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.

  • Galgo2020

    Hi Sandy

    Here’s my stats
    GMAT 710 Q48, V40
    Undergrad: Top 5 US colleges, biomedical engineering
    Asian, Singapore, Female
    10 years WE in government, Singapore
    Overseas assignment in US for 3 years, currently managing team of 4
    Volunteering weekly, alumni executive committee
    Target: Tuck, NYU, MIT Sloan Fellows, HBS (stretch). Dinged by CBS

    Appreciate any advice!

    Galgo2020

  • Shruti Sharma

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I’d really appreciate your help in evaluating my profile.

    Demographic: Indian female, 24 years old.
    GMAT: 710 (Q47, V40, IR7)
    Undergrad major: Economics
    GPA: 3.49
    3 years work exp as a human capital consultant in a leading consultancy with 2 promotions in a span of three years
    Community involvement teaching underprivileged children during undergrad and currently mentor to an underprivileged child in a mentoring program similar to the Big Brother- Big Sister program

    Gap in employment of about 4 months from April – Sept this year but kept self busy through the mentoring program

    Great extra-curriculars throughout undergrad and was a state level athlete in school

    Short term goal: transition to leadership and development consulting and work in a Big4 consultancy
    Long term goal: Head the HR practice of a Fortune 500 organization

    Interested in the following schools: Fuqua, Ross, USC, Cornell

  • apoena

    Hi John & Sandy,

    I am really confused about my chances, could you help me?

    I’m a 30yo Brazilian, graduated from the best business school in the country, but with a GPA-equivalent of 6,5 on a 10-point scale, with 7 years of work experience, with Mckinsey, Procter & Gamble (internship), the two largest companies in my country and an internet venture I started on my CV. It has been 5 years since I got into the largest company in the country and my responsabilities and roles have been growing consistently and I currently plan and control finances and schedule for a portfolio of Oil & Gas projects of over US$300 MM.

    My problem is I just got a 730 GMAT, but here’s the thing, the split is horrible, Q44 V45.

    I learned English by myself, without having ever lived in an English speaking country, so I’ll try to play these things to increase the appeal of my V-score (99th percentile agains lots of natives!), but would my Q-score be a deal breaker in top schools? My targets are HBS, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia and Kellogg.

    Should I retake the GMAT? My last official GMAC practice exam before the real exam was a 760 Q50 V44!

  • niketsubhedar@gmail.com

    Hi Sandy, id really appreciate some insight from you.

    Demographics: 25 yo Indian-American male

    Experience: 3 years in a leadership rotational program at a top 5 global pharmaceutical company. 3 jobs: Pharma sales rep, analytics/insights project manager, and a R&D portfolio manager.

    Education: 3.36 from top 100 private university; health management, premed, and business admin (nervous this will be low even though I had a 3.9 over my final 2 years)

    Gmat: 690 trying to retake till 700+

    Volunteering/extras: I worked with the boys & girls club for 2 years, started a young leaders club at my company, tennis player who’s been ranked nationally at one point

    Goal: to return to my current company and work to being at a VP or even executive team level or using my varied background to work in healthcare consulting and help reduce complexities in health care system

    Schools:

    Wharton
    Kellogg
    Duke
    UNC
    Emory
    Boston University
    Indiana
    USC
    Michigan

    Thanks!

  • irabelo

    Hello, Sandy,

    Thanks a lot for the time and work put into this, the whole series is extremely informative. I’d really appreciate if you could evaluate my profile, as follows:

    Demografic: 29 year old male, from Brazil

    Education: Economics degree (4-year program) at a very good school, with 85/100 average grade (might translate to a 3.3 – 3.4 GPA)

    Experience: 7 years at Brazil’s 2 largest management consulting firms (5 years as a partner)

    GMAT: 740

    Extracurricular: teaching assistant at college and participation in a few charity fundraisers/community work

    Goal: industry change

    Targets: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Haas

    Thanks again!

  • wps_mba

    Hello,

    Many thanks for the insight you are providing. I stumbled upon this series today and have enjoyed reading through the various profile reviews, and was hoping I might be able to have my own profile evaluated.

