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Assessing Your Odds Of Getting In

Call him Mr. Silver. He didn’t go to an Ivy League School. He has worked for a Big Four accounting firm and a mid-market private equity shop. And he has a 710 GMAT. But this 24-year-old professional has gold ambitions: To get into Harvard, Chicago Booth or Northwestern Kellogg.

This young professional at Accenture describes herself as a “human capital consultant girl who wants to go to business school to gain some hard skills.” With a 720 GMAT and a 3.8 grade point average from a top liberal arts school, this 23-year-old has a long-term goal of becoming the chief HR officer at a Fortune 500 company.

This 28-year-old Indian-American male already has an enviable job: He works for a prominent Bay Area unicorn in market strategy and operations. With an impressive 760 GMAT and a 3.63 GPA at a top 40 private university, he hopes to get into business school to transition into a large tech company such as Google, Facebook or Amazon and lead a strategy and analytics team.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these three MBA candidates and more share in common is the desire 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 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.)

Mr. Silver

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from a top ten public undergraduate business school in the U.S.
  • Completed CPA exam
  • Work experience includes two years at a Big Four firm in transaction advisory services; currently with a mid-market private equity firm
  • Fluent in three languages
  • Goal: To enter the venture capital specializing in Israeli tech businesses
  • 24-year-old male Israeli, Belgian and U.S. citizen

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 25%
Chicago: 30%
Northwestern: 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: You are pure silver. Everything about you rings silver, and this is what I mean by that. Silver means not gold.

If you didn’t go to an Ivy League school, but you went to a good school, that is silver. If you work for a middle-market firm and not an elite firm, that is silver. And if you have a 710 GMAT, that is silver. That is what I mean.

A lot of people who are silver look for alchemy. They want to turn themselves into gold. That’s hard to do, if not impossible.

Your Big Four experience for a white male is silver. I think transaction advisory services means number crunching in a cubicle. That is also known as silver. And you’re now at another silver job in a mid-market PE shop. Yet, your goal is to enter a gold field in venture capital.

Silver plus silver plus silver plus silver equals not gold. But all your target business schools are in the gold category. I don’t see Harvard from your background. It’s no dis on your story and your life. The problem is that every part of your MBA application is silver when many other applicants will be presenting gold. Someone with a 740 GMAT and a 3.8 with a CPA went to an Ivy school and instead of working at a Big Four could be working at McKinsey or Bain and then went to a gold PE firm. That describes a lot of people that Harvard Business will take and they won’t even take everyone of them. We don’t know how these people are viewed in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of Adcom those people are viewed as being ahead in the line.

How do you get into Kellogg and break out of the pack? Kellogg is open to looking at the whole story more than most business schools. So then the question becomes, “Are you the Kellogg type?” I don’t think so. You didn’t cite any extracurricular involvement. You want to demonstrate that you have been a successful team member and collaborator. It’s possible you left out examples of your teamwork and extras like working with puppies and lost kittens. There is no evidence here that you have value add for Kellogg.

Booth seems to be more focused on the GMAT so I think that’s a long-shot, too. I have two main pieces of advice for you: Expand your list of schools and look at INSEAD, Duke, NYU, Darden, Cornell, Michigan, UNC, Indiana, and USC. Given your silver application, these are all more realistic options for you at this point.

Here’s some tough love, Mr. Silver. Take the GMAT again. Years ago, no one would ever retake a 710. But a 730 for you could really make a difference. I don’t mean to support the arms race among schools on GMAT scores but improving your GMAT school is the easiest and most powerful thing you can do to improve your chances. It would increase your odds at your target schools.

  • JamesW03

    Hey Sandy,

    Thanks for considering an evaluation of my profile. White male will be 28 when applying Round 1- Haas, Kellogg, Ross, and Stanford.

    GPA: 3.82 social sciences double major from large state school (Iowa, Colorado, Tennessee, etc. seem to be similarly ranked public undergrads)
    GRE: 336 (170 verbal, 166 quant)

    Experience:
    -Teach For America (2 years)
    -Mid-level position in external/community affairs with well-known national youth non-profit (3 years)
    -Head of small start-up non-profit (1.5 years)- grew from volunteer board to 10 staff (5 full-time, 5 part-time), $30,000 previously raised/budget to current budget of $300,000 (potentially $400,000-$500,000 budget approved for 2018 by time applying) and over $500,000 raised in time here. Non-profit focus closely aligns with my earlier work in education and with youth, but in a different service area. Service area is pretty relevant with current events/has a lot of buzz and maybe could see having some added appeal (on par w/ things like coding, climate change).

    Goals:
    Transition into HR and eventually be a Chief Human Resource Officer and specifically interested in how to build high-performing and motivated teams and organizations through organizational culture and also a heavy incorporation of diversity initiatives. Open to private sector vs. non-profit (or public- ex. school districts), but have identified a lot of mid-level roles in the short term in the private sector (esp. tech) to get that type of mix of experience of HR, culture, and diversity initiatives either within HR of major corporations or in startups combined with more management over operations simultaneously, and less so in non-profits (until earning the CHRO role). Consulting is strong possibility in the short term, as well to get experience and be exposed to many different types of orgs.

    Extracurriculars post college:
    -5 years nationally well-known mentoring program
    -4 years helping start and co-facilitate after school and Saturday reading programs at 4 elementary schools
    -4 years helping lead annual youth leadership conference
    -2 years volunteering at homeless shelter

  • Matt

    Hi Sandy, I am planning on applying to schools next year and I am struggling to identify were I have a realistic shot of admission.

    -25 year old white male (26 when applying)

    -750 GMAT (47Q 48V) (6 AWA, 7 IR) – 2nd try

    -3.18 GPA from a top 10 public undergraduate business school with a double major in Accounting & Finance. 2 bad semesters of ~2.2/2.3 GPA in middle years with no particularly good excuse, averaged about 3.4 excluding those two. I plan on taking a Macroeconomics course through a local community college in the fall and getting an A (a class where I noticeably struggled on my transcript). One semester of study abroad in Milan, Italy.

    -4 years of work experience total; 3 in a Financial Leadership Development rotational program with a large multinational industrial manufacturer (would be Fortune 150 if headquartered in the US). Lots of high level exposure & key roles on large projects. Will have 1 year of experience post-rotational program. Promoted to a lead analyst position working on building a new finance data analytics function within one of the two main business divisions. It is sort of internal consulting-ish…?

    -Relevant Internship? – 2 summers during undergrad with a long/short hedge fund in Chicago.

    EC:
    Undergrad – Co-founded and served as VP of my university’s branch of a national business student association. Involved in fraternity philanthropy events.
    Post Grad – Not much the past 3 years as I was moving every 12 months as a part of my program, helped with my company’s recruiting efforts, participated in several company sponsored community service projects. Currently getting involved in an organization that focuses on mentoring and tutoring high-potential underprivileged high school students to assist them in applying to college.

    -Goal: Move into Corporate Development in the tech sector with an eye on potentially getting into VC/small cap PE as my (admittedly unlikely) pipe dream.

    Target schools: Kellogg, Tuck, Stern, Anderson, Fuqua, McCombs, I might throw a hail mary to HBS? I work with couple HBS alums who could write relevant Letters of Rec, not sure if that matters.

    Any guidance would be appreciated, even if it is just to let me know that I am completely deluding myself!

