Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

This 27-year-old management consultant in India already has an MBA degree from an Indian business school. But with a 730 GMAT and a goal of running a non-profit in his home country, he now wants to get a second MBA from a top U.S. program.

After serving for a year in Americorps, this 25-year-old woman became a programmer at a venture capital and major studio-backed entertainment startup. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.7 grade point average from a public ivy, she hopes to go to business school to enhance her career opportunities.

After racking up two years as an investment banking analyst at a bulge bracket bank in New York, he’s been working as an associate for a private equity firm in the past three years. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA from Duke University, this 26-year-old Asian male now hopes to use the MBA to transition into a corporate strategy 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.)

sales guy

Mr. Second MBA

 

  • 730 GMAT (will retake to try for a 750)
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a second-tier engineering college in India, graduating in the top 3% of the class
  • MBA from a top five business school in India, graduating in the top 15% of the class
  • Work experience includes a short, one-year stint for an information technology firm before getting the MBA and transitioning into financial services as an analyst for a year; has worked for the past two and one-half years for a major consulting company that is a major feeder to business schools
  • Extracurricular involvement running own non-profit fitness center, joint secretary/treasurer for festivals and conventions at both the engineering institute and business school; coach of a local power lifting team (all individuals belonging to underprivileged groups from my non-profit gym); singer, fitness modeling; Have won several awards in debating, stage plays, singing, technical paper presentations
  • “My life story as been quite challenging. I was raised by a single (school educated) parent (my mother) mostly in a rural setup in India, and completed all my education on scholarships before finally becoming self sustaining (financially) after MBA. So a lot of career/education decisions were driven by the financial condition”
  • Goal: “I wish to come back to India and make an impact in or help develop the non-profit fitness industry”
  • “Reasons for the second MBA: I wish to get some profound education/learning in social entrepreneurship, a kind of education I couldn’t get earlier”
  • 27-year-old male in India

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 20%
Northwestern: 30% to 40%
Duke: 30% to 40%
Virginia: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: Let me cut to the chase. Your stated reason for the second MBA is that you want to take two years off and get an MBA to pursue social entrepreneurship. My first advice is, don’t say that. There is a lot going on here, but you can and should boil it down to something simple.

There are a lot of people in India who get an MBA and then want an American MBA for reasons of upgrading their employment or higher status. There is a way to package that. It is recognized and the trend is your friend. I would say the Indian MBA was technical, and now I want to learn about leadership and strategy to be an impactful leader. I would say you want to be an impactful management consultant and an American MBA could extend my horizons.

You sounds like a really smart guy. Either because you were poor or you may have missed the IIT and you are presenting yourself as an outsider within the inner world of the Indian hierarchy, trying to break into class one. Get the chip off the shoulder. Get more savvy about how to present yourself. And if you can get a 750 GMAT, it wouldn’t hurt. Due to the fecklessness and spinelessness of of the MBA admissions community, the GMAT has become much more important than it ever has been. It’s hypocritical of them to value the GMAT the way they do and then give a sermonette about what they are looking for.

Harvard and Stanford are stretches because they have enough Indians without your problems. There are a lot of Indians who do not have problems. Wharton has a lot of high-performing Desis. They were first born, not second born. You are a classic second born kid. You’ve had to figure stuff out. Things don’t come naturally to you. That can make for a very powerful personality in the fullness of time, but in the eyes of Harvard and Stanford admissions, that is a reach. You are not getting into those schools.

If you get the 750 GMAT, Wharton is an acceptable reach. If you present yourself correctly and do your homework, you could get into a lot of other very good MBA programs. I don’t say this very much, but you should educate yourself or hire a consultant to get you in sync with what counts in this game. If you do that, you would be a natural fit at places ranked five through ten in Poets&Quants’ ranking.

What you need is a pair of gray slacks and a blue button-down shirt. If you could get that part of your story correct, you would be attractive because of your tech background. McKinsey, BCG or Bain could say, yeah, we could put this guy on tech cases after you get your MBA.

  • helpexpress

    Hi there,

    – 26 year old black British female (parents are immigrants from Zambia).
    – Masters (MEng) in Mechanical Engineering from a UK university (mid tier overall, but top 10 for engineering)
    – GPA: 3.45 (converted based on grades and 2:1 degree classification)
    – Extracurriculars at uni include mechanical engineering society president, head of engineering school student government, volunteer for a local organisation that helps underprivileged youths apply for university.
    – Completed internships while at uni as a business analyst in Shanghai, and as a mechanical engineer for an oil company (think Chevron, Shell etc.)
    – Aiming for a 700-720 GMAT
    – Work as a mechanical engineer for an multinational engineering company within their oil and gas division (eg. AECOM, Jacobs Engineering)
    – Will have 5 years work experience upon matriculation. 1 promotion, was on track to get a second, but the oil industry downturn has put a halt on all promotions at my company.
    – Chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) young members network for my region, where I organise events to promote mechanical engineering to school children and give job search related advice to university students. Was awarded young Mechanical Engineer of the Year by the IMechE for my efforts.
    – Goal is to transition into general management for a clean energy tech firm.

    I’m interested in applying to MIT, Yale, Berkeley, Cambridge and Oxford.

    If you could please assess my chances that would be great!

  • LebanonIsrael

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for all your insight. I would really appreciate if you could evaluate my chances at top 10 B schools.

    Education: Top 10% of mid-tier university in the U.S. (i.e. a top 50 university), studied both English and Biology, received scholarship for all 4 years of university, received an additional scholarship to study abroad at the American University of Beirut (only student selected to receive a scholarship), president of 3 clubs in undergrad (one of which I founded), received multiple research grants

    Work Experience: Internship in boutique consulting (pharma-focused), then ~1.5 years in strategy at a top bank in NYC

    Extracurriculars: Board member for a local non-profit that supports education initiatives in developing countries (organized and participated in a trip to one of the developing countries), mentor for underprivileged high school women in NYC, volunteered at science museums consistently for ~9 years in a variety of departments

    Background: Female, 24, american, raised in Seattle, lives in NYC, interesting family background (my mom is belarusian and romanian- jewish and my dad is middle eastern – christian). My family background has sparked my interest in the region and I’ve traveled to Israel, Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East.

    GMAT: 730

    Goal: Short-term: join a top mgmt consulting firm (M/B/B), long-term: start a non-profit that provides science education opportunities for women in the Middle East (similar to the Malala Fund, but focused on science specifically)

    Target Schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, LBS, MIT, Columbia

    I know my chances might be slim- please be brutally honest! Also- I’m thinking of applying fall 2017, so I am considering switching jobs to boost my application. If there are any roles in particular that might boost my chances before I apply please let me know (e.g. a manager role at a start-up? more non-profit experience?).

  • Michael

    Hi John & Sandy,

    -Marine Corps Logistics Officer with multiple billets beyond rank, significant responsibilities, non-combat deployment experience. Heavy interpersonal-related job. Almost 4 years.
    -Non-Vandy/Duke SEC school grad 3.2 GPA
    -Significant experience on 2012 Presidential campaign staff (8 months)
    -Shooting for a 690-700 GMAT at end of summer.
    -Moderate French language abilities.
    -Father is a MIT Nuclear PhD (if that matters)

    Applying:
    -HEC (Paris)
    -Said (Oxford)
    -Fuqua (Duke)
    -Darden (UVA)
    -Kenan-Flagler (UNC)
    -McCombs (Texas)
    Thank you & Semper Fi!

  • mirone

    Hey Sandy

    I plan on applying this upcoming year after deciding not to last year.

    -770 GMAT (first attempt–if that’s at all helpful)
    -3.5 GPA from a top 10 university (not an Ivy though, but perhaps an Ivy-equivalent) in Economics with a concentration in finance and a marketing/management ‘minor’-type thing
    -In my 3rd year working in a corporate finance position at a Big 4 accounting firm (to be clear, this is not an internal position and i’m not in a CPA-type role but I do have a busy season).
    -My extracurriculars include work as a corporate chapter co-chair for United Way Young Leaders currently. In college i held a few fraternity leadership positions and was a team leader in the consulting club (worked with small businesses in teams of 4–wasn’t really that great an experience though). I also travel a lot for my pleasure if that means anything.
    -I’m working towards getting a CFA. Passed Level I, will have taken Level II by the time I apply; hope to apply as a Level III candidate (which is the last level).
    -Will be applying as a 25 year old, will enroll at 26
    -I’m interested in working in the technology industry. I’d like to combine my passion for innovation (which I admittedly can’t demonstrate besides books read and excited small talk) and my background in finance to work in a financial capacity in the tech/sustainable energy industry. My current position involves a lot of valuation work, hope to use those skills in banking/PE/VC, as I want a job that’s more strategic/value-add than my current role. Long-term I might want to actually work in the industry or start my own company.
    -Schools I’m looking at include Stanford, HBS, Kellogg, Fuqua, Haas (Wharton, Anderson, Ross as well)

    Any insight you can give me would be very much appreciated.

  • DPoolAU

    Hey y’all,

    Did I just start this with y’all? Anyways, I’m looking at applying to Harvard 2+2 and Stanford Deferred in round 2 or 3 next academic year. Let me know if I’m being realistic here or if I should knock myself down a couple of pegs.

    -I will be graduating from Auburn University in May after 3 years as a double major in Finance and International Business-Chinese with a concentration in Economics (I know, learning Chinese in Alabama is the peak of irony).
    -HSK Level 3 certified in Mandarin (just means I can survive in basic conversations)
    -20 years old (skipped a grade).
    -760 GMAT (88% Quant (50) , 98% Verbal (44))
    -3.93 GPA
    -White male 🙁
    -2 internships at Fortune 200 energy company in Houston, 1 internship at state-owned real estate company in Shanghai, China
    -Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership society)
    -Oversaw all diversity efforts on Auburn’s campus as Chairman of Diversity Committee in Student Senate.
    -First student in Auburn’s history to be an Assistant Vice President, Senator, and Chairman in Student Government in the same term.
    -Will be attending the new M.S. in Global Commerce program at UVA next year. It’s a 10-month program through UVA, ESADE, and Lingnan in China and will graduate with two master’s degrees. I don’t know how MBA programs will interpret this. I chose to go because I was stalling in growth at Auburn and needed something new.

    Anyways, is Auburn going to hurt me too much? I loved the experience but it’s no Ivy League. Also, I’ll be a dual Lithuanian and American citizen upon application time (going through Lithuanian citizenship process right now). Idk if that will help but it’s interesting I think? Who knows. Thanks y’all!

  • durga prasad

    Hi Sandy,

    I would love some feedback.

    Age: 27

    Background: Latino/Asian

    School:

    -Bs in Engineering/IT 4.0 GPA, Top 5 Best School in Peru

    -Ms in Engineering Management 3.88 GPA (Australia Top 10) (Full Scholarship Winner)

    GMAT: 700 (Should I push it a bit more?)

    Work Experience:

    2 years in PwC (1 year for the IT Audit and the other for IT SAP Consulting)

    2 years in Medium Size year in a Senior Analyst/Project Manager position (wanted to slow down after almost died in a surgery)

    3 years as Lecturer (Project Management for Public Investment)

    Extra curricular:

    Volunteer for low income children society

    Volunteer for handicapped and seniors.

    Lived in 3 countries, Peru, Australia(studies) and Canada (studies)

    Backpacked around Asia

    Did some Management Consulting to small companies and start ups (free of charge)

    Post MBA plans:

    Become international

    Strategy/Management Consulting MBB

    “Want to impact in the biggest decisions of companies”

    Long Term Plan: Be entrepreneur in Strategy/Management Consulting mixed with IT

    School list:

    Harvard, Wharton, Kellog, Michigan, Tuck, Stanford, INSEAD

  • Adil Rajabali

    First off, thank you so much for providing such great insight on what makes one an ideal candidate for top-ranked business schools.

    – I am 27 years old
    – 5 yrs experience working in investment banking (2 yrs at an unknown mid market bank, 3yrs at a well known boutique bank)
    – internship experience with Big Four accounting firm, a Chinese IT firm in Beijing for two months and at a regional investment bank
    – Received an undergrad degree in business administration, focused in energy finance at University of Houston
    – Graduated with high honors (3.81)
    – Highly active with Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and teach a financial modeling course at University of Houston during the weekends (Summer and Winter semesters)
    – First generation college student
    – 710 GMAT score

    Goal with MBA: I want to further expand my network in investment banking and private equity and eventually establish my own investment bank focused in raising capital for independent oil and gas companies in the United States.

  • Digital_Politico

    Hi Sandy,

    Digital Politico here that Would love to hear what you think of my background and odds of success for an elite MBA.

    No GMAT, but GRE is 169V, 163Q, 6/6 on the writing section.

    English/Art Double Major at a top 25, non-East Coast Liberal Arts school (think Colorado College, Bates, Oberlin, or Macalaster), 3.44 GPA (out of 4.0).

    Work experience is 3 years at a DC-based web development/digital marketing firm focused on the non-profit/political clients + 2 years at a digital marketing firm with political clients at the top tier of politics (think Presidential) and a cozy relationship with the big players in the tech advertising space (meaning we’re testing the latest ad products from the likes of Google and Facebook even before the rest of the market given the good PR from this particular client niche). I’ve been repeatedly promoted and manage my own team and portfolio of business.

    Extracurriculars include Toastmasters, volunteering for local political campaigns, blogging, and designing and developing websites for friends and family and as a side business.

    The way I typically present myself is that my Liberal Arts education (English + Art) has given me the writing and design skills so necessary to succeed in the quickly changing marketing space (move from traditional TV and radio to digital) while my work experience has given me the technical and quantitative chops to understand the complicated ad tech space and analyze the wealth of marketing data produced in digital marketing.

    My reason for business school is to pick up more of the quantitative skills I will need to continue to succeed as well as the management skills I will need as my career progresses and I manage larger teams and larger budgets. My goal for after getting an MBA is to continue working in the tech communications space, potentially at a start-up or at a big corporation like Capital One that is looking to build up their in-house innovation capabilities.

    I know that my chosen majors, less than stellar (but hopefully still solid enough) GPA and alma mater, and the marketing career path probably aren’t setting me up for success in the top tier of schools. Do I have any chance even at the likes of Duke, Berkeley, Yale, or Darden? Given that I am based in DC, how about Georgetown? Any that you would recommend that would jump for a white male with a liberal arts background?

    Thanks,
    Digital Politico

  • rubab.singh@gmail.com

    Haha, will definitely keep that in mind. I also considered the idea of getting a reco from someone at Rocket, I did form some good relationships there regardless of the overall experience. What do you think about that idea?

    Also, are the schools in line with my profile? I ruled out Stanford and Wharton because they both seemed to be stretches… Any school I should be considering/removing? Since I am applying to most if not all schools in R1, don’t want to overload myself with schools that are already outside the match zone…

    Apologise for the many many questions in advance 😉

  • hbsguru

    haha, you need the right wrapping paper for those experiences, without sounding pissed or uninformed–schools are big fans of the Silver Lining Playbook, not the movie but the idea that all experience is a learning adventure.
    “I got to work thru both a down market and a leadership team in transition, yippie for me, I would not trade those experiences for the world, etc. etc. With actual short anecdotes and the correct take aways and NO HARD FEELINGS!!!

  • rubab.singh@gmail.com

    I hear you. I was also wondering about the trade-off between the increasing the GMAT and polishing the app… I think I will take your word for it and focus on the app instead.

    About Rocket, most of it can be attributed to the financial crumble of the venture itself, they lost their funding from Rocket (due to political reasons) and it got to a point where the CEO was injecting his own money to keep it afloat (he himself resigned now). Moving within Rocket was also a hard task, as they normally do not allow internal transfers (they call it poaching) and I had overall lost faith in the idea after the first experience.

  • hbsguru

    pretty solid story and working for MBB always a plus–you got some explaining to do about going BACK to MBB after Rocket, which is a hot place.

    retaking a 720 GMAT is always a tuff one.

    for the sake of argument, let’s say you get a 740–how likely is that to move the needle at your targets “HBS, Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, INSEAD, LBS.”

    I dont think it will make a diff at HBS, they got lots of 740s and are not GMAT obsessed. Your chances there will depend on correctly explaining your, ahem, interesting zig-zag fr. MBB and back. That could make a great intro yourself essay.

    Hi everyone, I’m someone who fled MBB for a hot start-up incubator, and then fled back. Here’s my story, briefly . . . .
    Sloan IS GMAT centric, and might like you more w. a higher score, alto you could get in as is, w. correct execution.

    Kellogg likes consultants and enterp. refugees like you, they might like you more w. a 740, but hard to say.

    Columbia is GMAT slutty, and higher score could make a diff there.

    Booth might like a higher score, but I think you can get in there if you convince them why you want to come.

    Man, I think you should be an expected admit at Insead and LBS.
    Given your story, the GMAT is just cosmetics, no one has any doubt that you are high performing and successful and can thrive at any B school. But cosmetics can count, all that said, I might stick w. the 720 and put my efforts into opitmizing the app and recs.