    Demographics: 25-year-old white male

    GMAT: 740 (one attempt, four years ago for MAcc admission; 44V/48Q)

    Education:
    4.00 GPA, BSBA and Master’s of Accountancy from the University of Arkansas
    Minors in Information Systems and ERP

    Extracurriculars:
    Track and Field All-American, part of a team National Championship, team captain senior year

    Work/Professional experience:
    Two years in Accounting Development program at a large, independent E&P company (current job)
    Internships with Wal-Mart and ExxonMobil while in school
    3/4 CPA sections passed (plan to finish this year)

    Volunteer Work (post-grad):
    Guide to visually impaired athletes as part of a local, non-profit in Houston
    United Way Community Investment Team member (make recommendations for allocation of funds)

    Post MBA Goal: Sports Management or Tech

    Target Schools: Stanford, Wharton, Berkeley, Duke

  • 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,
    Sandeep

  • breakingsilver

    Hey Sandy, hoping for some guidance around odds and application focal points here. Thanks in advance!

    Demographic: 26 year old Asian Canadian (27 at matriculation)
    GMAT: 760
    Education: 3.7 from top Canadian business undergrad. CFA charterholder
    Extracurriculars: captain of intramural volleyball team, mid-level leadership on a few school social clubs

    Work Experience:
    • 2 years investment banking at “Canadian big 5”. Top of analyst class, high client exposure, led financial analysis on several multi-billion dollar deals
    • 1.5 years Director-level position at high-growth tech firm. Built (from scratch) and led 25-person Customer Success team to support new SaaS product launch. Direct report to CEOs (H/S/W grads). Also worked on general FP&A, a debt restructuring, and several board presentations because of banking background

    Post-MBA goals: Ideally entrepreneurship at first, transition to VC/PE later on in career. In the 10 years after graduation, I would like to (in whatever order they may come)…
    • Run a company (either found one, or acquire via search fund model; industry-agnostic)
    • Join a big name VC/PE (tech-focused group)
    • Take on partner-level role in smaller VC/PE shop

    Target schools: H/S/W, maybe M7 depending on my odds

  • catherine

    Hi Sandy,

    I would really appreciate if you could assess my admissions odds!
    Demographic: 25 y/o white female, American (lived in London for 5 years when younger)
    GMAT: 710 (took 3x) V- 42 Q- 44 IR- 8 AWA- 6
    Academic: 3.8 GPA from University of Southern California – double major in International Relations & Communication
    UG Extracurriculars: Leadership position in sorority, teaching gov. classes at local high school
    Work Experience: 3 years (at time of applying) at Accenture (promoted 2x, now a management consultant), working primarily with tech clients in our internet & social group in SF, experience working with retail client as well.
    Extracurriculars: mentoring (resume review, interview prep) for KIPP, coach for internal case competition, adoption events at local dog rescue

    Goal: Brand Management at Retail Company (think: L’Oreal, LMVH). I am interested in how the retail industry is currently changing/being disrupted and how I can use both technology & marketing to keep and attract customers.

    Target Schools – applying R1: Kellogg, Anderson, Stern, Fuqua, Ross

    Thanks again!

  • Leif Reinert

    Hi Sandy,

    This series has been really informative, thanks for all you’re doing here. Below is my profile, a quick evaluation would be much appreciated.

    Demographic: 25 year old white male. Grew up in the southeast.

    Experience: 3.25 years (at matriculation) as a Computer Hardware Engineer at IBM in Austin, TX. Would be attending school on Educational Leave of Absence.

    Education: 3.55 GPA, Dual degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering from NC State University. Minor in German Studies.

    GMAT: 730

    Volunteering:
    – 2 years as project lead of an Engineers without Borders Project, bringing solar power to a rural community in Sierra Leone, West Africa
    – Math and science classroom tutoring at a local school in Austin, Texas

    Goal:
    – Product Management in big tech
    – Long term entrepreneurial interest

    Target Schools:
    MIT Sloan, Stanford GSB, NYU Stern, Berkeley Haas

  • hbsguru

    thanks, strat and biz development is the RIGHT thing to do a big retail biz, so another positive.