  • Paul

    Hi J&S:
    Wonder if my profile might be of interest for a handicapping review. I don’t fit in either “traditional” McKinsey or military buckets in that I have done both pre-B School – and subsequently moved past that.

    – GRE 159M / 168V / 6W — expect 162M/169V/6W on second attempt
    – 3.72 GPA, Political Science, from Top-10 school (not HYPS)
    – 2 years as a military officer in training for a highly competitive special operations program (think Rangers, SEALs, Recon Marines, etc.)
    – After military, spent ~2.5 years at McKinsey (one promotion) doing mostly Ops, Growth Strategy, and Merger work (both DD and PMI)
    – Currently Director of Strategy at a growth-stage FEC company (think iFLY, TopGolf, K1 speed, etc.)
    – Goal: (Both at current employer) short term, P&L responsibility of a geographic region; Long-term, CXO leadership
    – 27, white male
    – “Extreme sports” profile – skiing, skydiving, scuba diving, deep water soloing, etc. Interwoven between personal and professional life
    – Target schools: HBS, GSB, MIT Sloan

    Thanks!

  • Roland

    Hello Sandy, I am an undergraduate student in Europe and I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

    Regarding banks, you said that there are “sexy banks” and “boring banks” for application committes at b-schools, can you give me some examples? Is HSBC considered a selective bank?

    Instead, regarding extracurricular activities, my understanding is that they are not very relevant if they are not very meaningful or you don’t have a strong active role in a leadership position. Can you give me some examples of extracurricular activities that b-schools like a lot?

    Thank you

  • Dawoon Jung

    Hello Sandy! Long-time viewer, and this is my first time to write.
    (South Korean Male)

    Age: 28
    GMAT: 730

    GPA: 3.90 in Informatics Major and in Business Cognate from Indiana University at Bloomington (Graduate in 3 years)
    Major GPA: 4.00

    Experience:
    2 years as a police (Military Service for Korea)
    2 years work experience at Samsung Electronics in Thailand (Supply Chain Management)
    Currently work as a Director of Supply Chain Management in Family Business (Trading Company in Thailand, Annual Revenue around 15 million dollar+, Working at here since 2015)

    Extracurricular: President of the Indiana University at Bloomington Korean Students Association, Founder and President of Startup Preparation Organization, and Undergraduate Instructor of Information Infrastructure Course (INFO-I210, 2 Semester). Data Manager & VP of Thai Arirang (Korean Volunteer group, 100+ members, Participates in serving foods to children in an orphanages in Thailand)

    Goals: To learn more about entrepreneurship and, management for improving Family Business

    Schools: Stanford, HBS, CBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago Booth

  • Max

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love your thoughts on my relatively non-traditional candidacy.

    GPA: 3.3 (had to take a leave of absence after my 2nd year, but came back strong with a 3.8 avg GPA the last two years).
    Major:Art & Archaeology
    Undergrad school: HYP
    GMAT: 710 (will retake again)
    Race and Gender: Asian Male

    Work: Started off as Special Education Teacher on south side of Chicago for 2 years (The New Teacher Project, which is an offshoot from Teach for America). Transitioned to software engineering — moved between several startups with technical management roles and product roles (as it often is the case in cash-strapped startups). Moved onto a mid-size healthcare consultancy with a focus on R&D software development.

    Extracurriculars:
    -Associate Instructor at a Coding Bootcamp.
    -Started a tech consultancy focusing on website rebranding/redesign for nonprofits, though I do redesign work for corporations as well.

    Goal:
    -Short Term: Fill in the gaps in my soft and hard management/finance/strategy skillsets and learn from meaningful managerial experiences at tech giants.
    -Take my strong analytical skills and pair that with my educational background to work for and/or create companies with strong social impacts focusing on the teaching experience.

    Targets: Kellogg, Booth, Stanford, Ross, Fuqua, Columbia

    I know my candidacy is pretty untraditional, so I would absolutely love your thoughts on my application! *crossing my fingers* Thanks!

  • Marco

    Hi Sandy and John,
    I was wondering if you can evaluate my profile:

    White male, 25
    GPA: 8.0/10 at Rotterdam School of Management (Top 10% during second and third year, 25% first year). Undergraduate degree in International Business Administration.
    GMAT: 720
    Work experience:
    – 3 years at BCG (one promotion);
    – Summer Internship at HSBC.
    Voluntary work: lot of hours, not in meaningful positions.
    Born in Italy, high school in Switzerland and undergraduate degree in the Netherlands.
    Speak fluently four languages.
    Goal: become an entrepreneur, create companies with important social impact internationally (especially regarding climate change).

    Target schools: Wharton, Columbia, INSEAD.

    Thank you,
    Marco

  • DCFinance

    Hi Sandy, I’m starting applications for 2018 matriculation and was hoping you could shed some light on my odds of acceptance to my target schools:

    -26 year old white male
    -780 GMAT (50Q/47V)
    -3.16 GPA in accounting from a liberal arts school. I got horrible grades my first two years as I was doing a Marine Corps officer training program that only mandated I maintain a 2.0. I completed the training but realized the military was not what I wanted to do with my life, had an “oh crap” moment and started taking school seriously, brought my GPA from about a 2.5 to the 3.16 with a major GPA of 3.6.
    -Licensed CPA
    -Started my career in Big 4 audit, received great ratings and will have a solid recommendation from a former mentor there
    -After 2 years of audit, switched to the transaction advisory services group of another firm which is my current job. Doing financial due diligence on middle-market deals ranging from $50 million to $300 million, mainly in the healthcare/biotech space but experience across a variety of industries. The job is a good mix of business operations and finance focus which I will stress in my essays. I’ve been at the current job roughly 14 months and was just promoted to Manager which is two years earlier than normal manager-level promotions. Will receive another great recommendation from my current supervisor.
    -Extracurriculars include Junior Achievement volunteering for the last two years (going to elementary/middle schools and teaching kids about personal finance), national competition-level men’s rugby, and currently trying to get on the board of a local education-focused nonprofit. I know the nonprofit thing might seem like I just tried to add something last minute to throw on the resume but it’s a cause I actually care about and the opportunity just surfaced.
    -Goal is to switch to the other side of the deal table and join a large investment bank, ideally in the healthcare division. I’ve had some great experiences being part of the m&a process through the deals I’ve done in TAS and I think that skillset could transfer well to IB. I also have a great network from working with several banks and PE firms on deals.

    Target schools: Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Yale, Duke

  • A very inspiring article indeed. It describes the ambitions of three individuals with intellect and the drive to do something in life. They are not Ivy-educated, but they still can give the toppers of institutes such as Chicago Booth or Harvard a run for their money. Their GMAT scores are respectively 710, 720 and 760.
    As is the objective of HBSGuru goes, the chances of each of these three candidates are gauged with their qualification, scores and experience being the meters of judgment. And based on the qualifications of each candidate, Sandy Kreisberg does what it seems is a fairly accurate prediction on their fates. Overall, it seemed quite interesting; both the site and the methods employed.