    Just to make this harder, I would def. reco a retake if original score were below 700.

    sk

  • rubab.singh@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy,

    Have been following your blog for a long time – and I really enjoy it. The year of business schools apps has come for me and I would love to hear your thoughts about my profile.

    indian female, 24 yrs old
    GMAT: 720 (q50, v38)
    Education: Honors in Economics from University of Delhi. Graduated second in class with 76% (3.76 GPA according to WES)
    Career: Worked with MBB for 2 years (mostly with high tech clients), moved on to a Rocket Internet venture in the Philippines for about 5 months as a project manager (also managed 5 people). Did not completely enjoy the work culture at Rocket, so moved back to India and rejoining MBB (same role as before) in Jan.
    EC: AIESEC team leader during college, home-tutored school going kids, founded a social initiative at MBB, participant in several others. Nothing much besides that
    Other facts: Lived in 3 countries – Russia (2 years), the Philippines (5 months), India (remainder). Well-travelled otherwise as well. Would love to go to a school in the US because 90% of my family is settled there.

    Post MBA-goals: Want to get back into management consulting (MBB) in the short term, and then in a executive role at a leading retail/tech company

    Target schools: HBS, Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, INSEAD, LBS.

    I am a bit concerned about my GMAT. I understand the Indian applicant pool is very competitive, but does it make sense to try to increase the score from 720?

    Look forward to your thoughts on my app. I expect nothing less than the brutal honesty that you’re known for 😉

  • rubab.singh@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy,

    Have been

  • MNRaider

    Hi Sandy,

    I have 4.5 year of work experience and am currently an associate at Fortune 15 corporate venture capital fund focusing on healthcare innovation and new business incubation. Previously spent two years at a middle market healthcare investment bank having been promoted during my time there and worked on many market notable deals. I spent one year working for Deloitte in its audit practice in my first year out of school and was promoted there as well.

    3.81 GPA in accounting from a smaller liberal arts college.

    3.65 GPA and master of science in accountancy from Notre Dame.

    700 GMAT (assuming, havent taken yet)

    Extracurriculars: active student-alumni mentor for my undergraduate school, hosted campus TV show and was a varsity football player.

    Target schools: Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg, Wharton,Columbia, Haas, Ross, UCLA Anderson

    Please chance me! Thanks!

  • prashant

    Hi John,

    Please evaluate my profile:-

    Indian IT Male

    GMAT- 720 ( Q47, V42, IR-5, AWA-6)

    Graduation- Not great academics, 59% from a second tier Indian
    Engineering university in Computer Science and Engineering

    2+ years work experience as a Quality Analyst in an Indian IT services
    firm where I have streamlined a critical module leading a team of 4 which has led
    to overall improvement in systems and ensured better organization of
    downtime handling by correctly delegating responsibility leading to
    higher efficiency

    As Member of college student body- organized quiz and debate events in
    annual cultural festival in 2010 and 2011

    Student volunteer in International Conference on Contemporary
    Computing held in my university in collaboration with University of Florida
    (August, 2009)

    Member of team which organized seminar on Entrepreneurial
    Development(November,2011)

    Participated in Airtel Delhi Half Marathon – completed the half
    marathon in approximately 85 minutes (November, 2014)

    Member of Toastmasters International (November 2014-Present)

    Learning Spanish language to access Hispanic culture, music and art and increase my awareness of world culture

    As part of NGO – I taught poor meritorious students subjects such as
    Maths and English

    Volunteered for company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives
    by coordinating Tree Plantation and Blood Donation drives.

    As volunteer of CRY NGO I was involved as volunteer in the event
    ‘Colorothon’ in November, 2014 in Delhi. The event involved
    participation of more than 1000 people.

    Represented company in Concern for India’s 5Cs 5 kilometer marathon
    where I stood 4th among more than 100 runners and completed the race
    in less than 18 minutes.
    Goal: To become a consultant in Information technology sector

    Question:- Should I retake GMAT to improve Quant to compensate for low
    academics?

    Target colleges: UNC Kenan Flagler, Texas McCombs, Darden, Michigan
    Ross, USC Marshall

  • goldushapple

    >>Third, you are “worried [about] pushing 30 on graduation and that is not ideal?”It’s not ideal but it’s no big deal either

    What’s an “ideal” graduation age? 27, 28? It’s very idiotic for MBA schools to have a graduation class that is younger and younger. Look, a good percent of all the graduates of the T15 aren’t going to achieve anything close to, say, *gasp* Mitt Romney or become some CIO of a semi-major company.

  • vyoon

    Hi Sandy,

    If you could determine my chances of getting into H / S / W that would be great!

    – 750 GMAT

    – 27 year old Australian of Asian ethnicity

    – Graduate management consultant at Bain (entering my 3rd year)

    – Prestigious double degree Commerce/Law at Sydney University (need to be top 0.25% performer in Australia to get into this course) – due to different grading system, all I can say is that I was top 10% for Commerce and average performer for Law

    – Internship experience: 2 bulge bracket IBs, 1 global European MC firm, 1 social business accelerator in Europe

    – Leadership: won 2 national business case competitions (out of 100+ teams in one competition and 221 teams in the other), Vice-President of Australia’s largest business students organization

    – Do-gooder activities: lived 6 months in Peru as a volunteer English teacher/orphanage assistant, 1 month Church missions outreach in Cambodia, events co-ordinator for local church events for a congregation of 200+

    – Goal: to leverage my experience and MBA knowledge to help alleviate poverty in the Middle East where communities have been damaged by religious conflict by creating social businesses. (I am learning Arabic – intermediate level)

    Thank you

  • mmk

    Female, Caucasian
    Deloitte Human Capital Consultant (will have 4 years work experience upon admittance)
    Undergrad degree: Northwestern University, studied Learning & Organizational Change & Business Institutions
    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.8
    – Lead social impact program at Deloitte (year long program that culminates with an international pro bono consulting trip for 31 participants)
    – Led recruiting efforts for Northwestern at Deloitte
    – Board Development Chair on nonprofit Associate Board focused on sustainable international development
    – Mentor to college group at Northwestern that focused on consulting projects with nonprofits
    – May have firm sponsorship for MBA
    – Interested in pursuing career with a large foundation

    – Applying to top ten schools

  • Kartik

    Hi Sandy and John.
    My profile is a bit similar to many B school applicants but crucially also very different in a couple of ways (my age and mgmt diploma). Therefore I really need your help in quantifying the odds of success at my target schools.
    I am an Indian Male, 35. I have 10+ years of work experience in an Indian financial services co in Risk Mgmt. I have a Mgmt diploma from a second tier institution(3.0 GPA) and a B.Com. I have an FRM ( Risk management certification from GARP) (in the top quartile).
    I am doing well but have been thinking of doing an MBA from the US to expand my career options (accelerate/grow into a leadership role) in my job area (Finance: global capital markets with a concentration in Emerging markets). The global financial crisis made me a bit fearful of applying abroad for an MBA, before. But due to some professional and personal circumstances, I feel the time is right and further delays would not help. A US MBA would also help me get global exposure, access to better faculty/profs, learn from a global student population, all of which I wouldn’t get in India. I don’t want to do an EMBA, as it’s not feasible to travel abroad for it, also I feel recruiters would not see enough commitment to re-skilling as they would when compared to a FT MBA candidate.
    I scored a 730 in GMAT, just recently (47Q, 44V, 7IR,5 AWA). I didn’t have much time to prepare as I was working on a big project which is due to launch shortly. Do I need to retake the GMAT? Or can I explain the quant away with my quant-oriented job?
    I will also get some very senior employees to write my recos.
    Can I get in any one of Columbia (early decision), all round 2: or Chicago, MIT, Haas, Kellogg (1 year)? Or should I look at different schools in the US?
    Please let me know.
    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

  • bluray90

    Hello Sandy and John

    Please evaluate my profile for Columbia,Kellogg,Wharton,Booth and MIT

    25 year old Indian male from non-IIT engineering college (top 25 engineering college).

    – GMAT – 760 (50;42)

    – Total work experience 38 months
    1) 29 months (current job) with big 4 audit firm in the Risk advisory practice. multiple international engagements, awards at work with 1 promotion in 2 years.

    2) 11 months with small strategy research firm in India after college as an analyst

    – Post MBA goals – Want to move to strategy consulting
    – During MBA, want to have exposure to entrepreneurship courses

    Strong co-circulars in university – sports, music, cultural events, literary society head etc;
    Basic community work

  • J

    Sandy/John

    Please evaluate my odds.

    – Older undergrad. currently 30 with 4 years post grad experience and 5 years at matriculation. worked full time through undergrad to pay for education and living costs

    – lived on my own and supported myself since senior of high school (parents moved out of state 1 month into senior of high school and I stayed to finish)

    – pre-bachelors and during school was a Sous chef for 3 years managing staff of 10 people while creating menus and handling all business and food orders

    – worked 50+ hours a week while maintaining at least 15 credit hours in school and 3 extracurricular clubs

    – continue to volunteer at Cooking Matters as a chef instructor teaching cooking techniques to low income families and demonstrating how to cook healthy meals on a budget

    – 3.53 program GPA (cum laude) finance degree from Georgia State University

    – no direction first 2 years of college so overall GPA is 3.12 but received 3.5 or higher every semester after. Not sure how they evaluate this? My finance degree and institutional gpa is 3.53 but my entire college academic gpa is 3.12

    – 700 GMAT

    – 14 months as Natural gas analyst for a boutique natural gas firm in Denver as an analyst and gas scheduler

    – 2 years as IT PMO analyst at CGI group consulting on Colorado state healthcare exchange website

    – 7 months as PMO operations Senior Analyst with Accenture consulting at Google HQ handling outsourced vendor management activities around finance and accounting

    – 9 months as Management Consultant on IT PMO team with Accenture consulting at JP Morgan Chase for their website and mobile app revitalization

    – want to shift from IT project Management to High Tech Product Management at elite tech firm like Google, Apple, Amazon

    – I have taken java and python programming courses to help with tech skills ( felt compelled to develop these skills to make up for no CS/STEM degree and these firm’s desire to hire CS/STEM degree holders)

    – live in San Francisco now want to apply to UCLA, Berkeley, USC or Washington to stay on west coast and have proximity to tech firms

    – first choice is UCLA because I want to move to warmer climate and better beaches. also loved the culture when I visited.

    – how selective is UCLA do I have a chance with my lower than average and unusual background and lower than average GMAT?

    – Any other schools you suggest? What are my chances for these four?

  • poqua

    FYI, that was for an anonymous friend, if you could assess where I stand with those very same schools, it would be a great help.

    Male, 27 years old, Caucasian
    Undergraduate degree in Finance from a target school – 3.5
    JD from a T14 school
    Work experience
    4 years at a V20 firm, working in M&A

    Thank you.

  • poqua

    Hi John and Sandy, could you weigh my chances at Columbia, Tuck, Stern, Wharton Harvard.

    Male, 36 years old, Caucasian
    730
    Undergraduate degree in History from a top University – 3.7
    JD from a T14 school
    Work experience:
    Two years at a V20 law firm
    10 years as an FBI special agent, 6 of which were spent on the HRT.

  • Varun

    more info for your kind consideration..

    § 740 GMAT (1st attempt)

    § 3.5
 GPA (equivalent)

    § Undergraduate degree in mechanical a state school in India

    § Master’s degree in mechanical design from IIT, India (CGPA 9.5/10)

    § Work experience includes 7 years at GE Aviation, Bangalore, moving from
    entry-level analyst position to Program Lead for engine line

    § 1 IP disclosure, worked in cutting-edge technologies ~ composites and
    Additive

    § Extracurricular involvement in a CSR ~ 3 years, GMAT prep consultancy ~
    1 year

    § Goal: To assume operations lead role in global reputed Co-s –preferably in
    aerospace/automotive companies – as Additive manufacturing becomes a norm in these
    industries – opportunity to innovate and simplify the implementation of change.
    Then transition to a consulting – more customer interface – role and
    diversified industrial domains. Long-term, I see myself leading a top consulting
    firm or an OEM company in the operations or other general management functions.

    § Reason for MBA: It is the missing
    piece of the puzzle as far as my long term goal is concerned. I want to
    spend time in gathering business knowledge and skills required to excel in
    operations function in a competitive environment and a platform to practice these
    skills – which I think an MBA program offers

    § 31-year-old Asian male

  • Varun

    Male 31, Indian
    740 GMAT

    Undergraduate Degree in Engg ~ 7.6/10 CGPA
    IIT Delhi (M.tech) ~ Graduate degree ~ 9.5/10 CGPA

    Work experience at General Electric India (Bangalore) ~ 7 years full time, 1 patent, working as Program Lead in aviation

    Extracurricular includes 1. GMAT prep consultancy (teaching) 2. coaching basic English-maths-science-computers to under-privileged and hearing-impaired kids, community service at old-age homes

    Interests: Operations mngmt, Marketing

    And, my “Odds of Success” @ Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, Kellogg, Tepper, Berkeley, Ross, Emory, ISB?

  • MBA2016

    And my post-MBA goal is to move brand side to a fitness brand in marketing research/analytics, and eventually become a CMO a work towards better integrating research, communications, product development, and business operations.

  • MBA2016

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Appreciate the time you take to review our chances individually – very helpful/generous service.

    GMAT: 740 Q50V40

    GPA: 3.63 Econ Major from top-20 liberal arts college

    Work Experience: Will have 4 years total upon matriculation. I worked two years at a NYC brand strategy/consulting firm, performing primary research and quantitative analysis. After 1.5 years I was promoted from Analyst to Senior Analyst. I then moved to a small sports marketing company and built out the Analytics group. I started as an Associate and after 1.5 years was promoted to the Manager of the department.

    Leadership/Service Experience: Captain/MVP/Most Inspirational of my High School Baseball Team and played Varsity Baseball in College and won the Team Award (best displaying qualities in a teammate). Now I am a Volunteer Coach for a sixth grade baseball team in a program that focusses on building teamwork and life skills to inner city youth. I was also a Teacher’s Assistant for Intro to Econometrics in College, was a member of the International Honors Society in Economics, and now am a Class Agent for my college and help build donor participation.

    Schools: I’m applying Early Binding to Columbia, and then Round 1 for Berkeley, UCLA, Kellogg, NYU, and Duke.

    Would love your feedback and thoughts! Thanks!

  • JS

    Hi Sandy
    I am applying to following schools want to know if have a shot to get into one of them.
    Stanford
    Harvard
    MIT
    Columbia
    Upenn
    24 Male Hispanic
    Attended Lower Tier IVY Economic Degree
    GPA 3.6
    GMAT 730 (1 try)
    2 years consulting exp at good firm D&T, OW type
    Thanks for your time

  • J-Arch

    Hi Sandy,

    I am entering my last year of a Masters in Architecture degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
    3.65 GPA from a top undergrad architecture program, no grades for my graduate program but am at the top end of my class (not nationally known outside of the architecture community)
    710 GMAT (I have time to retake if a higher score would help)
    3 years work experience as an architectural designer
    Teaching assistant, research assistant, final review critic and Adjunct professor at my current school as well as others.
    Multiple design awards and I have had my work shown in international bienalles.

    Member of Real estate investing club at Harvard GSD.
    Interested in a career as a real estate developer.
    28 year old Puerto Rican male.

    Interested in applying to : Harvard, MIT, Wharton

    I am interested in what my chances would be to these schools or if I should consider a MSRED.

    Please chance me,
    Thank you!

  • Hopeful Marketer

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for dedicating your time to this! Could you assess my profile?

    – GMAT: No official score yet,expecting ~730 range
    – GPA: 3.9
    – College: 2nd tier university
    – Major: Business administration and journalism (full business school quant course load, including economics, statistics, calculus, accounting and finance courses)
    – Athletics: highly-accomplished college athlete, represented Team U.S.A. at international competition
    – Work experience: 1 year in marketing/ leadership development program at Fortune 100 company (designed processes for and managed execution of two major corporate-level digital marketing initiatives), 6 months in business development at another blue chip Fortune 100 company, currently working in marketing at VC-backed startup (leading a cross-functional team to deliver campaigns that help generate awareness for new products; will have been at company 2.5 years at matriculation)
    – Leadership: VP of ethnic-identity organization post-college, VP of sorority in college, captain of D1 college athletics team
    – Volunteering: consistent throughout college (domestic violence shelter, mentoring) and post-college (GED/job-readiness training for youth from low-income areas)
    – Goal: Very interested in moving into consulting, working on helping companies identify their optimal customer segmentation and marketing strategies
    – 25 year old African-American female

    Target schools: Stanford (R1), Harvard (R1), Haas (R1), Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Stern, UT

  • JS

    Hi Sandy,

    Thinking of applying this year to BSchool.

    25 year old Indian male

    GPA 3.45 from Top 25 Engineering School in the US in Electrical and Computer Engineering

    GMAT: 770

    – Worked in SE Asia for 4 years in Oil Trading, initially as a Risk Analyst and now as a Trade and Research Analyst supporting our teams in Asia and Europe.

    – Am looking to transition into a consulting firm in their Energy practice, and eventually work on business development and strategy for an energy company.

    – Extracurriculars limited to Activities Board in college. Started an organization before college about educating people on climate change and energy conservation.

    Interested in applying to: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, MIT, NYU, Yale, Haas

    Thanks for your help!

  • PersonalInfo

    That’s quite a lot of personal info.. Might want to chop it down a little bit on the identifying information being a somewhat public person.. just fyi

  • G

    Thanks for the follow-up! I’ll definitely be in touch if I decide to target Harvard, to help boost my chances. Thanks!

  • MBA Candidate

    Hi John/Sandy,

    Thank you for your assessments. Can you evaluate my profile?

