Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

For the past three years, he’s been working in strategy and operations consulting for Deloitte Consulting. With a 690 GMAt and a 3.7 grade point average from a ‘Little Ivy,’ this 25-year-old white male wants an MBA to enhance his career at Deloitte so he can help to build the firm’s emerging markets practice.

This 32-year-old Canadian has guts. An analyst at the second largest investment management firm in Canada, he invited Sandy “to tear me to shreds.” With a 720 GMAT and a 3.69 GPA in finance from a Top 10 Canadian university, his post-MBA goal is to pursue a financial services startup that “empowers consumers to manage their investments for a fraction of the cost while still receiving first class investment.”

In his five years at a major consumer packaged goods company, this 26-year-old Mexican American has been promoted three times. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA in economics from a top Midwestern university, this first-generation college professional hopes to go to business school to help him transition out of sales and into a brand management role.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

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

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants.

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.)

Mr. Deloitte

  • 690 GMAT (plan to retake)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a ‘Little Ivy’ (Think Amherst, Williams or Wesleyan
  • Work experience includes three years in strategy and operations consulting for Deloitte Consulting (top ratings and promotion after two years; MBA sponsorship likely)
  • Internships in asset management (Dodge & Cox) and economic consulting (Brattle Group)
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of a pro-bono consulting group during undergrad; general manager of a 100+ student sub-division of the IT department, led multiple studies in the psychology research lab; currently volunteer with Junior Achievement of New York, co-founder of social impact initiative at Deloitte; Deloitte co-networking lead for New York office
  • Short-term goal: To rejoin Deloitte to focus on market entry/growth strategy and build the emerging market practice
  • Long-term goal: To return to Poland to help renewable energy and smart grid technology penetrate the Eastern European market
  • Bilingual dual-citizen who is U.S.-born and raised in Poland (16 years)
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% (If you get the 720)
Wharton: 40% to 50%
Columbia: 40% to 50%
Dartmouth: 40% to 50%
Northwestern: 50%+
Berkeley: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You present an interesting case: If you are a white male, how do you get into Harvard Business School from the Big Four? As I have said frequently, if you work for the Big Four in Europe that is considered a little more prestigious. If you for the Big Four in the U.S., it’s very hard to break out of there and go to Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.

Even though you were born in the U.S., you may classify as a European because you were brought up in Poland. You went to a classy school, a Little Ivy, with a good GPA. Even though you are short on the GMAT with a 690, you are shooting for a 720. From the way I read this, you seem to be a star at Deloitte.

And then this is interesting: He said that when he was in college he interned at Dodge & Cox, a famous asset management firm, and at the Brattle Group, a boutique economic consulting group. After that, how come you wound up at Deloitte? For whatever reason, you seem to really fit into Deloitte, you want to go back there, and you will probably be a sponsored student. That’s powerful.

Your pro-bono consulting in undergrad isn’t going to cut much mustard. And neither is volunteering with Junior Achievement. That’s nice but it doesn’t move the needle for you, though please continue to do it. Pro bono volunteer trip to Panama isn’t going to do much, unless you can show dramatic and sustained impact.

You co-founded a social impact group/initiative at Deloitte .That is a good slug on your recommendations. At a certain point, it begins to build. Even though there is no standout extracurricular, there is a pattern here of being involved and that is very positive.

You are very comfortable at Deloitte, very well thought of, and innovative, and happy enough to generate the energy to do all this stuff. We are getting the vibe that you were very successful at your Little Ivy and are very successful at Deloitte.

Your long-term goal to help renewable energy and smart grid technology penetrate the Eastern European market is an acceptable aspiration. That statement signals that you are hip to what is out there and you’re connected to the macro-aspirational, good guy liberal thinking. Adcoms will say you are our type of guy.

My tough love for you: Get a higher GMAT score. I said it before and I will say it again. The GMAT really counts, particularly for white males. Get a 720 GMAT even if it requires taking the exam three times. I know how punishing that is but that is your biggest bang for the buck.

  • myspareuserid@gmail.com

    Hi Stark- I am starting my grad school in CS at Carnegie Mellon (plan to specialize in Cloud computing, Machine Learning). I am from a top-15 undergrad college in India and have a 3 year workex (before starting Masters) and will be applying for MBA in 2020. Is there any way I can contact you?

  • MN

    Hi Sandy,
    Can you evaluate my chances at Kellogg, Emory, Darden, Duke, Chicago, UT Austin and MIT?

    -25 year old white male
    -Math and Economics double major from “Southern Ivy” (think Duke, Emory, Rice…)
    GPA: 3.3
    GMAT: 720

    Work Experience:
    -Data analyst at a large media conglomerate in Atlanta after college, working on the strategy/operations side of a large-scale ($300M) finance transformation
    -Promoted to manager in FP&A group after 1 year as an analyst. Our group was responsible for planning and forecasting financials for new incubator-stage business acquisitions, as well as identify possible growth opportunities for these businesses
    -managed a summer college intern
    -Won “StartUp” event within the company where the winning idea gets a $75k investment and 90 days to work on a startup idea.
    -learned multiple programming languages as well as attained lean six sigma green belt certificate

    -trained for and ran Georgia half marathon, while running a team through the leukemia and lymphoma society that raised over $10k for cancer research
    -acted as a liaison between the company I work for and a new non-profit geared towards exposing underprivileged high schoolers to different career paths. Helped plan site visits and shadowing opportunities
    -keyboardist/guitarist for a band that plays at restaurants and bars on weekends
    -writer for statistically-focused sports blog
    -participant in Atlanta intramural basketball leagues
    -member of technology association of Georgia young professionals

    Reason for MBA:
    I want to work in the startup community, either in business development for a startup or for a venture capital firm.

  • TP


    31 year old Indian New Zealander.

    GMAT – 730

    1st under graduate degree 2005 – GPA 3.5
    2nd undergraduate degree Law LLB 2011 – GPA 2.5
    Work experience – Graduate account manager P&G 1.5 years in NZ
    Moved internationally – worked as a lawyer for 1.3 years, did not enjoy it much.
    Promoted into a compliance advisory role, global compliance advisor for an important business unit, of top mining company.
    Extra Curriculur – Founder of company wide women’s network. Securing funding and speakers for women’s events.

    Target school – NYU and Columbia
    Reason for MBA – to work in human rights and anti-bribery consulting. To start my own consultancy in 2022.

  • Nadine

    • 700+ GMAT (scheduled to take in Oct)
    • 3.6 GPA
    • BA in Economics from NYU (graduated in 3 years)

    Work experience:
    ○ 4 years at Technology Consulting for Financial Services companies (think
    E&Y, PwC, Capgemini) where I was promoted twice in three years and departed
    as a “Junior Engagement Manager”, managing team of 4 onsite business
    analysts + 30 offshore testers
    ○ Transitioned into an internal Strategy & Operations Consulting group at a
    large bank (colleagues/bosses are all ex-McKinsey / ex-Booz, with MBAs from
    Wharton, Duke, NYU) – I have fewer “outright” management/leadership responsibilities, however this gave me an opportunity to develop stronger management consulting skills, sit closer to the business, develop relationships / gain exposure to Senior Leadership in Technology & Operations. I was brought in to be a “technology SME” on the team given my implementation experience (able to provide insight into how to approach/evaluate technology problems/questions within the scope of a larger strategy / operations-focused project)

    Extra-curricular involvement
    ○ Outside of work: Mentor with a large NYC non-profit that partners with NYC
    schools to match young professionals with graduating HS students to assist
    during college application process and prepare them for college; Sorority
    Alumni Network
    ○ Current job: Training & Development committee for the broader strategy team
    (develop content / deliver training)
    ○ Previous job: Co-Founder of network for Female Senior Managers and above (gave
    me exposure/access to all senior leadership, created “Manbassadors,”
    an initiative mirrored after HBS Women’s Student Association Manbassadors – a
    community of male leadership who engaged in events/meetings/communications to
    broader organization in support of network initiatives), Campus Recruitment
    Lead (revamped/streamlined campus recruiting efforts across multiple practices
    within the organization to leverage synergies and to enhance relationships with
    university leadership), Mentor to New Campus Hires
    ○ During university: Vice President of Public Relations for Panhellenic Council
    (oversaw 250% expansion in Greek Life, increased community engagement), Peer
    Advisor for the Center for Career Development, Policy Standards Board Chair and
    Housing Chair for Sorority, Alternative Breaks Chair for Inter-Greek Council
    (led 15 Greek Life students on year-long community service efforts which
    culminated in a week-long trip to visit the organization we were supporting)

    Strategy & Operations in FinTech – marrying my technology implementation
    background, Financial Services industry experience, and personal interest in
    FinTech trends (particularly related to personal finance and asset management
    industry shifts/movements, e.g., robo-advisors / online brokerage). Side note:
    I’m also particularly passionate about educating young professionals about
    personal finance – budgeting, paying off student loans, introduction to
    investing. I informally provide advice / coaching on these topics, after
    educating myself using online tools, and would like to formalize this.