  • Chicago14

    Hi Sandy,

    Was hoping you could evaluate my profile for 2018 admission:

    3.4 Undergrad GPA from large, private, Catholic university (non-target)
    BS in Mathematics, concentration in Financial Math, minor in Finance
    760 GMAT, planning on retaking for a 770 or 780 to offset sub-par GPA
    CFA Level II Candidate

    Undergrad EC: VP for Finance and Fundraising for an university organization that mentored underprivileged high school students through the college application and financial aid process, also volunteered with regional office of HRC (Human Rights Campaign) organizing sponsorship efforts for Annual Gala as well as logistics for other events throughout the year.

    Work Experience: 3-Year Leadership Development Program at a Fortune 100 Insurance company. First rotation was as a strategy consultant in Technology department. Second rotation in Data Analytics as a junior data scientist. Starting my third and last rotation next month as a Risk Analyst in Investments department.

    Work EC: President of LGBT organization at workplace, spearheading diversity & inclusion initiatives; also currently sit on community board of leading local health and social services provider that provide services for the LGBT community (I work specifically with services provided for LGBT homeless youth).

    Short-term Goal: Risk Analyst at a hedge fund
    Long-term Goal: Chief Risk Officer at a quantitative, big data, hedge fund

    25-years old (at matriculation), Filipino (US Citizen), LGBT male.

    Interested in my chances with Booth, Kellogg, Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, Haas, and Stern.

    Thanks in advance!

  • hbsguru

    HBS is sort of a 65-yard field goal kick at this point, and that is assuming a 760 GMAT.
    Too much crap and confusion and tax avoidance (not an HBS adcom favorite legal area, nor is taxes in general, ahem HBS don’t pay no stinking taxes why does anyone else???). And that was first job. I would downplay tax angle on 2nd job as well, alhto that job is something that could pass the sniff test had you 1. gone to HLS, 2. been working for white shoe law firm.

    In your current incarnation, it’s just scheming lawyers and real estate cliches who are seemingly putting up shoddy housing of the type that just incinerated xx people in London.

    To the extent you can make it sound NOT that way, the better.

    Wharton is actually your shot at the gold, they will hold their nose and in truth don’t mind shysters all that much, IF they have a 760 GMAT.

    Make goals sound based on love of real estate and how it can create jobs, house the poor, revive neighborhoods etc and NOT on the predatory I WANT TO BE RICH BS you unwind above, and that was when you were actually trying to say what you they wanted.

    Son, you got a lot to learn about what a pantywaist tea party adcom universe is.

    ” I’ve heard the attorney thing can be a double-edged sword depending on who reads the application . . .”

    more like WHO WRITES THE APPLICATION. BUT YES, DOUBLE EDGED SWORD, BOTH EDGES OF WHICH THEY WILL HAPPILY PLUNGE INTO YOUR FAT, SCHEMING, GREASE-FILLED GUT.

  • hbsguru

    a famous guru adage: Adcoms will sometimes blink once, but almost never twice.
    You got some blinks in here, GPA, GMAT, First Job, and totally nutty goal for this profile.
    You need to fix: GMAT, GOALS!!!! (IB?????????????? is this a prank post??)

    and you need to do as solid and normalizing a job as possible with your work history.

    Get a ~700 GMAT at least, make the most out of how much you LOVE your current normal, mainstream BRAND NAME job, and use that as platform to project goals in smthing like biz devel. for Health Care Big Deal firm, hospital chain, Pharma!!!!! etc. Those are jobs you could prob. get IF you got into schools like Duke, Darden, USC, NYU, and the ones you mention, Tepper, Ross and Loyola.
    This is not a Booth profile, but hey, try one there. They got a very narrow ‘crazy’ backdoor and you are not their kind of crazy. Their kind of crazy is some dude w. 770 GMAT who has low-ish grades, so-so work history but shows signs of finding himself.
    (Haha, that IS you . . .if you had a 770 GMAT)

  • buysidebyu

    Sandy, thank you for assessing my profile. Let’s jump right in:

    White male
    Will be 28 or 29 when I apply
    730 GMAT (will have when I apply)
    3.65 GPA
    Undergraduate degree in economics from Brigham Young University

    CFA charter (will have when I apply)

    4-ish years of work experience (will have when I apply): 2-ish as Investment Analyst and 2-ish as Assistant Portfolio Manager, on the investments team of a firm that manages approximately $9 billion

    Fluent in Portuguese
    2-year LDS mission, with a total of 16 months of leadership experience training and supervising up to 30 fellow missionaries

    Target schools: Chicago, Northwestern, Yale, Dartmouth, Duke, Virginia, Michigan, UCLA, Cornell

    In case you couldn’t tell, I recently finished my undergrad and began working. I am hoping to position myself to apply for a Top 15 MBA program in 4-ish years. Do you have any suggestions on how to position myself or improve my profile? I love candid feedback, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • MBB MENA

    Thanks Sandy! Truly appreciated.

    MBB Dubai, equally selective as any other geography, but geared towards language/cultural fit.

    Quick question, what do you mean by make them “support goals”?

  • Em

    Hi Sandy! Please evaluate my profile- I know its not the best, but no harm in trying right?
    Age: 23, Indian woman
    GMAT: 660

    Education: Bachelors in Health Science with 3.2 GPA and an academic probation. The school is ranked in top 15 for the program I got accepted into. The probation is because I was taking graduate courses as an undergrad, working part-time, and had a death in the family.

    Work: Worked as a Credit Risk Business Analyst at a startup for 1.5 years. Transitioned into a BA role at a top healthcare company (think United Health Group) and this is where I work currently. In total, I have around 2.5 years of experience, but will have 3.5 years by the time I apply for schools. In all my work experience at both companies, I have shown leadership skills by training and overseeing new analysts.

    Organizations/ Skills: I am a Director of Community Involvement (youngest member) at an organization where I oversee volunteers and help in creating the logistics of the event. I also volunteer at the ALA and tutor students (elementary to high school) in math. I also speak 3 languages.

    Recommendation Letters: Director at startup (who is also an alum at Booth), Director at healthcare company, Director at Volunteer organization

    Goal: To use my MBA and career transition into investment banking at boutique firms or venture capital (interest due to working at a startup)

    Schools I’m interested in: Booth (this is what I am really aiming for, will re-take GMAT), Tepper, Ross, and Loyola.
    Please evaluate my profile. I know I’m dreaming with Booth, but that is my dream school.

  • Mr. Johnson

    Hi Sandy, big fan of your posts. Would you mind giving my profile a once-over? I’ll keep this short and sweet:

    Demo. – 30-year old white male.
    GMAT – 760+ (based on practice tests)
    Undergrad – T15 university c/o ’09. 3.3 GPA. Major = History, Minor = bus./accounting.
    Grad – regional law school c/o ’12. 3.3 GPA, admitted to the bar. Served on Exec. Board of student government
    Languages – English (primary), Spanish and French (basic)

    Work
    Job 1 – in-house tax counsel on a major fin. svcs. bankruptcy estate. Provided tax advice on structured finance litigation, helped out with various legal/tax issues as they arose.
    Job 2 (current) – real estate transactional attorney at a Big 4 on the west coast (tax-focus). Transactions are as high-profile/complicated as they come. Manage teams of CPAs/attorneys, help clients structure investments, lots of opportunities to help out and support younger staff.