    – 26-year-old Chinese-American male

    – GMAT: 760 (49Q/44V), retake score on second
    attempt. First attempt was taken
    while as a senior in college and score was 710 (47Q/40V)

    – 3.8 GPA (top 10% of graduating class)

    – Undergraduate degree in economics from a top 10 school
    in the U.S

    – High school valedictorian

    – Work experience includes two years as an investment
    banking analyst at a bulge bracket bank in New York after college, and
    three years as an associate at a growth oriented private equity firm in
    New York focusing on a specific industry sector (well known within the
    space)

    – Goal: Long-term, become Chief Investment Officer of a
    pension fund / endowment and improve upon the pension fund / endowment
    investment model; short-term, work at a large and sophisticated pension
    fund / endowment (think: Ontario Teachers, CalPERS, etc.) and get a
    broader perspective on investing strategies

    – Activities outside of work: career mentor to students
    and recently graduated alumni; president of the investment club at college
    who established / created an ongoing training program for new club members

    – Target schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago,
    Columbia

    Thank you!

  • TR

    May I ask what public finance firm?

  • BSchool Hopeful

    Hi Sandy,

    I enjoy reading your assessments. Here is my profile:

    – 25 year old African American female

    – 3.9 GPA from private college in Texas (think TCU/SMU/Baylor) double major in business administration and journalism (full business school quant course load, including multiple stats, micro and macro economics, calculus, finance and accounting classes)

    – No official GMAT score yet, expecting score in ~730 range

    – Division 1 track and field athlete in college, 2X All American, Big 12 Champion and represented Team USA at USA Junior Pan-American Championships; team captain sophomore, junior and senior years

    – Other leadership experience: VP of sorority in college, co-membership director of African American employee resource group at 1st job out of college

    – Work Experience: 1 year in Allstate’s leadership development program, where I worked on planning and executing corporate-level digital marketing initiatives for agents (paid search marketing, social media strategy, online video marketing) including executing campaigns against and managing a budget; 6 months at IBM in social-selling driven business development role; currently at fin-tech startup in digital marketing role and will have spent 2.5 years at the company at matriculation (startup just raised 1st round of funding, valuing company at ~500 million)

    – Have job hopped more than I liked to find an opportunity where I could help shape company’s marketing strategy and digital presence, not just “fall in line”

    – Volunteer work: Marketing lead at job-readiness training program in Bay Area

    – Want MBA to move into more of a product marketing role and eventually combine my digital and product marketing skills in a customer/marketing strategy role at a big 4 consulting firm

    – Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Haas, Booth, Stern

    Would love for you to poke holes in this and especially advice on how to address my likely 1 too many jobs.

  • Willy

    Hi Sandy,

    I plan on applying after 3rd year of medical school.

    Currently attending top med school (Harvard, Yale, Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia)
    3.9 Undergraduate GPA, BS in Chemistry (from lesser known liberal arts school)
    700 GMAT (assuming, haven’t taken yet)
    Varsity athlete
    3 years experience as professional baseball player ( drafted by MLB club, played in minor leagues)
    Volunteer for handicapped baseball league
    Interested in healthcare management (academic administration) or possibly development of medical devices/biotech.

    Interested in applying to : Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Yale, Wharton, Tuck, Stanford

    Please chance me, thank you!

  • SustainableFinance

    Hi Sandy,

    I have a similar concern as many, a low GPA. I graduated with a 3.13 from a small state school with a degree in accounting, I immediately completed a fifth year there (to be able to sit for the CPA exam) in that year I had a 3.9 average (which isn’t included in that 3.13 figure) in upper-level classes, some of which were MBA classes. I have since obtained my CPA license and a 730 GMAT score. I am interested in going to Haas, Tuck, HBS, and Stanford GSB (location is hugely important to me). Understanding that all of these are a reach, I may apply to Foster at UW but I am very happy with my current position so I would likely delay a year before applying to UW.

    I’ll admit behind that 3.13 were skipped classes and days chasing fresh snow, which is a pretty poor excuse that an admissions officer won’t likely sympathize with. None-the-less I hope by looking at my class rigor, grade improvements, and test proficiency they will see I can “hang with the best of ’em!”

    Currently I am a research analyst working on developing indicators of environmental, social, and governance performance for use by investors. This is at a small but well known (in the field) NGO. I want to obtain an MBA to transition to consulting or finance in a capacity that will enhance market adoption of these indicators. Prior to my current role I worked as an accounting/finance analyst at an international conservation organization. My extracurricular activities include volunteering at the organization I currently work at while in my previous role, accounting tutor in college, and volunteering at a local food bank.

    I know my GPA is holding me back, what are my odds of getting into these schools?

    Many Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    btw, guys like you get into HBS, too. Altho door is more narrow and they have cut back on military cohort over the past decade to make way for the folks (w. good GMATs) name checked on the pedestal of Statue of Liberty — and others. All you need is serviceable execution, solid recs, and a spot of luck.
    Doing the Intro Yourself essay there would require some “after dinner” smarts and humble bragging in the Davos-man style. What they don’t want is traditional war stories. [“It was pitch black as the platoon crawled thru the tangled vegetation which had been growing for centuries in Afghanistan’s Whooje Mountains . . . we could see our breath in the full moon, and we could, well. so could the Taliban].

  • Diamond Richardson

    Hi Sandy,

    I enjoy readhing your assessments! Here’s my profile:

  • Rahul

    Hi HBS Guru,

    Could you please guide me on what are my chances for the following schools? Any other feedback is also welcome! Thank you.

    760 GMAT

    Education: Undergraduate degree in engineering from a top-tier engineering college in India affiliated to Delhi University, graduating in the top 10 of the class (June’11)

    Work experience: 1 year in RBS Technology division, then 1 year as investment banking analyst in boutique Indian investment bank, 1 year in a bigger investment bank but in same role, 1 year in India focused boutique PE firm as investment analyst – 4 jobs in 4 years is one of my main concern

    Extracurricular involvement: Top 3 positions in 10 stock market competitions in various college festivals. Did a project on investment portfolio optimization (finding the ideal combination of stocks one should have using technology).

    Social work: Founded social entrepreneurship society in affiliation to Enactus India and has been mentoring the team since then, also volunteer for PFA, PETA.

    Passion: Trekking and Swimming. Have done many treks in India. Participated in district level swimming competion.

    25-year-old male in India

    Target colleges: Columbia, Booth, Stern, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, Wharton

  • ankur gupta

    I am willing to attend the school without a scholarship, if the school helps me in arranging for the loans or can act as a co signer.

    Apart from these, can you suggest any other Reach schools for me?

  • TheAssistant

    Hi Sandy,

    I still feel like an outsider in the whole MBA world, so any insight you have is greatly appreciated. Planning to apply R1 to Stern, Haas, Stanford, Wharton, and London Business School, and R2 if necessary to Columbia, Yale, and Oxford.

    26 year old white female
    GMAT: 720 (Q46, V42, AWA6, IR8) <-that's score number 2. Not retaking.
    3.6 GPA from tiny liberal arts college that's not well ranked overall but does weirdly great on odd ad-hoc lists.
    Work: 5 years non-profit fundraising at national/international non-profits. Three years of general assisting in major/planned gifts shop and two years of complex asset/planned gifts work. Basically I did anything that needed doing for 20 people, including onboarding a Chief Development Officer, and then I focused on real estate and assets given after death.
    Why MBA now? Because constantly fundraising for budget to keep the lights on is not conducive to bringing about significant social change. I'd like to directly invest in nonprofits and make alternative financing available to do-gooders, but first I need solid finance chops. Thinking of recruiting for bulge bracket IB and doing two-four years at a major firm before transitioning into social finance for good.
    Extra-curriculars: four years volunteering at animal shelter, off-site admissions for tiny college, starting to volunteer for "free school" in the city. I make a mean mushroom risotto.

  • Yuri

    Greetings Sandy!

    Would you be kind enough to assess my profile please.
    Target schools: Columbia, Kellog, Booth, Wharton and HBS.

    32 years old from Kyrgyzstan (former USSR)
    GRE practice test: 315
    Undegraduate GPA – 3.0 from a private college in UK
    Graduate GPA – 3.3/4.0 from a number one unversity in East Asia.

    Work experience
    1.5 years in diplomatic service, worked at UN in Switzerland
    2 years part-time teaching at Presidential Academy of Public Administration back home
    2 years full time work as adviser to a Member of the National Parliament (Congressman) of my country
    – About to join the Presidential Administration of my country as mid level policy and decision maker

    Extracurricular actvities
    Former national youth boxing champion
    Black belt in Judo
    Boxing and Judo coach at a local youth sport centre.

    I also have had the experience of launching around 10 business ventures (in UK, Singaproe and Kyrgyzstan), most of which failed.

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,

    Yuri

  • algerian

    HI Sandy
    GMAT : 620
    GPA : N/A 16/20 (20 SCALE) from local engineering school (computer science) in Africa (algiers)
    25 y old african male
    2 years exp in public sector
    volunteering in teaching entrepreneurship to high school students
    i would like to apply for Kellogg, Stern, Wharton , maybe Columbia
    Thanks

  • RebeccaRobot

    Just to clarify, you will not attend a school without a scholarship? I don’t think that your target schools are unreasonable, but if a scholarship is a necessity, that might change things…

  • JSA

    Hi Hbs guru,

    I would be grateful for an analysis of my profile and any suggestions to improve it?

    25 year Indian male from ethnic minority group.

    GMAT – 730

    Undergrad in Economics from a reputed Indian University –
    roughly 3.5 GPA equivalent

    Masters in Finance from a top tier Business School in UK –
    roughly 3.4 GPA

    Went back and worked 1 year at the Finance Ministry of India
    then moved back to the UK to work for a top tier Investment bank (in a trading
    support role though not a front-end role, I believe I can spin it in a positive
    light though)

    Additionally, I am in the board of directors of 2 social
    sector organisations in Scotland where I provide strategic advice.

    Short term goal – working in IBD/financial consultancy

    Long term goal – setting up own shop to help small-size
    companies in India

    Only applying to top-tier MBA programs across US and Europe

    Thanks

  • Rahul

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please guide me on this? Thanks.

    Best,
    Rahul Garg

  • JGALINDO

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for the time and effort. I plan on applying 1st round to 3-4 of the following (H/S/W MIT, Booth and/or Haas).

    Demographics: 25 year old Colombian
    GMAT: 700 (plan on retaking?)
    Undergrad in industrial engineering from top 10 latam school, top school in the country
    3.6 GPA
    2 years experience at top mgmt consulting firm (B/B/M), sponsored.
    1 year as PMO manager at portfolio company of international PE firm (over 3B raised)
    Short term goal: return to mckinsey and become partner
    Long term goal: Launch local PE firm whose mission is to help local companies grow and reach their full potential.

    Extracurriculars include supporting local summer camps, and support of local foundation dedicated to abandoned rural children.

  • ankur gupta

    Hey Sandy,

    I received multiple dings last year, some due to misfit, some due to wrong application strategy and majorly due to poor applications.I would be really grateful to you if you evaluate my profile here.

    Brief description of full-time work experience
    I am working for a $3.1Bn company Tech Mahindra as a tech consultant for HCM domain.

    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:

    Tech Mahindra (Hyderabad, India) Feb ‘14 – Present
    Human Capital Management | Functional Consultant

    Majorly related to the technical consulting of the Oracle ERP Product Fusion. Managed a team of 2 for the quality assurance activities of various HCM modules. Acted as a subject matter expert and trainer to the team of 4 and the client on FUSION HCM domain. Participated in multiple Business Development activities and worked with solutions team to respond to complex Request-for-Proposal (RFP)

    Oracle (Hyderabad, India) Oct ‘11 – Feb ‘14
    Fusion ERP | Quality Assurance Engineer (Oct ‘11 – Mar’13), Senior Quality Assurance Engineer (Mar’13 – Feb ‘14)
    The rolw as majorly related to QUality Assurnace of the ERP package.
    Performed the initial implementation to setup the application in every release for further transactions by other teams in India, USA and China.
    Developed rigorous use cases to deliver a bug free application to the client and enhance customer relations.
    Created a training program for new recruits about the technical and business know-how of the product. This reduced the average ramp up time, and was used by 4 other teams.
    Successfully participated in business development activities for a multi-million $ deal Accelerated promotion ahead of the requisite experience required for the role.

    Infosys (Hyderabad, India) Sep ‘09 – Oct ‘11
    Test Engineer
    Interfaced with onsite stakeholders for requirement gathering and managed the weekly communication which facilitated knowledge sharing and enhanced customer relations.
    Resolved customer defects by collaborating with internal product teams and external client stakeholders

    2) GMAT-760(Q50 V42 IR8 AWA5.5)

    3) College info:
    GPA: 72/100 Jaypee Institute of Information Technology NOIDA, India
    Published a research Paper on “Voice Controlled Wheel Chair” as a part of the final year project

    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service

    Badminton district level player.
    Cricket awards at Oracle
    Painting awards at Oracle

    COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
    Teach For India (Hyderabad, Indian) May ‘11 – Apr‘13
    Ambassador to Oracle and Infosys and conducted events to introduce Teach for India’s mission and opportunities to employees

    Make A Difference (Hyderabad, Indian) May ‘11 – Apr ‘12
    Taught English to underprivileged children and conducted career workshops to expose them to future opportunities

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Certified oracle Consultant
    Tied for best rated moderator on GMAT Club
    Was ranked 8th in my state against 500 other athletes in 2009 and played for Oracle in corporate tournaments-

    Started up firm for GMAT preparation.
    Undergoing some relevant courses for MBA at Coursera

    5) Target programs:
    Ross, Duke, Tuck, Kellogg, Tepper, May be UNC-KF, ISB

    I am a reapplicant at all of these schools apart from Kellogg.
    Apart from these, I applied to Columbia, Yale and Darden as well.

    I was accepted by Tepper, but could not attend the program due to financial constraints as I did not receive any scholarship.
    Waitlisted at UNC, NUS Singapore, and then finally not accepted after two rounds.
    Invited for interview at Tuck, but was not accepted. The feedback call suggested to research more about Tuck, connect current work to your goals in a better way and bring a wow factor in the interview
    Rest, not accepted without interview.

    It would be great if you can comment on the selection of my schools. Am I aiming too high, or they are fine?

    6) Post-MBA goal.
    Consulting in the Education Domain.

    Would really appreciate your help

    Regards,
    Ankur

  • G

    Appreciate the quick feedback, thanks a lot!

  • taehee

    Hi Sandy,

    I am applying to Harvard next year (R1); it would be extremely helpful to have your feedback:

    GMAT: 750
    GPA: 3.3
    BS from Cornell
    27 old Asian female who grew up in Europe (moved to Europe at the age of 9)

    – In total i have 4.5 years of experience in global fashion companies. 2.5 years before graduating from college and 2 years after graduation. I basically took a couple of annual leave years after 3 semesters because my dad’s business went bankrupt so my family could not afford Cornell any more (at least for the short term). So I took the chance to take some time off from the academic life and find more excitement, challenges, and adventure, and luckily I found a temporary position which then evolved into a permanent position. During the 2.5 years, I was promoted twice, starting as an Admin and ending as an Analyst; I left the job after 2.5 years because my parents’ financial status recovered and I also had some money saved aside for college, so I returned to Cornell and graduated after 3 semesters. After graduation I joined another fashion company as Trade Marketing Manager.
    – A Save The Children Child Sponsor: I have been sponsoring a girl in Nepal for 4 years and a boy in Kenya for 2 years.
    – I want an MBA because I have the Asian numerical fluency and the European creative mind, now I need the American leadership and managerial skills to bring the two together.

    – Fluent in 4 languages (1 from Asia, 2 from Europe, and English)

    Thank you so much!

  • roger

    HBS guruji,

    Greetings from yet another Indian kid! I’d really appreciate your thoughts on my chances

    Background: Indian male, age 26
    GPA: 740
    Undergrad: IIT; Master’s at Stanford (GPA-3.98)

    2 years at a top tier strategy consulting firm (MBB) doing growth, sales strategy and cost cutting at technology, telecom firms

    Currently at a $20 bn revenue Koch consumer goods company (~15 months)- as strategy manager: Worked on growth strategy, pricing, sales strategy, ecommerce, digital marketing; Boss who’s an HBS alum will write a stellar recommendation as will an SVP

    Goals: Short term-launch an enterprise software start up (based on experience in current role and consulting); Long term- Become an early stage/growth equity investor in US, India;

    Extra curriculars: Debating; Dramatics; Volunteer teacher for under privileged children in India; Organized several college festivals; Treasurer; Launched a start-up

    I’m planning to apply to Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton & Booth.

  • hbsguru

    Wharton likes military guys and this is solid in things they care about, GPA and GMAT. Military career also seems diverse and on-track. As noted, schools have a hard time in judging the inside baseball of military assignments, accomplishments, and even leadership. All that said, Airborne, Afg. deployment and leading company of 160 infantry touch the right bases.
    Dont worry about “extras” just do a good job executing on how career is platform for consulting, and how W can help.
    sk

  • G

    Hey Sandy, this might be similar profile to one of the below military posters, but would love to get your feedback. Thanks in advance!

    27 yo / White Male
    GPA: 3.65 in economics from Univ. of Michigan
    GMAT: 730 (49Q/41V)

    Work experience: Currently an Army Infantry Captain serving as a Battalion Logistics Officer, but planning to apply in Fall ’16 as a company commander of ~160 man infantry company. Previously stationed in northern Italy for 3+ years with airborne unit, 1x combat deployment to Afghanistan (9 months).
    Leadership extracurriculars are non-existent – completed handful of marathons and triathlons

    Plan to leave military to pursue MBA in order to transition from the Army to a career in consulting or finance.