    •25-year old Asian female
    •Schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, LBS

  • bskoolquestioning

    Hi Both

    Really enjoy the articles and appreciate the help you are providing to everyone. Was wondering if you could take a look at my profile and share your thoughts.

    27 y/o white male

    3.5 GPA from a state school (U Illinois) in accounting

    760 GMAT

    Work experience is 5 years in consulting with one of the big HR consulting firms (I’m aware this is a tier down) a couple promotions and I have spent the last two years working in the singapore office

    Outside interests are probably fairly low relatively but am an avid squash player and marathon runner

    Looking to jump to one of the big 3 consulting firms and generally just create a more well rounded and knowledgeable individual through the MBA

    Am considering Kellogg, Booth, Tuck and maybe Wharton as a reach, are these realistic?

  • ri2sat

    Hi Sandy,

    I just graduated and I’m about to start working at a big tech firm as an application engineer (Microsoft/ Oracle/ IBM). I am a computer engineer from a top 15 Indian University (top program in the State where I live). I turned down a fully funded fellowship offer for a Master’s program in computer science at a UC, because I am interested in management in the long run and I decided I would like to pursue an MBA after working for a couple years.

    Undergrad GPA : 3.5
    Upper Division GPA : 3.75 (1 backlog, messed up in the first 3 semesters, got serious, worked hard and did well advanced courses)
    Undergrad major: Computer Engineering
    I have not taken the GMAT yet but my GRE score is 326 (Q: 168 V:158 AW: 4) I plan on taking the GMAT in a few months.
    21 year old female
    I worked at a startup(We worked on some really cool stuff, got media coverage at the time), a government organization and a local cybersecurity company during my undergrad.
    I am American but I’ve witnessed a lot of diversity and have spent half my life in the US and half my life in India.
    I speak 4 languages fluently.
    singer in the music team of my college, coordinated my college technical fest, student class representative in my first year of college, part of the college rowing team, writer for the college magazine. my extra-curricular activities also include rafting, trekking in the himalayas, dancing and painting.
    Goal: to stay in the technology sector and get into product management post an MBA
    Rejected from HBS 2+2, no interview

    I have about 1-2 years before I apply to any business schools. At this point what do you think my odds would be at top MBA programs. Also, What could help me improve them. I am willing to work hard and I have a lot of time to take the GMAT multiple times if required to get a high score. Your advice would be really helpful.

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Anon

    Hi Sandy,

    26, Hispanic, male, first in family to go to college. Thanks for your feedback.

    ▪ 700 GMAT

    ▪ 3.14 GPA

    (Worked all 4 years throughout college to help support family. Was very unaware and distracted of how limiting a low gpa would be later on)

    ▪ Double Major in Finance and Economics from large but unknown state university.

    ▪ Work experience: 3 years in Corporate Strategy at a F500 company in the Northeast. Got in through pure hustle, networking, internship experiences and good work.

    ▪Founder of Mentorship Program for students of underrepresented backgrounds in business and government. Personally mentor 5-10 students per year. 90% of students who have gone through our program have accepted jobs with top companies around the country (big deal for our school, since most kids live in town and stay there after graduation)

    ▪ Goal: Move into Management Consulting with a focus on non-profits.

    ▪ How much are my undergrad gpa and pedigree holding me back? Where should I strengthen my application to have the best shot I possibly can at a top school?

    ▪ HBS, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Chicago

  • Louis

    770 GMAT (51 Q, 44 V, 8 IR, 4.5 AWA) on first attempt
    3.95 GPA from flagship state school in Mid-Atlantic (magna cum laude)
    Majored in mathematics and aerospace engineering
    Work experience includes two (three at matriculation) years as a U.S. Navy Submarine Officer and two years through the training pipeline
    Completed one Western Pacific deployment and two overhaul periods during tour on submarine
    Finished second in a class of over 100 students at Nuclear Power School
    Extracurriculars: Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society and Semper Fi club at university
    Short term goals: I plan to leave the military because I do not want to take orders for a living. I want an MBA to start a career in investment banking: gain technical knowledge and network.
    Long term goal: To work as an investment banker.
    Born and raised in U.S.
    25-year-old Asian male
    Applying to Wharton, Booth, MIT, Columbia, and UCLA

  • David A.

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for this series, its been very informative.

    Here is what I’m working with. Can you handicap my odds?

    27 yo Black/AA (28 at matric)

    GMAT: 730 (49Q 39V)

    UGrad – BSEE (Stanford/MIT) 3.5
    Grad – MSEE (Stanford/MIT) 3.7

    Pre Work Experience (at matriculation):
    2Y Integrated Circuits Hardware Engineer (NVIDIA/Intel/Qualcomm)
    3Y Software Engineer at major SaaS player (Oracle/Salesforce/Microsoft)

    2Y Weekly high school mentoring program.
    1Y Executive committee same program, focusing on technology and operations.

    Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing, Policy, Transportation.

    Planning to Apply:
    HBS, CBS, Booth, MIT

    MBA Goal:
    In short I want to help either facilitate or fund large scale innovations in emerging economies. To that end, I’m looking to focus primarily on Strategy , as well Finance with a focus on emerging/frontier economies.

    Post MBA:
    Short term: Mckinsey, Bain, BCG, Dalberg (Strategy) or Ashoka (finance)
    Long term: Dalberg, World Bank IFC, Emerging Capital Partners.

  • Henry

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve been a long-time lurker on this thread and have been
    reading your posts. I was hoping to get
    your thoughts on my chances at the following schools: Harvard, Stanford,
    Chicago, Wharton and Dartmouth. Thank

    – 26 year old Asian Male, married with no children

    – Attended Duke University (Magna Cum Laude, 3.81 GPA) and earned a B.S. in Economics.

    – GMAT: 710, SAT (M/V/W): 800/720/760

    – Investment Banking Analyst at Bulge Bracket Bank in NYC
    after college (2-years)

    – Private Equity Associate at Middle Market Firm in
    NYC (3-years)

    – Hobbies: Scuba Diving (PADI certified), Golf,
    Tennis, Traveling, Cooking

    – Goal with MBA: Move into the corporate
    development / corporate strategy role and away from private equity / finance

  • Mr Boring?

    Hey All,

    Curious what odds look at top programs look like for me, or a “strong but traditional and boring” candidate. Targetting HBS, Stamford, MIT, Columbia. Also curious re: LBS.

    – Mckinsey (as a BA and Summer before that)- 3.7 at a “Public Ivy” in the Humanities (on distinction & need scholarships)
    – 770 GMAT

    – College Rower, one of top performers at school

    – 25 y/o white male

    Would like to return to Mckinsey, continuing work in the retail and tech spaces.

