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.