  • hbsguru

    Grrrrr, I could live with the “short-er” experience, esp. if it adds up to ~3 years at matriculation, that is OK.
    My real concern is the actual consulting firm you work for, there is no such well established shorthand as ” top 4 consulting firm in financial advisory services- all time spent advising a large bank . . . .” There is a short-hand called MBB or top 3 strat consulting firms (both mean, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG) and there used to be a shorthand called “Big 4” which meant Big 4 accounting/consulting firms –just Google “Big 4” and this**** will come up (see note/quote at the end of this post).
    For purpose of this analysis, I am assuming you work for Big 4 firm-Deloitte, PWC, EY, or KMPG (apologies if that is somehow now the Big 3, etc, it used to be the Big 8 and keeps chaning, see the Wiki entry under Big 4)

    As often noted, at HBS and Stan, Big 4 is very often used as a source of URM admits and Global (non-USA) admits since getting Big 4 job in Europe and Asia is more selective than getting Big 4 job in USA, which is usually considered less selective than MBB job (Big 3 strat consulting).

    Blah, blah blah. IN your case, given really solid stats [3.9/760) places like MIT and Kellogg might admit you right now, just because they love big stats and, well, end of story. At HBS and Stan you will be in very competitive pool of ‘consultants’ where they may hold BIG4 background against you vs other kids w. ~stats and work history at MBB doing more interesting (on paper!) things.

    Fact you have only worked for one client is a potential zit on an otherwise lovely profile. It means firm is using you in quick, money-making role and screw your professional development, etc. Not saying that is happening but it could be an inference. Another reason you may get dinged at H and S. Plus, I am not seeing this as S to begin with, no X factor involving save the whales, overcoming illiterate and abusive parents, etc.

    All that said, apply to all four if you want to and have the starch, getting dinged won’t be held against you but it would be a wake-up call to get a more selective job and reapply in two years.

    For this application round, try to think bigger than middle management roles you seem fixated on as LT goal.

    As to extras: “started a book club at my apartment . . . .”
    Ha, ha, enchanting, and the sort of club adcoms might actually belong to in real life, and they will hold it against you. They don’t want to admit them, they already know who they are all too well.

    OK, I’ll walk that back a half step. That is pssbly charming extra at the end of a longer list of extras impacting OTHER people [not you and bookish friends].

    You dont seem to present that — so it appears naive to present it on a very short list of things which are not high score makers in this game.

    *****

    The Big Four firms are shown below, with their latest publicly available data.

    Firm
    Revenues
    Employees
    Revenue per employee
    Fiscal year
    Headquarters
    Source

    Deloitte
    $36.8 bn
    244,400
    $150,573
    2016
    United Kingdom
    [2]

    PricewaterhouseCoopers
    $35.9 bn
    223,468
    $160,649
    2016
    United Kingdom
    [3]

    Ernst & Young
    $29.6 bn
    231,000
    $128,139
    2016
    United Kingdom
    [4]

    KPMG
    $25.9 bn
    188,982
    $134,510
    2016
    Netherlands
    [5]

  • Brad Headley

    In my humble, not-Sandy’s opinion, you have a fantastic profile. Just from poking around on LinkedIn, you could be Harvard bound as long as you continue to develop yourself. However, I think your work experience lacks some of the depth/breadth they may be looking for, which is simply a function of your young age. Wait 2 years and apply to enter August 2019. I think it’s important to have at least one promotion under your belt and some workplace leadership experience. Would be great if you could get some experience with data analytics now, as well. You have an amazing profile. Just give it some time, and keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll know yourself and your goals better in 2 years, anyways.

  • jyap

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Can you please provide your feedback on my chances and schools? Thanks!!

    Demographic: 25 year old Asian female. Born in Singapore, moved to Shanghai, and then US for college and work.
    Academic: 3.65 GPA from UC Berkeley Econs and Business; GMAT 720

    Work experience:
    – Fortune 200 healthcare provider, worked in strategy and ops; part of leadership development program; promoted once, worked for ~3 years
    – moved to SEAsia to work for tech start-up, also in strategy role, working with 6 different countries on strategy

    Extracurricular:
    – board member of disabled sports foundation in the US
    – teach community yoga at hospitals
    – in the process of starting an education foundation in China
    – volunteer at prisons in Singapore
    – teaches financial planning to domestic workers in Singapore
    – speaks 5 languages

    Future goal:
    – lead a healthcare group and make it the largest and best in Southeast Asia

    Schools:
    – Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Booth (??), CBS

    Thanks!

  • Itsgotime

    Thank you so much for the feedback!