    Eventual exit will be to work for or found a company which exploits technology in a manner disruptive to the industry’s traditional business model. (Sidenote: In hindsight, I realize that I should have picked Bain instead of McK back in college to further this goal. Oh well.).


    Mr Boring

  • Vid

    Undergraduate Enggineering degree from India, Masters from U Florida

    750 GMAT

    3 GPA in Undergrad; 3.5 in MS

    Work experience includes 4 years in sourcing roles for a packaging manufacturing org. Promoted thrice (from ananlyst to start with, manager today)
    Work experience has been truly global – Negotiated supply agreements with German/Dutch organizations for supply into EU facilities, Work closely with Indian assets and Indian supply base, Support US operations and interact with American businesses extensively

    Lead thespian unit in college, was an active playwright and a director for the 3 years
    Teach underprivelaged kids as a visiting teacher (math and science for 3rd & 4th grade levles) when I go back home to India for visits – once a year for 2 weeks
    Extracurricular involvement in last year limited to minor community activities in mid-sized US city

    Short-term goal: Expand my practical knowledge of how businesses work with solid academic grounding and obtain the knowledge that is necessary to transition into a business leadership/strategy role
    Long-term goal: To return to India soon and paricipate in the revitalized manufacturing economy, leading organizations as a strategic leader into the next post-vitalized era
    Indian citizen who has lived in the US for 6+ years now

    27 year old male

  • Spiralone

    Dear John and Sandy,
    Here is my story:

    GMAT: 730 (Q47 V43), IR 8, AWA 4.5 IELTS band 8
    Nationality: Italian
    Age: will be 31 at the beginning of the courses
    Gender: M

    Educational Background:
    -Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from a Top25 Italian University. GPA: equivalent to about 2.5
    -2 years Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the same Top25 Italian University. GPA: equivalent to about 3.0
    -1 year Exchange program in a Top5 Spanish university during my Master’s Degree
    -4 Months Internship as research engineer in a Top20 UK university
    -1 Month French Language Course in a Top10 French University (I won a 1500€ scholarship for studying French abroad).

    During my study years I managed to become fluent in 3 Foreign Languages, which gave me the opportunity to pursue an international career after my graduation.
    I speak the following languages: Italian (mother tongue), French (Bilingual), English (Fluent), Spanish (Fluent).

    Work experience (at the beginning of the courses):
    -1 year and 2 months as Design Engineer working in Belgium on an Aerospace Project for a global engineering consulting firm (21000 employees, around 2 Billion $ turnover)
    -3 years as Key Account Manager working in London for a midmarket engineering and manufacturing company (1000 employee, around 200 Million $ turnover) part of a large American Conglomerate (>35000 employees, 9 billion $ turnover)
    This is my current position. My company sells engineering solutions to many of the most important OEMs active in the Power Generation and Oil&Gas markets (think Caterpillar, GE, Siemens, Alstom ecc.)
    I manage a portfolio of customer worth about 5 Million $ and travel abroad extensively (at least a week every month) to meet with the clients in my area of competence (France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands)
    My meetings with clients involve both buyers and engineers at all levels (I often discuss with managers at VP level) and are 90% of the times carried out in the client’s mother tongue (my language skills, along with my technical background, are indeed the main reason why I got this job)
    My duties include:
    -Present the range of services and products offered by my company and the specific technical solutions designed for each customer
    -Decide and negotiate the commercial aspects of our proposals
    -Coordinate Engineering, Manufacturing, Finance and Logistics of the projects awarded with an order.

    Current Salary level around 60K$/year. I’m the youngest Key Account Manager of the company and my results are clearly above average (around 15% revenue growth rate in my customer portfolio while the overall company turnover has remained stable).

    My short-term goal is to become sales manager of a large engineering company active in the energy market (like Siemens or GE), in charge of a specific geographic area, product line or project and supervising a team of 5-10 people.
    In the long run I aim to become part of the board of directors of an Italian energy company.

    Extra-curricular experiences:
    During my study years I founded a small company whose main business was the rental of audio-video-lighting equipment used in local artistic, cultural and sporting events. Although this company never really took off, this experience helped me financing my studies and made me realize my passion for business and negotiation.

    What I feel are the strengths of my profile :
    -A lot of different international experiences
    -GMAT above average for my target schools
    -Part of an under-represented nationality in MBA programs.

    What I feel are the weaknesses of my profile :
    -Age, I will be 32 at graduation
    -Short work experience if compared with my age. I obtained my Master Degree only at 26 years old, mainly because during my university years I spent a lot of time managing the small business I had created to the detriment of my studies
    -International experience limited to the European Union
    -Low GPA.

    My target universities are:

    Thank you

  • Miss Programmer

    Hi all, and thanks so much!

    3.7 public Ivy, humanities (thinking of taking 3-4 econ classes this summer/fall)
    5-6 years work experience, one year Americorps, last 4 years in tech, currently programmer at VC/major studio-backed entertainment startups
    GMAT TBD, but shooting for cracking 700
    Goals: product and business development in digital media/entertainment space
    25 year old white female
    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Berkeley, UCLA

    I am thinking of taking another year to work on GMAT (‘big test’ math is not my strong point), solidifying ECs (hackathons, women in tech, etc), and Econ classes, but worried I would be pushing 30 on graduation and that is not ideal? Just hear everything about how round 2 is so competitive and I wouldn’t have my application ready until then since I am trying to shore up my bonafides!

  • KirkLazarus

    Custom builds on my scale don’t need an Angel (using existing chassis is cheap enough). But I’m going to blog the EV build process as it’s way more exciting than anything else out there. Unless it’s real I wouldn’t be putting it on an application.

  • CPA

    Hi John and Sandy,
    Thank you for the time you spend on this column. I’d appreciate your thoughts on my profile. Thanks!
    25 year old white male, CPA
    GPA: 3.68 (double major Accounting and Finance at small school)
    4 years by matriculation in Big 4 audit – lead senior associate on Fortune 125 client – top performer and early promoted
    GMAT: 730
    ECs: Post college – spent week in 3rd world country teaching financial literacy to kids, leader at church’s weekly middle school youth group, led fundraising drive for local firm office, company football team. College – president of fraternity, rugby player, mission trip to Guatemala, various local volunteering with youth
    Would like to use MBA to transition into Big Three consulting firm
    Target Schools: Duke, UVA, NYU, Columbia

  • KBK

    Hi Sandy,

    Here is my profile:
    – 30 years old, Indian male, Chartered Accountant
    – CFA Level III Candidate,
    – GMAT: 720,
    – National level merit rank holder in Indian Chartered Accountancy exams (11th rank, top 0.01%),
    – Under graduate in commerce from a non-top Indian University; WES GPA: 3.86/4.00
    – 4.5 years work experience in a Big4 consulting (M&A related tax & regulatory advisory)
    – >2 years of leading the corporate volunteering initiative mentoring students from low income families
    – Lower income family background

    – Want to do MBA to move towards commercial/ investment side of M&A and eventually, setup a business consulting/ investment firm catering to SMEs in under-serviced regions

    – Applied to Wharton, Chicago and NYU in 2013-14 cycle (twice to Wharton) ; could not make it to the interview stage

    Target Schools: Stanford, MIT, Wharton, Chicago, NYU, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Northwestern.

    Please share your thoughts on my chances, if at all.



  • Hopeful!

    IS my age a factor?

  • generalist

    That’s what i meant..I had posted the evaluation request earlier

  • R P

    ok. I meant to ask if you sent a mail to Sandy asking for an evaluation.

  • generalist

    Nope! Had posted earlier..
    Don’t think there’s a system of mailing here on P&Q

  • R P

    did you send a mail generalist?