    Would like to know if I have chance at H/S/W, esp. Wharton; past that target schools are Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, Ross, Haas, Fuqua

    Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    just a quick note, a lot is going to turn on what schools think of your current boutique firm –viz “Post-graduate school work experience includes 1.5 years as an Analyst,
    then 2 years as an Associate at the same boutique merchant bank, focused
    exclusively on life sciences and med-tech.” You got a lot of varied and maybe classy life science exp. both in investing and lab/research–that is powerful combo–if you execute strongly and make it all make sense, well, HBS might bite.
    Col and Wharton are same story, just easier odds. Euro schools should go for this.

  • BSchoolParadox

    Hi John & Sandy,

    I would love your thoughts of the chances I have of getting into Kellogg
    & Booth, I will not be applying until next year, so please give feedback on
    how I can improve my app as well.

    740 GMAT

    2.4 GPA from UIUC majoring in Engineering Management ( engineering application
    with many business courses that would pertain to the concentration,
    Construction Management, Real estate Development) During college years I went
    through the best moments and worst moments a person could go through. I plan on
    explaining them during some point at application. Any suggestions on how and
    what not to do? I want the focus to be more so on HOW I was able to still succeed
    through all my trials and tribulations and not why I had poor grades instead of
    a big excuse for poor grades. I went through depression because of loss of
    grandparents. I got married. I had a very rough pregnancy during one semester.
    Took two years off to stay at home with son/toddler while husband finished
    school. Came back to finish last two years and during midterms my little
    brother (Whom I helped raise in a single parent household with mother) an honor
    student in H.S. was shot and killed by someone he didn’t know at a party.
    Finished the semester the best I could. My last semester of undergrad my
    husband and I had our second son during my midterms and I graduated a few weeks
    later.

    Worked as marketing director of a national student housing Management
    Company for a year during college, helped turn around and manage a distressed
    16 building/500 bed apartment complex. Leasing in saturated market, weekly
    market analysis, product development, risk assessment for tenants (like
    underwriting) marketing campaigns etc.

    After graduation I was hired for a 1 year rotational leadership development
    program for Mortgage with fortune 200 bank. Worked on many successful projects
    that involved work with many investors and government regulators and acted as
    consultants to execs by improving processes and giving possible solutions that
    were implemented. Did rotations in processing, underwriting, closing, investor
    relations, & sales.

    Switched lines of business (Same Company) to commercial real estate as an
    underwriter. Working on multi-million dollar deals. (Will have worked in this
    role for 3 years by matriculation.

    Started my own turn-key company, rehabbing multi-family units in low income
    neighborhoods with a focus on teaching my tenants financial literacy to help
    alleviate poverty. With hopes of them buying their own home possibly even my buildings.
    Mentor young women similar to my demographic showing them that no matter how
    the cards are stacked against them they can accomplish all their dreams as long
    as they have what I call “Want to”

    On the board of directors and a treasurer for a non-profit org that helps
    young fathers from low income neighborhoods (like the one I am from) learn
    parenting skills, financial literacy, help with earning a trade or GED,
    furthering education etc.

    I would like to get my MBA so that I can work for a management consulting firm in Real Estate. Giving expertise in market strategy and Real Estate Banking/financial services and RE management.

    Black Woman
    Age at matriculation: 29

  • Mr. Life Science

    Sandy,

    I think I have a very unique profile, unlike anything you’ve handicapped before. Let me know your thoughts.

    ·
    -740 GMAT
    -3.25 GPA during undergrad (trended up in final
    semesters) and 3.85 GPA during graduate school
    -B.S. Biochemistry from a large state school

    -M.S. Biotechnology from an elite private University

    -Prior to graduate school spent 1 year working as
    a staffing recruiter (badly needed a job, absolutely hated it).

    -During graduate school served as President of the Biotechnology Program, completed 3 internships in life science private equity and strategy at big pharma, and developed a business/research plan for an immunotherapy startup

    -Post-graduate school work experience includes 1.5 years as an Analyst, then 2 years as an Associate at the same boutique merchant bank, focused exclusively on life sciences and med-tech.

    -High level of autonomy–highly involved in both
    the investing and financial advisory sides of the business, through own
    personal network secured investment opportunities and led deals, built from
    scratch research/white paper functions of the firm, after 2.5 years I began to manage
    1 Analyst (I was the only analyst/associate until that point)

    -Worked on cross-border deals/investments in
    Europe, southeast Asia; extensive travel outside of work

    -Extracurricular involvement as VP of college fraternity, President of graduate program, involved in pro-bono work for local biotech incubators and a STEM-education program for local elementary school students

    -Fluent in Spanish (DELE exam certified); Intermediate German (Goethe Institute
    coursework)

    -Goal: Transition to a life science/biopharma multinational in order to gain operational experience in product management, strategy and marketing. Alternate: Transition into an associate role at a top life science/biotech focused PE/VC firm

    -28-year-old white male

    Targets: Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Haas, HEC, INSEAD, IESE, IMD

    Thanks for any comments.

  • BschoolProspect

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m applying this fall (R1) to HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Columbia, Stern, Booth

    24 year old Hispanic female
    710 GMAT (45 Q, 41 V)
    3.7 GPA from top 15 non-Ivy school like Northwestern, WashU, Hopkins; majors in finance, international business, and minor in statistics
    3 years at strategy consulting firm, like LEK, The Parthenon Group, etc, and going to business school with employer sponsorship
    Long term goal is to move into consumer products or tech in a strategy role
    Extracurriculars include non-profit consulting (team leader and committee member) and high school student mentor

    Looking to see what my chances are at these schools.

    Thank you!

  • J

    Thanks sandy for the feedback! Appreciate it loads! ^^

  • CuriousOne

    Thanks Sandy … time to start looking at intro stats…

  • hbsguru

    thanks, that is what I thought.
    I think original poster might be better off applying for Sloan MBA.
    Well, just in terms of getting admitted, not sure that is what she wants.

  • VV

    Hi Sandy,

    Appreciate your time and feedback.

    26 year old male
    750 GMAT
    3.3/5 GPA from HYP Ivy League
    Work experience: 4 years at a small boutique international energy consulting firm, manage a team of 10 consultants and analysts, youngest director in the firm’s history.
    Fluent in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and English

    International background: European citizen, lived and worked in over 12 countries.
    Extracurricular: President of international community service org in college. Current contributor to Forbes/ Business Weekly. Regular keynote speeches at energy investment conferences. Cited numerous times in US mainstream media (NYT, Bloomberg etc).

    Note: Received academic suspension during freshman year of college.

    Target Schools: Booth, HBS, Wharton, Tuck, Rice/UT (energy)

    My main concerns are 1) can my GMAT score balance out my less than stellar GPA? 2) can an impressive career at a small, lesser known firm balance out not being in a Top 4/bulge bracket company? 3) how damaging will the suspension be to my chances?

    Thank you!

  • MokeAnalyst

    I interviewed at MIT for their MFin program (ultimately not admitted) with a 48Q (740 overall) and was asked about it in the interview. The 48 is on the lower end of their class profile spectrum listed on their admissions page.

    Had a 3.5/4 gpa coming in with some quantitative work (mostly business related though). MIT has a list of recommended quant courses that they prior to starting the program (also on their admissions page). I was missing a few of the recommended courses and was asked about it in the interview.

  • hbsguru

    well, lots to like, I’m no MIF expert, but you have the background and my guess is, all schools you list but MIT are not that hard to crack, and you seem to have solid professional background, etc. MIT is pretty demanding about the Quant parts of standardized testing in MIF and 48 is high GMAT score for most peeps, they may question whether that, and so-so GPA is turbo-charged enuf.
    The MIT program I believe tries to be rocket science-y, regardless of anyone’s actual need for rockets these days.
    Any readers know more about that??

  • J

    Hi Sandy,
    I’m looking to apply to R1 this year and would appreciate any advice that you can provide!

    28 year old female
    730 GMAT (48 – Math, 42 – Verbal, 7 – IR, 5 – AWA)
    3.5/5 GPA in Accounting at a Singapore university
    Work experience: 2years in audit (banking – singapore), 5years in transactions(korea) [Big 4]
    CPA
    Passed FRM p1, p2 candidate
    fluent in english, chinese, cantonese, korean
    international experience: summer exchange in hk during undergrad, was from singapore but currently working in korea, worked on plenty of cross border deals (china/us)

    Target schools: LBS, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge ( all for the MIF)

    thanks!

  • Vishwa

    Hello Sandy,

    I am hoping to get some insights on strengthening my profile for application. Here are my details:

    Indian Male – Chemical Engineer – Age approaching 27 years

    University – Graduated in June 2009 from Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad University (Tier-II but competitive as its a state run university that has a good regional reputation and tution costs <USD 100/year). A hitch here is I have poor grades in 1st year of university in Maths.

    GPA – NA – I had percentage system (61%)- I have a first class in my class. Among top 5 students out of 40.

    GMAT – 710 (considering a retake)

    Pre-MBA Industry – Oil&Gas

    Function – Engineering Advisory

    Designation – Technical Advisor

    Details: I have been working with Honeywell for last 6 years. My role involves visit client sites worldwide and assisting them in starting up refinery and petrochemical plants. Honeywell licenses technology to the clients and my role is to draft and oversee implementation of procedures related to starting up of the plants, troubleshooting operational issues, and negotiating responsibility handover. Additional responsibilities include mentoring new advisors on site.

    I started to work in New Delhi in 2009 and trained at the Honeywell's India office. Then I was selected to be groomed for client facing roles that involved traveling worldwide. I was then seconded to work in Chicago in 2010 at the company's R&D division for a year and then returned to India in 2011.

    After returning to India, I have been traveling for last 4 years on assignments lasting from 2 months to 8 months. I have worked in Iraq, UAE, Taiwan, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and a multiple locations in China and India. These assignments are client facing roles that involves working with Refinery top management to lower level engineers.

    Post-MBA Industry –

    Short Term – Management Consulting

    Mid to Long Term – Strategy or Business Development Group Head for an Energy technology supplier related firm (Say DuPont, Chevron, etc.)

    Reasons for Pursuing an MBA –

    1) Current level of exposure to commercial side of the business is very limited. With experience, I may end up taking some commercial roles but the pace is going to be very slow.

    2) Gain exposure to other sub industries in the energy industry – Renewables, Power, Fertilizer and Chemicals. So, I want to do MBA and take up consulting to strengthen business acumen and increase industry and functional exposure.

    In efforts to switch, I applied to McK (Implementation Practice in Oil&Gas) and PwC (Oil&Gas Practice Sr. Consultant Role). I have been interviewed with these firms a couple of times- Interview went well. I was shortlisted to deliver presentation and interview with Partners too. I learnt from McK interviewer that I was the only non-MBA candidate that they interviewed and were serious about. I have NOT been denied and was told by since the Oil&Gas industry isn't performing well and the projects are in pipelines, the position has not been offered to anyone.

    I applied to CBS (early application), Kellogg, and Sloan in R1 in Sep 2013. I applied to Ross in R2 in Jan 2014 and to Fuqua (Early app) in Sep 2014. I got dinged at all these places without getting an interview. Some would say my credentials aren't good enough or perhaps my essays didn't come out well. In my opinion, my essays for Duke were good.

    So, I am not sure what I am doing wrong. Is it my grades plus GMAT? Or my Pre-MBA college brand? Or the Industry that I am in.

    Its a bit tiring to keep applying and getting rejected again and again. Except for GMAT, I am not sure what other things I can work on. Are there schools that you suggest I should look at? I would want to be in top notch school like most others. I wish to return to India at some point of time soon – So, I don't want to be at a school that may not be recognized outside US. But I don't want to pursue MBA in India because (and it may be a politically incorrect statement) I feel Indian MBA school environment is more about getting marks, acquiring hard skills, and getting placed and less about learning from and building bonds with people. From my research, I was very much attracted towards Tuck and Fuqua for their culture.

    I hope to hear from you and hope to implement suggestions in time for this application cycle.

    Regards,

    Vishwa

  • Vishwa

    Hello Sandy,

    I am hoping to get some insights on strengthening my profile for application. Here are my details:

    Indian Male – Chemical Engineer – Age approaching 27 years
    University – Graduated in June 2009 from Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad University (Tier-II but competitive as its a state run university that has a good regional reputation and tution costs <USD 100/year); A hitch here is I have poor grades in 1st year of university in Maths.

    GPA – NA – I had percentage system (61%)- I have a first class in my class. Among top 5 students out of 40.
    GMAT – 710 (considering a retake)
    Pre-MBA Industry – Oil&Gas
    Function – Engineering Advisory
    Designation – Technical Advisor

    Details: I have been working with Honeywell for last 6 years. My role involves visit client sites worldwide and assisting them in starting up refinery and petrochemical plants. Honeywell licenses technology to the clients and my role is to draft and oversee implementation of procedures related to starting up of the plants, troubleshooting operational issues, and negotiating responsibility handover. Additional responsibilities include mentoring new advisors on site.

    I started to work in New Delhi in 2009 and trained at the Honeywell's India office. Then I was selected to be groomed for client facing roles that involved traveling worldwide. I was then seconded to work in Chicago in 2010 at the company's R&D division for a year and then returned to India in 2011.

    After returning to India, I have been traveling for last 4 years on assignments lasting from 2 months to 8 months. I have worked in Iraq, UAE, Taiwan, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and a multiple locations in China and India. These assignments are client facing roles that involves working with Refinery top management to lower level engineers.

    Post-MBA Industry –
    Short Term – Management Consulting
    Mid to Long Term – Strategy or Business Development Group Head for an Energy technology supplier related firm (Say DuPont, Chevron, etc.)

    Reasons for Pursuing an MBA –

    1) Current level of exposure to commercial side of the business is very limited. With experience, I may end up taking some commercial roles but the pace is going to be very slow.
    2) Gain exposure to other sub industries in the energy industry – Renewables, Power, Fertilizer and Chemicals. So, I want to do MBA and take up consulting to strengthen business acumen and increase industry and functional exposure.

    In efforts to switch, I applied to McK (Implementation Practice in Oil&Gas) and PwC (Oil&Gas Practice Sr. Consultant Role). I have been interviewed with these firms a couple of times- Interview went well. I was shortlisted to deliver presentation and interview with Partners too. I learnt from McK interviewer that I was the only non-MBA candidate that they interviewed and were serious about. I have NOT been denied and was told by since the Oil&Gas industry isn't performing well and the projects are in pipelines, the position has not been offered to anyone.

    I applied to CBS (early application), Kellogg, and Sloan in R1 in Sep 2013. I applied to Ross in R2 in Jan 2014 and to Fuqua (Early app) in Sep 2014. I got dinged at all these places without getting an interview. Some would say my credentials aren't good enough or perhaps my essays didn't come out well. In my opinion, my essays for Duke were good.
    So, I am not sure what I am doing wrong. Is it my grades plus GMAT? Or my Pre-MBA college brand? Or the Industry that I am in? Or how's Honeywell looked upon in US?.

    Its a bit tiring to keep applying and getting rejected again and again. Except for GMAT, I am not sure what other things I can work on. Are there schools that you suggest I should look at? I would want to be in top notch school like most others. I wish to return to India at some point of time soon – So, I don't want to be at a school that may not be recognized outside US. But I don't want to pursue MBA in India because (and it may be a politically incorrect statement) I feel Indian MBA school environment is more about getting marks, acquiring hard skills, and getting placed and less about learning from and building bonds with people. From my research, I was very much attracted towards Tuck and Fuqua for their culture.

    I hope to hear from you and hope to implement suggestions in time for this application cycle.

    Regards,
    Vishwa

  • A

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d appreciate any feedback you can give me!

    26 year old female
    720 GMAT (hopefully higher, this score is from first practice test with no studying)
    3.73 undergrad GPA at top 15 non-ivy (think Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Wash U)
    Double majored in Economics and International Studies
    Work experience includes 2 years at Teach For America (won Charter Network award, nominated for national award from TFA), 2 years as associate at non-profit management consulting organization working on public education cases (I’m nervous because my current organization has people with MBAs from Harvard, Columbia, etc. but very few apply to top business schools from my org so it is hard to judge what adcoms will think of it)
    Short-term goal is to transition to MBB
    Long-term goal is to start own non-profit boutique consulting organization

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Sloan, Yale SOM.

    Thanks!!!

  • 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

  • hbsguru

    1) How is IBM viewed in the eyes of adcoms?
    GREAT, ALL OVER AND EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE OUTSIDE USA, WHERE GETTING IBM JOB IS OFTEN EVEN MORE SELECTIVE THAN IT IS IN USA.

    2) Do Adcoms like project managers?
    YES, ESP. IF YOU LEAD X-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS, HAVE INCREASING RESPONSIBILITIES, HAVE LED DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
    3)
    Alternative transcripts: local college [Canada] vs online extension
    course [UCLA for example]? Is one better then the other? Does it matter?
    DEPENDS ON THE ONLINE PROGRAM AND HOW IT IS RUN AND IF YOU PAY AND IF THERE IS SOME LEVEL OF TESTING, ETC. LOCAL COLLEGE IS ALWAYS GOOD.

