Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

This 27-year-old Native American has been working in the corporate treasury department of a global beverage company for two years. With a GMAT of 740 and a grade point average of 3.8, he now hopes to apply to MBA with the hope of transition to McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

A certified public accountant, this 26-year-old American male has spent four years working with clients in professional sports organizations, private equity firms, and hedge funds. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.2 GPA, he wants to go to business school to return to his current public accounting firm to contribute on high-level projects in pro sports.

She is a 26-year-old Pakistani woman and a Muslim who has worked for three years in an e-commerce product management role at a payday loan company. With a projected 700 GMAT and an undergraduate GPA of 2.99, she already has a dual masters in management and management information systems but wants an MBA to transition into a tech startup as a product manager.

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?

After a round-one hiatus, 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.)

Ms. Global Analytics

  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.24 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School of Business
  • Work experience includes three years in Nielsen’s emerging professional leaders program in New York on a visa
  • Extracurricular involvement as a pro-bono consultant for non-profits, president of the marketing club at college and president of the Canadian Association
  • Goal: To use the MBA to transition to M/B/B or to a brand management role at Procter & Gamble or Coca-Cola
  • 20-something Canadian-Irish dual citizen female living in New York City

Odds of Success:

London Business School: 50%+
Wharton: 30% to 35%
MIT: 30% to 35%
Northwestern: 50%
Oxford: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis:

There’s a lot to like. The 730 GMAT is super solid and working for Neilsen, while not a sexy company, has a little bit of sizzle to it because it is well-known, and she is in a selective leadership rotation program that takes only five people a year. The 3.24 GPA is your Achilles Heal.

LBS is not that selective and you are within their middle 80% range of GMAT scores. I think you’ll get into INSEAD and Oxford. Your American choices, especially Wharton and MIT, are very stats based. That’s where your 3.24 will hurt you the most. Also, why you want to go to MIT is not clear to me.

Kellogg is a good choice for you, given your goals to either become a consultant or to work for a big name consumer packaged goods company. With proper execution, your chances at Kellogg are in the 50% range. They will blink at the GPA.

You have a lot of positives. If you are going to have a low GPA versus a low GMAT, you want to have a low GPA. It hurts you less.So your GMAT score is something of an offset. Still, your chances at Wharton and MIT as in the 30% to 35% range. It could happen.

Your goal to work for one of the big global consulting firms is achievable if you can get through the case interviews at M/B/B. It’s questions like this: count backwards from 100 by seven. If you can pass a test like that, you can get into McKinsey, Bain, or BCG. You have a real McKinsey personality.

  • actuaryguy

    I was really hoping you could provide a profile review for me please! I am having trouble finding people with similar background to me. My goal is to potentially move in to financial management in healthcare or a health insurer, leveraging my skills in financial economics, actuarial, and FP&A modeling.

    Targets: Booth, CBS, Wharton

    Work experience: 4 years at $1 B insurance carrier working as an actuary in both valuation, pricing, product development, and financial planning
    Extra stuff: Music, singing for philanthropic causes
    Undergrad school/major: Univ of Florida, Math & Econ double major
    Other education/coursework: ASA from the society of actuaries, near FSA, coursework in PhD level Econometrics and proficient in R & SPSS
    Race/nationality: Caucasian/USA

    Sex: Male

    GMAT Score: 780
    Undergrad GPA: 3.56 Overall, 3.83 Major

  • James

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love for you to handicap my odds of admissions at:


    Age: 26
    Career: 3 years as a consultant for McKinsey (broad industry and functional experience) and will have 2 years of experience as a portfolio operations executive (mostly growth strategy and sales force effectiveness work for tech, healthcare, etc. companies) at a name brand, multi-billion dollar private equity firm by the time I apply
    College: top ranked public ivy; 3.63 GPA in finance/management/entrepreneurship; lots of extracurricular involvement and leadership positions in the fraternity system; one of a handful of peer-nominated finalists for prestigious university award/scholarship based on achievement, humility, integrity, and leadership; received small amount of funding for a start-up from an angel investor and university-wide entrepreneurship competition
    GMAT: 730 (significantly lower than practice exams, so I’m considering retaking it)
    Reason for MBA: leadership growth and a sharpening of my general business skills, plus the opportunity to build and contribute to a network of other professionals
    Career aspirations: found or build a healthcare business focused on improving mental healthcare delivery (I have a compelling personal story to explain my motivation). Later in my career I’d also like to build a business and create jobs in my home state, a very poor state in the Deep South
    Interests outside of work: hiking, fitness, Modern art, live music, sailing, politics, and reading on a wide variety of topics

    Thank you for your consideration and help.

  • Adam

    Profile evaluation request.
    720 gmat 48q/40v
    BS in chemical engineering 3.21
    Last two semesters GPA 3.5 and 3.88
    MS in engineering management 3.43
    Most coursework was quantitative: a in thermodynamics, senior lab, mass energy balances, b+ in transport 1 and 2, kinetics, etc
    Also a’s in finance and accounting, marketing, new venture creation
    Both degrees from Johns Hopkins University
    Two time varsity letter winner on a top 15 men’s tennis team with two conference championships and ncaa tournament appearances
    3 years of work experience from deloitte consulting
    1 year of work experience at accenture strategy
    Start up project experience with an incubater
    Interested in working for technology firms like Google and twitter in product management or internal strategy and want to study entrepreneurship.
    Schools of interest :
    Kellogg mmm

  • Juan

    Hey guys,

    Would it be possible to handicap my odds for HBS, Stanford GSB, Wharton and Columbia/Booth?