    Strategy and Business Development at fashion firm, to answer your question

  • hbsguru

    those are good jobs considering you came fr. ~no-name college with low-ish grades.
    this is not a VC profile, which usually includes IB/PE experience before college. So I would not say that.
    “Blue chip retail/fashion firm for 1.5 years,” doing WHAT??? real impt. Both what you do and what firm does!

    This kind of screams Kellogg, they will go for the retail story and the mental health turnaround, and enuf cred (Goldman and the 760) to make it any easier call, if rest of app is serviceable.
    This is not HSW, too many people like you with better jobs and similar stats (and better grades and schooling).
    Say you are interested in consulting for retail, name firms that do that, or joining innovative retailer (calling Amazon or something with fewer verticals, if that is right word).
    That is the way to package this.

  • Itsgotime

    Hi Sandy – would love if you could please handicap my elite odds!

    28 year old, Indian-American, female
    760 GMAT first attempt
    3.4 GPA from large state school following depressive episode during freshman year resulting in suspension from original top 20 University and three years at community college
    3.6 GPA from fashion school concurrent to work

    Goldman Sachs Research for three years, including one promotion
    Blue chip retail/fashion firm for 1.5 years, including one promotion
    Significant community involvement (Board of Directors) with Mental Health organization and with Domestic Violence organization
    Significant experience as startup advisor and investor

    Post MBA goal is Consumer VC

    Thank you!

  • hbsguru

    haha, some adcoms might get and like Mordor, the newer B’s might take more of a shine to Coruscant.

  • Bobsfred

    Thanks heaps Sandy. Appreciate the advice. I’ve been well milk-fed so I’ll cross my fingers. Any bonus points for filming video essays in Mordor?

  • COnan Li

    Would love your perspective and feedback on my odds.

    Background: Demographic – 25 year old asian american male, born in tri-state area

    Academic: 3.5 GPA from Fordham University Gabelli School of Business
    Major: Finance / Minor: Economics
    Extra-curriculars: Fordham club lacrosse captain, club rugby, Student Management Investment Club ($1m fund), presented stock pitch to head of CBS Value Investing Program… I know, a bit lacking

    GMAT: 710 (49Q/37V)

    Work Experience –
    – One year (first year) managing the entire marketing department (due to attrition at the firm) of a global boutique equity research firm and stock broker
    – 2nd year: top tier B2B software growth private equity firm ($$3.3bn in AUM).
    o Broke in through networking
    o Was hired as the first Analyst hire in the history at the firm. I am a top performing analyst (out of 10) and am first analyst to get promoted twice. (Analyst -> Sr. Analyst -> Associate). I sourced and helped execute on two deals totaling over $50m in investment value. I have experience on working various deals throughout my time. I lead various firm wide initiatives (deal sourcing strategy, learning and development, internship program, etc.)
    o Healthy balance of sourcing and deal execution. Will have spoken to 2k+ CEO and founders of companies by the time I matriculate. My plan is to use this as a differentiator
    o Should be able to get strong (and genuine) recommendations from VPs, Principals and Partners.
    o Firm has history of sending associates to top tier MBA programs (HBS, Wharton, GSB)
    o Will have worked at this firm for 4 years before matriculation

    Extracurricular: minor work as an advisor to a non-profit (think brothers and sisters) but not enough to be compelling… again, this is lacking. I’ve been primarily focused on moving up at my employer which has taken up a lot of my time.

    Goals: continue to work in PE/VC. Goal for MBA is to get management experience and to diversify my experience (public markets, operations, etc.). Given my lack of banking or consulting, I would like to also build on my quantitative and financial analysis skills through course learning.

    Side note: I am completely aware of my “silver” background in my early days (school to first job) but then really turned it around at this top growth equity fund. I worry my lack of strong ECs and 710 GMAT will hurt my chances. Am I differentiated at all by the fact I broke into PE without traditional banking or consulting experience? I am curious to hear what you think.

    Will be applying to: HBS, Wharton, Sloan, CBS, Kellogg, Booth

    Thanks for your help

  • Ashley

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate your candid feedback on my standing. After reading several of your posts, I’m wondering if my background is non traditional and what I should do to get some gold!

    Demographic: 27 years-old, female, mixed race

    Academic:
    • 3.89 at University of Louisiana
    • extracurriculars: Student Government President senior year, nearly a full time gig.