    In
    addition, if you are taking courses to build an ‘alternative
    transcript’, what level classes are you expected to take…ie., first
    year econ class vs fourth year for example?
    BASIC COURSES ARE OFTEN HARDER [MORE HARSH AND CURVED GRADING, FER SURE] AND ALL THAT YOU NEED. E.G. INTRO TO STATISTICS IS HARD, PWERFUL COURSES, INTO EC, ESP. IF IT HAS QUANT PARTS, IS RESPECTED. INTRO CALCULUS IS REAL HARD BECAUSE ALSO TAKEN BY PRE-MEDS.

    I took econ/math classes in
    1st year … does that count as ‘qualitative enough’ or are they looking
    for higher level classes?
    NOT USUALLY. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO IMPRESS SOMEONE, TAKE INTRO STATS AND GET AN A. 🙂

    SK

  • Tara Anindyta

    Hi Sandy,

    Would you please assess my chance to get into Harvard, INSEAD, Yale, Booth and Kellogg?

    – 27 Asian Female (Indonesian)

    – 700 GMAT : 47Q 38V 81 IR 4 AWA (plan to retake for 720), IBT TOEFL 107 (plan to retake for 110+)

    – Top national university, Business Administration undergraduate with honor (3.5/4 GPA), taken within 3 and half years.

    – Working as IT manager in commercial bank for 3 years then as HR analyst in government institution (central bank) for almost 3 years.

    – Non profit involvement including managing local Toastmasters club as Vice President of Membership in 2014-2015 and Vice President of PR in 2015-2016, teaching school children, scuba diving, travelling. Involved in Mensa as member in good standing and national gathering committee year 2013, 2014, and 2015.

    – Goal : Working in consulting firm in specialized in organization strategy or technopreneurship.

  • CuriousOne

    Hey Sandy, I have a couple quick admissions questions I’m hoping you could shed some light on.
    1) How is IBM viewed in the eyes of adcoms?
    2) Do Adcoms like project managers?
    3) Alternative transcripts: local college [Canada] vs online extension course [UCLA for example]? Is one better then the other? Does it matter?
    In addition, if you are taking courses to build an ‘alternative transcript’, what level classes are you expected to take…ie., first year econ class vs fourth year for example? I took econ/math classes in 1st year … does that count as ‘qualitative enough’ or are they looking for higher level classes?

  • hbsguru

    🙂

  • PAQ

    Sandy, help me with my odds:

    770 GMAT (49Q, 47V, 8IR, 6AW) – took once
    3.6 undergrad GPA in Biomedical Engineering from Top 20 private school (think Wash U, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame)
    3 years bulge bracket investment banking analyst
    2 years (at matriculation) private equity associate at middle market fund
    Male
    26 years old
    Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, MIT

  • mustafa

    thank you for the insgihts. hope that i can get in, i will let you know

  • hbsguru

    You can safely skip Stanford, if you are pressed for time and effort.
    HBS is long shot. Not enuf gold means that at H and S, kids from Turkey come from 1. solid colleges and have high GPAs; 2. Often work in elite banking and consulting firms; often have 730+ GMATs. You are off that as to GPA and a bit off as to other issues.
    It is close and subtle, but on every key score, you are either far off, or a bit off, so why would they take you vs. some guy with aces n each category.
    As to jive about team work, leadership etc. Those are good buzz words to talk about just to show them you got the memo from the PC gods and know the buzzword terrain, but what they are really interested in are the unique facts of your work history, goals, and the specifics of college, employment etc.
    As to your chances at Tuck, Haas etc. they all look for same thing, basically, your chances will be determined by school selectivity, and a good proxy of that is USNEWS ranking, with higher rankigs (1, Stanford) being MOST selective, etc.

  • mustafa

    thank you for your response, 🙂

    When you say not enough gold, do you mean i shouldnt try my chance for HBS and Stan? Since it takes a lot time and effort to prepare, i try to norrow down my options. if im to apply both of them, what do they look for differently that i can demonsrate? , like maybe more team work AT stan and more leadership AT HBS?

    what about other schools such as HAAS, KELLOGG , TUCK and DUKE? for an outsider like me , it is hard for me to anlyze them as they all claim they love team work , collobiration, leadership, transformation ets. Which one do you think would be more eager to admit someone like me ? Do you think im a bit young for HAAS or TUCK?

  • hbsguru

    this has many solid elements, including working for Unilver (MNC are good) and OK GMAT.
    Also applicants from Turkey are a plus, my guess, I don’t see that many.
    If it is true that GPA excepting one semester is solid that could also help, and needs to be explained. Say you want to be a consultant, cite firms operating in Turkey (e.g. MCK) and capture those part of your Unilever exper. that sound consultanty and say you enjoyed doing them, blah, blah, and want to build that out.
    I dont think there is enough gold here in terms of GPA, GMAT and other things for HBS or Stan (they would be glad to admit kid from Unilver, and my guess, already do). I think with solid execution other schools are doable, esp. if you can explain GPA and bad grades are limited. Radio work and communication training to others are pluses as is working w. Fulbrights–lots to like, for real.

  • mustafa

    hello , sandy,

    help this Turkish guy out 🙂
    25 years old turkish male living in Turkey.

    3.1 GPA with business major in a top school in Turkey. (overall my scores were great,
    but there is a big fluctuation in 5th semester, where my dad went bankrupt and
    i had to work to take care of my family financly. )
    I alsohave one semester of Erasmus Experience in Copenhagen Business School with same major.

    720gmat,( should i retake given my low gpa ? )

    2 years of work experience in Unilever Turkey as a Management Trainee in Sales
    department. In my first year, i managed a massive field team with 100 people
    and get promoted. Now i manage 4 customer and 2 million dolor operation. I have
    some solid achievements. Besides my work description, i had an opportunity to
    be involved in projects in which we tried to enhance livelihoods of many people
    in Turkey.

    Also 2 summer interns, one in British American Tabacco other in Unilever.

    I’m thinking of getting recommendations from 2 managers that i have been working
    really closely. They really know me well and can give great recommendation with
    examples about my leadership skills and impact that i deliver in the organization and society

    Career Goals: That one is hard to tell. I’m still trying to figure out if i should go
    for consulting so that i can get experience in many fields or go for social
    entrepreneurship. In both case, i know mba can enhance my skills, vision and
    network. Before i apply i think i will know. Do you have any criticism about me
    not knowing that yet? Many people seem to me that they are well aware and that
    makes me a bit nervous.

    Extras;
    1) after my father went bankrupt , i re-take with his business , a grosory shop with 10
    people working, and i made it profitable again and sold it with a price enough
    to cover our debts.

    2) I worked voluntarily in Radio as a newscaster. I had my own show with a team of 6
    (, maketting guy, assistant, producer and so on) . The show really affected my
    communication skills and it was pretty well known show in my city with thousands
    of people listening.

    3) Thanks to my radio experience. I give free turkish diction and communication training
    to refugee and unlucky born people who want to be more involve in society or
    look for a job.

    4) I was in my university advertising team which represents the school to high school
    students and media.
    5)I have worked in American Government related program for 2 summers in which i was helping American fulbrights to adopt and learn Turkish Culture.

    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, HAAS, ( TUCK, DUKE, YALE or UCLA )

    many thanks in advance,

  • hbsguru

    does not, from info given, seem like a Stan. admit, unless your boutique consulting firm has a history with them. Start-up is impressive to me, but schools discount that on theory that 1. everyone has a start-up, 2. what are you doing starting a company instead of looking for better conventional job at feeder firms to our school, etc. etc.???
    Low-ish GPA will allow them to trust their unfair and contra (but true) instincts, so your case becomes easier for them to stop thinking [the goal of every folder review].

    Luxury goods is also something they shop for mostly in inanimate form (and on occasion, trophy dogs and cats, etc) so another small negative. Anway that is why you are not getting into S or H (altho if firm has connections, pardon me!). Wharton is small reach for reasons given above, other places will depend on execution, fit, and luck, but should happen (well one or more) if you can sound super intersted.
    Four years in one place is also another tiny boo-boo, in most cases.
    Sorry, you are solid guy in reality but profile weighs less and smells a bit on Planet Adcom.

  • YOYO

    Hi Sandy, please handicap my odds

    27 yr old Asian male

    GMAT: 740

    3.4 GPA economics major at an ivy league

    4 years at a boutique strategy consulting firm focusing on growth strategy for Fortune 100 clients

    Interned at Monitor Group (acquired by Deloitte) while in college.

    Launched a start-up (online luxury good retail shop) 2 years ago and worked on it on evenings/weekends while working full time as a consultant

    Career goals: entrepreneurship in the online retail space

    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, Sloan

  • hbsguru

    you dont need more experience, they will give you credit for military service, and you are in danger of tilting into EMBA territory. Except for low GPA you’d be classic Tier-2 app, and that is where you are mostly applying. You have tried to create alt. transcript, so they will appreciate the effort. OK GMAT is a help.
    The only reason I would put off app is if you have not yet developed good recommenders. But you have been at Samsung (good job) for ~16 months, and will be there for ~3 years if you stay til matric, in Sept 2016. That is enuf. You’ve got a mildly bumpy story, solid work, military, good exposure to biz in Asia, there is a lot to like–Samsung exp. is key (that would be very attractive add to class mix, esp. experience in Korea HQ) but if you apply even in R1, that would be close to 20 months.
    Outcomes will depend on execution and recs. You are the kinda guy those schools admit, but you are on the cusp, so applying to ~6 schools is smart.

  • SD

    Hi Sandy,

    I am planning on applying the the second round this fall/next spring.

    My work experience includes 3 years at a small real estate company listed on the TSX with all of our operations in Mongolia. I am acting as the Sr. Manager of Internal Controls and Analytics. Before moving to Mongolia I was a Small Business Development Volunteer for Peace Corps in Cameroon from 2009 -2011.

    My education took a long and different path. I dropped out of high school and work for several years before decided to pursue an education. I am the first in my family to go to college. I attended the University of Oklahoma, graduated with a 3.4 GPA and a BBA in Finance and International Business with minors in Accounting and Italian. Currently I am a Level 2 CFA Candidate.

    I am a 31 year old white male.

    I am aiming to take the GMAT in August and expecting to score in the 700-720 area.

    I do some local volunteer work in Ulaanbaatar, mainly spending time working at orphanages, however have worked with some Peace Corps Volunteers in country on various projects. Currently helping to develop my current employers CSR program.

    My target schools are Harvard, Fuqua, Wharton, Tuck, Booth, Haas and Columbia

  • Corp Fin

    Hi Sandy,

    In addition to the usual admissions odds, I would appreciate it if you could also advise on if having another year or two of work experience will make a difference.

    Work Experience:

    Corporate Finance Analyst at Samsung Electronics (2014/2~present, Korea)
    Business Development at e-commerce start up (2009/1~2011/6, Los Angeles)
    ※ Employment gap 2011/8~2013/8 → mandatory military service

    Education:

    State University (West coast)
    Business Administration- Finance concentration; Class of 2008
    GPA – Major: 3.8 Cumul: 3.2
    ※Alternative Transcript- Mgmt Stat: A, Mgmt Calc: A

    GMAT:

    710 (Q49/V37)

    Extra:

    Fluent in English, Japanese, Korean
    CFA level 1
    Living abroad experience: 20 yrs across Middle East, Asia-Pacific, & U.S.
    Age: 30
    Sex: Male
    Nationality: Asian

    Post MBA:

    Consulting or Tech company(Function – open to Strategy/
    Corp. Development/Sales/Marketing)

    Target School:

    Top 15 (Kellogg, Darden, Ross, Fuqua, Anderson)

  • Umair

    And thanks a lot for your feedback

  • Umair

    GPA : 3.46
    And yes I do plan on applying to HAAS, Fuqua and Tuck as well.

  • hbsguru

    Not anything super driving you into S or H (altho that is OK reach). Wharton will go for the 770 big time, and solid finance story, goals seem solid.
    ” I also plan on pursuing a dual degree with my MBA in either public policy or international affairs.” As I have often said, a waste of time and money and in your case, pointless if you want to work at MBB type consulting firm. It also makes your app., which is confusing enuf already, more so. Extras and unusual background may help you marginally. But basically what we got is silver GPA, silver work ex, gold gmat–that usually does not add up to H or S but can, with solid execution, and some luck, work at other places.
    One advant. of dual degree for you is that you might get into Tier 1 Gov School and Tier 2 B school, so if having Tier 1 pedigree is worth the time and money, well, I could see that.

    GPA: 3.4/4 (3.8 based on my school’s scale)
    ??? is your school on five scale?? or 4.3?
    IMPT!!!!

    HBS notes that when it lists GPAs, it only includes grades on 4 scale, so if other schools do that as well, they do not have to report your low-ish grades to magazines, it is sorta like GRE [those are not reported to USNEWS, altho this may change.]

  • hbsguru

    dunno, that is pretty straightforward, solid schooling, solid GMAT, GPA=???, you seem to be working for blue chip companies, you’re a little old but not any outlier,
    goals are sensible given background, and school choice is plausible, just execute serviceably, get solid recs, don’t blow interviews, those schools are in-line, but you are on the cusp, so if going to B school is super impt, try a tier down for some safer choices: viz. Cornell, USC, Duke, Darden, etc. etc. Your dreams can come true at those places as well.

  • KT

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m planning on applying next fall (2017 start) and would really appreciate a reality check on my profile. Thanks in advance!

    GMAT: 770

    GPA: 3.4/4 (3.8 based on my school’s scale)

    Undergrad: Ivy League school. Spent two years studying engineering then switched over to Economics. Ultimately graduated with a BA in Econ and Russian.

    Work: 2 years as investment banking analyst at a boutique, minority firm. I work mainly with clients in the government/public sector who issue municipal bonds. The firm is well-known within public finance, but still very small and definitely a boutique. I’m a top analyst in my company and expect to be promoted within the next 6 months. Work experience is my biggest concern since I don’t have a “big name” company on my resume.

    ECs: In college, I was an RA and the president of a rather large international development club on campus (part of a larger national nonprofit org). I recently began to work with that same organization again, this time as part of the professional chapter. I also volunteer as a mentor for HS students. However, I don’t have any leadership experience in these activities as of yet.

    Post MBA Goal: I hope to work at a top management consulting firm, focusing on issues that involve the intersection of the private/public sectors and/or international development. I also plan on pursuing a dual degree with my MBA in either public policy or international affairs.

    24-year old Asian female. However, I was born in a former Soviet republic and speak Russian at home.

    Target Schools:
    Harvard
    Stanford
    Wharton
    Kellogg
    MIT
    Booth
    Columbia
    Tuck

  • MBAJonathan

    Hi Sandy,

    25 year old white male

    GMAT – 720

    GPA – 3.4

    College – Small top 50 liberal arts college

    BA Economics and Computer Science

    Extra Curricular:

    Treasurer for a Statewide 3rd party political organization

    Founder of a city wide activist based organization of ~20 people

    Host, plan and speak at statewide events

    Current position:

    .5 year CEO and Sole Founder of a company with small Cap VC funding. Social media platform that specializes in debate and communication. Early stage and small team (< 10).

    Past Work Experience

    2.5 years Business Analyst, Project Manager, Tech Lead, Consultant with extensive international travel at a small software firm.

    Goal: Leverage the knowledge, connections and experience gained from a top MBA into greater success for my current and future entrepreneurial ventures

    Stanford
    Harvard
    MIT
    Yale
    Berkeley

  • Umair

    Hi Sandy,
    I would appreciate if you could poke as many holes as possible in the profile

    30 year old wireless wireless technology consultant with 8 years of experience – 4.5 in US and 3.5 in Pakistan (Think Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola). Promoted multiple times and recognized with awards and cash rewards (other than bonus :))

    GMAT 740

    Education: Bachelors in Computer Engineering from a top school in Pakistan (acceptance rate < 4%)

    Extracurricular: Founding president of an organization that provides health care to under privileged in rural areas of Pakistan. Lead a group that teaches elderly the use of iphones.

    Goal: To return to communication industry in management role where I can have a greater impact and creative control over product development

    Target Schools:
    Wharton
    Kellogg
    Sloan
    Booth

  • USul

    Hi Sandy,
    I would appreciate if you could poke as many holes as possible in the profile

    30 year old wireless wireless technology consultant with 8 years of experience – 4.5 in US and 3.5 in Pakistan (Think Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola). Promoted multiple times and recognized with awards and cash rewards (other than bonus :))

    GMAT 740

    Education: Bachelors in Computer Engineering from a top school in Pakistan (acceptance rate < 4%)

    Extracurricular: Founding president of an organization that provides health care to under privileged in rural areas of Pakistan. Lead a group that teaches elderly the use of iphones.

    Goal: To return to communication industry in management role where I can have a greater impact and creative control over product development

    Target Schools:
    Wharton
    Kellogg
    Sloan
    Booth

  • C

    Hello Sandy,

    Hoping to get your opinion on my profile. My target schools are Harvard, Stanford, LBS and INSEAD.
    I am a 26 year old white female from France working in Canada.

    GMAT: 660, planning on retaking it to get 700+

    Education: Masters in Management from top european business school, no GPA under the french education system

    Work experience: internships in private equity and auditing at one of the Big Four in France, moved to Canada upon graduation 3 years ago. Worked for 2 years as a financial analyst in a French international travel retail company and 1 year as a finance manager at the top Canadian telecom company. Will have total 4 years upon enrolling.

    Extracurricular: extensive volunteer experience at a pro-bono consulting organization, as consultant and then as project manager; Board member at a canadian non profit organization.