    Targets – HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan. Also LBS, INSEAD (have a few friends in the field internationally)

    Goals – specialize in real estate (fin. & development) along with some entrepreneurship-focused courses. Work at a top-tier RE firm, eventually strike out on my own. Personal/ professional connections in the industry (US and intl.) are supportive, want to use MBA to round out JD + work experience by adding (a) quant skills, (b) network, and (c) internship opportunities to make this happen.

    Thoughts? I’ve heard the attorney thing can be a double-edged sword depending on who reads the application but a well-developed story can put it in a good light.

  • Carol

    Hi Sandy, as a 30-year old, Hispanic female coming from a non-traditional field, I’ve really enjoyed your videos and your “no BS” attitude.

    Here is my profile. I hope to hear from you soon!

    1) EDUCATION:
    University of Florida (2005-2009); 3.6 GPA
    B.S. in Journalism and Communications. Three Minors: French; Portuguese; Latin American Studies

    New York University (2011-2012); 3.7 GPA
    Master’s in International Education – Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

    Fulbright Scholar (2009 – 2010; Taiwan) – Worked with the Taiwanese Ministry of Education and taught English in local elementary school.

    2) INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE:

    -Born and raised in Guatemala, Central America, until 18 years of age. I’m half Guatemalan/half Cuban and speak 5 languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese). I’ve visited 45 countries (and lived/studied in 6 countries).

    -National Kaohsiung Normal University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2010)
    One-year Mandarin Chinese Program – I graduated top of my class and ranked High Intermediate in language ability after 9 months of study.

    -NYU Global Program in Accra, Ghana (2012)
    Intensive summer study abroad program in “Comparative Perspectives of Education and Diversity”

    -Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland (2008)
    Semester study abroad program in International Journalism and French Business Translation

    -Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007)
    Summer study abroad program in Brazilian Culture and Advanced-Level Portuguese Language

    3) WORK EXPERIENCE :

    -I’m currently the Director of Global Programs at Miami Dade College, the United States’ largest and most diverse higher education institution with over 165,000 students across 8 campuses.

    I’m responsible for development of all study abroad and exchange programs, creation of international/domestic/public/private partnerships and agreements (both with foreign institutions, foreign governments and most recently NGOs and other organizations), grant writing and grant management (in the past year and a half, I’ve won grants from the Obama Administration’s White House, the French Embassy in the U.S., the U.S.-Japan Council, among others), and any other special initiatives.

    In the past year, I’ve won the National Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award for my work on international programs focused on workforce development, and I was also awarded the Diversity Abroad Innovation Award for creating the country’s first study abroad program for homeless students (in partnership with a local NGO). In 2017, I was asked to join a nationwide Task Force on Undocumented/DACAmented Students to create best practices and resources for the higher education community and was recently named a national Diversity Impact Scholar for my work with underrepresented communities.

    -From 2012-2015, I worked with the Institute of International Education (the non-profit agency that has handled the Fulbright program since its inception for the U.S. State Department). In my role, I managed the Foreign Fulbright Program for Western Hemisphere – all of Latin America and Canada – (including grant management and working on MOUs and agreements with certain foreign governments).

    Before my work at IIE, I worked at NYU’s Office of Global Programs while pursuing my M.A. at NYU. I also completed internships at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and Taiwan (focused on international education and cultural diplomacy).

    4) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (I will only mention current engagement):

    -I am the youngest Board member of Global Ties, formerly known as the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), which is a non-profit organization established in 1961 to promote excellence in citizen diplomacy. Our national and international member organizations design and implement professional programs, provide cultural activities, and offer home hospitality opportunities for foreign leaders, specialists, and international scholars participating in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and other exchange programs.

    -After starting the nation’s first study abroad program for homeless students, I reached out to the Miami Dade County Public School System’s Homeless Education Branch to find ways to collaborate at the K-12 level. I’m in discussions with them now to create and integrate Global Curricula into all of their after-school programs (at local schools and homeless shelters).

    5) AWARDS/HONORS (Most recent only)
    -Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award
    -Diversity Abroad Innovation Award
    -Florida Senate Medal of Honor for Service Award
    -Fulbright Scholar
    -Diversity Impact Scholar
    -NYU 21st Century Scholar

    6) GMAT AND TARGET SCHOOLS:

    -Practice Test: 650. I’ll be taking the test in Spring 2018 and applying to schools in Fall 2018 (for a Fall 2019 entry).

    -I will also be taking accounting, statistics or economics in a local university in the next few terms.

    -Target Schools: I’m applying through The Consortium scholarship program, so my options are limited to the 18 partner schools. That said, my top picks are Berkeley, Georgetown, Yale, UT Austin, NYU and Duke.

    7) SHORT-TERM GOALS:

    -I would like to take my experience working with non-profits, government and the education sector and begin a career in public sector consulting. Many of the largest consultancy firms (including Deloitte, McKinsey, BCG and the Advisory Board Group) all have branches focused on educational reform, student success and learning outcomes, and also work with international partners including ministries of education, USAID and the World Bank — I believe my international background (living in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the U.S.), my language skills and my experience in the public sector would help me tremendously. That said, I’ve had informational interviews with consultants who have confirmed that I have strong work/industry knowledge but that an MBA would definitely help me get even more credibility.

  • Carol Reyes

    Hi Sandy! As a 30-year old, Hispanic female coming from a non-traditional field, I’ve really enjoyed watching your videos and love your “no BS” attitude.

    Here is my profile summary. Hope to hear from you!

    1) EDUCATION:
    University of Florida (2005-2009); 3.6 GPA
    B.S. in Journalism and Communications. Three Minors: French; Portuguese; Latin American Studies

    New York University (2011-2012); 3.7 GPA
    Master’s in International Education – Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

    Fulbright Scholar (2009 – 2010; Taiwan) – Worked with the Taiwanese Ministry of Education and taught English in local elementary school.

    2) INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE:

    -Born and raised in Guatemala, Central America, until 18 years of age. I’m half Guatemalan/half Cuban and speak 5 languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese). I’ve visited 45 countries (and lived/studied in 6 countries).

    -National Kaohsiung Normal University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2010)
    One-year Mandarin Chinese Program – I graduated top of my class and ranked High Intermediate in language ability after 9 months of study.

    -NYU Global Program in Accra, Ghana (2012)
    Intensive summer study abroad program in “Comparative Perspectives of Education and Diversity”

    -Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland (2008)
    Semester study abroad program in International Journalism and French Business Translation

    -Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007)
    Summer study abroad program in Brazilian Culture and Advanced-Level Portuguese Language

    3) WORK EXPERIENCE :

    -I’m currently the Director of Global Programs at Miami Dade College, the United States’ largest and most diverse higher education institution with over 165,000 students across 8 campuses.

    I’m responsible for development of all study abroad and exchange programs, creation of international/domestic/public/private partnerships and agreements (both with foreign institutions, foreign governments and most recently NGOs and other organizations), grant writing and grant management (in the past year and a half, I’ve won grants from the Obama Administration’s White House, the French Embassy in the U.S., the U.S.-Japan Council, among others), and any other special initiatives.

    In the past year, I’ve won the National Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award for my work on international programs focused on workforce development, and I was also awarded the Diversity Abroad Innovation Award for creating the country’s first study abroad program for homeless students (in partnership with a local NGO). In 2017, I was asked to join a nationwide Task Force on Undocumented/DACAmented Students to create best practices and resources for the higher education community and was recently named a national Diversity Impact Scholar for my work with underrepresented communities.

