites top 7% of entering class)
    -Beta Gamma Sigma (invites top 10% of students to join in almost 500 colleges nationwide)
    -Omicron Delta Epsilon (invites top 10% of economics majors worldwide)

    Long-term goals:
    I’m hoping that business school will help me acquire the knowledge, network, and credibility to start my own Private Equity/Venture Capital Firm in Latin America and grow it to unparalleled levels. I feel my experience at BofA-ML has given me the right deal experience and industry exposure for the Latin American region, and that I have the right connections and background to pursue this endeavor.

    This, to me, isn’t only a business opportunity but a chance to advance the region’s development with a social focus, by using the PE/VC model to invest in education, technology, and infrastructure, among others. As PE investment continues to climb in Latin America, I am eager to get started. Having grown up there, I see many opportunities that are yet to be seized, and I strongly identify with the culture. This would be the focus of my application.

    Questions:

    1. I have the option to get the Ecuadorean passport, but right now I only have the Indian. I have heard application processes discriminate in the sense that people with my Indian passport will be compared to other Indians, who typically will have higher GMAT scores and GPAS. What do you recommend?
    2. How much does it hurt my profile that I come from a school like Bentley? (Top 20 business school in Bloomberg Businessweek undergraduate b-schools, but not Ivy or near-Ivy school.

    Eagerly awaiting your response!

  • hbsguru

    The mom types are the backbone of B schools, as you note. My point is only that admissions is now stressing stats vs. ‘leadership’ stories in sorting out the moms, by dint of 1. rising stats; 2. fewer essays asking for leadership stories, 3. simplified recos which also don’t feature leadership 4 adcom’s sense that you never really know who will be a great mom, so why not just admit vanilla kids based on stats, and Allah will sort out the rest.
    B schools face a mega problem, sorta, in that the doors to success in Business type environments (from start-ups, finance, consulting etc) are becoming more varied, less controlled by major players, etc. Disrupted if you will. How this plays out is above my pay grade and hard to predict–e.g. what will an HBS class look like in 10-20 years. I got a feeling it will be older, more non-profit/govt/NGO focused, and yes, full of mom types, both as we have been using the term, and even as the world understands it: a woman who has given birth to a child.
    It would be an interesting question to count how many courses at HBS and other ‘general management’ b schools are focused on leadership vs. 3, 5, 10 years ago. My guess is, the profs are just running in place and recasting the old BS as “leadership for start-ups.” One giggles at what that actually means if were based on a survey of 300 actual leaders of start-ups versus the same old, same old dressed in hip clothes.

  • B

    Great analysis, Sandy. Thanks for the explanation.
    But aren’t the “mom types” the actual bread & butter of b-schools by virtue of the design of their programs? It is my impression that “the disruptors” are less keen on doing an MBA, and those who do it are a minority of the class (e.g. PE types and such are a small fraction of admits). And you have also mentioned that schools don’t know what to do with entrepreneurs.
    Does this change in admissions mean that there is a significant shift in who schools are looking for, and where do you see that trend going?

  • Mechanical Engineer to MBA

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love to get your take on my profile:

    Background:
    – 26-year-old white male

    Academic: 
    – 750 GMAT (Q50/V41)
    – BS in mechanical engineering from top non-Ivy (Duke/Johns Hopkins/Northwestern), 3.6 GPA
    – MS in mechanical engineering from same school, 3.7 GPA

    Work:
    – 4 years working as a mechanical engineer at a midsize ($50-75M revenue, 50-75 employees) electronics company
    – My role has exposed me to all aspects of the company: I’ve worked within the R&D group and production engineering (manufacturing), and hand-in-hand with business development & software teams for demos, marketing, procurement…there are very few areas of the company that I have not worked closely with
    – One of only two or three mechanical engineers in the company, so I’m directly responsible for much of what we produce

    Extracurricular:
    – Leadership role within engineering honor society during undergrad
    – Volunteer at children’s hospital
    – Leadership role for city-wide fundraising effort connected to children’s hospital
    – Founded tech/real estate startup, on back burner for now due to full-time work responsibilities of all founders
    – Other interests: have played guitar for 10+ years and play local shows in a band a few times a month; weightlift in the gym 5+ hours a week; hoping to complete first triathlon this summer; active Dance Marathon participant

    Short-term goal:
    – Transition to strategy consulting at MBB to get more experience in the business realm

    Long-term goal:
    – Transition from strategy consulting to product management at a tech company (Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.)