    Post MBA Goal: Interested in socially responsible investment/impact investing/social enterprise and consulting for non profits

    Thanks

  • hbsguru

    get that 740 GMAT and keep taking the test until you do. You have an impressive
    and tight story, you are a female with impressive EE background, now working in government and your plan to go into MBB consulting, esp. maybe in Public Sector, is solid.
    Get that 740 and think of applying to HBS as well, their essay could be a piece of cake for you, lots of Singapore jokes, as entering point to how you can contribute and learn from case method.
    Your core schools above
    Columbia, Kellogg, Sloan, Wharton, Stern, Ross
    are all GMAT focused, even with peer group, well not Kellogg, sooooo, GMAT is real important. Take it many times, many folks don’t realize how impt. it has become.

    “And eventually use what I’ve learnt to bring about change and drive
    transformation efforts within the public sector in Singapore.”
    Yummy, yummy,
    those great thoughts and a 740 is all you need.

  • R2D2

    Hi Sandy!

    Hoping to get into M7 school in the US or LBS/INSEAD. Sandicap me please! Thank you for the insights into the numerous profiles as well!

    Education – Undergraduate & masters degree in engineering from Uni. of Nottingham. 2nd class upper and distinction (top 5%) respectively. 720 GMAT (Should I retake?)

    Work experience – Cofounded the export arm of the family business. Got the ball rolling and left after 2 years to get some industry experience. Stint in wealth management/financial advisory in the Middle East. Currently at a big 3 consulting firm.

    Extracurricular – Student Union elected executive in UG and consequently elected President of PG Student Union in masters. Received the prestigious Vice Chancellors
    Award for significant impact to student and staff. Recipient of the High Achievers Scholarship award in UG (top 10%). WEF Global Shaper.

    Background – 27 year old. Sri Lankan male. First to be educated overseas within extended family as well.

    Short term goal: 1) Join a PE/Investment management firm. 2) Revamp the family
    business, as for the past 70 years those heading it haven’t had more than
    high school education. Left the business in the first place due to a very traditional
    mindset where the decision maker should be of certain age etc.

    Long term goal: Found a PE/VC firm to fund educational initiatives and entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka and hopefully the region. Upliftment of higher education.

    Misc – Completed CFA Level 1, HBX CoRe.

    My Thanks!

  • BAlto

    Thank you very much for the review Sandy. I confirm that I’m Black African. The perception of my current company is a huge concern for me indeed. The firm’s chairman is a by a former Prime Minister, we’ve worked on 2/3 international profile trades and have some MIT, Wharton, Booth + Cambridge Law grads among staff. I hope that helps. I’ve applied for the GSB fellowship – verdict in 2 weeks. I intend to use that as an indicator of my chances this year i.e. give it an extra year to beef up the story a bit if I don’t get shortlisted for the fellowship (up to 50 people will be). Thanks again !

  • Rahul

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Would like to know what are my chances for the following schools? Any other feedback is also welcome! Thank you.

    760 GMAT

    Education: Undergraduate degree in engineering from a top-tier engineering college in India affiliated to Delhi University, graduating in the top 10 of the class (June’11)

    Work experience: 1 year in RBS Technology division, then 1 year as investment banking analyst in boutique Indian investment bank, 1 year in a bigger investment bank but in same role, 1 year in India focused boutique PE firm as investment analyst – 4 jobs in 4 years is one of my main concern

    Extracurricular involvement: Top 3 positions in 10 stock market competitions in various college festivals. Did a project on investment portfolio optimization (finding the ideal combination of stocks one should have using technology).

    Social work: Founded social entrepreneurship society in affiliation to Enactus India and has been mentoring the team since then, also volunteer for PFA, PETA.

    Passion: Trekking and Swimming. Have done many treks in India. Participated in district level swimming competion.

    25-year-old male in India

    Target colleges: Columbia, Booth, Stern, MIT Sloan, Wharton

  • Peejay

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I’m a 26-year-old female from Singapore looking to apply this fall. My details are as follows:

    Degree: Electrical Engineering from National University of Singapore. Graduated with a 2nd Upper Class Degree (GPA: 4.03/5)

    GMAT: Expect approx 740 (taking the test later this month but have been consistently scoring in that range on mock tests)

    Current Job: Received a scholarship from the Singapore Government, and have been working for the Government for the past 3 years. First worked in the Public Policy (retirement/pension-related). Now part of the Corporate Strategy/Planning function, serving as an internal consultant.

    2 promotions in 3 years.

    Post-MBA Goal: Move to a top tier consultancy firm working on change management and innovation. And eventually use what I’ve learnt to bring about change and drive transformation efforts within the public sector in Singapore.

    Would like to know what are my chances for the following schools? Any other feedback is also welcome! Thank you.

    Columbia, Kellogg, Sloan, Wharton, Stern, Ross

  • disqus_4smH5mitKx

    Hi Sandy and John,

    may I ask you to look at my profile?

    ID: Eastern European male

    GPA: 3.8 (diploma with honors)

    Degrees: Masters in Applied Mathematics

    Got a long-term government grant on a research in robotics

    GMAT: 730 (Q:49, V40) – need to retake?

    Current Job: Work for the local Big 3 office. Majorly focused on public sector projects. Have done rotation to the US office on the internal study of global economy development.

    Previous internships: Interned in marketing departments in 2 leading FMCG companies (think P&G, Cola, Unilever)

    Extras: Mentor students of my high school on university selection and career aspirations. Organized several of career meetings with other ex-students.
    Several awards on a state level business case championships.

    Post-MBA goals: Get to the public sector job responsible for country industrial/applied technology development after couple of years in manufacturing/advanced technology company.

    Target:

    – HBS (potentially as a dual degree with HKS)

    – Sloan (potentially as a dual degree with HKS)

    – Booth

    – Wharton

  • mbagirl18

    Thanks for the input, Sandy. I’m going to focus as much energy as possible on those recs and essays. This has made me feel like I at least have a decent shot!

  • S

    Hello Sandy,

    Could you please take a look at my profile and let me know your thoughts?

    – GMAT: 740

    – 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.

    – Promotions: 2 promotions in 3 years. Currently managing team of 20 folks. Moved/moving up very fast in the career track.

    – Extracurricular: Resident Advisor (UofI) involved in causes as education, equality, LGBT, drug and alcohol abuse.

    Teaching under privileged kids in india (not in association to any institution)

    STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mact) mentoring for high school kids

    Involved with the Girls Who Code program. Encouraging young girls to get interested in technology and coding

    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.

    -MBA course goals: Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Management. Learning about Businesses and how to run them.

    – Goals:

    Short-term:

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

    Long-term Goals:

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

    Long, Long-term:

    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.

    Thanks!

    S

  • hbsguru

    a lot will depend on what they think of current and past employers and what relationships those firms have with school in terms of sending applicants to school or hiring them back. Assuming that is near zero, you still are OK, but you will need to establish bona fides of the companies, esp. current employer, by dint of F-500 client base, etc. Where rec writers went to B school, if at all, is not usually a big issue if you work for Prestige Company, but that count a bit more in this case.
    If you can convince them that current company is selective in hiring etc, chances could be in-line at Kellogg and Fuqua given that and OK-ish GMATs and GPA.

    You are borderline tho, so execution and recs count a little more than for same dude as you applying from solid 3 year experience at P&G marketing, Asst brand manager for toothpaste, etc.

    “2 years in marketing roles at small and mid sized companies”
    uh oh, how many jobs in those two years, that could be another issue.

  • hbsguru

    I’m with John Lee on this one–you are HBS “material” given the black female in Big Oil angle and the fact that the 720 GMAT clears any doubts about your ability to do the academic work. Other commentator has some interesting inside baseball about engineering programs at H/Y/P, and yes, if you are P, where grading is harder, that would help. But even if you are E-Z H where everyone except you gets As [;-) even in engineering], you still got a great story. I would explain GPA in some way in the inside of the app [with the 500 characters they give you] and note why it is not predictive of HBS outcomes, and do a lively and winning introduce yourself. With some serviceable recs, this seems like a solid app. to me.

  • hbsguru

    not sure I totally understand Q, but graduate GPAs do not weigh as much as undergrad GPA b.c. 1. the expectation is that grad grading is all A and B, 2. undergrad grades are reported to USNEWS and grad grades are not.
    person no. 1, with undergrad gpa of 3.85 vs. person no. 2 with undergrad gpa of 3.5 and grad gpa of 3.85????
    All things equal, person no. 1 is favored.
    Just to make it clear.

  • Mr History Buff

    Hello Sandy and John,

    I am a 26 year old white male applying this fall. I would deeply appreciate your evaluation of my prospects.

    GMAT: 720 (47V, 42Q)

    Education:
    BA, History (3.5 GPA that includes graduate coursework)
    MA, History (3.7 GPA. accelerated program in which I began grad courses my senior year)

    Work Experience:
    2 years in marketing roles at small and mid sized companies
    1 year in boutique marketing and tech consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients, expect promotion before application deadline

    Target Schools: Kellogg, Fuqua

  • mbagirl18

    Don’t get my hopes up, John! Would love to hear Sandy’s take on it, but he hasn’t responded (yet)….. *pouts*

  • John Lee

    Puh-leeeez. H/Y/P undergrad, working as an engineer for Big Oil, with a solid GMAT… aaaaand here’s the kicker, black female? That’s Harvard material right there, baby

  • Francesco

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I’m an European considering applying for MBA . My profile:

    – 26 y.o. European Male

    – GMAT: 730;

    – Undergrad: Economics from a top school in my country – gpa 3.6 – (top 7%)

    – Grad: Masters in Quant Finance from a Top 20 US University – gpa 3.6 – Honors – Leadership award

    – Working Experience in US: 3 years of finance experience with tech companies: 3 months Financial Tech firm, 6 months Amazon, 2 years Cisco/Dell/IBM in a “hot” tech area, 1 year with a big tech (Apple/Google/Amazon)

    – Working Experience in Europe: ~1 year financial research with a top executive from the European Central Bank, 1 year running family’s financial services business due to a health problem (at the same time that I was studying)

    – Extracurriculars:
    Treasurer/Secretary of the Student council (in the US school), volunteering with my companies, engaged in volunteering/mentoring in my school

    – Target Schools: HBS, Yale, Columbia, Wharton, NYU, Haas

    – Post-MBA: TMT Investment Banking or TMT Consulting

    – Other facts: I was member in my country’s Parliament.

    Thank you very much for all your help!

  • hbsguru

    post below was focused on original poster–but in general, Sloan optional question can be used effectively IF you actually have non-typical case and something to say.

  • Improbabilitydrive

    hey sandy,
    i am planning to apply to Sloan so obv i am little curious when you say “sloan might be interested if you could get them to focus but they are not a focused place” (see how we follow your each word! lol)
    anything I should know about sloan? thanks in advance

  • Aden Wu

    Hi Sandy and John,
    Really appreciate what you guys have here. Here’s my simplified profile:

    – 24 y.o. Asian Male
    – Languages: English, Afrikaans, Mandarin
    – Born and raised in South Africa (citizenship in both South Africa and Taiwan)
    – GMAT: 730; GPA: 3.9 (top 10% class)
    – Declined top two medical school offers with scholarships in South Africa, and currently completing a 7-year medical program at the best university in Taiwan (expected to graduate in 2017),
    – 3.5 years of research experience with 4 original articles (no first authorships, unfortunately), 1 review article, and several research awards+scholarships
    – Clinical Observerships at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (11 weeks) and Boston Medical Center (4 weeks)
    – Would have 1 year clinical experience as intern doctor when graduating
    – Extracurriculars:
    Founding president of student scientific journal reading club; Best performer and Best group at Novartis leadership biocamp (represents Taiwan to participate in international biocamp in Switzerland); Modeled United Nations society for 3 years
    – Target Schools: HBS 2+2, Stanford deferral, Yale Silver Scholar
    – Post-MBA: Pharma industry
    – Other interesting facts: took accounting in high school and was the top scorer in the high school national examination, also placed second nationally in the accounting olympiad.

    Thank you!

  • ivygrad

    do graduate degrees help in elite MBA admissions? i went to one of the middle ivies (i.e Penn/Columbia) studied engineering and econ and graduated with a 3.5. right after i got a masters in engineering from the same ivy and graduated with a 3.85. Ceteris paribus (work exp, gmat, etc etc), is a person who went to a comparable school, had comparably difficult major/majors but had a 3.85, more/less/as competitive?

  • fkbnfkf

    i think 3.0 at harvard or yale will hurt you since these two schools are very well known for their grade inflation, even after factoring in the fact that you studied engineering. also yale engineering is not well regarded at all. at princeton a sub-3.0 it will not look as bad but still it is not impressive. also your GMAT is average but again nothing exceptional. the fact that work for a big company and you have done well there will help though.

  • hbsguru

    too much weirdness for HBS and lots of guys sorta like you present better stats and jobs, my guess is, Wharton will be the same and they will not blink at GPA either (no matter how explained) just b.c of mag rnakings and nothing super duper.
    If you sold company for super big bucks, that could change my mind, that would mean you don’t need B school,but everyone likes a winner.
    Sloan might be interested if you could get them to focus but they are not a focused place. Plan B will work, my guess, but how about Kellogg, Berk, USC, etc. places in between Goal schools and Plan B.
    Also, go to headhunter as see if you cannot get tech consulting job at MBB right now, if they need guy with your skills they will take you –versus some vanilla recent B school grad. I am not sure you need MBA –you could also get job at Goog, AMZN if lucky in hitting the business cycle right, e.g. applying when they have a hiring bump.

  • Ramalo

    Hi Sandy and John,

    -27 y/o Indian Male
    -GMAT 710 (49Q, 39V)
    -Graduated in 2008 from a business school in UK with a degree in accounting and finance. Topped my degree in year one. Ended up with an upper 2.1 degree.
    -planned on working in UK itself in order to get some international work ex but had to move back to India because of my fathers death (3 weeks after final term). Had to take care of family affairs so had to move back.
    -working in the business development and strategy implementation division of a firm with interests across hydropower, textiles and education and annual revenues of over $100m. Have worked across all 3 sectors. Currently leading a team in implementing the expansion/diversification of the education vertical. The project is at an advanced stage of implementation and the financial rewards from the project have already started flowing in. The idea for diversification was my brainchild and thus I was made the team leader of the project. I’m also the youngest at the firm at a senior managerial role. I’ve held leadership roles across all the 3 verticals.
    -short term goal is to make a transition to a top tier management consulting firm and work in new geographies (outside of India). Long term goal is to take up a senior management role at a fortune 500 firm. In my current role I’m coming up with and executing ideas that lead to improvement in business process and create value for the firm. I think a career in consulting will be a reasonable sell as my STG.
    -Extra curricular: work with one of the most prominent environmental NGOs in the country. Have been closely associated with environmental research over the last 4 years. Most recently drafted a letter which was sent out to all the newly elected members of the Indian parliament, highlighting the need for industrial growth and environmental concerns to move hand in hand. Having lost my father to blood cancer I started a cancer foundation in his name and have raised over INR 1.5m which in turn was used to help underprivileged patients in their treatment. Organize an annual blood donation camp. Also redrafted and implemented the corporate social responsibility charter at the firm with a focus on sanitation for the poor and improving female financial literacy. I’ve also worked for a member of parliament from 2009-2013 on devising a plan for development in the members parliamentary constituency, which has a population of over 2million people.
    Target Schools- Insead, Darden, Yale, Duke, Tuck, Kellogg, Columbia, LBS, UNC, Emory.
    Am I being unrealistic in my target schools and what are my chances at the above mentioned schools? Also any other schools I should be targeting?

    Thanks and Regards

  • OldSovietHardware

    Sandy and John, thank you for putting so much time into assessing our admissions odds. I have found these columns invaluable over the last few months!

    I am a:
    29 y.o. (30 @ matriculation) white male, Eastern European born, Naturalized US citizen.

    Schooling:
    UG GPA: 3.12 STEM, Quadruple Major (EE, CSE, Math, Physics), from a Southern Ivy. Grades slipped senior year due to serious medical issues my parents had.
    Graduate – Wrapping up my MSc-EE with an expected 3.65-3.71 GPA in August. (Same school as UG)

    GMAT: 720 (80% Q, 91% V) – retaking in at the end of August.

    Work:
    Worked my way through High School and College at a small Biotech ($20-30M sales) company, quit when my parents got sick. Will get a sterling recommendation from the COO.

    I started a Medical Services company at the end of 2010 (with a couple of buddies and my new-fangled contempt for the healthcare industry). Grew it rapidly and sold the Practice to a US Health Conglomerate in 2011.

    Afterwards, immediately went to work in a not-so-sexy customer-facing Operations role at an Industry Leading Telecommunications Infrastructure company (think Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei). Promoted every year, with ever expanding responsibilities (will be 5.5 years at matriculation), some key achievements:
    – 6 month assignment as a technical account manager for a $60M Account
    – Traveled around the USA for countless customer consultations, trade shows, special projects, etc.
    – Spent 3 months in Mexico City on-boarding and training a 12-person technical team, and the following year as their Team Lead.
    Will get a glowing recommendation from my mentor (and now E-VP).

    Goal:
    Post-MBA — Strategy consulting in a tech practice at M/B/B; or a Program/Product Manager role at Google, Amazon, or IBM

    I am applying in the Fall cycle; what are my odds at:
    Reach – HBS, Wharton
    Goal – MIT-Sloan
    Plan:B – UT-Austin

    Any other words of wisdom you can offer?
    Thanks in advance!

