Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

He’s a 28-year-old senior associate at a mid-market private equity firm. She’s a 27-year-old actuarial consultant at a leading human resources consulting firm. They are married, having met at a Top 20 liberal arts college, and both want to go to the same business school for their MBAs.

This 25-year-old young female professional currently works as a legal assistant for a global law firm. A liberal arts major with a creative bent, she would like an MBA degree to transition into a career in international marketing.

With an undergraduate degree in music from Northwestern University, he’s a classicial musician with a union card who now works for a boutique philanthropic consulting firm. This 28-year-old gay white male is hoping the MBA will be his ticket to a more substantial role in philanthropy.

You already know what all these candidates share in common. They want to get through the door of a highly selective MBA program at one of the world’s very best business schools. Do they have a chance?

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. Now that the 2015-2016 admissions season is all but over and Sandy has completed dozens of mock interviews with candidates, Sandy will be appearing more regularly.

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.)

married couple

Mr. & Mrs. MBA


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.75 GPA in accounting and history from a top 20 liberal arts college

    • 730 GMAT (targeting)
    • 3.66 GPA in math and Spanish from a top 20 liberal arts college
    • Work experience for Mr. includes two years at a boutique investment banking firm and three years at a middle market private equity firm, promoted early to a senior associate; for Mrs. includes a year as a math teacher in high school, currently working as an actuarial consultant for a top HR consulting firm
    • Extracurricular involvement includes heavy involvement in college and post-grad, couple serves as co-presidents of their college alumni chapter; Mr. volunteers with an adult literacy program, while Mrs. serves as a sorority adviser and a member of Junior League
    • “Recommendations should be good for both, particularly glowing for Mr. MBA”
    • Goals: Mr. MBA wants to return to PE with a larger firm in a different city, with a long-term objective of owning his own PE firm, while Mrs. MBA wants to go into human resources with a long-term goal of becoming chief human resources officer for a Fortune 100 company
    • “Mr. MBA was going to attend a Top 10 school last year but received an offer to stay and be promoted at PE firm instead”
    • Mr. MBA is a 28-year-old white male
    • Mrs. MBA is a 27-year-old Asian woman

    Odds of Success:

    Harvard: 20%
    Stanford: 10%
    Wharton: 30% to 40%
    Chicago: 30% to 40%
    Northwestern: 40% to 50%
    MIT: 30% to 40%
    UC-Berkeley: 50%
    Virginia: 50%
    Yale: 50%
    Dartmouth: 50%

    Sandy’s Analysis:  (see video above) Let’s first deal with the question: If you apply as a couple what does that really mean? Is that a plus, a minus, or neutral? If you Google “MBA apply as couple,” you won’t get any useful information. Kellogg is the only school that addresses this issue and they say it doesn’t make a difference.

    I don’t believe it. Applying as a couple changes the application. If one party is super strong and the other party is okay, there can be real coattails. I don’t care what these schools say. When the days dwindle down to a precious few for the admissions committee, they don’t care who they take. If the second party is on the waiting list and the school really wants the part of the couple they’ve already admitted, you know who is getting off the waiting list.

    In this case, neither one of you are superstars, though you both have very good profiles. It makes sense to apply as a couple. It’s something you should think about, strategize over, and how you indicate that following your spouse is very important to you.

    Let’s deal with Mr. MBA first. Let’s say he gets the 730 GMAT again. With his background, a lot will depend on what the schools think of the PE firm. You have a totally solid story but you are in an ultra-competitive cohort. You are dealing with people from Ivy to PE and those are among the most credentialed candidates in the world. So the schools will ask why should I take you from this mid-market firm with a 3.75 and a 730 GMAT when I have people from golden PE firms with a 4.0 and a 750 GMAT?

    Mrs. MBA is testing high and she has a math background. Let’s say she gets a 750. She works for this benefits company and that is very attractive to Wharton and many of the other schools. Her goal to work as a chief human resources officier for a Fortune 500 company is a solid goal for what she has done.

    At Harvard, Mr. MBA might not be getting in—but she could. It’s also not going to happen at Stanford for either of you. I like the two of you but these are not Stanford profiles. There just is no X factor here. At Wharton, Mr. MBA is facing the more golden PE candidates and could have some difficulty there. On the other hand, both of you are very attractive at Northwestern, Haas, Darden, and even Yale with odds of 50. Congratulations. You both are going to a a great business school as a couple.

  • adhirajsarmah@yahoo.com

    Hi Sandy – Thank you so much for this series. Your guidance is the best ‘reality-check’ out there for so many of us :-)! I won’t take a lot of your time and will be as specific as I can. I would be really grateful if you could provide your assessment of my shortlist of schools based on my profile.

    Shortlisted Schools:
    1) Kellogg
    2) Duke
    3) Cornell
    4) Emory

    GMAT: 730 (Verbal 42; Quant: 47) – Quant is low – I am planning to give it again and aim for a 50 in Quant.

    Professional Experience:
    – 2 years in Sales with Nestle in India
    – 4 years in Sales Strategy and Planning – Consumer Goods and Pharma – US & Europe with Genpact (a $2.5 B Business Process Outsourcing Company listed on NYSE)

    – Young India Fellowship Programme, Ashoka University & University of Pennsylvania
    – Bachelor of Commerce (Hons in Marketing Management), St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India

    – Male, 28 yrs, Indian

    Please do let me know what you think of the shortlist. Thank you so so much. Really appreciate your help.


  • john.homans@yahoo.com

    Hi Sandy, I LOVE this series, and I would greatly appreciate a brutally honest assessment.

    American White Male, currently 25, 26 at time of application (turn next month). NYC based. Planning to apply for matriculation in Fall 2017.

    GMAT: 760, 51Q / 41V, 7 IR, 5.5 AWA

    3.75 GPA from Brandeis University with majors in Math, Physics and Economics

    – I took Options and Derivatives, a Master’s of Science in Finance course as an econ elective, was the only undergraduate in class. Received an A+

    – Worked a campus job throughout college, calling alumni and asking for money. Was selected as a supervisor for senior year. Created position of “Statistics Manager” where every week I analyzed the caller statistics and summarized findings to managers and other student supervisors.

    Worked at NERA Economic Consulting for almost 3 years (33 months) after college in Antitrust practice.

    – From what I can tell, NERA is known by B-Schools. Former close colleagues at NERA have gone to Kellogg, Booth, Wharton and Yale SOM.

    – Interviewed candidates both at office and on campus at top colleges. Presented at new hire training, taught training classes in office

    – Was asked by managers to teach an “advanced technical skills” training class before I left to impart all of my particularly strong technical wisdom on analysts to help with project work.

    Have worked for just over a year (14 months) as a Quantitative Analyst at Capital One for the Commercial Bank.

    – I basically perform same functions as business analysts (I discuss with managers/executives and strategize), but take on more quantitatively heavy and digital projects (access data from APIs, web scrape, and build statistical models). Frequently attend trainings and events in data science community.

    – Projects generally fall into 2 categories: 1. standard business intelligence analyses where I gather data, explore, visualize in simple but meaningful way to tell story and gain insight. 2. Statistical/forecasting analyses and building econometric models.

    Other Activities (probably main weakness)

    – Mentor at iMentor program in NYC.

    – Taught self machine learning algorithms that I have used in prediction models at Capital One.

    – Know how to program in Python, largely self-taught outside of work. Know how to program in general, including slew of data analysis and visualization software/languages.