    -From 2012-2015, I worked with the Institute of International Education (the non-profit agency that has handled the Fulbright program since its inception for the U.S. State Department). In my role, I managed the Foreign Fulbright Program for Western Hemisphere – all of Latin America and Canada – (including grant management and working on MOUs and agreements with certain foreign governments).

    Before my work at IIE, I worked at NYU’s Office of Global Programs while pursuing my M.A., and I also completed internships at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and Taiwan (focused on international education and cultural diplomacy).

    4) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (I will only mention current engagement):

    -I am the youngest Board member of Global Ties, formerly known as the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), which is a non-profit organization established in 1961 to promote excellence in citizen diplomacy. Our national and international member organizations design and implement professional programs, provide cultural activities, and offer home hospitality opportunities for foreign leaders, specialists, and international scholars participating in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and other exchange programs.

    -After starting the nation’s first study abroad program for homeless students, I reached out to the Miami Dade County Public School System’s Homeless Education Branch to find ways to collaborate at the K-12 level. I’m in discussions with them now to create and integrate Global Curricula into all of their after-school programs (at local schools and homeless shelters).

    5) AWARDS/HONORS (Most recent only)
    -Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award
    -Diversity Abroad Innovation Award
    -Florida Senate Medal of Honor for Service Award
    -Fulbright Scholar
    -Diversity Impact Scholar
    -NYU 21st Century Scholar

    6) GMAT AND TARGET SCHOOLS:

    -GMAT (Practice Test): 650. As I’m sure you can tell from my profile, quantitative is not my forte but I’ll be taking the real test in 8 months after many, many hours of studying and tutoring.

    -I will also be taking accounting, statistics or economics in a local university in the next few terms.

    -Target Schools: I’m applying through The Consortium scholarship program, so my options are limited to the 18 partner schools. That said, my top picks are Berkeley, Georgetown, Yale, UT Austin, NYU and Duke.

    7) SHORT-TERM GOALS:

    -I would like to take my experience working with non-profits, government and the education sector and begin a career in public sector consulting. Many of the largest consultancy firms (including Deloitte, McKinsey, BCG and the Advisory Board Group) all have branches focused on educational reform, student success and learning outcomes, and also work with international partners including ministries of education, USAID and the World Bank — I believe my international background (living in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the U.S.), my language skills and my experience in the public sector would help me tremendously. That said, I’ve had informational interviews with consultants who have confirmed that I have strong work/industry knowledge but that an MBA would definitely help me get even more credibility.

  • Kevin

    Hi Sandy,

    Would love to get your thoughts on my chances.

    GMAT: 730 (48Q 41V)

    GPA: 3.96 In Economics & Marketing (Two degrees)
    School: Relatively Unknown State School
    Honors: Honors College, Magna Cum Laude, Fellowship, Student of the Year

    Nationality: 23 Year-Old White Male

    Work Experience: Senior Portfolio Advisor for Private Wealth Group – Been promoted twice in first two years. CFP certified.

    Extras: 3-year captain for university lacrosse team. Significant work with a home for underprivileged and troubled youth. Coach a youth sports team in the area.

    Goals: Go into consulting or investment banking and eventually make a jump to private equity.

    Targets: Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Booth, Ross, Mendoza

  • hbsguru

    well said, Mr Easy.
    Peru female is a plus, if not already, become a US Citizen.
    The sad but true advice is get a selective job and get that 730 GMAT–nothing else really counts in comparison to those metrics, even tho adcoms will try to suggest that they look at millions of things.

  • hbsguru

    I’m sticking w. Silver analysis as far as it goes, Mr Silver was ALL silver — you are Hispanic and have 750 GMAT–that combo is quite a chunk of gold.
    As to mid-tier PE, well, as always, how many applicants per year does your firm send to your target schools, altho my guess is, you could do better than that given the Hispanic/750 and 3.65 triplets.
    Another issue on your story is where first job was at, and what this means, exactly

    Work: Restructuring consulting internship, full-time offer, promoted
    within the first year, and left to work at a mid-market Private Equity
    shop.

    Not sure I visualize what a restructuring consulting internhip means?? Anyway that was an odd gig for an Hispanic 3.67 coming out Columbia U.

    All that said, this profile is heavy on the gold plate, so you do have a chance at your targets.

  • Parul Garg

    A 26 year old Indian female CPA’s (with experience at McKinsey and Bain Capital) chances of getting into Harvard, Wharton, Stanford
    Educational qualification:
    I am a Chartered Accountant (CA) from India (equivalent of CPA from US). Qualified in Jan 2014. I did very well on my final exams and was All India Rank 32. I have completed upto CFA Level II and appeared for the CFA Level III exam recently (should have the result by August 2017).
    My undergraduate degree was in Bachelors of Commerce with the University of Mumbai (scored among top 5% of the University).

    GMAT score: 720
    Work experience: (Almost 3 years work experience post qualification as a CA and 2 years post under-graduation)
    Before qualification as a CA I worked with Deloitte in the Audit and Assurance division for 2 years (audited several Indian listed companies). In my second year at Deloitte I was promoted from Associate to Senior Associate.

    After this I worked for 1 year 8 months with McKinsey and Co as a Business Analyst in their India office (from July 2014 to March 2016). I worked on a range of strategy and implementation projects in the IT, financial services and mining industries. I did well at McKinsey and got a Track Plus rating (4/5). (Only 1 person of the entire class usually gets a 5/5 rating).

    After McKinsey, I was hired by Bain Capital, Mumbai office for whom I worked for 9 months as an Associate (from June 2016 to Feb 2017). I worked on developing a theme for the fund around a new industry in the IT and real estate sector and evaluated 10+ assets across Asia under this theme. Almost closed a $100Mn deal before leaving the fund.

    I left Bain Capital as I fell sick and couldn’t work PE hours anymore. I have now been cleared health wise and want to start working again. I am looking for jobs in Operations and Strategy or positions as EA to the CEO of large industries. I believe something should work out by July/ August 2017. I want to make a switch to industry as I believe that I want to make a tangible contribution wherein I am eventually responsible for owning the P&L of a business and delivering on business objectives vs the long and frustrating investment process which can sometimes feel more intellectual than real.

    International experience:
    While at McKinsey: Worked with German leadership on a 2 months long strategy project for an Indian stock exchange
    Training at Hanoi, Vietnam, for 1 week with Business Analysts across Asia and Australia

    While at Bain Capital: 1 week training in Boston with Associates from all around the world

    Languages:
    English (first language and educated in English), Hindi and currently learning Mandarin

    Goals:
    To head a profit center within a large non banking financial services organisation to provide credible investment options for the lower and middle class population in India

    Would be great if you can help provide some insights into whether it makes sense for me to invest any energy in applying to Harvard, Wharton and Stanford!
    Looking forward to hearing back from you!

  • Easy

    This one is easy. Crush the GMAT and work for MBB (you said consulting). Don’t work for Big 4.