    Why MBA:
    – Manager that hired me to my current position has an MBA from top school and inspired me to follow his path, to some extent
    – Very interested in transitioning from small-picture to big-picture role
    – Limited ability to progress further in my current position

    Target schools:
    – HBS
    – Kellogg MMM
    – Booth
    – Sloan
    – Wharton
    – Stanford (though I think this is a long-shot, with no gold-plated anything)

    Thanks!

  • Ben

    I am not sure if you are being sarcastic about the two buck chuck, but from my experiences up the East Coast, it still refers to the cheap wine.

    WoodPlated is “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

  • Mr. Coca-Cola

    Hi Sandy, thank you for your evaluation. This helps me a great deal with my application strategy.

  • hbsguru

    haha, maybe, and not fully important to my main point, which is that “leadership”–esp traditional leadership qua late 20th century– as a topic is being downplayed by B school adcoms, since they no longer ask about it, or give you much room to talk about it, versus the HBS applications in the recent past. Nor do they care as much as they used to about your ‘extra’ currics, which is how we got into this in the first place. I was advising a woman poster that a 780 GMAT was LOTS more powerful in an application than leading some club, etc. etc.
    My point being–applicants tend to think leadership is more important than adcoms, altho sure, the idea and values behind leadership have not evaporated, this is a case where the adcoms have moved on a bit, and the people reading this thread have not been told

    the new order of value. How does this affect you: as noted below, an essay at H or S where you discuss your 3 leadership accomplishments at X org, will be less valued than one where you talk about 3 leadership faiures and relate those failures to your upbringing, race, gender, outlook, etc. That is basically what Bolton is telling you to do in his cryptic instructions.

  • hbsguru

    PS–
    “The CEO of GM is now a woman who does not look too happy in pics and it
    is hard to blame her, her duties seem to be begging the govmnt for
    hand-outs (in various forms) and deeply apologizing to the families of
    victims who were killed by her faulty products. Anybody seriously want
    that job? Anyone think those chores will be temporary and soon she will
    be breaking new paths for the Pontiac Division?”
    THAT IS WHAT I WROTE AS THE CONCLUSION OF MY ORIGINAL NOTE: as an offer of proof of the feminization of leadership in old school companies. If you think that is “sexist” and not respectful and insightful (or intended to be), well, maybe it IS time for a drink, even tho is 9.30 am.

  • hbsguru

    ha ha, happy to help you out here. I enjoy getting tipsy and I enjoy writing for PQ but they are not two pleasures that mix well. (How did you know about the two-buck Chuck,*** tho? that is my drink of choice.)
    Dunno man, call it sexist if you want, I thought I was making the point that the HBS leadership model is a creature of the good old days when men were men and woman stayed home, e.g. when Mr. Sloan ran GM, etc. That model, based on top-down, large industrial organizations, has been replaced as the vision of choice in cool kid academic circles (and also adcom circles, if not reality) by the GOOG, Apple, and start-up app company model, where leaders are not top-down, stuff gets done in skunk works, and emerges. What the titular leaders of those companies do is what used to be the “feminine” side of leading: emotional support, company cosmetics, house cleaning (e.g. filing SEC docs) or cert. overseeing those funcitons. If you think that is sexist as stated, well, who cares, it is, I believe, an important point, and put in any language you want that you can swallow. I’m actually interested in what people think of this as an idea, to wit, is it true? Soooooo, feel free to say what you want, but I’d like to hear what people think of this as an idea.