    Demographic: White, Canadian male who would be 25 for Sept. 2016 start

    Undergrad: ~3.6 GPA (high distinction) at the University of Toronto as a Bachelor of Commerce

    GMAT: 750, 8 IR, 6 AWA

    Other Education: CFA Charterholder and Derivatives Market Strategist

    Experience: 2.5 years in Corporate Strategy at major Canadian telecom and media company, last year spent as a Manager of Corporate Development there (2 promotions in ~3 years)

    Extracurriculars: extensive volunteering with my undergrad alma mater, including mentorship of current students, leading student consulting engagements for NGOs, currently on Alumni Steering Committee for UofT undergrad business, also have three years of volunteering with a scholarship fund for dependents of deceased soldiers, some decent political organizing experience but all for losing candidates – Fraternity treasurer, finance club and entrepreneurial club leadership positions while in undergrad.

    Goals: Corporate Strategy/Development at global TMT company (Disney, Google, Softbank), or position in TMT focused private equity (Providence, Silver Lake).

    Recommendations: Head of Corporate Development and Head of Corporate Strategy at current employer. One is an HBS alum, who was previously partner at MBB, the other is not an alum of a US school but was Canadian office head for a well-known MBB competitor.

  • j

    Hey guys,
    Quick snap shot of my profile, some feedback would be much appreciated.
    -740 (v 42, q 49 (1st attempt) – concerned about quant, thinking about redoing as this was usually my strong suit, nerves/time management was an issue)
    – approx 3.4 gpa (canadian university in business) (last 2 years had 4.0 gpa, first 2 years i had 2 deaths in immediate family which explained the low gpa in the first years in uni)
    -data analyst 2 years at telecom within canada
    -developed 2 apps
    -extensive volunteering at hospital, outreach/at risk youth, teach science to under represented youth, started 3 clubs at uni (1 now has become part of the university health service umbrella), and various other involvements on campus
    -research assistant for 2 professions within psychology depart
    -entrepreneurial award in uni for past experiences in HS

    looking to apply at H/S/W only – looking to transition into IT/management consulting
    thanks in advance.

  • j

    Hey guys,
    Quick snap shot of my profile, some feedback would be much appreciated.
    -740 (v 42, q 49 (1st attempt) – concerned about quant, thinking about redoing as this was usually my strong suit, nerves/time management was an issue)
    – approx 3.4 gpa (canadian university in business) (last 2 years had 4.0 gpa, first 2 years i had 2 deaths in immediate family which explained the low gpa in the first years in uni)
    -data analyst 2 years at telecom within canada
    -developed 2 apps
    -extensive volunteering at hospital, outreach/at risk youth, teach science to under represented youth, started 3 clubs at uni (1 now has become part of the university health service umbrella), and various other involvements on campus
    -research assistant for 2 professions within psychology depart
    -entrepreneurial award in uni for past experiences in HS

    looking to apply at H/S/W only – looking to transition into IT/management consulting
    thanks in advance.

  • Bazingaaa111

    Hi, if someone can please help evaluate my profile…

  • Greekmyth

    Yes my name and picture comes up when I google myself. But I’m wondering if a masters in finance, working for a year or two at a big name company, and then raising my gmat a little would help my chances significantly?

    I’m not sure how the adcom sees an MSF or the grades from an MSF.

    Or should I go to one of the schools I’m interviewing for if I get in?


  • Flabio

    Hello Sandy,

    Can you please help me out with my odds? Thanks!

    Business in a top 3 Business University in Brazil
    GPA: not sure the value of this, but 7.8/10 (top 15% of class)


    – Internship/1 year job as demand planner in Supply Chain at top swiss pharmaceutical company in Brazil
    – 3 years at Trust Business, first as a trainee in Curaçao and then as Account Rep for LatAm in Barcelona, Spain
    – Current (past 3.5 years), Sales Rep/Account manager for a major financial software/data provider for Peru (based in Brazil). Top seller on my first year, and on the top 10% on the company. Established relationships with major banks, corps and government institutions. Working closely with product development

    Extra curricular:
    – 2 expeditions with Habitat for Humanity in Sao Paulo slums
    – Teaching English for the past 1.5 years for underprivileged kids in Sao Paulo
    – Mentoring/mock interviewing for teenagers
    – 50+ community hours yearly for the past 2 years (less time in the previous years, teaching Excel)
    – Co-Founded and managed (1 year) an investment club in college
    – A part from work, have lived with my family in Spain, Switzerland and Mexico
    – Fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish
    – I play guitar and bass, and am self taught in drums

    Targets (2016):
    – HBS
    – Wharton
    – Columbia
    – Haas
    – NYU
    – LBS

    My idea is to relocate with my current company, and most likely looking for part time/executive, or in the case of HBS full time MBA.

    I am a white Brazilian male

    – To work my way up to senior management at my current company.

  • Bazingaaa111

    Hi Sandy,

    Please let me know my chances for Berkley Haas, H/S/W, CBS, Ross, Darden, Anderson and Oxford/ ISB.