  • R P

    It should have been ‘Sandy, I will* immensely…’ isn’t it?
    I know this is not helpful but the GMAT prep is taking its toll. SOrry

  • Charles

    Hey guys,

    Still a bit young but wanted to see if you could try to gauge my odds at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Booth, assuming I apply in ~ four years (two years IB + 2 years PE megafund/top tier mm PE fund)

    22 White Male
    Attends Big Ten University – currently a senior (think Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin)
    Working for a Greenhill/Lazard/Moelis type firm upon graduation – M&A/Investment Banking
    GMAT: 760
    GPA: 3.63
    Athlete for two years before injury

    In addition, is there anything else I could do during the next few years to boost my resume? Not as though I can really change my GPA much in this last semester and I feel pretty comfortable with my GMAT. Thanks!

  • generalist

    Thanks Sandy..The comment that you find my profile worth considering for full treatment is encouraging 🙂
    Now I must find a way to get the attention of Mr. Byrne it seems 😀

  • hbsguru

    Mid Market PE can be a dead zone at H and S. W should go for this.
    See story in PQ about mid-market PE blackout at HBS coupla years ago, data was real impressive that it is a tuff curse to beat. Of course, might depend on how you define mid-market and how HBS defines, and if 3.8/770, which is notable, even in this cohort, can push you over the line. There does not seem to be an X factor here, soooooo I’d predict Stanford is NO, and HBS could be hard. Happy to be wrong.

  • hbsguru

    Sounds like you are candidate for full treatment. Lobby Byrne, he makes the calls. I answer quickie profiles of cases which present simple facts and pointed question, and often are short or longer but well organized. See my reply to Chinese dude w. 3.8/770 3 posts down!!!
    My quickie reply is less likely if story and data and blah, blah spill out in some primary process, thinking out loud manner, and then you post again, to add, e.g. GMAT score, “Oh yeah, and in addition to all that drivel, I forgot this!” Not saying that is you, but just saying . . . .

  • generalist

    Hi Sandy,
    I had posted a request for profile review a few weeks back. Though i understand there are hundreds of such requests, it would be great even if you could give a brief comment on my profile 🙂

  • MVP

    I think you will be very successful, particularly based on your strong extracurricular activities (18 years of ballet!), and relatively unique language skills (fluency in German and Spanish). High odds of getting in to the Lauder Program (40% + at Lauder) and strong odds elsewhere, particularly due to your GMAT

  • R P

    Think I arrived pretty late but will take a shot.
    Hi Sandy! 🙂 Please let me know what you think:

    GMAT: 730

    GPA: 2.99 (actually 7.49 out of 10. comes out to 2.996. Can I round off to 3.0? Also, highest GPA in the class was 3.6)

    UG: Chemical Engineer from a good Indian school with specialization in petroleum refining. (got a >97%ile in the IIT test (equivalent to the SATs))

    Work ex: 3 years at a Fortune 300 oil and gas (refinery) company. Worked in operations but had managerial roles.

    Goals: Want to move into finance. PE and VC would be my targets. Yes, unlike a lot of others (if not everyone) who have concrete targets, I am new to the finance world and still exploring.
    Do you think I should talk about manufacturing and heavy industries for the sake of an admit?

    Volunteered in a city wide vaccination program. Also was part of a social club where we conducted activities for rural kids while at college.

    Other stuff:
    Did some brand building and handled advertising targeting high end clients for my mom’s clinic.

    I am 24 years old and an Indian citizen. Male. Target schools: Wharton, Ross, Kellogg, Booth. Would definitely apply to McCombs and looking at a few other relatively easier targets.

    What do you think Sandy?

  • SonofPegasus

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love to hear what you think, as I have a rather unusual profile for an MBA candidate.

    Work Experience:
    Administrator at a large private high school in New York City (coincidentally,I’m the Director for Admissions and Financial Aid). Before stepping into this role, I was an English teacher for six years.

    Age: 31 (will be 32 in July)

    GMAT: 720 (44Q/45V)…considering re-taking, as most practice tests were at least 48Q

    GPA: 3.15 at a large state school with a B.A. in Communication Arts and Sciences. I also have an M.A. in English Education from NYU (3.9 GPA). I’m hoping my nine years
    work experience can offset my low undergrad GPA.

    Other activities/leadership experience: coaching football, rugby, and track for six years, co-directing three student-centered international service trips, directing multiple student retreats, and participating in various leadership conferences. My hobbies include triathlon training and playing the guitar.

    Reason for MBA: Over the past two years, my main focus has been expanding our school’s outreach to the underserved population. As I’ve learned more about the education gap in such communities, as well as the good work that many private companies are doing with the help of venture capitalist funding and various consulting firms, I’ve become passionate about education reform. My long-term goal is now to get
    my MBA and work within the social sector division of a large consulting firm or even a major tech company.

    Schools: Yale, Kellogg are the two that jump out as ideal fits, but I’m also considering taking a stab at Stanford and Harvard, both of whom have classes specifically designed for education reform.

    Thank you!

  • UmairK

    Lastly, I would have applied to B-schools two years back but could not due to issues that, I think, i can defend very well in my essays.

  • UmairK

    Short Term goal: Strategy consulting

    Long term goal: To setup consulting firm with focus on encouraging entrepreneurship in third world countries.

  • UmairK

    Just realized people are adding a lot more details so while keeping my fingers crossed here goes:

    Born and bred in one of small towns in Pakistan, selected in the under grad program with a selection rate of under 5%.

    Started my career at a time when private industry in Pakistan was taking a nose dive. Spent almost 4 years in Pakistan wireless industry and than got hired as a technology consultant in US.

    Hobbies: Running, reading, cooking

  • UmairK

    Hi Sandy,
    I am 30 year old computer engineer from Pakistan, with 8 years of experience in wireless technology consulting. I have been working in US with Ericsson Inc. for the last 4 years.

    My target schools are Sloan, Kellog, Haas, Insead.

    My goal is to do MBA and than return to technology industry (not necessarily wireless) in a managerial position.

    Undergrad GPA: 3.46 (from top ranked engineering school in Pakistan)
    GMAT: 740

    My main concern is other than the age factor, what other handicap should i focus on in my applications?

    Thank you in advance for your advice. Your “Handicapping you MBA odds” series on youtube is already a grand help.

  • hbsguru

    give it a chance to sink in. 🙂 PQ will be following up on this. sk

  • Alex

    Going to be applying this fall. Gut reaction to this essay topic is annoyance.

    “Hi my name is Alex. I am a Capricorn who enjoys longs walks on the beach, netflix binges and the occasional cocktail or three”

    Obviously they don’t want to hear about work/education as they already know all that, so not to sure what would be meaningful to write about.


  • hbsguru



    It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall
    meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will
    become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our
    signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you
    will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create
    throughout this shared experience will be lasting.

    Introduce yourself.


  • b27sj

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve been reading your posts for a while — keep up the great work!

    ▪ 770 GMAT

    ▪ 3.98 GPA

    ▪ Undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Bowdoin/Williams/Middlebury

    ▪ Work experience: 1 year in Sales at BB, 2 years at top management consulting firm

    ▪ Extracurricular involvement: improv troupe in college, volunteer for literacy programs in college and after, involved with on-campus recruiting at current firm, alumni interviewer

    ▪ Goal: Move into Business Development role in the luxury goods sector or for a consumer/retail firm

    ▪ Fluent in 4 languages (3 European languages and Arabic) and business proficient in 2 other languages

    ▪ American, but grew up in Africa as a child and attended a foreign language school upon return to the US

    ▪ 25-year-old white female

    ▪ HBS, Wharton (Lauder program), INSEAD, Oxford, Columbia, NYU, Stanford, MIT

  • Hopeful!

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please give my profile a quick evaluation.