    ******two buck Chuck –is that a local term in the 02138 area, or is that understood anyplace Trader Joe’s operates.

  • WoodPlated

    Sandy, I am unclear. Please elaborate more.

    I need more sexist ranting about ‘girly-girl stuff,’ ‘leader moms,’ and the skinny nerds that hate it. Oh and please continue to drink white wine while typing these insane comments. Tipsy Sandy is the best Sandy.

  • SilverplatednotGold

    “Leadership, both in business school and in reality, has become “women’s work.” The swaggering dicks and dickheads like Steve Jobs et al found the companies and then hire the girlie-girls (of any gender) to “run” them, which means they make sure no one’s feelings get hurt.”

    These are the ramblings of a crazy person

  • hbsguru

    🙂

  • RealAssetsFTW

    -26 year old caucasian male

    – 730 GMAT (75% + Quant) (Currently studying to retake with a goal
    of 750+)

    – 3.6 GPA from directional state school (3.7 GPA in final 2 years) with
    degrees in Statistics, Real Estate and Finance

    – Work Exp: 40 mos. at application and closer to 50 by matriculation. Employed by
    a mid-sized real estate consulting firm with history of several promotions
    from analyst to VP equivalent. Primary responsibility was in managing a
    handful of contracts with large, name brand clients in the real estate
    industry. Gained experience with U.S. assets worth up to $1.5B and funds worth
    up to $20B. A few F/T direct reports and part-time interns. Have also led
    several initiatives internally outside the day-to-day which have had great
    impact.

    – Volunteer: Nothing much that shows significant leadership or involvement
    outside of work other than establishing a small scholarship fund at my alma mater.

    – Goal: Use my time to explore several start up ideas in real estate valuation and management software and transition into a career in real estate private equity if the start up does not pan out (IMPORTANT: do not want to transition to vanilla PE which is more competitive and not where I want to be).

    – Target Schools: Still Deciding

    Keep up the great work,

    RealAssetsFTW

  • 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.

  • 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. 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.
    – Switched to 28 days on/ 28 days off construction engineering position in Khazakstan
    – 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, Running club group leader, Volunteer Leader at the Houston Food Bank, Houston Coordinator for Run For Autism, Young Professionals Volunteer Leader at Memorial Park, Mentor for Georgia Tech alumni association.
    – 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.
    Thanks!

  • Absolutely agree with your analysis of when to retake the GMAT. I found myself in the “twilight zone” with a 710 (80% Q). I applied to one school last year and was waitlisted. This year I am much smarter about the application process, and I am also retaking the GMAT to get in the 750-760 range. There are a few “+50 or money back guarantees” and if you have the time, I highly suggest putting in the work to get a higher GMAT. As Sandy said, it could be “life or death.”

  • A

    love this analysis

  • hbsguru

    “A 770+ would lend a halo effect and possible scholarship money at MIT, Stern, and particularly at Yale.”
    I hope not versus a 740!!!!!!
    but there is some nutty chance you may be right, a sad commentary on the callowness of those adcoms, but that does not surprise me.
    760 is a kind of magic number at MIT, gets more attention over there than 36-D. I think you are getting into Stern with what you got.

    Yale has become GMAT predatory, but jeez, 740! Well, I hope not, but if anyone has any anecdotes, please chime in. I hope we are not soon at the day where kids want to retake a 780 to get an 800, but never say never. And always ignore what an adcom in a public forum says about this: lying is part of their job description.

  • N

    Sandy,

    There are two that I know of. One got into Chicago (the gentleman who preceded me in this role) and the other got into Stern part-time, which I understand is less selective. I suspect that my role is viewed as having similar selectivity but perhaps a bit better than Big 4 (although it is not accounting). This tells me that with proper preparation and other strong elements, it is possible. My supposition is also that most of the employees in my back-office do not have the requisite stats for a top school, so it’s important to remember that these two are outliers.

