Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

After a year as an operations analyst for a major New York bank, she went west and has worked for nearly four years in Silicon Valley for a major social media player in supply chain operations. This 26-year-old white female boasts super stats: a 760 GMAT and a 3.89 grade point average from a top 40 private university. She hopes to get an MBA to move into an strategic planning role at an early stage tech company.

After earning an undergraduate degree in philosophy and economics at a top 25 university, he became a reporter at the Financial Times and ultimately moved into a senior management role at a financial news startup that serves the investment banking community. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.75 GPA, this young 20-something professional now wants an MBA to transition into i-banker job.

After a two-year stint as a counter terrorist intelligence analyst for the Defense Department, this 27-year-old African-American woman joined an experiential nonprofit that largely works with underserved youth and veterans. As the development and corporate relations manager in a large regional office, she hopes to go to business school to transition into a corporate social responsibility role at a for-profit or hybrid company. She has a 690 GMAT and a 3.62 GPA from Duke University where she majored in history and political science.

All three of these candidates and several more 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.

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.)

Awesome news man reading a newspaper

Mr. Muckraker


  • 720 GMAT (43Q/47V)
  • 3.75 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a top 25 university with a double major in economics and philosophy (As in almost all statistics, econonics and math classes)
  • Work Experience includes a year as a reporter at the Financial Times, working on a Pearson Venture fund-backed financial news service; one year as an editor at an energy commodity benchmarking/forecasting company; currently in a senior management role at a financial news start up that serves the investment banking community
  • Extracurricular involvement includes four years of varsity tennis; program director at a nonprofit that uses tennis as a vehicle for empowerment for kids with autism; member of the development committee at another nonprofit that sponsors tennis clinics in underserved neighborhoods
  • Goal: To put his understanding of the energy industry to use at a power and utilities group at an investment bank; eventually would like to join an infrastructure investment firm

Odds of Success:

Columbia: 40% (Early Decision)
Wharton: 30%
MIT: 25%
Yale: 40%+
NYU: 50%
Georgetown: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: What we have here is a very attractive, Ivy League kind of literate guy who did well. You have solid basics, with a 3.75 GPA and a 720 GMAT. He also say she has a lot of extras around tennis. You are a tennis playing, writer type. This is proof of mama don’t let your children double major in economics and philosophy. If he just majored in economics, he might have been able to go straight into an investment bank. Quick learner that he was, he realized that he would rather be eating these cup cakes rather than writing about them and so he then transitioned over from writer to editor to editor of more proprietary, high-value insider publications. By hook and crook and hard work and intelligence he has transformed himself into a financial writing innovator.

I think you should apply to Wharton. Why you omitted Wharton, I don’t know. I like you and schools will like you. Admission committees are often composed of people like you, liberal arts business who had an interest in business. The fact that you are a writer means you are probably well spoken. Wharton might say we could use a guy like you. You are a few basis points on your GMAT below Wharton’s numbers but they might very well eat that given that you are not the typical i-banker. You seem more articulate, fun loving, and more well read than the typical investment banker.

The question is can you get hired by an i-bank? The more important question is would an admissions committee think you can get hired by an i-bank? I think you need to say you want to go into financial publishing, like Rupert Murdoch. That might be an alternative career and one that is more attractive to an admissions committee.

Your chances at Wharton are about 30%, depending on the cohort they put you in. If they assign you to the investment banking cohort, you might pop out because your background is so interesting. But that is a very competitive cohort and they have people like that coming out of their pant’s pocket. That’s why you might have more of an edge if you compete as someone who is interested in financial publishing.

It’s clear you are not the plain vanilla investment banker type.

  • Ms.Mathy

    Dear Sandy,

    Thank you very much for doing this, my stats are:

    – GMAT: 750 (expected from practice test, haven’t taken the real test yet)
    – Undergrad GPA: 3.7 from (Harvard/Yale/Princeton) (currently a senior) with full scholarship
    – Major: Double major in Applied Math/Econ
    – Goal medal from national mathematics olympiad in high school
    – Went to a gifted High School on full scholarship
    – Work Experience: one internship at a hedge fund, one internship at a growth private equity fund and one internship at an infrastructure private equity fund in NYC
    – Long Term Goal: investing in infrastructure/healthcare in developing countries
    – Vietnamese (not American), first generation to go to college, low income back ground, work to support myself through college and high school

    Applying to HBS 2+2, Stanford Deferred and Yale Silver Scholar

    Thank you again!