    GMAT: 700+ anticipated score

    Work Experience:
    • Non-profit management for 4 years
    • Led state-wide restructure of Girl Scout council serving as both project manager and business process analyst
    • Currently serving as the Executive Director of a Leadership Institute that provides leadership programming for local executives

    Goal:
    • Management Consulting
    • Ideally for the Disney Institute

    Target Schools: Texas at Austin McCombs, Indiana Kelley, and UNC Kenan-Flagler

    I have a pretty compelling background story, but I only want to disclose on applications if I need it to stand out. Thanks in advance for your help!

  • hbsguru

    this is pretty solid and everyone loves New Zealand!!! (All the pluses of Australia without the drunks). HBS typically has one kid fr. NZ each year and while my guess is, that kid is from consulting, banking, PE etc. (just a guess, lemme know if anyone actually knows), they would welcome a general business person from the biggest company in the country, which usually reads as a selective job. HBS and other B schools also like rotational programs, for same reasons, and in your case, the rotat. program fits in w. general management goals.
    Get a solid GMAT score (720+) and you could be in the running. Tuck loves this jive, and milk-fed people and products of all kinds.
    Also look at Kellogg, same deal. You can never tell about Stanford, do you have any experience helping victims,

    “Currently volunteer with Children’s Palliative Hospice and Homeless
    Support Charity. 5 years volunteering with Children’s Cancer
    Organizations and 10 years volunteering with international students and
    new migrants. Volunteered in South America and America.”

    OK that might work, if you can develop lessons and influences.

    as noted lots to like . . . . plan to take GMAT as many times as it takes.

  • Rita

    Hi Sandy, Would appreciate if you can take a look at my background and my odds of getting into a few business school options.

    Demographic: 24 years old Asian female. Born in China and came to US 4 years ago for school.

    Academic:
    • 3.88 at Wake Forest University for Master of Science in Accounting
    • 3.7 at University of Macau for Bachelor of Science in Accounting
    • CPA, CMA GMAT: 740

    Work Experience:
    • Deloitte Audit New York Office for 2 years, top 5% performer, leading senior for a team of 8
    • Specialized in private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds
    • Assist family in operating a management software & consulting company. Our company serves large to medium sized auto shops in China, and is one of the leading firms in the industry.

    Goal:
    • Mckinsey Consulting, or
    • Investment Management

    Target School: Columbia Business School Full Time MBA,
    Will also apply for Wharton, Booth, Kellogg.

  • Rita

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate if you can take a look at my background and my odds of getting into a few business school options.

    Demographic: 24 years old Asian female. Born in China and came to US 4 years ago for school.

    Academic:
    • 3.88 at Wake Forest University for Master of Science in Accounting
    • 3.7 at University of Macau for Bachelor of Science in Accounting
    • CPA, CMA

    GMAT: 740

    Work Experience:
    • Deloitte Audit New York Office for 2 years, top 5% performer, leading senior for a team of 8
    • Specialized in private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds
    • Assist family in operating a management software & consulting company. Our company serves large to medium sized auto shops in China, and is one of the leading firms in the industry.

    Goal:
    • Mckinsey Consulting, or
    • Investment Management

    Target School: Columbia Business School Full Time MBA (partner at my main engagement is an alumni of Columbia)

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  • Oil & Gas Engineer

    Hi Sandy –

    Here is my background:

    Demographic: 26 year old white male, from Midwest.
    Academic: 3.98 in mechanical engineering from a Top 10 public university for engineering in the Midwest
    GMAT: 720 – 740 Projected. Have always tested well though including computerized tests.
    Undergrad Extracurriculars: Major honor society leadership, increased member participation and retention rates, increased community outreach and presence within school.
    Work Experience: 2 years at an integrated oil and gas company, 4 years at matriculation (will miss application deadlines this year). Rotational development program. Currently a global technical consultant subject matter expert including travel to support production operations in Africa and Asia. Next role before MBA will be in small capital project management.
    Current Extracurriculars: Bicycling to raise funds for charity, intramural sports, mentoring at work.
    Post MBA: Strategy consulting at MBB for energy companies both in US and abroad.
    Target Schools: HBS, MIT, Tuck, Booth, Darden and Ross. Considering Kellogg due to location in Midwest, not sure if its a good fit.