  • Sandeep Somisetty

    Hi Sandy,
    Can you evaluate my chances at Kellogg 1Y, Stanford MBA/MS in E-IPER and MIT LGO

    GRE: VR: 160; QR: 170 (Equivalent to 750 GMAT as per ETS) – if necessary, can take GMAT as well
    LSAT : 95th percentile: Have admits from a couple of Top 15 law schools
    Indian Male, 30 years at matriculation, Engineer from top 12 school (top 20% of class) and PGDM from top 4 school (exchange semester at AIT, Thailand) and top 30% in class
    Certified Financial Risk Manager; CFA Level II candidate
    Several single and double digit country ranks at aptitude exams and management entrance exams in India
    Internships during Under-grad and grad at Siemens, BMW and nuclear and thermal power plants
    Total work ex of 6 years (7 at matriculation)
    3.5 years – Working at a very large Indian power company: started off with Project Finance working with US Exim on a 600Mn USD deal – helped close financing documents and obtain first disbursement.
    Moved to Regulatory and policy advocacy role: Worked with industry associations to push for reforms in energy sector in India – responsible for many new policy reforms (as part of groups)
    Filed multiple petitions in courts and helped company win lawsuits worth ~20Bn USD.
    0.5 year – Assisted the chairman of another large power company in regulatory and policy related works
    Last 2 years – co-founded a renewable energy company (consulting and project management work) now backed by PE and traditional lenders; team of about 50 now with experience of reviving stranded hydro projects and setting up many rooftop solar projects.
    Goal: Plan A: grow network to join a start up or directly start a renewable energy company; Plan B: move to a top consult in energy practice in US; Plan C: work with a large power/energy company (not sure if that is possible as an international). Second MBA to expand network and reach out to entrepreneurs.
    Extra-currics – Lots of teaching to underprivileged students, set up infra for villagers through our company (not as CSR), set up blood donation camps, many Club president etc work at college and grad school; debating, editorial board,scuba diving and quizzing.
    Other factors: From a poor background, can speak four Indian languages fluently, overcame alienation as a child.
    LOR: Should manage to get good ones from my past employers.
    Thanks,

  • Amoe

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for your time; I really appreciate it. I am ready for and NEED your no BS reply.

    Age: 25 (applying Fall 2018 or Fall 2019, Caucasian Male)
    GMAT #1: 680 (Q47 V35)
    GMAT #2: 710 (Q49 V36) –> I know… lower than most schools’ averages. You’ll notice I was able to increase my GMAT 30 points from my first attempt. The highest CAT I received was a 720 during my studies, not sure how much more upside I have in me. I, too, wish it was a 730 instead of a 710!

    GPA: 3.8 in Finance; I went to a small private school (think Davidson)

    Experience:
    – I currently have 2 years of experience in Big Pharma (think J&J) as a financial analyst. By the time I apply, I will have 3-4 years of experience and most likely three different roles within my company. I spent my first year in the corporate office supporting our largest therapeutic area. After my first year, a dynamic role opened up at an Affiliate in the Northeast that I happily accepted. I am the first analyst (guinea pig) to have started at the corporate office and to have moved to an Affiliate for a role.

    Extracurricular:
    – I played Division I college tennis and was the team captain for 3 seasons
    – I currently am a Division I Volunteer Assistant Coach at a reputable university in the Northeast
    – I founded ECP (Early Career Professionals Network) at the Affiliate I am currently working at. This has been a huge hit at the site as early career professional engagement is at an all-time high and we are experiencing less turnover as a result. Also, this is a way for our site to be proactive in our company’s Diversity and Inclusion goals.
    – I volunteer regularly in the community and have combined the new ECP Network to large Non-Profit events in which case the ECPs are volunteering and representing the company’s brand well in the community.

    Post MBA Goals: I have a passion for leading others; someday, I would like to lead thousands of people. I would love to be the CEO or CFO of a Fortunate 500 company, maybe even at my current company.

    Other Information: My company has an MBA sponsorship program in which case they will pay full-tuition for a select few financial analysts every year to go back to school full-time (which will hopefully be me). Because of this, we have had many people at the company get their MBA from the schools listed below that I have worked for/with. For example, my first boss, who I am very close to, was an HBS grad. That said, I will have very strong recommendation letters to many of the schools below with people I have worked closely with.

    Target Schools: HBS, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Fuqua

    Thank you for your time!

    Future B-school Applicant

  • Jared

    Hi Sandy,

    I sent you my profile via email a little while ago, and was hoping to follow up here:

    I have a bit of a unique situation I was hoping you could offer an opinion on: I have a big black mark on my application (GPA), and I’d love to get your thoughts on whether my ship is sunk.

    Career Goals

    Short term career goal: Transition from consulting in construction operations to infrastructure project finance advisory at a bulge bracket investment bank.
    Long term career goal: Move after 3-5 years to infrastructure PE or project finance direct investment.

    Stats:

    -28 Year old white male in NYC

    -GPA: 2.97 in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University (low-mid tier ranked school), also gained a minor in Aerospace Engineering.

    -GPA started around 3.6, then dipped through Soph/Junior year, then came back up but only to about 3.1 or so.

    -Honestly, Low GPA was mostly Bs/Cs in heavy quant engineering courses. Received 2 Ds, but retook both these classes while still in school to replace GPA impacting score. Also, I have quite a few As in many other heavy quant courses. Because I tested out of most of my humanities requirements, I only took 3 non-quantitative courses throughout the 4 years at Lehigh.

    GMAT: 770 (51Q-97%/44V – 98%) IR:8 AWA:5

    Currently taking (and ace-ing) two UC – Berkeley Extension classes: Math for Management and Economics for Business.

    Work Experience:

    -2 Years as a construction engineer/superintendent for major US General Contractor/Construction Manager – Directly managed 30 union labor. Promoted once. Left to take a consulting job.

    -1 year at a small specialty construction consultant specializing in disputes. Left to jump to Big 4 Advisory.

    -(Current) 3 years in Big 4 Construction Advisory. Promoted once.

    Extracurriculars:

    -Currently work part-time as a tutor for a start-up test prep company. Recently began working with the company management team to develop new business and make strategic partnerships with schools in area. Spend about 50% of time tutoring HS and College admissions tests pro-bono to disadvantaged students. Have led and organized a few classes.

    -Taking Mandarin Chinese (paid classes,) – I have been pursuing this because more and more of the funding for infrastructure and project finance has been coming from mainland China.

    Schools:

    I tried to organize these in order of my shot at admission.

    Pie-in-Sky (zero expectation, just want to take a shot):
    HBS
    Reach:

    Wharton*
    Booth
    MIT
    Columbia (ED)*
    Yale
    Target:
    NYU*
    UVA
    Michigan Ross

    Safety:
    UCLA
    Duke
    Cornell
    All feedback is much appreciated (as are any suggested schools).

    Thanks!

  • hbsguru

    thanks, what about the more general point, that it is very hard for civilians and esp. adcom members (who are often female and do not have military exp. ) to “judge” a military career in terms of deployments, assignments, and any other earmarks that might signal exceptional performance to military insiders but are lost on the general population.
    THAT thesis undergirds my often stated comment that because adcoms cannot really make some refined judgment on a military career, for better or worse,
    GMAT and GPA then counts a lot. Esp. if adcom is trying to look over X military applications and admit ~20-30 percent of them, e.g. what happens my guess at HBS, Stanford and Wharton.