    – Play in several adult basketball leagues outside of work, also play in various work-organized teams (softball and basketball).

    Targeting Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Sloan, Columbia, Stern

    I am pursuing an MBA in order to get a job in business analytics at a data driven tech company (i.e. Amazon, Uber, Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor), ideally in NYC area. Long term I would like to manage an advanced analytics team at either such a tech company or a data driven start up. I believe an MBA will advance my qualitative/strategic business acumen that is relatively less developed, boost my management and leadership abilities and focus my quantitative experience squarely in the context of business insight and decision making.

  • jeh4ek@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy,

    Avid reader of your articles, thank you for providing your insight. I am current military looking to apply R1 for matriculation either in 2017 or 2018. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my profile. Looking to apply to dual programs MBA/MA Intl Relations (or Lauder program) in order to leverage my desire to work in financial markets in Central and Eastern Europe with my experiences working in country with local nationals from Germany, Ukraine, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, and the UK.

    Target Schools: H/S/W, Booth, Columbia, Sloan, Darden

    White male/25/US Army Officer
    3 years overseas service with two 3 month deployments to Ukraine and the Baltics.

    GRE 333 (V170/Q163)
    Undergrad: UVA double major Russian and Eastern European Studies / History
    GPA: 3.5
    Working proficiency in Russian (DLPT 1+/1+)

    Quant Specific Performance
    Completed all prerequisite classes for Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce (stat calc micro/macro econ financial/cost accounting). Pursued liberal arts to secure army language scholarship. Currently enrolled in HBX Core.

    Work experience includes standard junior military officer timeline with competitive assignments, as well as partnered experience with multinational forces and an engagement leveraging my Russian language ability to develop Ukrainian staff officers.

    Extracurriculars are minimal due to high operation tempo and frequent deployments. In college, I was on the club crew and rugby teams, member of a fraternal organization, and United Way volunteer in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. I also completed a summer study abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Would appreciate any input or advice.

  • Dee Snuts

    Let me know, boss. White male from Kenilworth, IL. Went to HS at New Trier but was asked to leave for reasons related to my arrest. More on that later. Anyway, 2.7 GPA at New Trier. GED through Morris Correctional Faciltiy where I played on the intramural basketball team, volunteered in the phyciatric ward, and led the facility management team otherwise known as a “boutique sector” of the prison. Attended Parkland College for 2 years and was asked to leave after another violation of the (archaic) law. Finished up at the prestigious University of Phoenix. Applying to Stanford, Harvard, Mendoza, Booth and Carey. Oh and I got an 800 on the GMAT on my first attempt and have letters of recommendation from a high visibility sheriff and a parole officer.

  • skyblueseven

    oh and I just took my GMAT and scored 740 (Q49/V41)

  • skyblueseven

    Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for the series – wondering what your thoughts are for my profile:
    -28 Asian Canadian Male
    -top Canadian univeristy engineering undergrad (think Waterloo, University of Toronto, McGill ) upward trending CGPA 2.88
    -somehow got into master of engineering at the same school with that gpa. master GPA 3.5

    realizing that my passion is really about business strategy during master studies , I gradually shift my career towards that path:
    – couple internships, one at an decent engineerng firm, another at a well known IT software company
    – 3 years work experience(right after master graduation) at a pretty well known consulting firm (somewhere around the big 4 level). Projects include operation and technology transformations at a top US investment bank in NYC. Got promoted from analyst to consultant with the highest performance ranking within my practice.
    – extra curricular activities include pro bono strategy consulting for both local and international non profits. Ran the analyst engagement group at my firm as well as the president of an ethnic student club back in undergrad.

    My career goal is to join a good strategy consulting firm in US or Canada after MBA. Knowing that Kellogg is a good school for consulting, how realistic is my profIle for it given my sub 3.0 undergrad gpa. How should I build my narrative and make my story unique?


  • wjnc

    Forgot to mention: 4 years of work experience since master’s

  • wjnc

    Hi Sandy,

    I would appreciate your feedback on my profile. First-time applicant, looking to apply in Round 1 this fall.

    – South Asian, female, age 24, immigrant entrepreneur
    – GMAT: 770
    – Undergrad: GPA: 2.9 – graduated with a BS in biomedical engineering from Southern Ivy in 3 years (for financial reasons) as an international student
    – Grad school: GPA: 3.9 – Master’s in biomedical engineering from same school
    – Work experience: Ran product development as employee #1 at a cardiology medical device startup straight out of school. Brought in lead investor syndicate that has contributed 90% of funding to date and over saw product development from napkin concept to final prototype. Recently moved into a business development/operations role as we get ready to launch as this role is closer to where I want to end up.
    – Career goal: early stage CEO of medical device/healthcare IT startups. Engineering background gives me the technical skills to oversee product development, but my true passion lies in fundraising, developing go to market strategy, etc.
    – Extracurriculars: founded non-profit that now has over 1000 members that puts on programs to inspire and educate aspiring medical entrepreneurs (targets undergrads, grad students, and young professionals); youth group leader in inner city church; design consulting for startups as income between funding rounds (websites and pitch decks)
    – Schools: Stanford, MIT, Northwestern, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Texas

  • Engineer@GE

    Hi Sandy, I’ve been a P&Q follower for years now. Love this series. Any chance I can get your thoughts on my profile?

    Schools: Johnson, Fuqua, Tepper, Darden, Kellogg, McCombs, and Ross

    26 year old Asian American Male from the midwest

    -Michigan State University, 3.2 GPA BS in Computer Engineering (weak point)
    -Michigan State University. 3.7 GPA MS in Computer Science

    GMAT: 700 (Q48 V38) IR:6

    Work Experience:
    – Spent 3 years in a leadership development program at General Electric Aviation (Edison Engineering Development Program). Completed rotations in Software Engineering, Systems Engineering, and Program Management almost all in the Health Management Unit of the Avionics business. Have done both customer interface roles and design work. Decent leadership experience in both. EEDP also requires completion of a set of long-term rigorous projects that are evaluated by senior leadership.
    – Graduated summer last year and have been working in a customer data architect role since.
    – One patent submitted via company portal in which I am listed as the sole inventor.

    Post-MBA Goal:
    – I would love to transition into either a Business Development or Product Management role in Tech (think Amazon, Intel, Google, or Linkedin) where I can leverage data insights to make roadmap decisions.

    – Coordinated many volunteer events as Community Service Chair at GE
    – Serve as Subject Matter Expert in joint program between GE and The Resolution Project to help seed funded student groups launch their projects.
    – Started a Youtube Channel this year where I post short films and videos.

  • SRpr

    Hi Sandy,

    Let me know what you think of my profile:

    29, Eastern European male (will be 30 at matriculation)

    GMAT 750


    Top economics school in my country, graduated with BSc Econ in top 5% (GPA equivalent about 3.8-3.9). The university is not great in international rankings, but a lot of top MBA candidates from my country studied here. Some scholarships and merit awards.

    Work experience:

    7.5 years at matriculation: started in Big 4 assurance in London, then moved to advisory role (Corporate Finance/Restructuring/Valuations) after 2.5 years, where I moved up to Manager. Currently working for same firm in a wider Advisory role in a developing country (think Central Africa, SE Asia). City I live in is considered quite dangerous, so have a few stories of how it is to work here.

    I am a CFA Charterholder as well.