    1. Indian, Female with 4+
    years of work experience in Telecom Industry. I am currently working with one
    of the top player in Telecom.
    2. Topped my branch during B.Tech studies [GPA 4.0?]
    3. Have been among the top 10% of the students in School (85% and 82%
    respectively with Maths and Biology as the majors).
    4. Have been a part of Placement Cell for my Seniors’ placement and my batches’
    5. Have been a part of my School Basketball team.
    6. Have been in the Student Council in my college
    7. Took part in National Debate competition and stood 4th overall
    8. Organized many inter-school and inter-college fests/ events
    9. Have visited villages to educate children, their parents under the
    ‘Go-Green’ campaign in college.

    After College:

    1. Working as a Project Lead. Youngest member of the team.
    2. Earned Special awards in the organization, twice (last two years), for
    execution excellence.
    3. Promoted once
    4. Part of the Corporate Social Responsibility core team in office
    5. Lead the organization’s CSR at the site level and help the underprivileged children 4. Division Director for Toastmasters’ International for Delhi region
    5. Conducted Area level and division level contest for Toastmasters
    5. Have been selected in Indian Institutes of Management but did not join.
    6. Green Belt in Karate
    7. First member in my family to become an engineer, to go out of town for studies
    and to work in an MNC. This required a strong self belief, strong will and
    confidence to fight against odds and change the mindset of family who has no
    girl studying beyond high school and not ever dreaming that their girls can
    live in another city without a male relative to take care and arrange things.

    GMAT: 690 (plan to retake before R2 deadlines)

    Want to enter into Marketing/ Consulting field.


  • Guy

    Sandy, could you please review my profile above? Thank you!

  • HBS

    Hello greekmyth,
    In regards to your point about being a national champion and 4 time all american, it will mostly depend on a person who is reviewing your application. There is a human factor that plays a HUGE role in these decisions, so I can’t tell you to not apply to the top programs because you COULD get lucky. Also, could you tell me what you can see on a first page of google search after typing your name? do you appear there at all?

    By all means, apply to all the schools. By your athletic achievements I can guarantee you had some doubts about yourself but you WON all those titles. It can happen with the B-School too if you put your best efforts. Let me know if you have any question.

  • Jeff

    Was hoping my profile could be evaluated for a full time MBA.

    Undergrad in Electrical Engineering from private school on the east coast (RPI/RIT/WPI) with 3.66 GPA
    Masters from UCLA in Electrical Engineering (online while working) with GPA of 3.61
    GMAT: 750 (50Q/41V/8IR)

    Work Experience:
    3 years at a small defense contractor on the east coast. Initially technical job (designing radar algorithms) but it transitioned into a more business development role where I worked with customers and tried to sell them our products/solutions. A lot of face to face meetings with customers (domestic and international) and helped write proposals for large (100M+) programs.

    I decided that I wanted to move to LA and that I wanted a more technical role so I accepted a job at a large defense contractor (Lockheed/Raytheon/Northrop Grumman) where I work on designing and testing satellites. While working I completed my masters online at UCLA.

    I was nervous that I wasn’t using my engineering degree and that is why I took a more technical role, but now I realize I enjoy the strategy and business side more than the engineering. My goal is to transition to consulting (M/B/B) and then eventually return to a technology company in management.

    Extra curriculars: captain of intramural sports teams, was a teaching assistant in college.

    Planning on applying to: HBS, MIT, Kellogg, Yale, and UCLA (potentially Columbia and Wharton)

    28 white male

  • greekmyth

    I have two interviews with schools ranked 10-15.

    Thats true about the student athletes but not many people are national champions and 4 time all american. ( not sure how much this helps)

    Lets say I could get a 730-740 gmat and a more prestigious job. Would I have a shot at a top 10 program or would it be better to to just go to one of the MBA programs I’m interviewing for ( provided I get in ?) Is a 3.0 gpa too much to overcome?


  • James


    I was hoping you guys could review my profile for Northwestern, Booth, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia.

    25 year old white male

    GMAT: 740 (50Q 41V)

    Went to a top 20 college
    GPA: 3.40
    Double Major Mathematics and Economics

    Worked for two years at a middle-tier BB (DB/Citi/UBS/CS) as investment banking analyst. Then worked for two years at middle-tier real estate private equity fund

    Extra curriculars: Two years involvement in mentor / tutoring program for underprivileged city youth
    Conversationally proficient in Spanish (not sure what that is worth)

    Goals: Would like to work at global real estate private equity firm

  • HBS

    In all fairness, MBA is really not for you. Get an HBS Core classes for business skills and move on with life, seems like you spent too much time at school.

  • HBS

    All of these schools are a reach for you. Unless you attended Wharton for undergrad, can’t see how your “leading business school” can help you with such a laughable GPA in business. Glad you’re not thinking about hbs though, cause that would make me kill myself from laughing.

  • HBS

    1) Your age is great for bschool
    2) Undergrad college is good
    2) Major is not hard while GPA is low (will be a major drawback in your application)
    3) Athletic achievements are good but impacted your school performance. There are so many student athletes applying to these schools who did exceptionally well both in sport and school work.
    4) Nothing too eye striking about your career. How well did you do at your small healthcare company? Are you getting recommendations from them?
    5) No volunteering?

    Overall, it will be a dream come true for you if you get into any one of these schools. Target schools to consider: UNC, Notre Dame, Kelley, and Carlson.