  • XTOL

    I’m Active Duty, and I’m 99% certain that you cannot be promoted ahead of schedule (or in military parlance “Below the Zone”) to O3 (Lieutenant for Navy, Captain for everybody else). I suppose it is possible to be Below the Zone selected for Major and decide instead to get out and go to B School, but that would put you solidly at 32-34 years old, meaning you would matriculate at age 33-35. The only exception would be unless you started college at West Point or ROTC a year early at 17, were a top performer every step of the way, and your various career timelines just happened to sync up perfectly so as to put you in position to rapidly get the assignments you need to progress your career.

  • mba-applicant-72

    Hey Sandy,

    Going to give this a shot, would really welcome your thoughts on my application, especially because I did not believe that middle market PE was such a “silver” mark:

    GPA: 3.65
    Major:Economics
    Undergrad school: Columbia
    GMAT: 750
    Race and Gender: Hispanic Male
    Work: Restructuring consulting internship, full-time offer, promoted within the first year, and left to work at a mid-market Private Equity shop.
    Targets: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, UChicago

  • Ms.ThinkingAhead

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I really want to get some advice on what steps I should take to turn my “silver” profile into a “gold” profile. I’m currently a senior in college and I still have a couple of years before I apply to an MBA program. Here are my stats:

    GPA: 3.8
    Major: Double major in Business Administration and Accounting
    School: USC
    Work/Internship: multiple years at a Big 4 in Financial Services audit, but looking to transition to consulting with a focus on financial services
    Background: I’m a 20 year old Peruvian Female, but I’ve lived in the U.S. most of my life
    Extracurriculars: I do a lot of community service in the LA area and I’m also highly involved at school

    I’ll be aiming for a GMAT score above 730 (I still have 2 years until I take it, but I’ve started studying). What advice can you give me that will help me plan for my future and make me a more well-rounded applicant? I know it’s unconventional to have an undergrad ask this question when there are so many things that can happen between the time I apply and now, but I’d really appreciate some tips while I still have time to make changes.

    Thank you!

  • Boston44

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate your feedback on my profile.

    Background: 26/M/White/USA
    Undergrad: 3.6 GPA (UMass-Amherst), Marketing.
    GMAT: 760 (49Q, 46V, 8 IR, 6 AWA)

    Work Experience: 3 years for a small medical software company. I was the third full time employee hired, and my roles have been diverse (most recently in product management). It’s been great experience helping to grow this small company, with direct access to the CEO (also an MBA, who will be writing one of my recs).

    Extras: volunteering with Junior Achievement to teach financial skills to high school students, served as President of a 70-man college fraternity, and have had years of volunteer experience with people with disabilities.

    Goals: Product management and strategy for a F500 company working in the medical space. Specifically, developing technology to improve quality of care and benefit patients in under-served areas.

    My question is: how do I leverage the startup/small company experience against competition coming from bigger, feeder companies? Can I overcome that environment, and if not, how high can I aim on my target school list?

    Current targets: Tuck, Fuqua, Kellogg, Kenan-Flagler, Sloan

  • hbsguru

    well, you could be in the higher part of MBB bucket (which is a good place to be!) based OK stats and what seems like “high” performance–your word– at MBB in Dubai (is that a selective placement or did you synch there b.c. of language and cultural fit?). Current ECs:
    Strategy adviser to Humanitarian NGO providing counseling to peace
    workers, 40 hours (over 2 years) volunteering at center for children
    with disabilities–SOUNDS good, but you need to sound engaged in the NGO, this is a case where “strategy advisor” sounds like some MBB guff given once a year for everyone to feel good.

    If you can get the max out of each of your pluses –MBB, EC, Arab-American–and make them support goals, that and a 3.7/730 could do it at most places, including your targets HSW and Chi.

  • hbsguru

    HSW LOVE AMZN!!!!
    (and HBS adcoms all shop at Whole Foods).
    So that is good. Being female should help since your Mfg, operations and supply chain background is usually a guy thing.
    You might charm your way into Stanford given that entire story is tight and good and they love AMZN, if someone at the company with Stanford connections can really back you in recs, that could help, but that is rare.
    Odds there are 20-25 pct. HBS takes lots of kids like you, odd there are 40 pct.
    You should get into Haas if you can convince them you want to come.

  • hbsguru

    THANKS, that is the gist of it. My guess is you also get some cred for combat engagements and accelerated promotions (isn’t that rare in most instances?).
    Any current military or vets out there who want to refine this analysis, please do.

  • MBB MENA

    Hi Sandy,

    Hoping you could evaluate my profile for 2018 admission

    3.7 Undergrad GPA from Top Public US university (e.g. UT Austin, UNC, etc.)
    BS in Economics with Special Honors (one of 10 graduates recognized in Econ graduation)
    730 GMAT
    Undergrad internships at: Apple (Finance), Goldman Sachs (operations), Yahoo! (Strategy)
    Undergrad EC: VP of Model UN Club, Social Chair of Fraternity, Numerous Prestigious student boards

    Work experience: 2.5 yrs MBB Dubai (focus on real estate, economic development), with high performance ratings and recommendation from HBS grads)
    Post- undergrad EC: Strategy adviser to Humanitarian NGO providing counseling to peace workers, 40 hours (over 2 years) volunteering at center for children with disabilities

    Short term goal: Return to MBB
    Long term goal: Run MENA focused Start-up fund/investment organization (either from US or in MENA)

    24 at Matriculation, Male, Arab-American (US + Arab-African Passport)

    Interested in chances at HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Uchicago

  • Santiago

    Don’t let this article or anyone stop you from applying. I am a 690 GMAT, 3.5 GPA who got into a “Gold” school.

    It’s all about what makes you special and what you bring to the class… yes, lots of CPAs, consultants, etc. But use your application to show your best attributes. At the end it is more about the future, have them believe in you and what you can accomplished once you graduate.

    Happy to help you tailor your application snieto2104@gmail.com

  • Wonkyu Lee

    Hello sir,
    I was hoping if you give me any advice on my chances at a shot at a US business school.
    Any help at all would be immensely helpful to an international applicant like me who has a
    unorthodox background.
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Republic of Korea, 25 year old male.
    GMAT: 780
    Undergrad: From top tier school in Korea
    GPA: 3.5/ Major: Economics
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    Work Experience:
    Army officer in the Korean Military (2 years)
    1. Currently working as a assistant war planner(operation planner) in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Work with United States Military Planners and intelligence agencies to create nation level war plans(operation plans) against north Korea .
    2. Interpreter/Aide de Camp to the Chief Director of Military Operations (3star general) – Interpreted all General level meeting between my general and US generals during north Korean missile launches and nuclear tests. This role was simultaneously done with my job as a planner.
    3. Company Commander at officer candidate school(i.e boot camp)
    ——————————————————————————————————————————
    Internship Experience:
    1. Goldman Sachs FX & Derivatives Operations Summer Internship – carried out various projects to improve the operations software systems as a team with interns from all over the world
    2. UBS Equity Sales and Trading
    3. Medium size tech firm where I was given the project of coming up with a creative product that could be made with the firm’s new patented material
    *Total Internship experience adds up to about a year
    ———————————————————————————————————————————
    Extracurricular
    1. Helped organize major Korea-US Alliance events (banquets and dinners with ambassadors, CEOs, generals, politicians, etc) at a charity foundation dedicated to improving the friendship between the US and Korea.
    2. Participated in alma mater’s management consulting club after working hours for 1year. Was president of consulting club for 1 semester.
    3. Captain of college basketball team while at college and won multiple national tournaments.
    4. CFA level1, in the process of getting my US CPA
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    Goal: Transition to management consulting. Fell in love with being a strategist, being the brain for an organization after planning multiple military campaigns and operations. Thus started participating in consulting club and learning accounting to be able to solve consulting case problems.