    A lot in undergrad, ran a large student organisation, student leader in university council, leadership role in national student projects. In the last couple of years, a leader in community programmes at the office, mentor for students from my country, some work with communities and young social entrepreneurs in the developing country where I live.

    Goals: Long term – C-suite role for tech/telecom company in Africa (a lot of my current clients are tech/telecom); Short term – top strat consulting firm (MBB) at one of their offices in Africa.

    What are my chances for: H/S/W, Columbia, MIT, Yale. I know age might be an issue at H and S, but do you think I have a chance? How about European schools: LBS/Insead? Be as honest as you usually are.

    Thanks in advance


  • FTR

    Hi Sandy,

    Would love an evaluation!

    Demographic: Hispanic female, 24, 3.5 years WE upon matriculation, USA
    Undergrad: 3.65 from Harvard, psychology, varsity athlete
    GMAT: 730 (Q48, V 41)
    Extra Quant: Took HBX Core and passed with High Honors

    Work: 1 year in a rotational program at large bank (not JP, MS, etc.), including 4 months abroad. Mainly doing project management in the risk and regulatory spaces. Lots of exposure to senior management. Promoted after 1 year to work on developing and implementing a large regulatory initiative. After 1 year there, transitioned to the nonprofit industry through a leadership development fellowship at a small organization.

    Extracurricular: 1+ years on young leaders council of a local nonprofit (held officer position), 6 months as career coach for first generation college student

    Goals: Nonprofit consulting or management role

    Targeting: Stanford, Yale and Tuck (Consortium), Duke; Potentially Harvard and Haas if time permits

  • confuscious

    Thank you so much Hbsguru, I had absolutely no idea of the business world, so your honest inputs are highly appreciated. Also thanks for clarifying the difference between a score of a 730 and a 760.

    So what schools you think are more realistic B school options for someone with a profile like mine?

  • hbsguru

    Hmmm, that is not a classic HBS or Stanford MD-to-MBA profile. That profile is MOST OF ALL, dual degree from the beginning, while you are attending both medical and business school. Not practicing docs who want to switch careers.
    OK, but what about someone like you. Man, you would need really gold plated medical degree AND super selective jobs at top hospitals and real connected and powerful story.
    You say, “4 years clinical research regulations and compliance (in #1 in NIH funding US (ivy) univ for clinical research)”
    I’m not expert in this, but that does not sound like eye surgery internship at Mass General or even in terms of research, joining world famous lab someplace under Nobel laureate. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like a fine but so-so clinical research career, in which you are doing the silver part and not the gold part, that you appear to be tired of.
    “Pharmaceutical leadership/Health system Administration.”? Sure but that is coming out of no place. You might do better saying you want to be consultant in HC delivery, etc. Not sure what kinda Pharma job someone like you would get w. MBA?
    Anyway, write back after you get in to HBS and Stanford and tell me how stupid I am. I’m speculating a bit here, and don’t fully know the medical status pole for folks at your level. Altho, I think I’m right.
    Other schools might take you just to have a doc in the class, I’m not sure 760 would blow open doors to HBS or Stanford, in fact, it would not. How much a 730 vs. a 760 would help you at other places is a nasty little question. Probably not going to turn a ding into an admit, but in a close case, as they say, just as easy to marry someone with money, all other things being equal.
    Viz. could help get you off a Waitlist, stuff like that.

  • hbsguru

    The chain of events and your motives for joining Company 2 will make sense to adcoms–esp. given size and focus of company.
    Whether they see your application driven by bankruptcy is an issue that is out there in some weak way, but they will blink at that given strength of background. Just do your homework on what MBA can do for you, and sound convinced.
    Adcoms are usually more concerned with what you are–age, resume, stats– than why you are applying (despite much blah blah by them to the contrary). The fact is you are reg. age guy, with engineering background, with two solid jobs at big companies, with good stats–that is kinda most of what they care about unless you do or say something silly, like “even though I had never planned to be doing this, now seems like a good time, since company is kaput, and I got lotsa time on my hands. How bad could your program be?”

  • Renewable enthusiast

    Thanks for the reply Sandy.
    I joined this company because I wanted to actually build something on the ground versus just building presentations in consulting telling people what to do. Difficult to talk about selectivity as there was only one position there at the time I applied an almost nobody had worked in the sector before. The company was valued about a billion when I joined rose to 10 billion and then was wiped out within the last 6 months.

  • Renewable enthusiast

    Thanks 🙂 . Yeah I can create tons of case studies for what went wrong here. Thank you for your input. Writing about the process might actually be a good thing like you said

  • confuscious

    Hi Sandy

    I am loving your columns! Would love to have your brutally honest opinion on my profile for chances at either Harvard or Stanford.

    Female, 28, MD-India (grad 6 years ago)
    2 years post-doc in mid-tier US Univ
    4 years clinical research regulations and compliance (in #1 in NIH funding US (ivy) univ for clinical research)
    Post MBA career: Pharmaceutical leadership/Health system Administration.
    GMAT 730 (Q49/V40)- unhappy with the score and wish to retake it for a score of 760.

    Do you think 760 would brighten my chances or should I stick to the current score and apply to lower tier B schools?



  • Cam

    Thanks for the quick response! I was one or two questions away in verbal from this not being an issue and that’s so frustrating. Is it not too much to blink at the IR AND the low 3.13 GPA? I was concerned that the IR would be unimportant but still a question and then stack that with GPA it was just easier to try and eliminate the IR question.

    You think having the IR question but 10 extra points on score is better?

  • hbsguru

    I agree with Aspiring MBA, what will matter more than the bankruptcy is how big a footprint the company had when you joined, e.g. in terms of VC backing, number of employees, revenues, etc. What schools really want to understand is why you joined THIS company after Big4 and how selective getting that job was.
    Bankrptcy may impact their view of your motives, but you have a sorta normal career trajectory for MBA anyway, altho 3 years each on 2 jobs, vs. more normal 2 years each. Not a super big deal.

  • hbsguru

    Schools don’t care about IR so much, esp. if there is evidence you are not a robot.
    Explain in essay that IR score is outlier and that on prev. GMAT you got a IR7 and are willing to submit, if they need proof. ALL (well, 98.546 percent) of what schools care about is the ONE number, unless there is evidence in other numbers that are concerning, e.g. REALLY low Q score.

  • Cam

    Just a general question for anyone I would really appreciate help with. I took the GMAT and got a 740 Q47 V44 IR 2

    Decided to retake because of the IR and got a 730 Q48 V42 IR 7

    Now I don’t know what score to use, one is 10 points higher the other has a better quant and IR (with the first IR being a possible red flag) I have a 3.13 GPA and come from a very non quant background so it’s especially important I nail the gmat part of the applications and would really appreciate anyone’s input.

  • Mmarti@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy, would appreciate your thoughts on my profile. I am a new applicant looking to apply R1 2016.

    Anderson (target), Haas, Fuqua

    Hispanic male / Age 25 / Applying through The Consortium / Eagle Scout / Based out of NYC

    GMAT: 680 (Q42 V40)

    Undergrad Info:
    -Texas A&M
    -3.75 Magna Cum Laude
    -BBA double major in Accounting and Business Honors
    -Quant-specific performance: A’s in calculus, multiple statistics classes, multiple economics classes, multiple accounting classes, and a finance class

    Work Experience:
    To date, approaching 3 years in management consulting in PwC’s Advisory practice, serving both the media/telecom (1.5 years) and financial services (1.5 years) industries. Most recent experience includes managing strategic operations and marketing analytics in the launch of a new multi-million dollar business for a Fortune 50 media/telecom’s strategic development division (incubator). In this role, I have had the opportunity to manage five staff (interns and associates, although not all simultaneously). Additionally, I implemented and managed an offshore manager in India in order to increase the margin on a key client engagement. I also manage engagement budget and margin target analysis for several engagements. This past year, directly contributed to pipeline efforts resulting in $800K (trending towards $1M) revenue for the industry practice. Will be promoted to Senior Associate next month.