    Additionally, was a national finalist in multiple speech and debate tournaments in high school. Engineering took priority in college, but that background is one of the reasons consulting (synthesizing disparate information into a cohesive package and communicating with a client) appeals to me.

    Thanks.

  • COnan Li

    Hi Sandy
    Sandy-

    Would love your perspective and feedback on my odds.

    Background: Demographic – 25 year old asian american male, born in tri-state area

    Academic: 3.5 GPA from Fordham University Gabelli School of Business
    Major: Finance / Minor: Economics
    Extra-curriculars: Fordham club lacrosse captain, club rugby, Student Management Investment Club ($1m fund), presented stock pitch to head of CBS Value Investing Program… I know, a bit lacking

    GMAT: 710 (49Q/37V)

    Work Experience –
    – One year (first year) managing the entire marketing department (due to attrition at the firm) of a global boutique equity research firm and stock broker
    – 2nd year: top tier B2B software growth private equity firm ($$3.3bn in AUM).
    o Broke in through networking
    o Was hired as the first Analyst hire in the history at the firm. I am a top performing analyst (out of 10) and am first analyst to get promoted twice. (Analyst -> Sr. Analyst -> Associate). I sourced and helped execute on two deals totaling over $50m in investment value. I have experience on working various deals throughout my time. I lead various firm wide initiatives (deal sourcing strategy, learning and development, internship program, etc.)
    o Healthy balance of sourcing and deal execution. Will have spoken to 2k+ CEO and founders of companies by the time I matriculate. My plan is to use this as a differentiator
    o Should be able to get strong (and genuine) recommendations from VPs, Principals and Partners.
    o Firm has history of sending associates to top tier MBA programs (HBS, Wharton, GSB)
    o Will have worked at this firm for 4 years before matriculation

    Extracurricular: minor work as an advisor to a non-profit (think brothers and sisters) but not enough to be compelling… again, this is lacking. I’ve been primarily focused on moving up at my employer which has taken up a lot of my time.

    Goals: continue to work in PE/VC. Goal for MBA is to get management experience and to diversify my experience (public markets, operations, etc.). Given my lack of banking or consulting, I would like to also build on my quantitative and financial analysis skills through course learning.

    Side note: I am completely aware of my “silver” background in my early days (school to first job) but then really turned it around at this top growth equity fund. I worry my lack of strong ECs and 710 GMAT will hurt my chances. Am I differentiated at all by the fact I broke into PE without traditional banking or consulting experience? I am curious to hear what you think.

    Will be applying to: HBS, Wharton, Sloan, CBS, Kellogg, Booth

    Thanks for your help

  • Bobsfred

    Hi Sandy,

    Kia Ora from New Zealand! Hoping you can take a look at my stats and give me an idea of whether the schools I’m starting to look at are vaguely in my ballpark.

    DEMOGRAPHIC
    27, New Zealand Female

    ACADEMIC
    GMAT: Aiming 700+ (haven’t sat yet – obvs hoping it will be as high as I can make it!)
    Undergrad: New Zealand University. Business degree in Accounting (3.8) and Law degree (3.2). Several scholarships and awards, top 1% of Accounting. Received scholarship to study one year at USA State University – studied languages, fine art (4.0)
    Post Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accountancy

    WORK EXPERIENCE
    3 1/2 years at New Zealand’s largest company, we produce dairy products. Joined the 2 1/2 year Rotational Leadership Programme. Did finance rotations (including international exposure in South America). Now work in Australia office managing the region’s largest suppliers. Selected this year for an in-house 2 year leadership development programme.

    Previously interned at Big4 in Australia during undergrad.

    EXTRACURRICULAR
    At work: Selected for Rotational Leadership Programme Exec Committee and organised nationwide events for staff. Involved in Engagement Committees at all sites I have worked at. Organised fundraisers and events for staff.
    Outside of work: Currently volunteer with Children’s Palliative Hospice and Homeless Support Charity. 5 years volunteering with Children’s Cancer Organisations and 10 years volunteering with international students and new migrants. Volunteered in South America and America.
    Travelled to 28 countries, backpacked through South America, regional tennis player, in an Acapella chorus and doing pottery and painting courses.