  • BobCha

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks so much for running this series. I come from a quant finance background and hope to go into MBA to pursue product management. I’m wondering if my relative lack of work experience is going to be a problem for my application. Any feedback you could give me would be highly appreciated.

    163-Q 165-V 5-W GRE
    3.76 GPA
    Undergraduate degree in Economics & Statistics from a top 5 Ivy+ school (Chicago, Stanford, MIT)
    Work experience includes an internship in economic consulting and a 2 year full-time rotational program at a bulge bracket bank in quantitative risk management
    Extracurricular involvement in college includes student government treasurer, VP of an international community service organization, and founding board of a culinary magazine in college. Extracurriculars during full-time employment include internal community service board member in the bank, alumni engagement committee for the rotational program, and volunteering at a food co-op.
    Completed CFA level II
    Proficiency in R, Python, and Matlab
    Fluent in English and Chinese
    Short-term goal: To switch to a career in product management for a Machine Learning technology product
    24 year old male Asian American (25 at matriculation)
    Applying to Chicago, HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, Berkeley, and MIT Sloan

  • adsieg01

    Hello from China! I have a unique profile and I would appreciate if you could evaluate it.
    Please provide suggestions on stretch schools and perhaps some more probable schools.

    I am an American but I have lived in China since graduation (3 years)

    Currently working as a teacher at one of the top language schools in Shenzhen, China. I have started a couple small businesses including a cooking school and English education consultancy. I’ve written and sold an Ebook on a website I built myself.

    GMAT: 720
    GPA: 3.2
    Undergrad was Business Administration with a minor in entrepreneurship (University of Louisville)

    Extracurricular activities
    -Eagle Scout
    -Founding Father of fraternity
    -Top performer on collegiate sales team
    -Resident Assistant
    -Highly fluent in written and spoken Mandarin Chinese (HSK 5)
    -Placed in multiple business competitions
    -Official mentor for undergrad entrepreneurship team

    Goal: Leverage my Chinese network and experience to help bring American products and services to the Chinese market.

  • giorgia.lazzerini@hotmail.it

    Hi Sandy and John!

    I would love you to review my profile and handicap my odds for the following schools:
    NYU Stern

    This is my profile:

    28 years old, italian white female

    1. GMAT: 760 (Q50,V42)

    2. Education
    Undergraduate: GPA 3.76, major in economics and finance (from a top 10 public universities)
    Graduated one year later because of personal problems
    Master’s degree: GPA 3.96, major in accounting and finance (same university)
    Master’s degree: GPA 3.98, major in international management (from the best italian university for economics and finance)
    Before my bachelor’s degree I attended the faculty of engineering for one year for then switching to economics.

    3. Work experience
    3 and a half years into a big four consulting
    6 weeks abroad (Egypt) as part of a European Voluntary Service’s project to protect woman rights
    3 and a half years as private trader

    4. Leadership and volunteering
    Tennis team captain
    Co-founder of an association which raise money to allow children and young women to have an education
    Member of the italian association for people with down syndrome

    5. Extracurricula
    Completed all three CFA levels
    Excellent knolodwege of C, C++, Java
    Fluent in english and spanish

    Short-term goal: switch to the hedge fund industry

    Thank you for your time.

    Best regards.

  • Jack Man

    Hello John and Sandy

    I want to apply to Harvard’s 2+2 , Standford’s Deferred MBA and Yale Silver Scholar.
    I dont see many videos for 2+2 programs, can you make a video?

    GRE – 327/340 Q:165 V:162 AWA: 4.0
    Both these programs except either GRE or GMAT
    Toefl – 118/120

    Undergrad (2011-2015)
    Top 20 engg colleges in India. (GPA 8.7 out of 10.0)
    -In top 5 of class
    I graduated in Industrial Engg (NOT SOFTWARE, NOT ALL INDIANS CODE !)

    Had 2 internships in manufacturing firms, the role was more like Internal Consulting.
    Went to grad school at Columbia, directly after undergrad.