    Community Service:
    -Involved with nonprofit organization that mentors highly motivated, low income, URM individuals who face barriers to employment. 2+ years involvement, volunteering 5 hours weekly. Mentored 3 individuals over span of 1.5 years, and most recently have served in an officer capacity for the nonprofit, helping lead a weekly volunteer mentorship site via job skill presentations & the management of 70+ mentors & program participants. Requested by CEO to speak on behalf of nonprofit’s impact at donor events
    -As part of PwC’s corporate responsibility efforts, I was selected to lead PwC’s financial literacy relationship with a Brooklyn URM elementary school. Through this, I coordinate visits (to teach financial literacy) directly with the school administration. This position is typically reserved for PwC staff at the Manager-level and above

    Post-MBA Goal:
    -Need an MBA to pivot into a product management role in either the CPG or e-commerce industry. My experience launching a new product/business at the media/telecom MNC has shown me that I want to have a direct impact on a product’s performance, from idea conception to deployment implementation. Instead of focusing on both delivering client work and pursuing proposal work as I do in consulting, I want to focus my efforts on owning responsibility for product performance.
    -The 10-year post MBA goal is to be a sales and marketing executive leading business development initiatives in the CPG or e-commerce

    Would appreciate any thoughts!

  • AspiringMBA

    I have a feeling the story of how your company got to where it was would be very interesting to discuss in an MBA class.

    I can’t see it being a problem, if you tell your story right, i think it might even help! Besides, I’m sure loads of Lehman brothers employees would’ve hit up bschool after their company went under. Doubt it impacted them..


    Thanks Sandy!

  • daeun.seong@gmail.com

    Sandy – LOVE your series! Could you please evaluate my chances?

    Targeting HBS, GSB, Wharton, Columbia, MIT.
    >24yo Asian Female; born in Korea, raised in China (native in Korean and Chinese)
    >740 GMAT (plan to re-take; quant was 20% lower than usual)
    >3.9 GPA in Economics (Ivy), CFA charterholder

    >3 years in Tier 2 management consulting in the US (think Accenture, OW, LEK); fast track, promoted all years
    >Investment banking internship at a bulge bracket (Hong Kong)
    >Sales & Trading internship at a local securities firm (Korea)

    >Mentor for a 4-year College Ready Program (run by non-profit org) to low income communities
    >Host Committee member for annual fundraiser event (for the above organization)
    >Sponsor for a child in India (monthly financial donations, letters, etc.)
    >Campus Recruiting team at current job
    >Company soccer team (part of public tournament)

    >Short-term goal: Return to current job, with a potential shift in focus on pro-bono work
    (related to child education, career) and/or transfer to Asia
    >Long-term goal: Found a school in a third-world country (either China, where I grew up, or India, where my current sponsor child is)

  • BHP

    Hello Sandy,

    Love your series. Could you please evaluate my chances:

    -24yo Asian Female; born in Korea, raised in China (native/fluent in Korean and Chinese)
    -740 GMAT (can re-take)
    -3.9 GPA in Economics (Ivy)

    Work experience:
    -3 years in Tier 2 management consulting (think Accenture, OW, LEK); fast track, promoted all years
    -Investment banking internship at a bulge bracket (Hong Kong)
    -Sales & Trading internship at a local securities firm (Korea)

    -Mentor for a 4-year College Ready Program (run by non-profit org) to low income communities
    -Host Committee member for annual fundraiser event (for the above organization)
    -Sponsor for a child in India (monthly financial donations, letters, etc.; another non-profit org)
    -Campus Recruiting team at current job
    -Company soccer team (part of public tournament)

    -Short-term: Return to current job, with a potential shift in focus on pro-bono work (related to child education, career) and/or transfer to Asia
    -Long-term: Found a school in a third-world country (either China, where I grew up, or India, where my current sponsor child is)

  • Renewable enthusiast

    Renewable Enthusiast in a bankrupt company
    Hi Sandy,
    I have loved your series all these years and was wondering if you could have a look at my profile
    Indian Male Engineer
    Age 28
    GMAT 730
    GPA 7.8/10
    Education Mechanical Engineering IIT
    Work Experience (reverse Chronological order)
    Worked for three years (2013 – Current) (till date) as a business development manager in a global renewable energy company. My main work revolved around finding clients who need electricity and then setting up wind and solar power projects. I have led a variety of initiatives (both professional and extracurricular) in the company and have had great reviews. However the company is going through a spectacular and very public bankruptcy process.
    Consultant (2010 – 13) Big four management consulting firm in India (think Delloite, E&Y etc)
    I worked in a variety of sectors and then joined the fledging renewable practice as the first employee

    Extra curriculars : – Led a office sports team and implemented social inclusion programs at projects that I implemented in various parts of India

    Goal :- Post MBA move to development focused consulting and eventually start a renewable company in unelectrified regions in India

    Target Schools

    Will the company’s bankruptcy play a big role in how my candidacy is viewed and my reason for pursuing an MBA?

  • Gopal Chandra Sekhar Iyer

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for this rather informative series. Can you please have a look at my profile and offer your insights:

    General Profile: Indian, 33 years, Male. Employed in the UK, GMAT 730


    – 10 years consulting experience in supply chain management. Spent my time improving manufacturing, logistics and procurement processes for blue chip clients in Asia Pacific, India and Western Europe.

    – First 5 years with a large Indian consulting firm and the rest with 2 boutique firms, first in Malaysia and then in the UK.

    – Industry certified – Full member of CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, an industry body in my area of work)

    – Part time work in retail stores and at Auto Dealerships to fund my previous studies


    – Masters in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Cranfield University (UK), 2.1 degree, 2010-11
    – Post Graduate Diploma in Management in Operations and Marketing management, First division, 2004-06 (From a top 25 Indian school)
    – BTech in Mechanical Engineering, First division, 1999-2003 (From a top Indian university)

    Non Profit work:

    – Cricket without boundaries – Spreading AIDS awareness in African communities, using Cricket as a medium to connect with people. Working in programme management and corporate communication

    – Transaid – International development organisation helping communities in Africa access life-saving healthcare and improving road safety. Participating in fund raising and corporate events

    – FICCI – Federation of Indian Industries – Providing pro-bono consulting to Indian SMEs


    – Cricket – Play for a cricket club in North London
    – Squash – More of a social activity


    – Short term: To join a leading consulting brand in Asia
    – Long term: To start my own consulting company focussing on supply chain management solutions

    Value of a second MBA: I believe the value I will gain will be immense. Where my PGDM was designed for freshers straight out of college, I’m now looking at a course which prepares me for senior roles amidst global challenges. With years of experience under my belt, I now see gaps that I need to fill in order to take that next step.