    CAREER GOAL
    MBB with focus on the food/bev industry or consumer goods industry. Long term would like to return to current company and use consulting skills to develop best practices in our South American offices.

    TARGET
    American schools: Tuck/Harvard/Stanford. European schools: Cambridge, Oxford, IESE, LBS.

    It’s a bit of a mix! I hope you can find something in there that’s “gold” and not “silver”. Either way, thanks for doing the series! I have found your analysis very funny, slightly intimidating but well worth it, cheers.

  • dave tucker

    Hi Sandy,

    Would really appreciate your feedback on both my odds and a couple of options I have that could influence my admission.

    Here is my background:

    Demographic: 24 year old white male. Born and raised in the midwest

    Academic: 3.8 GPA from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Carlson School of Management. Major: Finance Minor: Spanish
    Undergrad Extracurriculars:
    -Volunteer work with three Latin American Advocacy groups – most notably as a youth group coordinator in an impoverished Hispanic neighborhood
    -Member of “Funds Enterprise” student run mutual fund usually only admitting graduate students (15 hr- week commitment)
    – Member of social fraternity
    – Organized hockey team for charity tournament 2 years in a row supporting breast cancer research. Won tournament both years 🙂

    GMAT: 750 CUM – 48Q – 44V – IR 8 – AWA 6

    Currently have 2 years of full time work experience in finance with General Mills – part of GMI rotational leadership development program – Have earned one promotion

    – Role 1: Income Statement projection for new product launches on Baking division
    – Role 2: Lead and manage Marketing budget estimate for Snacks, Baking & Yogurt divisions responsible for over 300 million in annual spend

    3 options:
    – Option 1: Apply this fall in Rd.1 with two years of experience
    – Option 2: Apply next fall Rd. 1 with a third role as an Assistant Financial Operations Manager at a plant with a clear path to a second promotion before applying
    -Option 3: Apply next fall Rd. 1 with a third rotation in a lateral move to marketing supporting a specific brand. Likely will not receive 2nd promotion if I take this path

    Current Extracurriculars:
    – Member of Finance Recruitment team organizing many of our on campus events
    – VP for Hispanic Advocacy Non Profit (5 HR – week commitment)
    – Multiple competitive hockey leagues

    – If apply next year will likely add volunteer work as a Dog adoption support with the Minnesota Humane Society (just applied)

    Goal: Brand management for CPG (Open to returning to mills or transitioning into Video Game/Sports Entertainment industry think Electronic Arts or Activision)

    Added information: Recovered from POTS – medical condition which leaves 25% of patients unable to work and relegates many more to working part time

    Targeting: UCLA Anderson, MIT, Kellogg, Wharton & will take a stab at HBS but not holding my breath

    Mills has a track record of placing candidates at HBS & Kellogg

  • Jackson PK

    Hi Sandy,

    Would really appreciate your feedback on both my odds and a couple of options I have that could influence my admission.

    Here is my background:

    Demographic: 24 year old white male. Born and raised in the midwest

    Academic: 3.8 GPA from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Carlson School of Management. Major: Finance Minor: Spanish
    Undergrad Extracurriculars:
    -Volunteer work with three Latin American Advocacy groups – most notably as a youth group coordinator in an impoverished Hispanic neighborhood
    -Member of “Funds Enterprise” student run mutual fund usually only admitting graduate students (15 hr- week commitment)
    – Member of social fraternity
    – Organized hockey team for charity tournament 2 years in a row supporting breast cancer research. Won tournament both years 🙂

    GMAT: 750 CUM – 48Q – 44V – IR 8 – AWA 6

    Currently have 2 years of full time work experience in finance with General Mills – part of GMI rotational leadership development program – Have earned one promotion

    – Role 1: Income Statement projection for new product launches on Baking division
    – Role 2: Lead and manage Marketing budget estimate for Snacks, Baking & Yogurt divisions responsible for over 300 million in annual spend

    3 options:
    – Option 1: Apply this fall in Rd.1 with two years of experience
    – Option 2: Apply next fall Rd. 1 with a third role as an Assistant Financial Operations Manager at a plant with a clear path to a second promotion before applying
    -Option 3: Apply next fall Rd. 1 with a third rotation in a lateral move to marketing supporting a specific brand. Likely will not receive 2nd promotion if I take this path