    Schools considering – Harvard (2nd time applying), Wharton (interviewed last year), Columbia, Northwestern, Michigan (safety)

    -25 year old white male

    -3.56 GPA in mech engr, started at 3.0 and trended up each year (3.65 in major) – small liberal arts college in midwest

    -740 Gmat (Q50/V40)

    – 1 year , mechanical engineer for a major manufacturing company (in charge of getting a manufacturing line fda approval) – worked in operations

    -2 years working for a pharma consulting firm – work in operation projects – will have a promotion (did not have during last application)

    -Volunteer – have coached 3 separate youth basketball teams, and started a non-profit youth basketball camp – continued involvement in coaching sports

    -Goal is to continue to work in the pharma industry as a consultant once i graduate to gain more experience, then long term goal to become a COO of a pharma company to be able to fix some of the problems within the pharma industry – relates back to growing up and my father having a life threatening illness and the bills that ensued after.

    Let me know if I have a realistic chance at the schools i stated above and how should I approach my application and camouflage any obvious weaknesses.

    Or any schools you think i am leaving out of the mix!

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

  • hbsguru

    I am sure they have, but my guess is your real question is how many Indian Dudes without something super extra-ordinary like family or International Award, but just with below 3 GPA, and super solid GMATs and Work History but no other X factor does HBS take.
    Few, you would need convincing explanation of low grades and 750ish GMATS and Powerful FT work resume, and even then.
    One of my biggest disappointments this year was kid w. low grades and otherwise solid, solid stats and great and powerful and impactful work –also came from distinguished but not famous family and he was poised to make a big, big difference in industry that HBS is very interested in. Ding w.out interview. Also got dings at all top 7 schools except ONE which saw the light and admitted him.
    REAL HBS MISTAKE, and mistake at other schools (and hats off to adcom who took him) but it points up importance of GPA.

  • hbsguru

    if this is for real and there is evidence, real estate, venture funding, etc or at least some evidence of that, yes, say that as part of LT goal. If this is all in your head and dreams, dunno, that could be damaging and narrow.

  • Quarter

    Thanks Sandy, I appreciate it! Will be in touch if HBS is in the stars.

  • CS

    Hi Sandy!

    I would love if you had the time to look at my profile:
    – 27 year old white female
    – Cornell Engineer (ORIE)
    – GPA 3.3
    – 740 GMAT
    – Public sector consultant (2 years IBM, 3 years small company w/ 1 promotion) specializing in advanced analytics. Goal is to continue advanced analytics outside of public sector.
    – Philanthropy Chair at current company
    – HIV Tester and Volunteer Steering Committee member for LGBT health organization

    Applying R1 to:
    HBS, Stanford, Booth, MIT, Wharton

    Are there any other schools that I should consider applying to? Do I have enough of a shot to apply to HBS/Stanford?

  • Stark

    Thank You for the reply and the evaluation!

  • hbsguru

    Well, you are old, you work for some brand name companies, e.g. Dell and IBM, 320 GRE is sorta 660 GMAT, low grades in college long time ago, hmmmm, not a pretty picture to be honest, and this aint looking like top 8-10 schools, but after that everyone gets a lot less picky, viz. UNC, Carn-Mellon, Vandy, Emory, Indiana.
    Apply to places like that, and tell them you want to rise to managerial ranks (even beyond what you are doing) of what you are doing now. Big Data is hot area, even for the many who have no idea what it really means (my hand is up) so they will think you will be easily employable! Once you get to B school, you have purchased a license to hustle. You need to get entry level finance job based on your IT background — which is hard, since anyone interviewing you will prefer your rare-ish IT finance skills vs. untested general finance skills, but it happens, esp.they think you can program and fix computers on the side while not selling annuities etc. A recession would really be a bummer to this lottery plan, so double good luck.

  • hbsguru

    Grad school GPA can count a bit, but what counts more to lazy adcoms for Desis is prestige of undergrad school, after all, THAT is based on some real effort, by whatever means, to sort people out, and why should some adcom in US take time out of her compacted Crossfit Lite sched to 2nd think that!!! There is also a suspicion that grad grinds all get As, that is sorta the base grade. Prestige of grad program brand name will count more than you think, as well.

  • hbsguru

    CBS Early Decision will go for this story, and esp. the 760 (they like 760s no matter what the race/national origin of test taker is!). And you seem just their finance type. Ditto NYU, altho you may have to give them added security that you are not just using them for safety, which you are. I would hold off applying there til you hear back fr. Columbia.
    Wharton takes guys like you depending on execution and not flunking the group grope interview.
    HBS is maybe, depending on luck, solid execution, etc. They get lots of apps fr. guys like you, many w. better pedigrees and similar stats (altho 760 GMAT is sorta rare, to HBS 730-740 aint much diff than 760– that is NOT true at Wharton, MIT, Columbia etc, my informed guess, although I cannot cite peer reviewed articles and double blind experiments and data sets to prove it). Also HBS they might appreciate the “work your way out of the back room story.”
    Getting into Columbia ED and then going to Wharton or HBS down the road is an expensive proposition, about $6k I think (the amnt you need to deposit at Columbia to RSVP the ED).
    Good luck and hire me for HBS mock interview, if it comes to that!

  • Mr. “Big A”

    Hi Sandy,

    I would love to have a quick eval from you. Interested in Booth, Tuck, MIT, Kellogg, UCLA, and Ross. I am also interested in 1-year programs at Kellogg and Cornell.

    -28-year old Asian male
    -Graduated from small private STEM school in the Northeast
    -3.1 GPA that trended upwards (~3.6 over final 2 years)
    -710 GMAT based on practice tests
    -Super involved in church leadership and outreach (soup kitchens, homeless shelters,etc).

    -2 years in rotational leadership development program at a Fortune 400 manufacturing company, with rotations in operations, marketing, supply chain
    -2 years at a Fortune 100 retailer in a buying role – managing P&L for $50M category and maintaining strategic vendor relationships
    -Currently at Amazon in a more senior buying/biz dev role that involves managing P&L as well as building out a brand new business/category the company

    I’m passionate about ecommerce, Retail, and supply chain improvement. Looking to stay in this area but move to a senior management role or to go into consulting for the Retail sector. Because I know the industry that I want to be in, I’m also considering 1-year programs. I realize I’m in a very competitive demographic (Asian male with an engineering degree), but I’m hoping my retail background makes me a unique candidate.

  • KirkLazarus

    Thanks for the reply!

    May be a stupid question – does it make a difference if the cars are electric? All my next builds will be.

  • Asian- American dude.

    OooOO another Chinese-American dude.

  • Indian Dude

    In the past three years, do you think Harvard has ever taken a below 3.0 GPA? It seems like that the competition is so stiff that there is no need for risk candidates.


    Indian Dude

  • Asian-American

    Chinese Asian-American with that high quant score.

  • Quarter

    Hi Sandy, could you please give my profile a quick eval? Looking at CBS (early decision), HBS, Wharton, and NYU for 2016 Fall admission.

    25 year old Asian American male
    3.6/4.0 Finance major from large state school
    GMAT 760 (Q50 V44 AWA 6 IR 8)

    2 years at bulge bracket as a back office finance analyst
    2 years (current) at boutique fund as an investment analyst

    Big Brothers Big Sisters
    US citizenship exam tutoring
    Alumnus mentoring
    Local church involvement


    Fund management (hedge/mutual)


  • Stark

    haha Thank You for the evaluation, I definitely needed an honest perspective 🙂
    I see your point. But wouldn’t the MS from a good school count?It’s a public ivy in the midwest.
    How would you rate my chances with MIT Sloan?
    Thanks again for the reply!

  • hbsguru

    Not sure this is GSB’s type of adversity story, too real and WHITE. Car is a dirty word over there and “performance car” might get you in a SPAM filter], altho they surppress their gag reflex when anything repellant is attached to Google. [viz. HR], so outside shot. Aside from that [Mrs Lincoln], this is real solid and I like you -defense contractors, 740 and overcoming a 2.8 is my kind of happy outcome. HBS is remote chance with some good ‘splainin, Wharton might forgive the 2.8 for the 740 and a chance for an interesting car guy, other places off the HSW ledge are pssble.
    DO NOT SAY you want to start performance car company–altho ok to say you want to be a leader in auto/transport/ blah, blah. Idea sounds too personal and real.