    Colleges of Interest:

    – Stanford
    – Insead
    – Yale
    – MIT
    – Kellogg
    – LBS
    – Cranfield
    – ISB

  • hbsguru

    grrrr, as you note, probably not classy enuf gigs for Stanford, but wow, your stats are super solid and this all makes and points to the same thing, so if you put together a strong story, other places should be in-line. Kellogg? They go for this profile. I would, for app, purposes, not say you want to launch an experimental education non-profit, that is not something B school can help you with, and it sounds a bit starry eyed Stick w. fund development, business development etc. at major education non-profits or even working for MBB in that area, as I often say, if you are confused in your mind, saying that you want MBB on your app is often a good move.

  • SQ

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for doing this series! Especially appreciated your insights on Mr. Philanthropic Consulting, as someone else with a non-profit background. Can you help me get a sense of my odds?

    – 26 year-old white female
    – 750 GMAT (verbal stronger than quant)
    – 3.74 GPA in comparative literature from top 3 liberal arts school; was originally pre-med so took a lot of STEM courses as well
    – Will be taking a community college financial accounting course this summer to beef up quant profile…expect to do well
    – Job experience: this is where I get very nervous about my chances. Nonprofit w/ education focus, but not as linear or prestigious as I think schools want to see.
    -1 yr urban education fellowship
    -2 years (w/ promotion) with top urban charter school in support role
    -1 year Americorps w/ well-known construction non-profit, timed with a cross-country move when I had run out of growth opportunity at the charter school… it was an amazing year of working with my hands and learning to manage adults (volunteers) but probably will come off as a confusing move to adcoms
    -2 years at matriculation in fund development at college access non-profit. I expect a promotion soon and can get great recs from this.
    – Goal: ED at experiential education non-profit (preferably one I launch myself)
    – Applying to what feels like a lot of schools in R1 because I know I’m a risky candidate: Stanford, Haas, NYU, Columbia, Yale, Fuqua, UNC, UT Austin

  • hbsguru

    you are solid Big 4 guy w. good grades, 740 GMAT etc. I’d package goals as you want to be a consultant w. specialty on Big Data blah, blah and allude to companies and parts of MBB etc. that do that.
    Big4- to MBB (and boutique advisories) is a very common wish list, you got solid story and stats, welcome to the food fight, Big Data sthick may get you some points, as might better-than-average grad school projects. This aint smelling like Stanford, they use Big 4 to seek out URM, but other schools go for this profile, I’d apply to usual suspects, it’s not exactly a long or secret list.

  • hbsguru

    putting the various elements of your story together is job 1 for you:
    “Goals: to build a business that connects personal finance education to better habits and expand reach into developing markets.”
    That seems to need work.
    I am not sure if Wharton encourages everyone to reapply, what form did it take, was it buried in a standard ding letter?
    Anyway, new choices make sense, and what I said in prior ding report still holds.

  • astrib

    I raised money for and launched the startup just 3 months ago, so that’s new as of last year, although I had mentioned in my essays last time around that I wanted to start this business.

    I didn’t get any feedback from H or W, but Wharton mentioned in the rejection letter that they encourage me to apply again next year, but I assumed they sent that to everyone.

  • Lee

    Hi Sandy!

    Great series. I’d be thankful if you could evaluate my application chances:

    760 GMAT
    3.16 GPA
    BBA Major from Emory Goizueta
    26 Male Asian-American

    Working for past two years at Google in HR Operations (promoted once). Manage process design and process improvements for HR ops across the organization. Previously in Human Capital Consulting at Deloitte for 2 years.

    Goals: Go back to Google and transition into product management or product design at top design consulting firm (IDEO/Frog).

    EC: Amateur ballet dancer. Volunteer as stage manager for youth ballet academy in SF. Pro-bono work as a marketing analytics consultant. Also enjoy fencing, sailing, and playing violin/piano.

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Tuck, MIT

    Appreciate any thoughts. Thanks so much!


    Hi Sandy,

    I think you have seen my profile before. I just wanted to ask if their are any programs that are best for me to focus on given my profile?

    3.8 GPA (undergrad) from top 3 UK University. MEng Chemical Engineering (ranked 6th worldwide for ChemEng)
    3.85 GPA (grad) from a top (well known) US University. Masters in Econometrics.
    GMAT: 740

    29 at matriculation
    Indian by birth who has lived and worked in Thailand, UK and USA.

    Work Exp:
    Post undergrad: 2 years in chemicals industry (Fortune 300) as part of graduate rotation program. Joined after undergraduate studies. 1st year in a technical role, delivered significant efficiency etc. 2nd year in a project manager role leading team of engineers.

    During graduate school: worked with prominent international organisation (IMF, WB etc) on a policy research study. Published 2 papers. Founded a social enterprise startup that got seed funding, build a prototype, and then got absorbed by an existing social enterprise when I graduated.

    Post grad school: working as an analytics consultant at a Big 4 Advisory practice in the US. 3 years at matriculation and promoted once.


    Leverage my background to deliver advanced analytics solutions for businesses looking to tap into their “Big Data”.

  • MathiasM.Keller@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy,
    thanks for the amazing series – I love to read your predictions. I’d be grateful if you could evaluate my profile:

    – 27 year old German, male
    – GPA 3.2 in Public Administration (school not particularly well known, though highly competitive; annual intake: 40 out of 1300 applicants)
    – GMAT 710 (low quant)
    – 5 years work experience in the German Foreign Service (postings include HQ in Germany, France, Bangladesh and Afghanistan): I worked on Human Rights issues, international innovation policy and was media vocal point at the Embassy
    – Goal: Consulting – link between business and politics (e.g. risk assessments)
    – extra curricular: politically active (party member since 2009), Amnesty member 85+ years), support for entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
    – first person in family to earn a college degree
    – schools: HBS, Kellogg, Fuqua, Yale, LBS, McDonough

    Thank you so much for your help

  • Benjamin Murdoch

    Hi Sandy,

    I was hoping you could offer any insight into my chances:
    GMAT 730
    3.8 GPA in International Relations from St Andrews (Scotland)- ranked number 1 in UK
    Masters in International Development from Cambridge
    White male, American, 28 years old
    Worked 4 years for Big 4 Tech Consulting in London focusing on the financial services industry, only one promotion because it was a 3 year graduate training program, have learned to code mainly to understand software development cycles

    Extracurricular activities: ran Model UN for low income high school students in Scotland to help encourage applying to uni and to help gain exposure to political science, captained a nationally competitive ultimate frisbee team at uni and currently play on an internationally competitive club team, volunteer at the refugee camp in Calais, France.

    Goal: I would like to transition back to the US and preferably SF and transition either into MBB strategy consulting or corporate strategy at a tech firm such as Google or Amazon.


  • hbsguru

    “Long term goal: be a university professor to create and share knowledge.”
    GASP, spitting out coffee.
    Ever hear the saying “never sh!t a sh!tter.”
    translation, don’t tell unis what profs do. Also, profs, even B school profs, usually get Ph. D. not MBA.
    moving right along, “3 years doing digital strategy technology consulting at a top 5 ” I am not sure what that means, advising clients about to buy/use tech to help them improve their digital footprint? Anyway, clarify.
    Get that in order, say you want to be a leader in firm like that [stay in consulting!!!!]
    and wow, it’s all here except your common sense and focus –you really need to get game face on and commit to the process. Maybe not enuf X factor for Stanford, but HBS admits profiles like this, if job is real and employer is real, and you can really execute. This is a case where essay can make a diff. You need to explain what you do, why, and how that and blah, blah is foundation for goals.
    Extras are real solid.
    GAME FACE!!!!

  • hbsguru

    Anything new since last year?
    remind me, did you get feedback fr. H or W?

