Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

She’s a 25-year-old software engineer at a leading tech firm in Silicon Valley. with a 730 GMAT and a 3.7 GPA from a Canadian university, she hopes to go to business school as a stepping stone toward a long-term goal of landing a leadership role in a top tech firm.

He currently heads up strategy at a division of the global ad agency Publicis in India. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.0 grade point average on his undergrad degree from the National Institute of Technology in India, he’s hoping to use an MBA to transition into consulting.

The youngest director at a Fortune 100 hospital management company, this 28-year-old woman currently manages accounts totally more than $1 billion. At university, she was a four-year varsity basketball player while a pre-med major and is also a licensed crossfit coach. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.2 GPA, she wants to transition into management consulting.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

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.)

woman at work

Ms. Pre-Med

  •  750 GMAT (48Q/44V)
  •  3.18 GPA
  •  Undergraduate degree in pre-med and public health from Johns Hopkins University
  •  “In medical circles people tend to know about the grade deflation at Hopkins, particularly among pre-med students. Does this need to be explained in B-School apps?”
  •  3.8 GPA (Master’s)
  •  Master’s degree in public health from Emory University
  •  Work experience includes one year in healthcare financial consulting with a small private firm and four years with a Fortune 100 hospital management company (think HCA), 1.5 years in analytics and strategic pricing, 2.5 years in contract negotiation
  •  Promoted from analyst to manager to director over four years, currently company’s youngest director, managing accounts totaling over a billion dollars
  •  Extracurricular involvement as a varsity basketball player for four years and a licensed crossfit coach
  •  Strong recommendations letters expected
  •  Goal: To transition into management consulting at MBB and apply that skill set toward developing new strategies around accountable care models and health insurance reimbursement for new and growing healthcare companies
  •  28-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 25% to 30%
Stanford: 15% to 20%
Northwestern: 40% to 50%
Dartmouth: 40% to 50%
Yale: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You are a tight case, a pre-med undergrad and into healthcare. But I don’t like how you present yourself. When you say you want to develop “new strategies around accountable care models” I read that as code for screwing patients. Unless I am misunderstanding this, I think you have drunk the bad Kool-Aid. You think business schools want hospitals to be more efficient in the bad way. What business schools care about is health care access. Adcoms are liberal. Stanford doesn’t want to make hospitals get more bang for the buck by kicking out patients a day before they should. They are interested in that magic term: access. You ahve to get in that mindset. You should present yourself as someone who has seen the dark side of medical management and now wants to increase access and equity to health care. Those are important works in your shtick.

You will need to explain your low GPA at Johns Hopkins. What you have to do is include your class standing. If you go to Johns Hopkins for pre-med courses, they try to filter out future doctors. They make you take those famous courses like organic chemistry and they grade you on a curve. If you are in Johns Hopkins may give an A to only the top 10% of the class, all of whom are serious premed students. It’s not like half the class are slackers.

Explain your way out of the 3.18. Without that, your odds would be pretty high at just about any business school, though your 740 GMAT does a lot of talking. Your four years playing varsity basketball is pretty impressive, and I like the fact that you are a licensed crossfit coach. You could start a club for your MBA study group!

Assuming you get your act right, I’m not sure Stanford or Harvard will swallow the 3.18. Stanford’s attitude will be we will find someone like you but who figured out the right healthcare baloney to feed us. Still, you are a good reach at HBS, particularly if you have good recommendations. Kellogg is great for you and so is Yale. Wharton could accept you on your high GMAT score alone.

With your MBA in hand, you will walk into McKinsey, Bain or BCG. In fact, the outside-the-box advice for you is don’t go to business school. You don’t need no stinkin’ MBA. You can get a job at MBB right now. So your dreams can come true, no matter what you do.

  • hbsguru

    could you repost this on the Why Was I Dinged STORY–which leads PQ right now.

  • Lookkai

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for doing this! I would very much appreciate it if you can do a review for me 🙂

    1. GMAT 720 (V40, Q48) 6th attempt
    2. GPA 3.25
    3. Undergrade: BBA Finance from Top university in Thailand
    4. Female 24 years old
    5. 2 years at (boutique) energy consulting firm, focus on strategies/finance to transition firms to clean tech, renewable energy. 7 months prior at Deloitte operations consulting
    6. Internship/summer position at Deustche Bank and top Thai broker house
    7. Extracurriculars including VP of student association in college, business case team varsity (2 international case comps in singapore, won 1 national). Entered semifinal in Shell competition for energy innovation. Delegate in sustainable development goals MUN at Serbia, Assist former prime minister in alternative energy research
    8. Short-term goal: to work at MBB in energy sector to engage in larger scale projects. Intend to advise energy comps to adopt clean tech/alternative energy, adopt new technology to reduce consumption/improve efficiency
    9. Long-term goal: to be in leadership roles at energy companies to finance/support development of alternative energy in Thailand/new infrastructure to help ensure equitable access to clean, affordable, sustainable energy in Thailand

    Dinged from H/S/W (as expected), MIT and columbia. What are my chances as reapplicant? Thank you so much for your help :))

  • EconGrad

    Hi Sandy – I would really love some insight into where I should be applying.

    – GMAT: 740 (48Q,42V) 2nd attempt
    – GPA: 3.33 Mathematical Economics Major (grade deflation in the economics department
    – Undergraduate: Strong liberal arts school (not Ivy)
    – 23 y/o White Male
    – Work Experience: 2 years working directly for the Chief Economist at a Big 4 firm in NYC- doing complex economic research projects, economic consulting for platinum clients, and creating presentations for conferences across multiple industries. Former internship experience in Risk Management at HSBC and early experience working for my family’s well known company in the theater industry.
    – Extras: Writer for the college business review, economics TA and tutor, and one season of college rugby
    – Careers goals: Utilize my economics experience in asset management or venture capital. Possibly go into consulting at a Big 3 consulting firm.

    Target Schools: Yale (father and grandfather got their undergraduate at Yale), Wharton, Columbia, Berkley, Cornell, Michigan, various safeties

    1. Do I need more work experience to be a strong applicant?
    2. One of my recommendations will be from the Chief Economist. For my second recommendation, should I use a former boss from an internship, another colleague at my current firm, or the head of my major at my college who I also was a TA for?

    Thank you so much, any insight would be much appreciated.

  • We’ll try to do one next time we’re in the studio. In the meantime, I just finished up an audio podcast version with Sandy on this. It will air on Friday of this week.

  • Jack Man

    Hi John,

    I saw that you guys just uploaded a new video? Would you have any idea if you guys are doing a video on deferred programs and by when?
    Thank you.