    Are you positive on the GMAT? I wouldn’t imagine that it could move the needle at H/S, but I’m not even going to try with those two. A 770+ would lend a halo effect and possible scholarship money at MIT, Stern, and particularly at Yale. If you don’t think so, I’ll take your word for it, as your strength is in emulating the “holistic” evaluation.

    -N

  • hbsguru

    well, don’t retake the 740 GMAT, as to the back office stigma, have other kids from your back-office applied to your target schools, and what outcomes??? Dunno, that is best guide, no???
    Non-feeder school is not a big deal, esp. if you have a story, as you seem to.

  • N

    Sandy,

    I would love to hear your opinion as you are one of the most respected experts in your field. I have been working for one year and am planning on applying to B-School in two more. I have two general questions in regards to my profile. First, here is my summary:

    -Undergraduate: BA in Quantitative Economics, minor in Math. 3.74 overall (Magna Cum Laude). 3.9 in-major & minor and the Economics Medal for the highest in-major average in econ. OK private college but definitely not a feeder (think Fairfield/Elon). It’s known for having an OK business school and has been ranked just inside the top 50 Bschools by Businessweek some years.

    -GMAT: 740 (48Q, 44V)

    -Work: Back-office finance role at one of GS/MS. Work in credit risk management. I have done an excellent job so far and am on the fast track to promotion, etc. I particularly focus on taking leadership on projects and process improvements. Letters of rec expected to be very strong

    -Extracurricular: On a charity committee at work. I find local charities, get in contact with the directors, and set up times for employees from my office to volunteer. Additionally, I am involved in charity work outside of this. Also an avid guitarist and working out/fitness/health nut.

    -Fun Facts: I grew up in a low-income household and went to private schools and college on grants & scholarships. My father did not go to college and my mother has a degree in sculpture. I also am nearly fluent in French and can understand Spanish as my mother’s family is from Madrid (I am 1st generation US on that side). I was fully fluent going into college but have forgotten a bit of my French. I have been studying to regain fluency and I’d like to learn Spanish as well. Not the typical finance applicant and I hope to make this clear in my apps.

    -Targeting: Wharton, Chicago, MIT, Columbia, Stern, and Yale for Investment Banking.

    1. Is my list of schools unrealistic? Particularly Wharton.

    -My profile has two glaring weaknesses that I am piquantly aware of: a non-target undergrad and a back-office (or middle-office for those who like to delude themselves) work role. Although I wish it weren’t so, I expect this to significantly reduce my odds of admission at top-tier schools.

    -I could work front-office at one of the smaller-name firms in my area but I feel as though working for a big-name firm is particularly helpful in my case since my undergrad was no-name. If I worked in a small IB shop, I’d be competing head-to-head against Ivy grads working in Bulge-Bracket IB. That’s not a battle that I’d like to fight.

    2. Should I retake the GMAT?

    -I hadn’t even considered this until recently, but the increase in the GMAT scores of finance applicants has me quite worried. I expect that medians for finance applicants fall around 740 at Wharton down to 720/730 at the lower end of my spectrum of target schools and are likely to increase by the time that I apply (750 at Wharton, 730/40 at others?). I originally took the test on a whim because I did not know what I wanted to do at the time. 760+ is very feasible with some study. I recently took a practice test cold a year after the fact and scored a 740.

    I’m excited to hear your opinion.