  • TR_ie

    Hi Sandy,

    I would be pleased if you assess my profile.

    25 year old Turkish male from Turkey with Industrial Engineering major, Economics minor.

    GMAT: 760
    GPA: 3.40 from top university in Turkey, spent one semester as an exchange student in the Netherlands
    3 years of work experience in Supply Chain Management: 2 years at Unilever Turkey, 1 year at Unilever Dubai managing ~$10m operation, internship experience at Philip Morris International and Renault.
    Got promoted to Assistant Manager faster than peers.

    An active scout for 11 years in Scouting Federation of Turkey, participated to 30+ local camps and 3 international scout gatherings.
    Teaching Assistant at Software Programming courses.
    Volunteer work at University’s Radio Station for one semester.

    Plan is go into a top consulting or investment banking firm after MBA.

    Targeting: Harvard, Stanford, Haas, Kellog, Insead, LSE

  • navy swo

    I’ll be applying Rd 1 this fall. Hope to at least get an interview invite!

    Thanks for the analysis!

  • hbsguru

    dunno man, this is a real solid profile with solid grades, solid Navy career, 3.7 and 740, which is real good score for anyone and a great score to present as URM.

    All you need is serviceable execution and HBS could easily fall into place.

    Ping me back for a mock interview, that can really make a difference and it HBS interview often trips up otherwise super solid guys.

  • hbsguru

    haha, writing a letter to your 18 year old self is a good way to start some b school essays. 🙂

  • navy swo

    Hey Sandy,

    I’d appreciate your thoughts on my profile:

    -27 year old Hispanic, first generation immigrant, fluent in Spanish
    -3.7 GPA from a senior military college (not a service academy), graduated with highest honors, lots of leadership positions and extracurriculars plus semester abroad at Oxford
    -740 GMAT
    -6 years experience as a U.S. Navy officer, surface warfare community, my predecessor at my current job was admitted to HBS this past season so one of my letters of recommendation will be from the same person that wrote one of his
    -Goals: Live in Seattle and transition to management consulting
    -Volunteer experience mentoring first generation immigrants grade school students
    -Applying: Foster, HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Haas


  • Robert

    Yep, I was middle of the class. If I could only write a letter to my 18yo self…

    Thanks for the analysis!

  • astrib

    Sandy, you gave me a great assessment of why I got dinged last year by H/S/W and now hoping for some thoughts on handicapping my odds for this year with additional schools:

    3.6 BYU – International Relations (Double Major: German Studies)
    760 GMAT (49 Q, 46 V)
    White male

    LDS Mission to Germany/Austria
    Interned at United Nations in Vienna, Austria
    Helped launch a business-education start-up in Paraguay
    Fellowship at Governor’s Office in Utah
    Intramural soccer/football team captain
    Co-founded club to promote social entrepreneurship on campus

    After graduation:
    Economic Analyst at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for 18 months and promoted to team lead over 3 analysts.

    While at the Gov’s office I worked on the side as a director at a non-profit focused on business and poverty alleviation working with social entrepreneurs. The chairman of the board hired me to be President of a separate financial-literacy non-profit.

    Left Gov’s office to be President of financial literacy non-profit (10 employees), mainly helping large corporations improve financial wellness for their employees. Worked there for 1 year. Secured funding support and brought in enough money to make non-profit sustainable for several years.

    Left non-profit after 1 year to launch my own start-up to improve tech-based financial literacy tools. Have raised $200k and planning to launch this fall.

    Total post-undergard full-time work experience by 2017 matriculation: 4 years

    Goals: to build a business that connects personal finance education to better habits and expand reach into developing markets.

    Harvard (Reapplicant)
    Stanford (Reapplicant)
    Wharton (Reapplicant)
    Any other suggestions?

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for giving feedback on profiles!
    27 year old white female
    Undergrad/Masters in engineering from an Ivy – 3.7/3.9 GPA
    Worked in a lab on campus part time sophomore-senior yr, worked full time in the lab/part time at tech transfer office while getting my masters degree
    2.5 years in healthcare consulting (clients are large pharma and biotech)
    2 years working with faculty startups from a major university in the tech transfer office, also was pulled into a major deal for our office conducting financial analysis, presenting to major players on campus
    Future career goal is to work in corporate strategy for a pharma/biotech firm
    I had leadership positions during school (Advancing Women in Engineering, Leadership position on Grad student gov). Extracurriculars post grad have been serving on panels, a period of time volunteering at a food bank
    I’m planning on applying R1 to Harvard, Stanford, Healthcare Management Program at Wharton and Sloan.
    Any thoughts?
    Thank you!

  • KJ

    Hi Sandy, great posts as always! How do you pick whose odds to handicap?

    Here’s mine to add to the pile:

    GMAT: 770 (49Q/44V)
    GPA: 3.66 from Jesuit Ivy, economics major math minor
    Asian-American female, 25 years old
    Work experience: 3 years doing digital strategy technology consulting at a top 5 consulting firm
    Short term goal: either return to consulting to lead businesses in social media and digital strategy/technology OR jump to product management
    Long term goal: be a university professor to create and share knowledge. not sure if this is a good goal to include though, or if running a startup / making partner in consulting is more realistic…
    Extracurricular: volunteer as resume / interview prep coach for urban high school kids aspiring for college (3 years), love playing ultimate frisbee- serve as undergrad women’s team coach and play competitively nationally and internationally
    Targets: Stanford, HBS, Sloan, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Yale, Duke (love Dan Ariely!)

  • prathapr91

    Hi Sandy,

    Your work in analyzing individuals’ admissions chances have been very helpful to me. Can you please provide an analysis for my profile?

    – GMAT: Scored a 700 (49Q, 35V). Plan to retake next month and my practice exams thus far have consistently scored in the 730-750 range.
    – Undergraduate: 3.5 GPA from a reputable state school
    – Majored in Risk Management and minored in Statistics
    – Indian-American Male, 24 years old
    – I have been working as an actuary for 3 years at a reputable insurance company. I attained the designation of ASA (Associate in the Society of Actuaries), a title that requires a very rigorous and quantitative based series of exams and case studies.
    – I am using business school to help me transition into a career in management consulting.
    – Extra-curriculars: I was president of my fraternity in college and continue to serve as the alumni chair.

    I plan to apply this year and attend B-School full time during the fall 2017 semester. Here are my top schools of interest: NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Michigan.

  • efuaofori2000@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy

    Which of the top schools do i have the best chance ?

    Female- African born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, age 26

    – Studied in Norway on a Norwegian Scholarship for a year

    Volunteered with Save the children, Norway for a year working with Refugee Kids

    – GMAT: 720 – 750 ( testing )

    – Undergrad ( marketing ) in Ghana, GPA: 3.72

    – Working with Ghanaian logistics company, with partners worldwide, for 3 years ( graduation) . Oversee a team of 8 people

    – Goal: start an NGO to assist micro and small scale enterprise in rural and urban Ghana. CEO of a multinational company

    – Targets: GSB , HBS, LBS, SLOAN

  • BAlto

    Hi Sandy,

    Please share thoughts on my profile:

    – African male (born and raised in french-speaking West Africa), age 26
    – Merit scholarships from my country and a European country
    – GMAT: 720, TOEFL: 117/120
    – Undergrad in France, GPA: 15/20 (Econ)
    – Master’s in France from a top university, lower performance (job hunting…etc)
    – Currently with a top frontier markets advisory and investment firm focused on Africa (many HBS, GSB, Wharton alumni), previously with a financial advisory firm also focused on Africa, less prominent outside of the continent though high profile projects/leadership
    – Internships with leading firms (Rothschild, Cinven, Barclays) and senior gvt officials, founded and run a education-focused non-profit in my country
    – Goal: start an investment firm in my country, senior public office
    – Targets: GSB (re-applicant, interviewed 2 years ago), HBS, Wharton, Booth

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,

    I have a very similar profile to the Mrs in your first analysis. (I am also an actuary) So I am realy interested to hear your thoughts!