  • Greekmyth

    Hi, I was hoping you guys could review my profile for Northwestern, Booth, Dartmouth, and Yale.
    I’m a 25 year old white male.
    I went to a top 2 liberal arts school ( Williams/Amherst)
    Major Anthropology
    GMAT 710
    GPA- 3.0 ( this will kill me)
    Captain of Mens College Athletic Team that won a National Championship
    First 4 year all American in my colleges history ( other accolades in my sport)
    I worked in marketing for a small healthcare company and recently switched to a mortgage trading company as real estate and investing is my long term goal. Upon matriculation it will be 1 year that I worked in real estate finance and 4 years working experience all together.
    Any feedback you can provide would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Kenny

    Hello! I’d really appreciate any thoughts you have on my profile.

    25 year old Indian male born and raised in the U.S.
    GRE Q165, V164 (ETS GMAT comparison 720)
    4.0 and valedictorian from NC State with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering
    3 years as an analyst/consultant at Deloitte in tech strategy with public sector and life sciences projects

    – For last 3 years, have done probono work for nonprofits, including an international engagement
    – Extensive international volunteering on organic farms (10+ countries, at least 2 weeks in each)
    – In undergrad, started a nonprofit that integrated donation software into small business point of sale systems and raised $60,000/mo nationwide for local schools

    Fun facts:
    – play banjo in a bluegrass band in a northern city
    – part of a local improv comedy club
    – taught myself Hindi (neither parents speak it, and have only been to India once)

    Goal: “Social impact” consulting, bridging the gap between the private sector and public sector to solve social issues. Enabling large businesses to look beyond CSR, and instead drive corporate growth through social impact.

    Ideally would want to pursue a joint MBA-MPP program, but need to be admitted independently to b-school.

    Goal: HBS, Sloan
    Target: Stern, Ross, Booth, Fuqua
    Considering: Tepper, Kenan-Flagler, UCLA Anderson

    Any thoughts on fit and admission likelyhood is much appreciated

  • Sanjana Zerin Prianka

    Would be very grateful to you if you could handicap my chances at my choice b schools.

    Profile: Bangladeshi Muslim female. Age 25

    Undergrad : BBA from a leading business school. Major in Marketing, 3.24
    GRE: havent attempted yet but aiming for 320. GMAT seems too tough.
    Work experience: Territory Officer at British American Tobacco Bangaladesh
    I am basically responsible for everything regarding my company and product in my demarcated territory. I watch over the sales, merchandising, i execute central campaigns, devise my own small scale campaigns and hire and manage people spread across a vast geographical area.My teritorry happens to be the most popular tourist beach town which also happens to have an international border so i have to maintain liason with lots of stakeholders as well.
    This is my first full time job, prior to this i have worked as Intern at Telenor’s Bangladeshi concern grameenphone, writer to nationally circulated lifestyle magazine, copywriter at an ad agency and at an US funded program for Fulbright scholars where i helped them to learn bangla, my native language.
    Extra curricular: MUN, Debate, freelance writer, some volunteering with underprivileged kids in college years.
    Interest: Travel, Extreme sports, books. I am a compulsive reader.
    Career plan: I love researching to solve a problem and i enjoy strategic planning part of my job mostly.
    Hence i want to move to consultancy and my dream job would be analyst at McKinsey. In order to achieve that i want to pursue my MBA at an american top university. From Bangladesh, it’s a long long shot but I feel like I have a chance if only I get a scholarship as well.
    Long term plan of community work: Work on women empowerment for bangladeshi girls. I was lucky to have parents who supported me with unusual life choices, not most of the girls here get that. Would like to work on that front.

    My b school list is:
    1. Kellogg
    2. Owen
    3. Simon
    4. Goizuetta
    5. McCombs
    6. Jenkins
    7. IE

    What do you think are my chances? Also being from a Bangladesh i middle class family, i would be needing a very generous scholarship.

  • humanitiesPhD

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m also a “non-traditional” applicant and would really appreciate some advice. Here are my stats:

    – 3.49 GPA from H/Y/P with a humanities major

    – Have been in graduate school ever since, and currently pursuing a humanities PhD at UC Berkeley

    – Lots of teaching experience that includes developing my own curricula, as well as experience organizing and leading collaborative arts projects outside the university (including some with a social justice dimension)

    – Have garnered several distinctions in my field, and have won study abroad scholarships to China (one year) and Western Europe (one year, Fulbright)

    – Know five languages beyond English

    – GMAT will be taken in about two months (obviously I’m shooting for 700+, and my Quant score will be crucial)

    – Personal information: 30-year old male; first generation born in America to immigrant parents from East/Southeast Asia; gay

    – Aiming to learn basics of finance and marketing to start a career in the media industry (ultimate goal to do corporate strategy at a large media company like Disney) — essentially, I’m looking to influence the mental diet of people worldwide, which is possible through the values I’ve cultivated in the humanities

    Is there a particular way I should craft my story to make it as compelling as possible for the adcom? Are there particular bschools I should be looking at? Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Justin

    Hello Sandy & John,

    I would love your B-School expertise and advice on my B-School profile please:

    GMAT: 770

    3.0 Undergrad GPA (Carleton College, Economics & Statistics major)

    3.8 GPA Master’s of Marketing Analysis (DePaul University)

    Work Experience: 3 years as Market Research Analyst at Nielsen, 3 years as Consumer & Marketing Strategist at Deloitte

    Extracirriculars: Played college basketball (2 year captain), Member of Young Research Professionals, Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity

    Goal: To be able to further my career as a brand/marketing consultant. Would eventually love to be senior level/C-Suite at consulting firm (i.e. helping multiple clients’ brand/consumer marketing/profitability)

    Schools Considering: Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Wisconsin, Tepper, UCLA Anderson, NYU, HEC Paris, Tuck. Would love to hear schools you think I might be a good fit for.