    -N

  • hbsguru

    Leadership, esp. how it was “classically” understood, e.g. leading GM, has become a stale concept, that does not mean it is not as important (or not as overated in importance) as ever, it means it is not a fashionable concept to adcoms (which is all I care about, and all you should care about in this process), and my guess is, leadership is a less hot topic for up-and-coming B school profs doing research (not that we or anyone else in the world cares about that!). We are no longer in the age of Lee Iacocca, the big, fat, white guys running car companies, we are in the age of skinny nerds running lean tech companies, and even more so, the age of nerds and PE types of all sizes and colors raising money to buy start-ups and then install generic ‘leaders’ to run those companies. But the heat and interest is on the skinny nerds who start the companies and the X-men who then buy them– those guys are not “leaders,” they are

    ahem, ‘disruptors’ the very opposite of leaders (profs will stupidly tell me that ‘disruption’ was part of classic leadership model all along–dream on, suckers!! you used to call it managing change, which is, in retrospect, girly-girl stuff, esp. the notion of managing it).
    Anyway, that is the macro environment, the game now in admissions is more tuned to identity politics and personal stories and innovation and “the new” –hence the HBS change in essay as one fragment of proof. They can pretty much scope out what tjhey want from stats and recs and resume, and hey, if you got something else to say, about overcoming obstacles or background, or X, well, sure say it. Some boilerplate essay about MY THREE LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES AT MCKINSEY is not going to move the needle much, as Ms. Leopold sort of hinted on her blog. Not much beyond the fact that 1. you work at McK (something they knew already) and 2. you were successful there (something your recs should convey). The fact that you walked into Situation X and listened, got support, gave feedback, arrived at consensus and followed-thru and all that BORING leadership stuff, well, who cares.

    You actually get more credit at HBS by writing about MY THREE LEADERSHIP FAILURES AND WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF–which is, ahem, AKA as A STANFORD ESSAY.

    Happy to elaborate if anyone is still unclear.

    The CEO of GM is now a woman who does not look too happy in pics and it is hard to blame her, her duties seem to be begging the govmnt for hand-outs (in various forms) and deeply apologizing to the families of victims who were killed by her faulty products. Anybody seriously want that job? Anyone think those chores will be temporary and soon she will be breaking new paths for the Pontiac Division?

  • Mr. Supply Chain

    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
    – I had 5 internships in college including a big 4 and a VC firm. I also ran a tech startup and was the VP of my fraternity.

    -780 GMAT

    -3 years work experience in top boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain strategy with strong letters of recommendation. Just got a promotion from analyst to associate consultant.

    -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

  • Patrick C

    Hi Sandy,

    Please review this profile. Thanks very much in advance!

    Mr Big Four – 26 Year Old Asian Male

    Education: Top State School in the Northeast (Think Binghamton, UMass – Amherst)

    GPA: 3.7 Bachelors in Accounting // 3.5 Masters in Accounting

    GMAT: Practice exams range between 700-720

    Work Experience: 4 Years (by time I start MBA) in Big Four Advisory. Fast track to manager. Possible to be promoted before R2 deadline.

    Volunteer: Spent approximately a month each year for the past four summers in Honduras to help with poverty alleviation and infrastructure development initiatives

    Extracurriculars:
    – Member of Young Alumni Board
    – Co-founded mentoring program for underclassmen of my undergraduate program. A growing and strong program today.
    – E-board for business fraternity.

    Recommendations:
    – First would come from a partner at my firm that I work closely with. This will be a super solid recommendation because of our relationship and because he has told me that I am on track for an early promotion to manager.
    -Second would come from a leader of the organization through which I volunteer my summers to work in Honduras. Strong relationship here too and my commitment to efforts should yield a solid recommendation.

    Career Goals: To transition to MBB consulting for 3-5 years before moving onto a senior leadership role in a social impact organization.

    Schools for Consideration:
    – HBS
    – Stanford
    – Tuck
    – Kellogg
    – Yale
    – Berkeley

    – Sloan

    Was thinking about avoiding the finance heavy schools (don’t think I’ll enjoy their environment as much) such as Wharton, Booth, and Columbia. Thoughts on this? Worth applying to?

  • B

    Sandy, you pointed out the indications of the diminishing importance of leadership and extras (the dropped essays by schools, etc.), but can you please elaborate on why you think this is the case? What are the reasons schools don’t care as much about these two aspects as they used to?