  • Stephen Mortensen

    Much appreciated. 🙂

  • Mr CPA

    Thank you for the response! I hadn’t thought of how the small school could be an advantage, Big 4 didn’t even interview on campus despite CPA scores being second in the state behind an ivy league. So definitely no McKinsey interviews. I passed all four CPA exams in five weeks with scores in the 90s, and feel like I could have done better on the GMAT. Do you think it would be worth retaking to shoot for a 760? Or would that time be better spent on applications?

  • hbsguru

    Well, I’m impressed– what you list above seems above average in terms of leadership, overcoming obstacles, innovation, and team skills. And it presents as such. If that becomes part of your total story and goals (lots of ways to do that), sure, it is a plus. It might counterbalance a low-ish GPA to some degree (sadly, less so a lowish GMAT but it all depends).

  • mbagirl18

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve been so hesitant to post this but I would love to hear your opinion. Here goes:

    27 year old African-American female

    H/Y/P Undergrad (Engineering) where I received a <3.0 GPA. Obviously I'm worried about this. I do have a short explanation/addendum to add, but I won't get into the details here. At the end of the day it boils down to some family issues that I didn't manage well and I'm just going to have to address it and move on. Even with the low GPA, I received a prestigious academic award upon graduating from my department. Perhaps that counts for something.

    GMAT: 720

    EC: President of (2) engineering organizations on college campus, Regional level officer for one of those organizations, regularly engaged in volunteering/mentoring, involvement with other organizations on campus.

    Work experience: 5 years in Big Oil. Currently working as a drilling engineer (eg. Exxon/Chevron/Shell). While there, I have taken an active role in recruiting, mentoring (with examples and awards) and employee organizations. Solid career progression with decent promotion history (3x) and highest performance rankings. I've managed large teams and multi-million dollar projects. So far I have worked in 4 countries, including an offshore rotation on a deepwater platform.

    Goal: Corporate strategy for Big Oil

    Target (in no particular order): H/W/S, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, Fuqua, Ross

  • mbagirl18

    Hi Sandy,
    I’ve been so hesitant to post this but I would love to hear your opinion. Here goes:

    27 year old African-American female

    H/Y/P Undergrad (Engineering) where I received a <3.0 GPA. Obviously I'm worried about this, but I do have a short explanation/addendum to add. I won't get into the details here though. Even still, I received a prestigious academic award upon graduating from my department.

    GMAT: 720

    EC: President of (2) engineering organizations on college campus, Regional level officer for one of those organizations, regular volunteering, involvement with other organizations

    Work experience: 5 years in Big Oil as a drilling engineer (eg. Exxon/Chevron/Shell). While there, have taken an active role in recruiting and mentoring (with examples and awards). Have also volunteered with employee organizations. Solid career progression with good promotion history and rankings. Worked in 4 countries, including an offshore rotation on a deepwater platform

    Goal: Corporate strategy

    Target: H/W/S, Sloan, Booth, Fuqua, Ross

  • Stephen Mortensen

    Thanks for the response, Sandy!

    So, serving in a currently war-torn (though not so much at the time) Eastern European country, learning Russian, expanding mission service to a new, rural area (wood-burning stove, lots of livestock, etc.), and being a peer leader of 60+ missionaries (as assistant to mission president) – would that be something that stands out as unique, even among typical LDS applicants?

    And would it help add some counterbalance to a paltry 3.63 in linguistics from BYU (only slightly higher than the 3.56 you poo-pooed above ;))?

  • hbsguru

    no, background and Turkish exp. etc are all pluses, If you get your “spine” work history story clear –as a general direction and platform for goals–you would improve chances. As would solid GMAT.

  • hbsguru

    Yes and no. LDS applicants arrive with a positive spin since they are hard-working, success oriented, well balanced, etc. That spin counts for something esp when supported, as it almost always is, by facts in resume, etc.
    Beyond that, LDS mission is kinda baked into the LDS profile and it is hard for adcoms to weigh the impact and accomplishment of mission vs. other missions, esp. if, as in most cases, mission was to developed country and did not have powerful OTHER facts about innovation, impact etc. I’ve read LDS mission stories about doing very serious development work in Africa etc. and that counts, but that is not most missions.
    It is similar to military service, adcoms usually don’t have a feel for the ‘inside baseball’ of what is rare, selective, impactful assignments etc. altho sure, combat experience and pilots got some extra credit, but aside from that, military applicants, esp. from service academies, often become a GPA/GMAT story. Above is very simplified and there are always obvious exceptions, but I hope you get the idea.

  • Hopeful!

    thanks for the help toughlove…..

  • douzey

    Thank you very much for your quick response. Both companies are big name companies and I have been moving from a very general career to a very focused career with every move I have made in my career. Would you say being of the “few interesting cases” would not help but hinder my chances? Thank you again for your help and time!

  • hbsguru

    well, whaddya think?

  • hbsguru

    hmmmm, lots to like and lots we need to know more about–if you are working for no-name companies, even no-name F-500 companies (and there are MANY!), that could be a problem since with low GPA and zig-zag and too many jobs and lack of deep gold plate on resume, this might not make it at H or S, despite the obvious female in tech, worked in Turkey, etc. angles. If GMAT is below 700, that could make it easy for them to view this as confused and struggling woman who has not found herself vs. what you want, real interesting experience and skills with now focused story.
    I’d say H and going to be a reach: Berk could happen, same issues, they just see fewer sorta interesting cases like you.

  • Jack

    Hey John and Sandy,

    I’m having a hard time assessing my chances, would really appreciate your thoughts!

    27 year-old male (multi-ethnic, but nothing particularly helpful)

    Education: liberal arts BA (3.81 GPA) from a barely top-50; liberal arts MA (3.67 GPA) from top-20 (very light quant course load in both cases). Did the MA part-time while working.

    Experience: 3.5 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community – quickly promoted and achieved decent success, but limited in how much I can discuss that in an application; ~2 years in management consulting at a top-5 firm

    EC: Extensive volunteering for low-income professional mentorship organization; considerable foreign regional expertise and critical language proficiency

    GMAT: 710 (V41, Q46)

    Target schools: Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, Fuqua, INSEAD, McDonough

    Goal: Transition into internatonal corporate or consulting role that combines my regional expertise with business acumen

    Any insight on my case would be most appreciated!

  • hbsguru

    John is going to follow up on this with PQ cites to stories about fin aid, esp. at H and S. As a rule HBS is need based, but man, they give away a lot of money, so much so that the average out of pocket expense at HBS is often way less than other schools.

  • wondering

    really curious to see Sandy’s assessment of this

  • FAM_BIZ

    26 years old

    – GMAT 780 ; GPA 2.2

    – College University : UCI , Low GPA due to not taking advantage of my Learning Accommodations by Dyslexia and ADD

    Post College Academics : Aced MBA Math Course Subjects

    – Worked in Family Business(Consumer Electronics) Post College, thru my efforts help increase revenue from 36M to 70M

    – Promoted repeatedly

    – FAA Pilot License

    – Extracurricular : Helped to Start a Scholarship and Resource Fund Kid with Disabilities, Started an Social Entrepreneur Enterprise, and Lead a Local Charity Organization Chapter for 3 years.

    – Goal : I wanted to Start an New Educational Technology

    – Considered schools : Standford, Columbia, UCLA

  • Stephen Mortensen

    Question: do LDS missions, and leadership experience there, carry much weight in the admissions process at top schools?

  • Mba16

    Posted below as a reply to thread on candiate from africa. But wanted to post uptop for more visibility.

    Sandy or Jon- Are Stanford and HBS completely need based as proclaimed or do they ramp up packages for some students they really want? I.e. How would this candidate potentially get money outside the fellowship you mentioned?

  • MBA 16

    Sandy or Jon- Are Stanford and HBS completely need based as proclaimed or do they ramp up packages for some students they really want? I.e. How would this candidate potentially get money outside the fellowship you mentioned?

  • hbsguru

    Depends a bit on what you do in Senate or what you can say you do–and how that synchs with goals. You seem to have done that in goal statement above, and much else about this is likable. Target schools are NOT that hard to get into, assuming OK GRE. Any reason you are taking GRE and not GMAT? Despite what schools allow, there is a small edge for GMAT, esp. if you get an above average score (for the school you are applying to ) so they can report it.
    Not a super big deal.
    Get a solid score. 3.56 is one of the lowest GPAs I’ve ever seen fr. BYU 😉
    but also OK.

  • douzey

    Hi John and Sandy,
    I value your knowledge and insights and would really appreciate it if you could let me know my chances.
    27 year old middle eastern/eastern European female (immigrated to US at the age of 14)
    Under grad GPA: 3.2 (started at Molecular Cell Biology and then double majored with Political Economy) at UC Berkeley

    Won a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad and chose to do a master’s at Turkey’s top finance program. Master’s of Finance GPA: 3.5

    Worked and lived in Istanbul for a year in finance and consulting, experience was invaluable due to Turkey’s hot emerging market at that time. Came back home and have been working for Fortune 500 Tech companies in the Silicon Valley as a Financial Analyst, been promoted twice.

    I graduated college during the crisis in 2009, did a year of AmeriCorps and thru that program started out my career at a Tech-nonprofit working in Operations but due to their start-up first office in the West coast environment I had to wear different hats. It was there that I found out that I like working with numbers and after getting the Ambassadorial Scholarship, I pursed my interest in Finance and got a masters and have been in a finance role ever since which is around 3 years now. So a total of 5 years of experience (1 year of Americoprs, 1 year of nonprofit in an operations role, and 3 years of Finance)

    Extra-curricular: One of the directors of a cultural nonprofit which I have been involved with ever since college graduation.

    GMAT: havent taken it yet, but shooting for 700+

    Schools: Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard

    I’d like to stay in the Silicon Valley and the reason why I want to get an MBA is to transition into Corp Dev roles and of course the network of an MBA class.

    Thank you very much for all your help and time!

  • AJ

    Hey John and Sandy,

    I’m wondering if you could shed some insight on my profile.

    26 year old white male
    GPA: BA from BYU in Political Science GPA 3.56, HBX CORe certificate
    Experience: 2 years in the US Senate by application deadline, 3 years by matriculation and my background in energy and natural resources policy.
    EC’s: Two year LDS mission in western Europe, 5 month study/service program in Israel, bilingual, and other significant overseas experience. Significant mentoring through church programs etc. Taught language classes for two years.
    GRE: Haven’t taken yet but aiming for a 162 on Q and V.
    Target schools: Tuck, Darden, Texas (McCombs), Duke, UCLA, and Georgetown.

    I’m hoping my background will differentiate myself from the pool and plan to use my experience in energy policy and an MBA to work in renewable energy development.

    Thanks.

  • toughlove

    No chance at HBS. Sorry

  • hbsguru

    This is solid Big 4 audit profile and those are often successful at your target schools, Having really super recs, as you seem able to do, could be important, Big 4 is not a favored feeding ground (esp. for White Males) at Columbia, Darden etc. so that could tip you in, along with extras and all around solid story and goals.
    As noted often, Big 4 is often a place schools like Stanford and HBS go to for URM candidates (the minority Big 4 woman at Stanford is a recurring admit, to this day).
    I think you may get small pass coming from small school, as well, so Big 4 seems more likely, e.g. McKinsey was not interviewing at your school.
    Kids like you sometimes get into HBS, and it might be worth a Hail Mary there, ditto Wharton (that app is not hard to complete once you do the others).

  • hbsguru

    Any well-known tech company is OK w. B schools, since the assumption is that the job is selective, etc. Also, the school is also glad to have you around to share all the hip, new corporate culture items with your square classmates, OH FREE FOOD, OH, DROP OFF YOUR DRY CLEANING, hey man, that’s not the way it was with my job at State Farm.

  • Mr 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

  • mohitsrivastava

    Hello P&Q team and Sandy,

    28 Indian Male

    Education: UG – BS Chemical Engineering 6.58 on a scale of 10, Top 20 Indian Engineering Institute (NIT Jaipur)
    PG – MS Chemical Engineering 8.44 on a scale of 10, IIT Kharagpur, India’s leading engineering institute

    GMAT : 720

    Work Ex.: 3 years of strategy, business and market research, 1 year each at Frost and Sullivan, Capgemini Consulting. Currently working as an Analyst at Big 3 firm (1 year done. By next year admit it will be 2 years). At my current Big3 firm I’m supporting consulting team by providing ready to go material and data sets as per case requirements in Energy, Automotive, and Chemical sector. Jumped every year to get the big brands on resume.

    Extra Cu.: College level competition B Plan runner up in 2006 (crowd sourced news aggregator app and website), Event organizing experience in both UG and PG level. Designed and executed the marketing campaign of IIT Kharagpur MBA School’s National level socio economic cultural festival and an expo for promoting indigenous handicrafts. Led a team of 20 students for organizing National Level Chemical Engineering Symposium at IIT.
    Won team spirit award at my current firm within 6 months of joining the organization. Mentored 5 new recruits in my current firm within my team.

    Goal: To leverage MBA as a stepping stone to propel my career in Management Consulting domain from back end to front end work for big MC companies like BCG/ McKinsey/ Bain

    Long term goal: set up my own company in renewable energy sector (Elon Musk and Tesla Power wall inspired)

    Target Schools: MIT Sloan, LBS, Tuck, HEC Paris and INSEAD. Maybe HBS and Booth , but I guess it is highly unlikely.

    Your inputs are highly appreciated. Hope to hear from you.

    Regards
    Mo

  • BAlto

    Hello Sandy, please share your thoughts on my chances for HBS, the GSB and Wharton:

    – 25 year-old male from Central Africa (born and raised there), National Merit Scholar
    – Undergrad and master’s from leading universities in France on merit scholarship
    – Undergrad GPA: 14.5/20 (French scale), GMAT: 710/800, TOEFL: 115/120
    – M&A, LBO, experience at leading firms (think Cinven, Lazard, Société Générale)
    – Associate at a Sub-Saharan Africa advisory and investment firm with a focus on natural resources and telecommunications, early promotion after 2 years as an Analyst and responsibility for business development (small firm with less than 10 years history), significant direct contribution to revenue this year (US$ 600K+, 20% of YTD total)
    – Extracurriculars: in 2013 and 2014, I led public sector assignments for two senior government officials in education and healthcare reform in my country, youth mentorship for the past 7 years
    – Post-MBA goal is to work in energy private equity in Africa

  • AG

    Hi Sandy,

    It would be great if you could evaluate my profile, as I am confused whether I am aiming too high or too low?

    29 years old Indian female.
    7 years of experience in IT + Technology Consulting.
    Currently with Big 4 consulting firm. I am hopeful of good recommendation letters from current as well as past firm.

    Masters in Chemistry from prestigious university in India. Undergrad percentage is not impressive (but not too bad as well), post-grad percentage is.
    Originally wanted to go into research, but switched to IT due to family financial constraints. Managed to change track to technology consulting, want to move to management consulting/strategy consulting.

    GMAT 740 (Q: 49, V: 42, IR: 5, AWA: 5.5)

    Extra-curricular: Dancing for over 20 years, currently I am part of the diversity initiative at office, contributed as a student journalist in the student supplement of a English national daily, dabbled in music and painting for quite some time as well.

    Schools: Kellogg, Darden, Haas, Stern.

    Thanks in advance!

  • MidClass LatAm

    Thanks for the encouragement. All the best for you as well.

  • RazerRazer123

    Thanks for the comment! One question: would you say google/apple are still the only gold tech jobs and not any of the newer prestigious big startups? (Uber, Dropbox, airbnb, etc.)?

  • hbsguru

    dunno, man, one too many non-gold jobs, OK stats, non-gold extras (as H and S) score them, this aint looking like S and is reach at H. Other places are in line with serviceable execution and connecting dots.
    Starting company is college is one of those things which scores higher in reality than schools give it credit for. They just don’t know what to make of it, so it gets scored as near hobby.
    This is a classic case of silver not gold profile. Altho I am impressed.
    Chinese-Am male ain’t helping.

  • Lord Stark

    I really hope you get in man. You got a nice profile there, although I know nothing about admissions. Congrats on the nice GMAT score

  • hbsguru

    “It would suck to be lumped in with a group of people . . .” Well, prepare to suck, for the most part. The expectation is that Indians, from India and USA, have high GMAT scores, esp. males. So to some extent you would be in that pile. International Indians have another filter, e.g., how many International students a school wants, one of many filters, along with how many women, techies, etc? I don’t have official numbers to back this up, but my strong intuition is that as a simple matter of supply and demand, there is an oversupply of Desis at each filter–that makes getting in for both Indian Indians and US Indians harder than e.g. for kids from other countries in SE Asia or just vanilla non-URM males from USA.
    India turns out a lot of highly trained college grads who are also very mobile, those kids often get tech/consulting/banking jobs out of college in leading firms in both India and USA, and apply to B school 2-4 years later.
    I feel your pain, when I applied to college, I came fr. Metro NYC area, along w. many, many other smart, well trained kids. It was harder to get into Ivy/near Ivy colleges from my High School than some random “heartland” High School. Ivies/~near Ivies only took X kids from Metro areas, esp NYC (also often code for Jewish) –hence lots of competition for fewer spots. For US kids, this “Metro taint” disappeared, for the most part, when applying to grad schools, that is not, alas, the case w. Desis and Business school.