    28 year old American, white male. Thank you very much for your consideration and insight.

  • Siri

    Hi — love the analysis so far and would really appreciate some feedback.

    720 GMAT, University of Texas, Communications 3.28 GPA (initial chem major tanked GPA)

    29 female, first generation college grad

    lots of management experience, currently director of ecommerce at relatively small national retail brand, formerly manager of online marketing at public retail company

    goal is to add quantitative and finance knowledge base to track record for generating rapid online growth

    Applying to Rice U, UT, Stanford, NYU, Haas — maybe Kellogg/Columbia. No idea if these are worth the time with my GPA and hard to distinguish ecommerce program strength from overall ranking. Also wondering if explaining early GPA stumbles is a mistake in essays if story is compelling.

  • HR Manager

    Hello Guys!

    I was hoping you can review my profile and let me know if I would have a shot at being accepted at either Harvard or London Business School to study MBA.

    My profile summarized below:

    1) I am a white female
    2) I am 28 years old
    3) I was born in Easter Europe and since graduating from high school, I lived in London where I reached a successful career as a HR Manager
    4) I graduated with a bachelors degree with Hons in HR Management (grade 2:2 – Bedfordshire University).
    5) GMAT score – 700
    6) Currently work as the Head of HR at a property firm in the City of London
    7) Extra curricular – none as work takes most of my time

    Long term ambition – want to achieve CEO status at either top tech company or top investment bank either in London or New York.

    Thanks in advance!

  • CuriousPhD

    Hi Sandy,

    Really appreciate your no-bs and rather hilarious responses! I’d really appreciate your 2 cents on my ‘nontraditional’ application.

    1) #s: 760 GMAT, 3.5 GPA undergrad in engineering from engineering heavy Ivy (think Penn/Cornell)
    2) Work exp: after undergrad, went straight to a PhD program in the same field at a top 15 school, and currently in the last year of the program. Done quite well in my subject field with national/regional awards(for research and for communication/presentation) + papers/patents and unlike what one may think of PhDs, interdisciplinary collaboration has been a strong focus throughout grad school (tons of team-based projects on a daily basis). Also led many research projects as a project manager.
    3) Personal: Northeast asian (China, Korea, Japan), Female, 27
    4) ECs: founded seminar series on personal/professional development for my community/education chair of a student org, STEM outreach(designing and running 3-day camps/lab demos for kids), tutoring, guest-lecturing in undergrad classes and general public, investing in stocks (if that counts..)
    5) Goals: short-term is to do MBB consulting(in DC so that I get good exposure to public/social sector work), mid-term is to go back to academia and be a professor, and long-term is to transform education in the home country. Through my experience, I realized that changing education involves much more than teaching one class at a time. I want leadership and business skills and experience from MBA and MBB to solve this big-organizational/systemic issue.

    Having said that, I’m aiming for HBS/Sloan/Yale/Wharton. How realistic is this list?

    Thank you very much!

  • ???

    I work at one of those firms and didn’t want the interview process flagrantly misrepresented. How is that mad? Lol, and who uses phrases like “stark-raving mad”

  • hbsguru

    might happen at Wharton, if they like your company enuf. Most B schools eager to get AMZN or GOOG kids in the class. Ross, Kellogg, and Duke should happen. You are on the money at those places. Tuck is small and a matter of fit, but they should like you as well. If you came to Wharton with a 730, they would gobble you up. They may bite anyway, but more on bubble there at this point.

  • G-man

    Hey sandy,

    I’m a variation from what you’ve already done and would appreciate your perspective:

    690 GMAT
    3.5 GPA in a business field from an ivy
    Worked the last 2.5 years at one of the large tech companies in Seattle (think Amazon Microsoft) as a business analyst and then promoted to strategy and operations mgr.
    Good extras – soccer, alumni admissions for undergrad school, frequently participating in runs for charity, etc.

    Target schools are Wharton Ross Tuck Kellogg Duke.

    What do you think?

  • hbsguru

    thanks, looks like that is pretty much the print version of what exists unstated at most B schools, they all deeply prefer sorta 3.5 GPA but are willing to wink if you present them with something to wink at, including diversity, some explanation, rising grades, alt transcript, etc. etc.

  • hbsguru

    see PQ article about Euro schools selectivity.
    long discussion in Comments about LBS admit rate. I agree w. John Bryne’s take.

    I also think admit rate is higher for US applicants, for several reasons, they may be higher qualified, but I also think Euro schools like the, ahem, “diversity.”

  • Nfidjsj

    A splash of cold water? Lol. This person sounds like they are absolutely stark-raving mad.

  • Mr. Coca-Cola Variation

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m a variation of Mr. Coca-Cola and was hoping for a quick review.