  • hbsguru

    let me know your results, You are interesting test case for how much college brand and ultra GMATs (neither of which you have, as per above) plus solid and Fort-50 tech experience count at HSW.
    This aint smelling like Stan or H, too many guys like you with better college brand and GMAT, and Wharton might find someone more diverse to admit with a below average GMAT.
    This could be tilted your way if company you work for is sexy [GOOG, FB, AMZN] and there is more to you than outlined. If not, man, you are Hagen Daz Desi Vanilla, sorry but as noted, a good test case.
    “And finally, I will talk about my passion for technology in the essays . . . .”
    well, that does not exactly turn this into Chocolate Chip, altho sure, it beats something oddball and damaging.

  • Stark

    ah! Can’t believe I forgot to post this:
    Applying to Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Booth for Fall – 2016 admission

  • Stark

    I am sorry forgot to mention gpa’s
    Undergrad: > 8/10
    Grad: ~ 3.9/4

  • Stark

    25 year old Indian,
    GMAT: 720 (Haven’t taken it yet, avg on practice tests)
    Undergrad from a Top-15 school in India,
    MS in Computer Science from a Top 5 Engineering schools in US
    A techie working in one of the fortune 50 tech companies in the valley, work experience of 2 years
    Volunteer teacher at a local High school
    And finally, I will talk about my passion for technology in the essays

  • hbsguru

    2+2 at H and S is “focused” on STEM as a big interest area but also takes super hi performers and stand-out types fr. finance, consulting, energy, and mystery meat (like you). What you usually need is real high GPA (3.7+) real high GMAT (~750) and lotsa luck. Selective non-profit jobs which are impactful and classy could get you if coupled with big stats. otherwise, would be real hard.
    2+2 is really an oddball, elite program with some amazing dings, many, many of whom get reg. admits 2-4 years later with “just” normal stats and jobs, well for H and S. (cough, that aint easy either, but 2+2 is even harder).

  • Gabe

    Sorry, to clarify: applying for Fall 2016. Will most likely have a promotion to a manager title at company by then. Technically haven’t taken GMAT yet, but taking in 2 weeks. Put 710 as conservative (730 and 720 on previous two practice tests).


  • Gabe

    Looking at Berkeley, Northwestern, Stanford, Michigan, Penn, NYU, and Columbia

    25-year old white male
    3.63 GPA with Econ Major at Top Midwestern Liberal Arts College
    GMAT: 710

    Work experience includes 2 years at a Strategic Brand Consultancy, including one promotion. Extremely well-regarded at company and made lasting impact to company’s services and analytical processes.

    One year at a sports marketing company, currently in charge of building out capabilities of the analytics group and making strong strides.

    Played baseball in college and continue today as a volunteer coach for an inner-city 6th grade baseball team (program focuses on baseball, as well as academic development).

    Career Aspiration: Leverage my analytical strengths and background in quantitative research at agencies, to shift brand-side and work in marketing leadership for a brand that measures success by not only profit but also the positive impact it makes on consumers.

  • Samson

    Hi HBSGuru team,

    Please suggest my chances for top 20 colleges. Indian male with 10 years work ex with Dell and IBM. Took GRE with a score of 320 (V158, Q162). Have worked in various roles in ITeS, IT and Consulting and IT Security Audit. Currently working as Program Manager for a Big Data Analytics for an entire service line in our department. Have less than impressive UnderGrad GPA of 2.6 from a lesser known Indian university (JNTU). Have professional certifications in Project management and Lean Six sigma methodology. Also, completed a program in Business Analytics (it covers a lot of material from Calculus, Statistics, Data Mining and marketing research) from a reputed B-School in India (Indian School of Business). Contemplating a serious to a career in Finance so would like to go for schools that have a strong history of producing excellent Finance graduates. Have international work experience (currently in the US on work related assignment) working with Banking and Financial clients.

    Let me know if I can even be considered for a top B School MBA program and how should I approach my application and camouflage my obvious weaknesses.

    Wanting to do Mbaover31 🙂

  • Confused College Senior

    Hi Sandy,

    I wanted to know more on the stats for College Senior Programs (HBS, Yale, NYU, etc). Would having a non-profit background (while in college: part time work ex and internships in educational tech and development) be a good fit or should I wait for a couple of years gaining full-time experience before applying? Is it just focused towards STEM applicants?

  • haley

    Hi Sandy!

    Would love to hear what you think about odds of getting into a top 20 MBA program, particularly Michigan, Wharton, NYU and Kellogg.

    Oh boy. Here we go.

    Female, 29 years old, non-minority
    First generation college student. Attended TWO community colleges over the course of 5 years, part-time/full-time. Flunked classes that had to be retaken due to immaturity, lack of preparedness for the college atmosphere. I didn’t seek any real guidance in my high school and beginning college years, as my mother and father did not attend college, so it was surprising I did. I changed “majors” (CC) from psych to nursing to engineering before choosing accounting; received merely a 2.75 combined from the community colleges.

    Well I turned myself around, albeit late in the game, and received an average 3.8 in the accounting program junior and senior years at at midwest state school (3rd tier). Awarded a merit-based scholarship my senior year in the department.

    I then attended a top 20 Master in Accountancy program, ended with a 3.87 GPA. Passed all four sections of CPA during grad school/summer. Had a Grad assistantship researching the whole time I was there.

    Now i am a senior audit associate at Deloitte and have been here for the past 3 years. It all started from an internship back in grad school. I have mainly been auditing fortune 500’s since my time here. I don’t love it anymore. Being a CPA was a great start and I am thankful for where it has taken me but I want out. I am interested in a strategic management MBA. I want to work with those diverse and brilliant students at Wharton or Kellogg and I truly want to be a part of the experience and learn. I want to switch into a non-profit organization management or possibly a fortune 100 and I feel the MBA would be a big help.

    I have taken the GMAT 3 times now, scoring at 730 on my latest attempt (willing to retest)

    I was involved in Beta Alpha Psi and Delta Sigma Pi, which allowed for me to volunteer often, but I didn’t work junior/senior year. (I worked 30+ hours while attending community college(s), blew off classes, and suffered bad grades. Very bad stuff.)

    I know I’m very, very rough around the edges and not sure if I would get laughed at applying for an MBA, but it has been a lifelong dream of mine since transitioning into business. Will the admissions committee at the colleges listed above be more forgiving due to the upward trend in my grades or have I dug myself into a hole impossible of escaping?

    Thank you for your time and I love your advice articles!


    Distraught and Discouraged

  • TimeWillTell

    Thank you, Sandy. I really appreciate your feedback!

  • KirkLazarus

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please comment on my chances for HBS, Sloan and GSB.

    2.8 GPA from a State School in Electrical Engineering – worked in an auto shop to support family and pay for tuition.

    4 years working for top tier defense contractors ( Boeing, Lockheed)

    Worked while getting Masters at an Ivy league in Electrical Engineering 3.6 GPA (had to take non matriculated classes and ace them to get in).

    Transitioned to Silicon Valley and has 4 years working at a successful startup as an Engineering Manager and Product Manager (promoted 3 times in 4 years)

    740 GMAT.

    Published paper in a top tier medical journal while in grad school. Contributed to Car magazines as an author, and currently building custom cars as a hobby ( Not just Pimp my Ride, even the software and dashboard interfaces are built by me).

    Long term goal. To start a performance car company or work on self driving cars at something like Google X.

  • Target HSW

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please comment on my chances of getting into HSW?

    Nationality – Indian
    Employer – Google
    GMAT – 700
    GPA – 3.4 (graduated from one of India’s finest arts & sciences school)
    Age – 28
    Work Experience – 5 years (4 at Google, currently at Google)
    Promoted twice at Google, won several important awards.
    Role at Google – Marketing/Consultative Sales
    Community Service: Part-time teacher at public schools in rural India for close to 2 years
    Founded a technology start-up that got angel investors interested. Facebook page of the start-up has more than 1,100 members
    Post MBA goal – Brand/Product Management at a major Tech corporation

  • Matthew

    Hey Sandy–

    Wanted to thank you for continually pumping out great advice and profiles. I
    find reading these tremendously helpful in terms of the application and
    understanding strengths and weaknesses.