    – Chinese Canadian, female, 27.
    -Gmat: 740
    -3.8 GPA from a Canadian undergrad major in math with top scholarship
    – got my full credential as actuary at age 24
    – Three years in a top Canadian insurer as part of their rotational program. (With very fast promotion)
    – one year at a boutique US consulting firm. (Best in the industry, not famous outside the industry)
    – EC includes volunteering for my professional society, and actuarial outreach programs for my former company. Currently sitting on an associate board of a non profit that helps immigrant youth. (I am an immigrant myself)
    – goal: be CEO of a top insurance company.
    – target school : hbs, stanford, sloan, kellogg, booth.

    Thanks for your analysis Sandy!

  • A

    Dear Sandy:
    I’m embarking on 2017 MBA applications, have found this series to be immensely helpful and would be grateful for your feedback.
    White female, age 26
    3.96 GPA from Princeton in art history; received several thesis prizes and full scholarship for 1/2 junior year abroad at a UK university
    GRE: 170 Verbal, 166 Quant
    Work experience: past 5 years at a mid-sized NYC auction house: presently specialist in charge of 2 fine art sale categories, but work on approximately 15 sales annually
    Personal: indoor cycling instructor and NPC bikini competitor; Board of Trustees of an arts charter school
    Applying: Columbia J-term; Harvard; Wharton; Stanford; Yale; possibly INSEAD
    Ultimate goal is to start an art fund (i.e. an investment fund generating returns by buying/selling art)
    Profuse thanks in advance,

  • hbsguru

    Grrrr, sorry about Wharton, I was unaware they rejected anyone with a 780.
    Working at major auto company in auto drive is a great thing to do — whether you like it or not, use that as base of your story. Product management is good goal and guys like you often become CEOs of auto companies or MNC manufacturing –saying you wanted to be CTO of a fintech start-up seems odd (fintech? why that?) and out of no place beyond comput. science major, unless you worked with tech in service.
    Not sure how age will impact this, my first thought is work two years at auto company and apply during 2nd year, but that would mean you’d sorta be 34-35 at matric. That happens, but that is EMBA territory. After one year at auto company you may qual for PT MBA programs –but that is usually if you want to stay w. that company.
    GPA 2.98. Not helping, this may sound nuts, but taking some Stats course or HBS Core-X –just a proof you can sit still and eat junk and spit it back, would be a good move, altho maybe painful.
    I realize service acad. grade hard, esp. w. computer science major but that seems like middle of class GPA, or lower.

  • PM

    Hi Sandy,

    Love this series. I’d appreciate your insight on my profile

    Haven’t taken GMAT. Won’t apply with less than 730.
    3.77 GPA from a decent, but not that high ranking Jesuit university (like Boston College, Fordham etc)
    Major in accounting
    White female, 29 years old
    Army veteran (enlisted 5 years, military police, combat experience in Iraq as a body guard as the only female in a Personal Security team, SWAT sniper, Soldier of the Year 2011, promoted to Sergeant faster than avg.)
    Attended undergrad after the Army on the GI Bill, so I only graduated in Dec 2015.
    Working in policy and compliance at an “elite boutique” investment bank in NY (like Evercore Partners, Guggenheim Partners etc) creating policies and training on regulatory issues. Lots of time with senior mgmt.
    Planning to apply next fall for class of 2020, so I’ll have 2.5 years experience by matriculation

    Competitive Brazilian jiu jitsu
    Mentor to a low-income, female HS Sophomore through non-profit program
    Teach financial literacy classes to low-income HS students
    Involved in firm’s Veterans Transition Assistance Program (internships for vets that provided my first internship and eventual job)

    Plan is to use the MBA to transition to consulting. Long term, less certain but I’d like to leverage consulting experience in the public sector.

    Harvard seems out of reach, but maybe go for a moonshot.
    Kellogg (my ideal)
    Ohio St

    Worried my profile is too old, too random and my back office job and college are not elite enough for top programs. Hoping that I can make up for it with high GMAT and GPA.

  • hbsguru

    Not by itself, it can help if you take a leadership position in Gay advocacy orgs, or if being gay is part of your personal development story and school asks for that.
    E.g. coming to terms w. being gay, coming out to parents, what you experienced, how it impacted your development, views about the world–those are good Stanford What Matters Most themes along the lines of personal development. Other schools have similar questions.

  • guest

    Is being ‘Gay’ help getting into a business school ?

  • Robert


    I’m a Military officer/service academy grad (computer science) getting out after 9 years. Next, I’ll be going to work at a major auto company working on their automated driving electric vehicle project. GMAT 780 (49Q/50V), GPA 2.98. White male, 32. Got dinged at Wharton in R3 this year. Goals: tech industry, product management, or CTO of a fintech startup I’m moonlighting on now. Target: Stanford, Wharton, Tuck, Haas, Johnson Tech track.

    Thanks for your analysis!

  • rreagan3@gmail.com


    I’m a Military officer/service academy grad (computer science) getting out after 9 years. Next, I’ll be going to work at a major auto company working on their automated driving electric vehicle project. GMAT 780 (49Q/50V), GPA 2.98. White male, 32. Goals: tech industry, product management, or CTO of a fintech startup I’m moonlighting on now. Target: Stanford, Wharton, Tuck, Haas, Johnson Tech track.

    Thanks for your analysis!

  • Roger

    Hi Sandy,

    Love reading this series. Would appreciate your thoughts on my profile. Thanks.


    White male, 27 years old

    770 GMAT (50Q, 45V)

    3.65 GPA at top 20 University; majors in Philosophy & Political Science


    4 years at boutique advertising agency. We specialize in branding and strategy but I spend most of my time managing clients and creating TV, radio, billboard, digital and print ads.
    -Promoted 3 times.
    -Earned leadership duties for globally recognizable client, whose fees account for about 10% of agency’s revenue. Grew that revenue (and profitability) year over year.
    -Worked with team to create and launch first-of-its-kind product for client, resulted in sales lift for client (can quantify this).
    -Created new financial tracking system for my company — allows us to effectively track our time and budgets. Implemented this across all clients and trained team of 10 on how to use the new system.

    1 year at publicly-traded global advisory and data firm (this was in the middle of my time at the advertising agency — I left the agency for this public company, spent a year, and went back to the agency). Sales support role.


    Started youth leadership group at local non-profit; raise money through various events.

    Avid participant and supporter of cultural institutions in my city.

    Alumni interviewer for my college (five years of this…I interview 3-6 prospective students annually)


    Marketing or product management within the technology industry. I need an MBA to develop the skills needed for that type of role.

    Outside chance of MBB.

    TARGET SCHOOLS: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, Haas, Columbia

    Thanks again.