    -Same 740 GMAT overall but add 2 pts to quant (48) and subtract 2 pts from verbal (44)
    -Replace Native American with Native Hawaiian
    -Less selective undergrad (no-name LAC) and 3.5
    -Less pretigious company, similar role but 5.5 yrs experience at matriculation
    -Replace extracurrics with college athletics and Native Hawaiian focused volunteer work
    -CFA with goals in endowment space where CFA prevalent
    -LT goal of managing Native Hawaiian focused endowment

    Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, Tuck, Fuqua, Yale

  • Question

    Sandy, you mentioned that LBS is not that selective. Are you able to elaborate on this perception?

  • Indian Engineering Male (IEM)

    Hi Sandy,
    Hope you can review my profile and give me an insight into my chances.

    -25 yrs old India Engineering Male
    -710-730 expected
    – B Tech, Chemical (top 25 pvt engineering colleges in India)
    -7.3 GPA
    -3.5 years of work experience in analytics (2 yrs pure play analytics firm, 1.5 and counting in M/B/B). I have worked with Fortune 50 clients
    -I have had 2 promotions in my experience
    – In college I was a placement coordinator working as SPOC between companies and student. I was responsible to create awareness about the companies visiting campus and many other responsibilities
    -I have been doing social work for quite sometime now. I started with counselling and mentoring people from my village 3-4 years back. Currently a core group member of social impact team of the company I work with
    -Goal: To move towards Marketing domain in a big CPG company like Unilever or P&G

    -Target schools: H/S/W, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Yale, Tuck, Haas

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  • DangerZone

    Hi Steve,

    I’m afraid I don’t have any direct feedback for you (aside from congratulations on that awesome GMAT score), but I did have a question.

    I also live in the UK (London) and am also on the lookout for opportunities in non-profit board membership in international development. This is of course partly because it looks good to adcoms, but also because that’s where my true goals lie and it’s where I’ve spent every bit of free time I get from work – spent quite a bit of time working on rural electrification and development in India.

    Do you have any suggestions on how I could go about finding something of the sort that you’ve been involved in?


  • John Byrne

    Very strong profile. With 730 your best bet would be to look at a strong southern school like Duke. I dont think HSW is in the cards but maybe a reach at Yale SOM if you can write compelling essays.

  • Steve

    Hi Sandy,
    Would really appreciate it if you could review my profile:
    – 28 years old male, UK citizen
    – BSc Mathematics – Top 10 UK university; top 50 internationally
    – College varsity sports team
    – GPA: Approx 3.4 – 3.5 (depending on conversion from UK 2.1)
    – GMAT: 780 (Q50 V47)
    Work experience
    – 6 years at boutique trading firm; worked in UK, Netherlands & US, multiple promotions. Numerous roles including project management experience, strategic leadership and recruiting, training & mentoring of junior staff.
    – 4 month fellowship in East Africa (sabbatical). International development consulting for social enterprises and financial organisations
    – 2 nonprofit board positions (microfinance & international relations)
    – Volunteering & teaching in Central America and East Africa
    – Published photographer
    Post-MBA Goals
    – International development consulting
    – Harvard, MIT, INSEAD, Columbia

  • Tara

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m an atypical applicant and I feel like I’m groping in the dark with regards to where I should apply, so I’d really appreciate your help. I’m a 25 year old, Singapore-born Indian female who is fluent in Chinese and Spanish.

    Undergraduate degree: 3.7 GPA in Philosophy & English at a top 20 UK University
    I had summer internships in marketing and public relations with leading international fashion brands; both in Singapore. My extracurricular activities were serving as editor of a cultural journal and touring British art festivals with my university dance troupe.

    Postgraduate degree: 3.5 GPA in Sociology at LSE/ Oxford/ Cambridge
    In terms of extracurriculars, I was president of the Latin ballroom dance society at university and I wrote art and cinema reviews for a local publication.

    I took a ‘gap year’ in South America between both degrees. I enrolled in Latin ballroom dance schools in three different countries and wrote a travel column about it for a leading lifestyle magazine in Singapore.

    I have two years work experience as an account executive with a leading independent advertising agency in Sydney, Australia with one promotion; my client is a Fortune 500 company. I will be applying next year, with three years of experience. My current extracurricular activities are teaching dance and choreographing shows at a centre for disadvantaged children.

    Goals: I want to study for an MBA in marketing so that I am well-equipped to start my own event marketing company in Singapore, in order to take advantage of the burgeoning arts and culture sector, which currently receives 500m dollars in annual government funding.

    Universities: UC Berkeley Haas, UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, UCSD Rady.

  • guest

    Would appreciate if you could handicap my odds.

    27 years old, white female
    3.55 GPA from non-HYP Ivy, study abroad at LSE
    710 GMAT

    4 years at elite econ consulting firm, promoted to Senior Analyst
    Worked on high-profile disputes, including producing work entirely in Spanish and interacting with Spanish-speaking clients

    Extracurriculars: volunteer with local music group, was president of sorority in college (held various other leadership positions), taught English to ESL students, active in alumni clubs
    Want MBA to transition to management/strategy role
    Targets: Stanford, NYU, Darden, McCombs

  • Engineer Girl

    GMAT: 740 (99% V, 68% Q)
    3.6 GPA in Chemical Engineering from Ivy
    Heavily involved in women’s empowerment, specifically STEM fields
    Heavy involvement in low-income college prep volunteering
    Moderate involvement in alumni association
    Internships in environmental research and in R&D at well-known F500 health/pharma company (think J&J)
    Rotational leadership program in technology and operations at bulge-bracket bank, mostly strategy work
    HBX CORe graduate
    Will have only 2 years of work experience and be 22 at time of enrollment
    Goals are uncertain, torn between mgmt consulting, F500 corporate, or tech space (or even entrepeneurship). Little to no finance interest.