    Was hoping you could give me an analysis of my chances.

    “Mr. Multicultural Marketing Analyst”

    Age: 25 (will apply when 26) year old Hispanic American male

    GRE: 162 Q 165 V (when I originally took it I thought I wanted to take a
    consumer psychology course at a top school in California. Decided to forgo and
    gain substantial work experience to gain entrance into top B-school)

    Undergrad: 3.59 from The University of Missouri Journalism School (went here
    because A). It is consistently ranked the #1 J-school in the country and at the
    time I thought I wanted to be on ESPN. B.) Columbia/Syracuse/USC were not
    offering the same $$ (also top J-schools) to go there and this was a deciding
    factor due to financial constraints (was awarded scholarships). Honors
    college/Deans list every semester (graduated with general and Latin honors). Spanish

    Work Experience: 2.5 years at one of the top tech/telecoms in the United States
    (think Verizon, AT&T) 1st year was as an account manager in our major
    business markets handling a portfolio of 3.2 Million annual revenue with the
    goal of growing the business. Promoted into Marketing in November of 2014 as an
    analyst/marketing manager on the video content side of our business. Currently I
    work on analyses geared toward overall viewership that are used in negotiations
    with content providers (ESPN, news channels, etc.).

    Will have 3.5 years when I apply as I do not plan on
    applying until next year. Experience before that includes Account Management at
    a global digital marketing agency—think website, app and overall digital
    marketing strategy for fortune 100 companies (specifically worked on the Ford,
    Wendy’s, MillerCoors and Western Union accounts).

    Extras: Currently volunteer for an outreach program
    (organized by my work but completely voluntary) that centers around educating
    classrooms from underprivileged areas of the community on what it takes to be successful
    in the professional world—working to obtain a leadership position within the
    program. Worked in the Financial Aid office in University as a financial aid adviser all 4 years in school (work study program).Service Learning certified in University (x amount of courses with
    intensive community involvement), multicultural certificate recipient (x amount
    of hours in “multicultural” oriented courses + honors college), Alpha Mu Gamma
    foreign language society, Diversity award recipient (awarded to minorities that
    graduate with honors). Community outreach for a well-funded and University
    endorsed digital news startup while a senior in University. Interned on the
    Home Depot account at their respective advertising agency as a junior. Vice
    president of fraternity

    Goal: Looking for a career change. Want to land a leadership
    position in strategy/development for a major professional sports league (NFL,
    NBA, MLB). Want to focus on finance and strategy, but have some sort of
    community outreach responsibility as well. Sports hold an important place in my
    life as without the discipline they taught me at an early age I would have
    veered off the path (raised by a single non-college educated mother scenario).
    I intend to allude to this in the interview.


    UC Berkeley


    Northwestern (top choice)







    I know that’s a lot!! Feel free to cut some of it short if need be…wanted
    to make sure I got it all in there. Thanks again!

  • J

    Sandy, would love to hear your thoughts:

    26 year old Asian male
    3.8 GPA in economics @ Cornell/Dartmouth/Columbia
    770 GMAT
    Classic 2 years banking, 2 years private equity (middle-market, technology)

    Goal: transition to operations at a tech company
    Extracurriculars: very involved in a work-sponsored volunteer program

    Target: H/S/W

  • hbsguru

    a 740 GMAT the second time around vs. a 660 can make a world of difference, apply Round 1 and execute on your many strengths.
    Not many Hispanic males, first gen, w. a 740!!! Seriously.

  • Jus

    Hi Sandy,

    Would be interested to hear your feedback on my profile:

    – 760 GMAT
    – 3.8 GPA from “southern Ivy”; major in Psychology and minor in math. Cum Laude
    – 24/ Female
    – Dual US/ Western European citizen. Grew up in Western Europe, college in the US
    – Work experience: Deloitte Consulting Strategy & Operations (2+ years). Sponsored by firm to attend B-school. Project work in financial services and healthcare, with increasing responsibility- for example, I acted as program manager for 6 client work streams reporting up to me. Lead all recruiting of undergraduates at my Alma Mater into Deloitte S&O, which involves me managing 8 career-level peers.
    – Extra curriculars: 18+ years of ballet training, co-founded dance group during university and grew to ~20 members. Junior Board member of a non-profit focusing on global education for inter-city kids. Studied abroad in Argentina, near-fluent Spanish.
    – Goal: merge my deep understanding of working in different cultural environments with a rigorous business understanding by working on Global Expansion Strategy for large companies, probably Pharma/ Med devices firms. Eventually run the European arm of an American firm

    Am thanking that the Wharton Lauder program might be a good fit. Thanks for your input!

  • Michael

    Also, I am checking out Kellogg, Darden, Yale, UT-McCombs, Fuqua, and Ross

  • MIchael


    25 year old white male

    3.73 cumulative GPA with a History Major (3.9GPA) from a top tier public american university

    730 GMAT (49Q/41V)–96%

    5 years work experience at a Charter Management Organization–two years as a teacher with Teach For America, then stayed in the company as an instructional coach, training, mentoring and managing around 15 teachers.

    I want to merge the education world with business concepts, and would love to learn those through gaining an MBA and consulting for a while. I know I don’t want to do finance/i-banking etc. but ultimately want to consult for non-profits to get their ideas going and viable.

    Where should I be targeting? Is there anywhere where I could get a higher scholarship–I paid through college and don’t get paid a lot now.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

  • hbsguru

    well, 19/20 consultants will tell you that a 720 GMAT, esp. with those splits, is fine and I might be one of them. A 76% Q with a 48 (and 3.8 IT degree at Mumbai) means you are better at math than 50 percent of the faculty at your target schools.
    If any schools are willing to “wink” at a 720 it is Duke, Tuck and Haas.
    Wharton might ding you for someone pretty similar and no extra currics and a 740.
    It is really hard to tell someone w. a 720 GMAT to take it over. You have a consistent and winning story with competence and success in all you have done.
    Unless you REALLY think you can get that to a 750 and don’t mind taking tests like that, I might stick w. the 720.
    I think you are getting admitted to most of your target schools with your current story and scores.

  • Improbabilitydrive

    Thanks sandy! Helpful as always 🙂

  • hbsguru

    just say you enjoy doing internal consulting at IB and helping clients, to the extent possible that you can back up that story. Say you want to transition fr. using data to help your company and clients to general strat. consulting.
    No need to make a big whoop over the CFA, just sound convincing about consulting. A 770 expalins away a lot 🙂

  • Improbabilitydrive

    Disclosures: Indian male. Working as data analyst in top IB. Age 24 on matriculation.

  • Improbabilitydrive

    Hi sandy,

    One small question, I have a big gmat (770) and also completed cfa level 2. I personally want to work in finance consulting. But since most cinsulting firms hire general consultants, I don’t know how to play my essay. Would it make more sense to go with consultant story (since my gmat puts me in strong position thr) or financial services story(whr my cfa is handy)? How do you play cfa in your story line generally in ur exp? And how much of a impact does it make?

    Thanks in advance

  • hbsguru

    Not sure impact of Big 4 FT work ex will have on this.
    Past is fine, future is fine, extras are impressive–but let’s hope some adcom does not read all that and say, “So what? IF this dude was serious about that, he should have gotten more involved in biotech etc. already?” Adcoms often think that way, altho do not speak or write that way.
    This could be iffy at HWS because of any variant of that thinking. Outside HWS this is prob. an in-line profile.