    Super ambitious goal: I envision a unification of south and north korea someday. When that days comes I want to be one of the strategists to spearhead the efforts to develops businesses in the new Korea. In order to do so I want to learn from the best and work where the best firms are located which I believe is the US.
    Recommendations: Korea 4 star general, US Colonel and potentially a US 3 star general
    —————————————————————————————————————————-
    Target: M7
    Curious as to what my chances are!

    Thank you so much!
    Have a pleasant day 🙂

  • XTOL

    Sandy addresses this in the 2nd profile in this article, but basically…

    GOLD = Pilot or Special Operations (i.e. Special Forces, Seals, Rangers, etc…)

    Just guessing here, but everything else isn’t necessarily Silver or Bronze, but it really depends on how you explain it because it seems like an average Admissions Officer probably won’t meaningfully understand the relative prestige or responsibility of other military jobs. Hence why Sandy has often referred to the fact that adcoms often refer back to stats when it comes to mil applicants.

  • Chicago14

    Hi Sandy,

    Was hoping you could evaluate my profile for 2018 admission:

    3.4 Undergrad GPA from large, private, Catholic university (non-target)
    BS in Mathematics, concentration in Financial Math, minor in Finance
    760 GMAT, planning on retaking for a 770 or 780 to offset sub-par GPA
    CFA Level II Candidate

    Undergrad EC: VP for Finance and Fundraising for an university organization that mentored underprivileged high school students through the college application and financial aid process, also volunteered with regional office of HRC (Human Rights Campaign) organizing sponsorship efforts for Annual Gala as well as logistics for other events throughout the year.

    Work Experience: 3-Year Leadership Development Program at a Fortune 100 Insurance company. First rotation was as a strategy consultant in Technology department. Second rotation in Data Analytics as a junior data scientist. Starting my third and last rotation next month as a Risk Analyst in Investments department.

    Work EC: President of LGBT organization at workplace, spearheading diversity & inclusion initiatives; also currently sit on community board of leading local health and social services provider that provide services for the LGBT community (I work specifically with services provided for LGBT homeless youth).

    Short-term Goal: Risk Analyst at a hedge fund
    Long-term Goal: Chief Risk Officer at a quantitative, big data, hedge fund

    25-years old (at matriculation), Filipino (US Citizen), LGBT male.

    Interested in my chances with Booth, Kellogg, Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, Haas, and Stern.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Kevin

    Hello Mr. Kreisberg,

    – GPA 3.97/4.0 with two degrees in Economics and Marketing from a relatively unknown state school. Graduated magna cum laude, and from the honors program for both degrees.

    – Member of an elite leadership development program at the university (most selective fellowship at the university). Selects about seven students per graduating class across the university’s colleges (school is about 12,000 students)

    – GMAT expected 730 (Q:48 V:41)

    – 23 year old White American Male

    – I was a three year captain and all-conference selection for college lacrosse team

    – I’ve done significant community service with a home for troubled and orphaned youth. I helped establish an entire program with Google at the home’s school. Also worked with a team to put together a full succession plan for the organization after the director retires. Also volunteer as a coach for local youth sports program.

    – Currently working as a Senior Portfolio Advisor (Financial Advisor) for a Private Wealth Management group at a major bulge bracket firm (Think UBS, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, etc). Personally responsible for the management of about $300 million of funds. I am the youngest Sr. portfolio advisor in the region and the youngest ever in my office. I was promoted twice in my first year to portfolio advisor and then senior portfolio advisor. I will finish my CFP this year as well before MBA apps.

    – I’m looking to make a jump to investment banking after MBA with hopes of eventually getting into private equity.

    I really have no idea if my GPA and program will outweigh the school I went to. And I don’t think Private Wealth is a primary target for recruitment.

    I came from a very low income family, so I can spin a pretty good story to defend my undergrad choice, given the opportunity.

    I’m looking at a wide range of schools because I don’t know how my CV weighs against my GMAT. The schools include Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Ross, Fuqua, and Mendoza.

    I would really appreciate any insight you can offer. Thanks!

  • navyfinance

    Sandy,

    In terms of military experience, what qualifies as Bronze, Silver, Gold? Or does military experience just fall into the gold category you always talk about? I just don’t see how any US military experience could fall into the same category as an accountant at a Big 4 (silver). Or is it more about how you communicate your experience that lets the adcom know exactly what you did and why it was important? Or any general advice for military applicants.

    Thanks.

  • Ramya

    Thanks for the feedback. I still am working with the same company (Amazon) and I’m in the early stages of decision making process. Btw, I’m 27, Indian, female. What are the odds of getting into HBS/Stanford/Haas? Do you suggest that I improve/add anything different to my profile? Thanks again for your feedback 🙂

  • hbsguru

    this is solid as far as it goes. To wit, you are guy w. a 730 and 3.56 fr. state U.
    A good deal of your B school application success will depend on what happened after that in the FIVE years you worked, as per this statement by you:
    —-
    Worked for 5 years with 3 promotions. Currently, I lead a team of 3 in
    top3 tech industry in a mid senior level. Selected and was a part of
    Leadership development program. Mfg, operations and supply chain
    background.
    _____
    is that one company? The company name and what Adcoms think of it could make a big diff.
    DOES THAT COMPANY HAVE A HISTORY OF SENDING APPLICANTS LIKE YOU TO B SCHOOL? PLEASE LET US KNOW, REAL IMPT.
    If you were describing companies like Google, MSFT, Intel, Apple, PayPal or any other trendy and well known and selective old or new economy tech company, well, I’d say you are in-line at places like HBS/WHARTON but in a very crowded cohort of guys very similar to you, so execution and company name actually counts a lot. Not seeing this at Stanford, nothing breaking you out of the back, they will take guys like you w. better schooling, 750+ GMATs, 3.8 GPA and who works for Apple etc. and also has extras in helping victims or IS a victim (we cannot all be so lucky).
    Your extras are better than average and can provide a halo –but they are not going to break down any doors if you are in wrong level of your bucket at H, W etc.
    In cases like this, execution counts more than average, they are just looking for reasons to thin out the bucket. Dumb or annoying app, odd or out of it LORs, etc. Say good-night.

  • hbsguru

    OK, you did that while I was writing, see comment under your post. SK

  • hbsguru

    hey RAMYA and all others, there is a new version of handicapping just published today on PQ homepage, if you post comments there I will answer them. This thread has lots of golden information but it was published a while ago (info still valid, we just keep posting new profiles and new comments every 2 weeks or so.

  • Ramya

    Hi, can you please evaluate my profile? GMAT 730. GPA 3.56 from a state university. Worked for 5 years with 3 promotions. Currently, I lead a team of 3 in top3 tech industry in a mid senior level. Selected and was a part of Leadership development program. Mfg, operations and supply chain background. Extra curricular actives include stem education supporter, first robotics tutor, community involvement thru teaching and mentoring young girls in india who are less fortunate to afford education.
    Goal to get an MBA is to enhance my leadership skills and grow into a senior level position in tech industry.