    Targets: Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, UCLA, MIT. (Need to do more research in schools that might be more suitable for me)

  • Grace

    Also meant to mention, current ecommerce business is part of larger well known retailer (Nordstrom/Bloomingdales/Saks) and runs like startup within larger organization. No one in my role has applied to business school, most are building careers in retail buying/planning and staying with the company long term.

  • Grace

    Hi, I’d love to have you review my profile as well. Thanks in advance for any insight!

    26 year old female
    Undergrad GPA 3.6 from non-HYP Ivy
    GMAT 700 (46Q, 40 V), retaking in December

    Work Experience
    Past year (current) in inventory and assortment planning for high-growth off-price ecommerce business, creating plans and quantifying buys to go from <$1M in 2014 to a planned $20M in 2016.
    Previously, 3 years in buying/planning roles at Amazon across softlines and consumables organizations. P&L responsibility, ran pricing, promotions, marketing for portfolio of brands.

    Currently: women's service organization involvement for past 3 years with leadership roles, volunteer with program helping prepare underprivileged and first-generation college students to apply to and go to college, peer mentor for new hires into work organization
    In college: sorority with leadership roles, underprivileged youth mentoring, Chamber Singers, mentoring program for first generation college students to help transition into college life, study abroad

    Goal: Transition to consulting to gain exposure to business problems across industries and geographies, longer term become a leader within a mid-size (likely ecommerce) startup to help with growing and scaling business.

    Planning on applying in Round 2, still finalizing school list

  • Cam

    Just for your future reference, from their website.

  • hbsguru

    thanks, not sure, if so, that could be an issue.

  • hbsguru

    I believe context in the video, and fact that it was me, are strongly suggestive that remark was tongue in cheek, Also, FYI, “count backwards from 100 by 7s” is an actual MBB interview question, well, as reported to me by a guy who works there, and I don’t think he was pranking me. That was not the only Quant test to be sure, but I was not 100 percent joking out of no place.

  • VMER1306

    Sorry, I forgot to indicate the schools I’m interested in:
    – Kellogg.
    – Tuck.
    – Fuqua.

    Thanks on advance for your feedback.

  • VMER1306

    I would appreciate if you could review my profile:
    – Spaniard. 29 years-old (30 at matriculation).
    – GMAT 690 (Q 47, V 38).
    – TOEFL 103.
    – GPA 3.2 from a decent Spanish University.
    – Dual degree in Business Administration & Marketing.
    – MSc in Strategic Marketing at Cranfield SOM (UK).
    – Internships during University at leading multinational companies.
    – Work experience: 3.5 years in a rotational sales program for an European industrial (packaging) company. Promoted once and currently working as a Sales Manager (6 people team all of them older than me).
    – Extracurricular: students events promoter during University to help paying for my expenses. Nowadays, collaborating with the city council in a gardens’ maintenance initiative.

    – Post-MBA goal: management consulting in the US or South America.

  • Maya

    Thanks Sandy, for that slight confidence boost right around application season! And also for the tips on how to describe the role.

    You’re on point about how the role does involve significant cross-functionality and dealing with different engineering and business groups within the organization, so I will make note to emphasize and explain that.

  • ???

    Big fan of the site, and you seem well informed in many areas, which is why it was surprising to see you make a statement like “count backwards from 100 by seven. If you can pass a test like that, you can get into McKinsey, Bain, or BCG”. Case interviews for those firms are nothing like that, so not sure if it was said tongue-in-cheek, but as someone who looks to gain knowledge in areas where I have limited expertise through this site, that statement was a splash of cold water.

  • hbsguru

    “What does it take to be an MBA admissions guru, you need to have passed Algebra 2?”
    I hope not, only Algebra 1 here but I liked it a lot.

    Not sure what your beef is, exactly. I think my respect for MBB is pretty well balanced with my skepticism about those firms along with my skepticism about most institutions, including HBS, Goldman, World Bank, etc.

  • hbsguru

    I’d say you are in selective and hi-class job (esp. for females, who are rare in that industry) and that would be true even if most of the firms beyond INTEL or QC are not well known, as you say. If you work for no-name firm you should do a more thorough job describing it in resume, forms, essays etc. I’d say everyone in hi-tech manufacturing is under-rep’d, and females more so.
    “a product development engineer (which is what I am)”–not sure what that means, but in describing it, etc. try to stress cross-functionality, dealing w. functions x y and z, etc.
    Not sure if there is a gold or silver version of this, the fact that function is a bit below the radar allows you to create that, to some degree. Size of company and metrics like sales, etc. are still impt. You need to make clear that you are not doing mail order from your basement.

  • ???

    No one going to call out Sandy on his “ability to subtract 7 repeatedly = MBB” claim? Gutsy to trivialize the industry the majority of MBA applicants aspire to. What does it take to be an MBA admissions guru, you need to have passed Algebra 2?

  • John W

    Hi Sandy, would appreciate it if you could review my profile!