  • hbsguru

    Depends on competition in your cohort. Guy above works in Oil, for Exxon, went to Petro U, has real solid stats, it is a tight, known package, and goals align. That is often an admit at HBS, esp. once you step out off finance and consulting, where competition is just 30 pct harder. Okla-Oil guys are just real solid. The harder part of this cohort are Desis working for Shlumb. but they get in as well, altho door is more narrow.

  • OnTheTrain

    Hi Sandy, how about this tech/bio focused one?

    -710 GMAT
    -3.5 GPA Molecular Biology (top public IV, US)
    -25 years old South east asian male, born and raised US
    -Working in strategy and operations consulting at (Big 4) for 2-3 years, healthcare/tech projects
    -Extracurriculars include co-founding a not for profit startup incubator in undergrad that saw significant funding flow towards portfolio companies, raised funding for the incubator to become self sufficient, staffed a board of directors, actively involved as advisor for program and mentor for health/med teams, continuing relations to keep program running, president of business fraternity
    -Mentoring underprivileged refugees and facilitating their transition to American, mentor their children in school, teach english to family, help them apply for jobs, etc (1.5yr)
    -Story: Pre medical student with an interest in entrepreneurship, worked internship in health technology startup as strategy and product guy, pivoted into management consulting to hone analytical background
    -Interested in pursuing the intersection of medical and biological technology either at a startup or company, using MBA as platform for this.
    -Goals: Hone my background into an invaluable management asset to a medtech, biotech or health tech firm. Eventually run company in med/bio tech space or pivot into venture capital with a focus in health and medicine.

    Thank you for your time and your feedback!

  • TimeWillTell

    Hey Sandy,

    Would love to get your feedback on my profile.

    -720 GMAT
    -115 TOEFL
    -3.8 GPA in Information Technology Engineering from Mumbai University
    -24 years old Indian female
    -Working in technology consulting for 3 years at a consulting firm (think EY, Deloitte, Accenture) and performed well so far (good rating for the past two years)
    -Extracurriculars include co-founding a not for profit to reduce voter apathy,
    mentoring kids aged 11-12 as part of the Green Batti Project (similar to the Big Brother program), conducted reverse mentoring of senior management at my firm and also organized mentoring sessions at my college with a team of alumni.
    -Cancer survivor associated with a cancer organization aimed at creating a survivor network and providing financial/moral support
    – Certified PADI scuba diver
    – Interested in pursuing healthcare management concentration at the likes of Duke, Tuck, Wharton and Haas with the short term goal of pursuing healthcare consulting at a top firm and long term goal of setting up a consulting firm in India.

    I’m not sure if I should retake the GMAT since it seems to be at or below average at my target colleges. My V/Q breakup is 40/48 – I’m wondering if that’s going to be a problem since my quant score is at 76%.

    Thank you for your time and your feedback!

  • Not beyond oneself

    Hi Sandy
    I have a similar profile: great stats but “not beyond oneself” extras. I thought this was almost a requiremwnt for HBS. Why is it not in this case, job pedigree?

  • hbsguru

    that is pretty solid all around, does not seem to have the X factor you need about identity politics to get into Stanford, but chances at other places are real solid with serviceable execution and solid recs.

    Extracurriculars – Quit job and traveled from Alaska to Argentina by
    vehicle over past year. Learned Spanish and volunteered along the way.
    Ahem, I assume you are working again, if not, hmmmm, that could be a real boo-boo.

    Guys like you get into HBS all the time, just tell a clear story, which you seem to have. HBS likes guys from Petro Engin. U, etc. Other schools for this profile as well. Tech/Alt Energy is close enuf goals (for government and adcom work).

  • CuriousEngineer

    I would be very grateful for your feedback on my chances to get into different MBA programs.
    -740 GMAT
    -3.7 GPA Undergraduate in Petroleum Engineering University of Oklahoma
    -5 Years as Upstream Enginer at ExxonMobil, 1 year at smaller oil and gas operator
    -31 years old Male
    -Extracurriculars – Quit job and traveled from Alaska to Argentina by vehicle over past year. Learned Spanish and volunteered along the way.
    Target Schools: Stanford, Berkley, Duke, MIT, Tuck, Harvard
    Goal: Utilize MBA to transition into management role at Tech/Alt. Energy/Energy company

  • Alejandro

    Sandy, I would immensely appreciate your feedback on my profile for this upcoming Round 1 application cycle.

    -Applied with 660 GMAT (Now have a 740 Q49 V42)
    -3.5 GPA
    -Electrical Engineering undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin (Top 10 Engineering school)
    experience includes 3 years as a consultant for IBM Global Business
    Services where I was hired onto a rotational 2-year program that
    expedited me to Senior Consultant. Have now been working for a small
    private technology consulting firm for 1.5 years. I have had multiple
    leadership roles at both companies where I have led consultants and
    analysts with double-triple the amount of experience I had.
    include being consistently involved since college where I was part of
    multiple organizations and engineering societies, holding two officer
    positions in an Engineering Honor Society. Have remained involved with
    community service projects through organizations at work both at IBM and
    new small firm, where I will start to hold an officer position in the
    next month or so.
    -27-year old Hispanic male, first generation student

    To transition into Management Consulting to be involved with larger
    more impactful technology projects to eventually hold an executive
    position at a technology company

    -Applied Round 2 last year to Columbia, Wharton, Harvard and dinged by all three
    -Reapplicant target schools include: Columbia, Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg


  • S

    Hi Sandy & John,

    Thank you for your comments and insights! Could you please take a look at my profile and let me know how it looks?

    – GMAT: 740 (open to taking it again)

    – University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering, 3.4 GPA

    – Work experience: 1 yr Technical/Software consultant at Small/Midsize Digital firm, 2 yrs at Accenture – at both companies working on cutting edge Internet of Things (IOT) custom solutions for fortune 50 companies. Solid technical background. out standing offers from a few start ups.

    – Promotions: 2 promotions in 3 years

    – Extracurricular: Resident Advisor (UofI) involved in causes as education, equality, LGBT, drug and alcohol abuse.
    Instructor at Khan Academy (free, world-class education for the world)
    High school – formed and captained soccer and cricket teams. Lead the team to inter school championship
    Volunteer for buildings schools for the blind, tree plantation in areas with deforestation.
    Teaching under privileged kids in india (not in association to any institution)

    -MBA course goals: Entrepreneurship, Leadership and General Management.

    – Goals:

    Short-term continue in technical consulting – lead and manage various IOT practices. Provide managerial and technical oversight. Sell and Deliver. Change and innovation management.

    Long-term, after gaining experience and client relationships, create a technology company serving IOT needs and markets. I believe that IOT is definitely the next big thing and the business world is not quite sure what to make of it, yet.

    Strong Philanthropic aspirations: providing free education and shelter for children who cannot afford it. Education solves all issues that plague the world.

    – 25 year-old Indian male

    – School targets: Wharton, Booth, HBS, Sloan

    Other info/Background: Born in rural India, Brought up in Urban Indian city. Went to a top boarding school in India for 5 years. Deans list, UofI. 3 month internship at a startup in california. 3 month internship at oracle.

    Appreciate your feedback and any tips that you may have.


  • Mr. Property

    Hey Sandy, I would like to hear your thoughts on my profile,

    27y old german male
    Gmat 740

    Undergrad: Well known university in London (think UCL, Kings College, Lse) graduated with a First class (3.85) in Economics and Management, year abroad in hong kong
    Grad: Master in Economics from Yale with 3.6 GPA
    Grad: Master in Finance from Oxbridge with approx 3.7 GPA

    Work experience: 4 Years in Big 3 Consulting firm in Real estate
    Internships with big Investment bank real estate division, peace corps, deloitte real estate consulting and big Chinese property development company

    Extracurriculars: Captain of Fencing team at college, Rowing, Involvement in Human Rights organisation and President of College Real estate society, 5 languages, volunteer project in latin america for 3 months

    Goals: Either stay in Real estate consulting or move into development

    Target School: Harvard, Wharton