    Grad School – Columbia University (2015-2017)
    GPA – 3.77 currently
    -During my undergrad I Realized that I needed to learn more
    -Pursuing a STEM masters in Columbia’s Management Science and Engineering (ITS NOT AN MBA).
    -I take half my courses in Operations Research(Maths and analytics) and the other half in Columbia Business School’s DRO dept (only Decision, Risk and Operations courses)
    – I had a taste for Harvard’s case methods but only specific to operations. I want to be well rounded, learn more about entrepreneurship and leadership.

    – Worked year-long as a Part time consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and Cubesmart (as part of the coursework)
    -Pretty close to starting my own business

    My family has a manufacturing business that employs many unskilled workers. It involves heavy manufacturing but it has a lot of trade and other aspects to it as well.
    I intend to go back at some time in the future (I’m the only kid in the family)
    Here is my story, I know I have to go back and manage my family business, Its my social responsibility. But before I go back, I wanted to try something for myself. I have a great start up idea that I want to try, but I don’t want to risk getting kicked out of the US in 1 year if my start up doesn’t take off. I have spoken to multiple VCs and they love my idea.

    I believe this MBA will not only enable me to be a leader and capable of managing my family business, it will also empower me in the sense that I will have a safety net. In the 2 years before I go to B-school I am free to try anything knowing that if I fail, I still have Harvard or Stanford. Plus I won’t get kicked out of the country just yet.

    I want to emphasize both these aspects when I apply
    1. The MBA empowers me to become a leader and lead my family business to greater heights.
    2. The MBA acts as an safety net and empowers me to start my own business in the US.

    So in the time between my masters and MBA, I can start my business, try and fail and try again till I succeed.

    Extra Curriculars

    -While in School, I was in the NCC (analogous to ROTC in the US)
    – Was a part of the Indian Red Cross for 2 years.
    – ENTP personality type (like Ms. Jersey :P)
    – I may work in Consulting after an MBA to recoup costs.

    Are there any other 2+2 programs I should apply to? and What are my chances at Harvard, Stanford and Yale’s deffered program?

  • LotionGuy

    Hi Sandy,

    Would you mind providing some feedback on my profile?

    25 year-old white male
    3.88 GPA at Top 20 Public University, Chemical Engineering Major
    GMAT 740 (50Q/41V)

    Work Experience:
    – 3 years as Product Development Scientist (by matriculation date) for large multinational FMCPG company (think J&J, P&G, or Unilever), with one promotion
    – role covers formulation bench work, visiting factories for first-production runs, project management, working with marketing, supply chain, etc.
    – summer internship with same company in Mumbai, India (only one intern selected for international assignment)

    – outreach to teach STEM classes / encourage STEM education in inner-city high schools,
    – chair of a team of 12 that planned a student Chemical Engineering Conference with over 22 universities and 240 students attending
    – undergraduate research in nanotechnology (3 semesters)

    Goal: Either return to a FMCPG company in corporate strategy or join/found disruptive consumer goods start-up

    What are my chances at Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Wharton? Am I stretching too much?

    Thank you very much for your time!

  • MathGal

    Hi Sandy,

    I am a female, 3.98 in STEM at lower-ranked ivy. GMAT 750. Worked three years at Bulge bracket bank. 1 year at PE. Want to transition to consulting at MBB. I have my heart set on Yale, but would also consider Wharton/CBS/Booth

  • civilengineer

    forgot to list the schools. Would love to know my chances at: HBS, Stanford, LBS, Booth, Yale
    I would be applying in Round 2.

  • civilengineer

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for doing these reviews!

    GMAT: 760 (49Q,44V)
    Education: 3.6 BS in engineering from an Ivy, 3.5 MS in engineering from Stanford
    Demographics: 27 year old Asian American female
    Work experience: 4.5 years as a structural engineer (in infrastructure, i.e. bridges and tunnels) at a multinational global design/engineering firm, with 2 of those years working abroad (Europe). Learned the local language (to a working proficiency) within 2 years despite having no exposure to it prior to arriving in Europe.
    Extracurricular: volunteer work within the civil engineering industry, including positions as president of civil engineering society in undergrad and community service chair post-grad and volunteering for an organization promoting architecture/engineering to high school students.
    Post MBA goal: Short term – to leverage my hands-on technical background into a business strategy role in infrastructure, which is a field in desperate need of innovation and disruptive thinking. Long term – high level management strategy for global engineering/tech company.