    1) Work experience – 2 years experience in technology consulting for a Big 4 firm (4 yrs at matriculation – planning to apply next year)
    2) 760 GMAT (99th percentile)
    3) Undergrad – Strong regional university (Lehigh / Wake Forest / William & Mary), 3.53 GPA, Finance & Marketing dual major
    4) Extra-curriculars – Co-founded a youth education nonprofit, president of fraternity in college, involved in other extra-curriculars while in school
    5) Long term goal – Transition to strategy consulting or nonprofit consulting

    Target programs: Tuck, Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, Harvard, Wharton

    Thank you!!


    Hi Sandy,

    Could you review my profile

    1) 650 GMAT..Retaking aiming for 720-730
    2) Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech with a 3.7 GPA
    3) 2 years at Deloitte Consulting with focus in technology in public sector, financial service startups and health care. Got promoted from analyst to consultant
    4) Indian male born and raised in the middle east and grew up gay and came to the US to be a part of a more open society.
    5) While in Deloitte became the Chair of the LGBT organization and represented Atlanta as part of the Trevor foundation
    6) Continuously worked/lead pro bono work with AIDS foundations which lead me to be a founding board member of an AIDS non profit empowering youths infected with HIV to become contributing members of society in the South East
    7) Post MBA goals move into international development work, social enterprises, build non profit, lead the movement to improve LGBT rights in the East.

    Appreciate it!

  • Maya

    Hi Sandy, we typically see quite a bit of analysis from you on people with finance, consulting, tech or even education backgrounds. We have some idea of what is gold vs silver profile in these categories.

    I’d like to hear your opinion on how adcoms view females in high tech manufacturing? Like semiconductor manufacturing companies and a role as a product development engineer (which is what I am). Is this over/ under represented in bschool (or is it something you think schools don’t care for at all?!)

    Lots of companies in this category are not well known outside the industry (except a couple big names like intel or qualcomm) and I imagine it’s not a “feeder” career.



    I was hoping you could handicap my profile.

    GMAT: 730 (45Q 46V)
    GPA: 3.41 Johns Hopkins in Econ
    Varsity College Athlete

    26 year old white male

    2 Years FLDP at a defense contractor (Boeing/Lockheed/Raytheon and then 2 years Treasury at top BB (GS/MS/JPM) with one promotion

    Extra curriculars: Led philanthropy committee for new analysts at prior employer, plan events as a member of a networking board at current employer, school ambassador for campus recruiting at current employer, mentor underprivileged youth.

    Goals: Restructuring and distressed debt investment banking and then distressed debt PE

    Planning on applying to Harvard, Booth, Columbia, Wharton, and Sloan

    Thanks in advance

  • Guy

    27 years old

    750 GMAT (50Q 41V)

    3.29 GPA

    B.S. Math (Physics Minor) from a state school

    -Transferred out of a top 75 private school to move home after both parents were laid off during my freshman year

    -GPA was low in part because I was working 30+ hours per week to help support my family. This also made it virtually impossible to participate in extracurriculars

    -Worked two years as an analyst at a middle market investment bank and have been a PE associate ($1 billion fund) for two years (I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning that 5 of our 7 partners graduated from HBS)

    -Worked on investments across North America, Middle East, and Europe

    -Started a company (building and programming home automation devices) as a side project three years ago and dedicate 15-20 hours per week on it

    -President of a non-profit organization that helps military veterans find jobs and transition into the corporate workplace and educate businesses on the benefits of hiring veterans

    Goal: Return to PE (possibly my current shop) but work in an operational role with portfolio companies

    Target Schools: Sloan, Wharton, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, Darden

  • Cam

    Doesn’t Oxford have a 3.5 GPA requirement though? I’m sure they make exceptions but that seems like a tough exception to make

  • Nick

    Hi Guys,
    I was really hoping you guys could review my profile for HBS 2+2, Stanford Defered Admissions, and Yale Silver Scholars. I will also be applying to Pennsylvania and Duke for JD/MBA Programs. If you think I could apply for direct admissions at a top 5 I would appreciate that as well.

    -I attend Tennessee Technological University. Regional school but has the best undergraduate engineering program in the state. I was accepted to MIT but stayed home to take care of my mom.
    -I am currently in my Junior year contemplating beginning application over winter break.
    -I have a 3.93 GPA in Mechanical engineering and am thinking about retaking the class I made a b in so I will have a 4.0.
    – A am Student Government Vice President and on the Honors college council. I sit on numerous boards within the University. I was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to be the “Tennessee Board of Regents Student Regent” which is the highest student leadership honor. I represent 207,000 students across Tennessee and work with government officials on legislation.
    – I love entrepreneurship and came in second place in our school’s entrepreneurship competition with a bio-medical device to increase safety of student on college campuses. My team is entering a National Institute of Health competition currently.
    – I worked a 9 month R&D Co-op at Flowserve Corporation and a 3 month engineering internship at Whirlpool. Both managers would write very favorably. I will probably be working for Pepsi this summer.
    – I got married and started a family (not intentionally) after my freshman year and have worked hard to support us while performing well in school. This has really built my maturity and why I feel I am ready to apply to business school early.
    -I will write my essays on what coming from poverty and living in it physically but not mentally has taught me. I will talk about how I have seen that employers and great work places can bring social change on the people who work there. I want to be a business leader for the next generation of manufacturing companies in the United states and globally that will adopt a more compassionate management style, seeing employees as resources and not tools.
    – 760 GMAT and 175 LSAT

    Let me know what you think of my candidacy and what I can be working on over the next couple of months to improve my odds. Thanks for your time.