  • rdcirillo@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate your thoughts on my profile:

    White male, 25 yo
    -790 GMAT (50Q, 51V)
    -3.35 undergrad GPA in Economics from Big Ten school (Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin)
    -3.35 grad school GPA, Masters in Applied Statistics from local Chicago school (Loyola University Chicago, Depaul)

    -2 years working 30-40 hours a week for small, family consulting firm while in graduate school full time (how I would explain low GPA). Mostly junior data analyst work, but took on project management role as I progressed through my Masters
    – 6 months as senior strategy analyst for wholesale operations division of large textbook distributor (Follett, Barnes & Noble). I wanted to work client side for a bit to see how I felt about it and ultimately decided that consulting was what I wanted to do (short and long term). Left pretty quickly, obviously, to get back into consulting.
    – Currently only 6 months, but will be 2 years when I apply, as an advanced analytics consultant for Nielsen. Consulting the largest CPG companies in the world, building statistical models to optimize their marketing activity and strategy. Client-facing, have a team of analysts that I manage throughout each project, ultimately fully responsible for all deliverables.

    extracurriculars: Throughout the next year and a half, I’ll be working on private GMAT tutoring and mentoring

  • Hi Sandy,

    I would love to read your analysis.

    – Male, 27 year old, Mexican
    – 730 GMAT
    – 3.2 GPA (extracurricular activities got in the way)
    – Undergradute degree in Industrial Engineering from a top 10 mexican university. Member of the academic excellence program.
    – Extracurricular activities: President of the Social Commitment Program at the Engineering Faculty, Member of the Students Society, Program Manager for catholic missions (120+ participants from the university)
    – Work experiencie: interned in Deloitte for 6 months, got a full time job as Analyst in the same firm thanks to great performance. Switched to PwC to Management Consulting / Corporate Governance as an Associate. Promoted to Sr. Associate after 1 year. Worked closely with boards of directors and shareholders in Mexico.
    – Goal: move to M/B/B consulting firm.
    – String recommendations from firm partners and coworkers.
    – Languages: native spanish, advanced english, fluent in portuguese.

    Target schools:
    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – LBS
    – Kellogg
    – Sloan


  • hbsguru

    Wharton goes for guys like you and the gate is wider for “pure” finance, CFO types–so give it a shot. Their app. last year [new questions not posted to my knowledge, anyone??] was roomy enuf for you to deliver your first-gen/scholarship story, and I suggest you do it, just as it is sketched out above.

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

    2. (Optional) Please use the space below to highlight any additional
    information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about
    your candidacy. (400 words)

    You could hit your full story in both of those essays.

    You need to get rec writers fr. your PE firm to say that you are solid guy, who has performed on same level as the golden boys in the deal teams and that you will have great impact based on your solid values, skills, appreciation of first-gen issues, etc.

    good luck.

  • [email protected]

    Mr. Large Cap PE here – Thanks so much for the advice, Sandy. You hit the nail on the head with my undergrad not being an IB-feeder. Big 4 Valuation was one of the best jobs a Finance major could reasonably get. Also, I do come from a first generation, working class family and selected my undergrad largely based on the scholarship they offered me. I think coupling those two themes in my MBA application story could provide rationale for my path. I’m also considering Wharton more seriously now. Do you have any insight into how I would do there? Also, to your point about the PE shop I work at – my firm consistently sends kids to H/S/W every year (but from the deal team, not my group – not sure the impact here).

  • ruralwest

    Hi Sandy,

    Would love your thoughts:
    – 680-710 GMAT w/higher V than Q anticipated
    – 3.95, summa cum laude, honors college grad, B.A. History, unranked university in the rural west (think Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota…) with full ride scholarship
    – 5 years of work experience in leadership roles that also show quant aptitude (managing a small profitable business, financial modeling for a specialty finance company, technical writing/analysis for a clean energy firm). All no name companies in the rural west. Excellent recs from each.
    – 25, white, female, from an under represented state in the rural west, 1st in my family to have a master’s degree, no siblings (11) have Bachelor’s degrees, poor family
    – Goal: HR or operations role at a consumer products company (Would love: Estee Lauder, P&G, J&J, LVMH, etc)
    – Reach schools: HBS, Sloan. Would be very happy with Boston Questrom. Also plan to apply to Boston Carroll. Only open to schools in the Boston area.


    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate your input on my chances. I have two years of full-time work
    experience and will be starting my master’s at Harvard Kennedy School in the
    fall. I will either apply for a dual MBA program with the following:

    – Stanford – Wharton – Sloan – Tuck

    Or go for the one-year European programs after I get my

    – Insead – Said – CEIBS

    24-yr old Canadian (Asian) Male, GRE 329 (V165, Q164, W6.0)

    3.79 GPA from a US News top 30 school, major in political science
    with econ minor

    My work experience:

    -Two years at a boutique consultancy in Washington DC
    advising fortune 500 companies and investors in emerging markets. Colleagues
    have a track record of getting into the M-7 (Wharton, booth, Columbia etc)
    albeit usually with a bit more experience.

    -Will spend the summer at a selective fellowship program
    (less than 1% admitted) at a top 5 internet company in China, working on e-commerce


    – President of a global NGO/student organization with
    several dozen university chapters around the world. I started my own chapter
    while in college and became president of the whole organization last year. Managed
    my own student team and conducted fundraising, outreach, and organized a major

    – volunteer admissions interviewer for my undergrad for 4

    Will have very strong recs from my supervisors at work (one
    voluntarily showed me his letter and it was incredible)

    Goal is to enter MBB consulting and then pivot into general
    management, maybe work on international expansion for a company like facebook/google/linkedin.

    My main concern is that I only have two years of work
    experience, but I’ll also have one year of grad school under my belt. How will
    that be looked at?

  • B2B Sales Ops & Strategy

    Hi Sandy,

    I am applying for MBA programs in 2016-17. Please evaluate my profile and suggest chances of admission at following schools:-

    1. Harvard
    2. Kellogg
    3. INSEAD
    4. LBS
    5. Tuck
    6. Duke Fuqua
    7. Cornell
    8. UCLA Anderson

    1. Indian Male, 27 years, GMAT 730 (Q-67%, V-96%, IR 81%)

    2. Education:

    a) Bachelors in Commerce (Honors) – Specialization in Marketing Management from St. Xavier’s College, University of Calcutta [CGPA 6.98, Grade B+]
    b) PG Diploma in Liberal Arts & Sciences from Young India Fellowship [joint initiative of UPenn and Ashoka University] [CGPA 3.28]

    3. Work Experience: [Will have 6.5 years exp. at matriculation]

    a) 1.5 years in institutional sales with Nestle India (CPG company) – 1 promotion in 1.5 years. Looking after sales in entire state and handled team of 8-10 distributors and sales officers.
    b) 4 years in B2B Global Sales Operations and Strategy (for Retail & CPG vertical) with Genpact (U.S. headquartered Business Process Outsourcing company) – 2 promotions in 4 years. Leading team of 6 executives as a Vertical Lead. International experience in this profile (advising international sales leaders in US, Europe, Australia and Asia Pacific)

    4. Extra Curriculars:
    a. During college, played professional football for 3 years in the 1st Division
    b. Volunteer as a Football coach with Magic Bus (international non-profit) to provide football coaching to underprivileged girls

    5. Awards & Achievements:
    a. Rated among Top 20% in Genpact for 4 years. 3 Awards by Sales Leadership Team in Genpact in the last 3 years
    b. Bronze Standard of The Duke of Edinburgh award in school
    c. Sportsman of The Year award in school (for football)