  • hbsguru

    dunno, dude, Afro-Am males with 730 GMATs and solid GPAs from Stanford/MIT plus tech resume at leading companies usually do just fine at your target schools, it’s just a matter of basic and serviceable execution and you seem on the road to that. Check back for a mock HBS interview, that can be important.
    sk

  • Lion96

    Education
    – Undergraduate & masters degree in engineering from Uni. of
    Nottingham. 2nd class upper and distinction (top 5%) respectively. 720
    GMAT (Should I retake?)

    Work
    experience – Cofounded the export arm of the family business. Got the ball
    rolling and left after 2 years to get some industry experience. Stint in
    wealth management/financial advisory in the Middle East. Currently at a
    big 3 consulting firm.

    Extracurricular
    – Student Union elected executive in UG and consequently elected President
    of PG Student Union in masters. Received the prestigious Vice Chancellors
    Award for significant impact to student and staff. Recipient of the High
    Achievers Scholarship award in UG (top 10%). WEF Global Shaper.

    Background
    – 27 year old. Sri Lankan male. First to be educated overseas within
    extended family as well.

    Short
    term goal: 1) Join a PE/Investment management firm. 2) Revamp the family
    business, as for the past 70 years those heading it haven’t had more than
    high school education. Left the business in the first place due to a very traditional
    mindset where the decision maker should be of certain age etc.

    Long
    term goal: Found a PE/VC firm to fund educational initiatives and entrepreneurship
    in Sri Lanka and hopefully the region. Upliftment of higher education.

    Misc –
    Completed CFA Level 1, HBX CoRe.

    Hoping
    to get into M7 school in the US or LBS/INSEAD. Sandicap me please!

  • Gulfoss

    One or two more details:
    – Currently 29, will be 31 on matriculation. I’m a little older than the ideal but have taken a while to sort out what I enjoy and my career goals
    – Preference is for schools where I can take a few papers in the law/policy schools as well. I intend to apply to M7 (minus Stanford, where I don’t see myself as having any shot) plus Yale. This may be unrealistic but I am not interested in less than an M7 MBA as I am an international and need something with a little recognition in Australia. My other application will be to Oxford.

    Thanks in advance, really appreciate the assistance you provide to readers of this site.

  • MidClass LatAm

    I meant 2017 Intake

  • MidClass LatAm

    Target:
    MIT, Wharton, Booth, Berkeley, Columbia, HBS

  • MidClass LatAm

    Hello Sandy

    I wanted to know your thoughts on my profile since I studied in a public university and, from what I’ve seen, almost ALL the kids from Latin America that go to top MBA’s come from private universities.

    This is the rest of my profile:
    -29 y/o male from south america.
    -760 GMAT.
    -Mgmt Engineering from a public university (best or second best in the country depending on the ranking).
    -MA in Statistics from a US city college.
    -I have almost 3 yrs experience in Data Analytics (DA) for the banking sector of my country (credit scoring). Currently working for one of the large credit bureaus (TRANSUNION/EQUIFAX) doing DA projects for clients in several countries in LatAm.
    -My biggest concern is that kids from private schools have great jobs right after graduation and it took me a year and a MA to start my career.
    -Goal: to apply my analytics skills in a regional LatAm market development/strategy role for data intensive industries (banking, technology, media).
    -Also: I am about to defer my applycation for the 2019 intake because I am getting a job offer as data analytics consultant for a tech company. I still owe money for my MA and it would be nice to pay it completely before I start an MBA.

    Thanks.

  • RazerRazer123

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for looking at my profile. Wanting to test my luck at some of the top MBA programs –

    My profile:

    740 GMAT

    3.5 GPA

    Undergraduate degree from a Southern Ivy – Math/Econ, started a small side business selling consumer electronics online: paid for last year of college (private schools are expensive!)

    WE: 1.5 years total at 2 different Tier 2 S&O Consulting firms, currently in a senior analyst role at a very large private tech company (think one involving transportation) and being noted as a high performer

    Extracurriculars: Involved heavily in career center activities for current college students at my alma mater, started fraternity in college

    Short-term goal: To join a large tech company or start-up in a product manager/entry management role

    Long-term goal: Eventually start my own company – do want to use business school as a sense of inspiration as well and to make contacts

    Asian-American – U.S. Citizen born in China

    Target Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, U Chicago, Northwestern, MIT, Berkeley

  • David A

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for this series, its been very informative.

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

    28yo (at matriculation)
    Black/AA Male

    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 SaaS Company (Oracle/Salesforce/Microsoft)

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

    Interests:
    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.

  • steve

    When you are talking about Indians? Are you talking about Indian-Americans as well? It would suck to be lumped in with a group of people where you citizen, language, identity, and values are completely different.

  • Gulfoss

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m an Australian considering applying for M7 for 2017 entry. I’d be interested in your thoughts on my chances, as it is hard to get a steer here given limited number of Aussies with MBAs. Basic facts:
    – LLB undergrad at a G8 Uni. Decent marks but not exceptional (3.3 GPA although that doesn’t convert well, top 30% of class). LLM with a 3.7 GPA.
    – Work experience is 18 months as a lawyer at a top tier firm in Australia, then a gap of 2.5 years, then two years at a top tier investment bank as an analyst, working in a coverage group and ECM.
    – Currently work for the equivalent of the SEC (ASIC) in a regulatory policy role (~8 months so far). Quite a bit of responsibility in this role but not management level yet. Studying towards CFA.
    – The 2.5 year gap was covered by my playing semi-professional sport abroad, plus training for Olympics (ultimately not selected).

    I’m targeting applying in R1 next year. Career goal is consulting (pref. something like McKinsey Corporate Finance) with long term goal to move back into a leadership role in a government department in Australia (ASIC, Treasury, Future Fund).

  • Vid

    Sandy,

    I look forward to your thoughts on my candidacy for the M7. My profile-

    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

  • Caitlin

    Would love to hear your thoughts on my profile- specifically is it worth retaking my GMAT because of the low quant score?

    26 year old white female
    GMAT: 740 (47v, 45q)
    Undergraduate: 3.7 GPA from Duke, majoring in Political Science, Markets and Management studies

    Work experience: 3 years of project management/process engineering and 1 year of Home Loans operations management at a top 10 bank (think Chase, B of A, Capital One); member of a campus hire development program; 3 promotions in 4 years

    Personal Extracurricular involvement- volunteer chair for a nonprofit event that raises $60,000+ annually, alumni admissions interviewer for Duke

    Work Extracurricular: Alumni Lead and job fit interviewer for development program, Community Corps Council member responsible for designing and implementing volunteer strategy for 200 person division

    Short Term goal is to return to current company as Operations Line Leader (would be youngest in a senior leadership position by 5-10 years)

    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, Duke, Kellogg, Tuck, Darden

  • Moorish

    Thank you Sandy.
    Will definitely mention it 🙂

  • hbsguru

    Club Casablanca in Harvard Square, see below.

  • hbsguru

    This is a tight story w. solid stats! HBS takes about 1 kid fr. Morocco per year (Berber could be a plus on top of that!) and story and stats all hang together. MIT always like diversity esp when it comes pinned to a 720 GMAT. Euro schools should be easy. Columbia will go for this too.
    For HBS just do some Berber riff for a while in Intro essay (“4 things people confuse about Berbers, 1. not a raincoat, etc. and it don’t rain much in Morocco. 2. There is no Club Casablanca in Casablanca but there are several Starbucks, and yes, I will be happy to lead a trek to the famous Club Casablanca in Harvard Square–[many tot HBS adcoms will not get, but Dee Leopold will :-)]

    I got a good feeling about you. OK off to wikipedia to look up Berbers.

  • Kim

    Hi Sandy, would love to hear your thoughts

    Age: 26

    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity: Asian
    GMAT: 740
    Undergrad: Ivy League
    Undergrad GPA: 3.4
    Major: Economics
    Personal: born and raised in Korea. moved to the US when 13 years old
    Work experience: 3.5 years at a boutique strategy consulting firm focusing on growth strategy for Fortune 100 clients. Promoted to Senior Associate after 2.5 years. Interned at Monitor Group (acquired by Deloitte) while in college.
    Extracurricular: launched a start-up (online luxury good retail shop) 2 years ago and worked on it on evenings/weekends while working full time as a consultant
    Extracurricular in undergrad: indie rock band, research assistant for several professors throughout college (work-study program), volunteer abroad
    Career goals: entrepreneurship in the online retail space
    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, Sloan

  • hbsguru

    dunno, not clear you need MBA to do what you want to do, most “lawyers” for small, active orgs like the ones you want join, etc. wind up doing lots of things and can easily migrate to management, president, etc. nor will MBA actually teach you anything. See a good legal headhunter and just join that small enviro firm.
    But you seem play by the book type and risk averse.
    Man, working in counsel office of big Uni is less good place than big firm, those offices are for trailing spouses (happy to field rebuttals, but I dont mean the top job at Uni which is usually a VP title and soft landing for burning out partner of major firm) but moving right along.
    Given big numbers, classy law school, federal clerkship, blah blah many B schools would be impressed. I think Stanford is no go tho, they would be in the “never kid a kidder” genre, e.g. they sell your type of BS and are less likely to buy it. Prob. HBS as well. Wharton would go for the numbers and would do that MORE SO if you had a GMAT instead of GRE. That my pal is tuff love but true. And that could be true at Columbia as well. I think you should be OK at K, Booth, Haas and Stern if you can convincingly explain why you want to go in each case.
    All that said, please see a headhunter, you really do not need an MBA.

  • Moorish

    Would love to hear your take on my profile.

    – 28 years old
    – GMAT 720 ; GPA 3.5
    – Born and raised in Morocco (indigenous berber), College in France (Telecom eng.)
    – Got a job at Deloitte France straight out of college into a rotational program in which I worked as an auditor then as a consultant focusing on Tech & Telecom assignments.
    – Promoted repeatedly
    – Speak 5 languages
    – Extracurric : Big brother program for underprivileged kids, “One Young World” delegate, Treasurer of Alumni association (alma mater)
    – Goal : to go back to Morocco to set up and run a Tech & Telecom consulting Branch for Deloitte (which they are supporting)
    – Considered schools : HBS, LBS, MIT, Columbia, INSEAD

  • Adam

    Sandy,

    Really loving the amount of time and energy you put into doing this for everyone. Thanks so much!

    This one may be a bit weird:
    – 29 year old white gay male
    – GRE: 800 math, 700 verbal
    – Undergrad: UGA, 3.97 GPA in History and Geography (awarded highest scholarship at university – four year full ride, plus extensive study abroad)
    – Law School: Stanford Law School, (no GPA), two years of environmental legal practice
    – Post-law Jobs: Three years at a top-10 firm as an environmental litigation associate, one year as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge, will be starting a position working in the general counsel’s office for a major public ivy in the fall
    – Extracurriculars: editor-in-chief of civil rights law journal, president of non-profit organization supporting public interest law students, three years of sexual health and HIV counseling in Georgia
    – Extras: sat on the board of an AIDS-legal services non-profit in San Francisco
    – Career goals: either working in a small environmental company (likely in green energy) or in a start-up working on sexual health education in college/university settings. I realized too late that law is ideally situated to solve problems post-hoc, rather than addressing them before they lead to litigation.

    Am I shooting way too high to be aiming at H/W/S? Also looking at Booth, Kellogg, Haas, Columbia and Stern.

    Really, really appreciate your time.

  • 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

    Well, don’t retake it. My guess is, those schools are OK w. your Quant skills and happy that the 740 they report to USNEWS is above their average.
    The issue of retaking a 710 is a hard one. I certainly would if you think you can do better. Can make a real difference at Wharton and Stanford (HBS more likely to wink), alas!

  • Maya

    Hi Sandy,

    Straight up question on GMAT and what is “competitive” at H/S/W.

    Would an Indian engineer with 740 (48Q/42V) be competitive at the Big3? Especially on the 48 quant score which 5 years ago used to be 80th percentile but now sits at 74th.

    I noticed you’ve sometimes said 710 is good while at other times, recommended the poster to retake to hit >750.

    I understand the full package matters but wouldn’t a score over 700 pretty much check the box, regardless of background? Or is that naive thinking?

  • Usul

    Hi Sandy,
    I am 30 year old technology consultant originally from Pakistan but working in US for the last 4 years. I have a GMAT score of 740 and GPA of 3.46 in Computer Engineering from a top engineering school in Pakistan (acceptance rate under 4%).

    Other than professional experience I have also setup an organization in Pakistan that provides health care to under privileged in rural areas of Pakistan.

    Currently i work for one of the biggest vendors for tech industry (think Cisco, Ericsson, NSN,)

    My target schools for R1 are
    Kellogg
    Sloan
    Haas
    Duke

    I would appreciate your feedback and any recommendation to be mindful of in the applications

  • hbsguru

    MID MARKET PE DINGS AT HBS -source for my remark in text of handicappying above that mid-market PE firm applicants have REAL hard time getting into HBS.
    http://poetsandquants.com/2013/12/11/let-sandy-tell-you-why-you-were-dinged/
    A 2013 PQ analysis of HBS dings, the number of guys fr. mid-market PE is notable, esp. since other stats for those folks were very strong.

  • hbsguru

    Cap, those are real solid stats and schools do not expect lots of extra currics from military applicants. I’d say all you need is serviceable execution at target schools, and not blowing interview at HBS. You may need some X factor at Stanford, which can be some heavy breathing in essay based on personal turning points in your life. It does not have to be major boo-hoo or glam stuff like being abused as child, doing a Jenner, or any other identity politics trope (but those help!).
    For HBS, just don’t damage yourself on the essay by turning it into brag sheet, etc. etc.
    As noted, I once had a West Point client like you who got into HBS with major leadership story of setting up tax prep center at Gitmo, and he was assigned to do that! To wit, he did the US taxes, mostly 1040s, of the grunts stationed there. [No he did not do the tax forms of the Gitmo detainees because those guys did not have whole lotta earnings over the past several years].

  • mikeab

    I won several awards in my US School including:
    – Outstanding Graduate Student (University Wide)
    – Outstanding Academic Achievement Graduate Student (Department Wide)
    – Full Scholarship for my entire years of graduate school
    – Couple of recognitions in competitions and conferences
    – Top 1% during my Undergraduate years

  • mikeab

    Hi Sandy,

    I know you are seeing this so please write me a comment.

    27 Years old : Middle Eastern Male (Current in the US with H1B and will get my permanent residency soon)

    GMAT 710 (Will retake for a 740)

    1.5 years as of Advanced Analytics Consultant in a Fortune 20th health care co. (I did a lot in this company and saved millions of dollars)

    work for 3 years during my undergrad years as of an analyst in a top construction company back in home country (Part-Time)

    Grad – Undergrad major both are Industrial and Systems Eng

    Und Grad GPA Non-American School not a top school in home country : GPA World Educational System 4.0/4.0

    Grad Public School in US : GPA 3.81/4.0

    Extra Curri: Currently Running a non-for-profit for international students coming from overseas to help them settle in the US.

    Target Schools: HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Stern, Chicago, maybe Stanford as it is very selective.

  • ArmyMBA

    Hey
    Sandy, would love to hear your thoughts!

    27 yo
    white male
    GPA: 3.78 in economics from West Point
    GMAT: 750 (48Q/45V)

    Work experience: Currently a Captain in the Army’s finance branch. Have worked in
    both traditional leadership roles as well as in budgeting job for the Army.

    I don’t have particularly strong extracurriculars, but I can demonstrate leadership
    through my jobs in the Army.

    I am planning to leave the military and pursue my MBA in order to transition from
    the Army to a career in finance or management consulting.

    Target schools: HBS, Sloan, Wharton, Stanford, Darden
    Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    To what extent does your salary pre-MBA matter in the whole admissions
    game? Will schools be turned off by candidates who don’t make a lot
    because they might have a tough time with the tuition and loans?
    ———————————————————
    I think the more impt question is how your salary stacks up to others in same industry at same exp. level, as a rough proxy for accomplishment, leadership, blah, blah.
    But I would not put anything past adcoms, esp. at schools with less robust endowments.
    If US News ever started counting entering salary one metric of rankings,
    many admits at Penn, Columbia etc would be a banker or drug dealer.

  • hbsguru

    The important GMAT number may be the average score for Indians at schools you are applying to, which at top 10 schools can be REALLY high, e.g. at HSW, where average GMAT for everyone is ~725-730, the Indian GMAT could be ~740-750.
    Now schools will deny that the look at GMAT by national origin (esp. on the high side, they are aware that URM GMATs are often lower than average, and as you note, Latin Am GMATs may be lower), the number of Indian males at HSW per year may not be a quota, but it does not go up or down dramatically either, and those same number of kids are admitted for some reason. IF you are Indian male and if you have a “generic” profile, e.g. near Ivy, banking, PE (or same in consulting), it is a helleva interesting question how GMAT scores among that sub-group of Indian males synches up w. admission.

    This leads to question that very few adcoms would ever answer clearly–does it make sense to retake a 710 or even a 720 in some cases. Three or five years ago, the answer was no, I am not so sure any more.

    And if you find that crazy, there is no one to blame but the adcoms, who are engaged in some silly arms race w. GMATs.

  • AP

    Sandy, I recognize that the average GMAT scores vary considerably, Indians have very high scores whereas South Americans on an average score lower than them. As an Indian applicant, do my chances take a hit if my score is lower than say the average for Indian candidates (It’s around 700 if I remember correctly)?

    Secondly, I asked John this, but I wanted your perspective on this as well. To what extent does your salary pre-MBA matter in the whole admissions game? Will schools be turned off by candidates who don’t make a lot because they might have a tough time with the tuition and loans?