    Current Extracurriculars:
    – Member of Finance Recruitment team organizing many of our on campus events
    – VP for Hispanic Advocacy Non Profit (5 HR – week commitment)
    – Multiple competitive hockey leagues

    – If apply next year will likely add volunteer work as a Dog adoption support with the Minnesota Humane Society (just applied)

    Goal: Brand management for CPG (Open to returning to mills or transitioning into Video Game/Sports Entertainment industry)

    Added information: Recovered from POTS – medical condition which leaves 25% of patients unable to work and relegates many more to working part time

    Targeting: UCLA Anderson, MIT, Kellogg, Wharton & will take a stab at HBS but not holding my breath

    Mills has a track record of placing candidates at HBS & Kellogg

  • Carol Reyes

    Hi Sandy, I’d appreciate your thoughts on my profile below:

    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

    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 until 18 years of age. I’m half Guatemalan/half Cuban and speak 5 languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese).

    Study abroad experience in comparative education, advanced Mandarin, international journalism and advanced Portuguese:
    -NYU Global Program in Accra, Ghana (2012)
    -National Kaohsiung Normal University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2010)
    -Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland (2008)
    -Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007)

    3) WORK EXPERIENCE :
    a) 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 am responsible for all international program development, foreign partnerships and agreements (with foreign institutions and/or governments), grant writing and management (winner of White House Grant, French Embassy Grant, US-Japan Council Grant, among others), and other special initiatives.

    b) From 2012-2015, I worked with the Institute of International Education managing 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.

    c) Prior to 2012, I completed internships at the U.S. Embassies in Mexico and Taiwan (focused on international education and cultural diplomacy).

    4) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (current only):
    -Youngest Board member of Global Ties, an organization sponsored by the US Department of State and responsible for their International Visitor Leadership Program and other exchange programs.

    -Creating Global Curricula that will be used by Miami Dade County Public School System’s Homeless Education Branch at all of their after-school programs (in local schools and homeless shelters).

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

    6) GMAT AND TARGET SCHOOLS:
    -GMAT: I will be taking the GMAT in December 2017. I’ve scored 650 on practice tests (As I’m sure you can tell from my profile, my background is not focused on quantitative skills. That said, I’m studying intensely and will be taking accounting, statistics or economics in a local university over the next few terms).

    -Target Schools: Berkeley, Georgetown, Yale, UT Austin, NYU and Duke. Would you recommend others?

    Given my 5-6 years of work experience in higher education/non-profit/government work, I’m interested in potentially going into a career in public sector consulting after an MBA, but am also interested in public policy and international work. I’m flexible and a fast learner – I’d love to hear your thoughts on job prospects for someone with my background.

  • marie101

    Hi Sandy – would love some feedback as I begin my applications for grad school. I don’t have much work experience, but have a relatively strong GPA / GMAT and really, unless i cannot get in now, don’t want to wait to apply to grad school.

    Demographic: white female (23)
    GMAT: 760 (only attempt)
    Education: business degree from wake forest (3.9 GPA) – studied mathematics as well (C++)
    Work: 1.5 years (plus an internship) at a top 4 consulting firm in financial advisory services- all time spent advising a large bank
    Post MBA: either corporate finance or data analytics for a large company
    Extracurriculars (new since college): half marathons, started a book club at my apartment
    Extracurriculars (in college): tutoring, finance club

    Target schools: MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern

  • hbsguru

    YES!

  • BSchool Aspirant

    Hi Sandy,

    I really appreciate your reviews with plain-feedback, to the point. Thanks for doing this. I would be grateful if you could please review my profile given below and provide your views:

    Demographic: 26 y.o. female, Australian citizen (Indian origin)
    GMAT: 750 (48Q, 44V) first attempt
    Educ: Accounting, finance & economics (Econ honours 3.6/4.0) from a top 5 Australian university. Also completed CFA level 1
    Work experience: 2.5 years in Deloitte Strategy consulting, working across healthcare, insurance, financial services and M&A. 1 promotion so far and on track to get another before starting in fall 2018 (will have 3.5 yrs of experience by then)
    Extracurriculars: Leading the redesign and restructure of a pro-bono consulting firm to better position itself to provide consulting services to charities & not-for-profits
    Post MBA: MBB or private equity. I’m using the MBA to explore these opportunities & build my skillset
    Target schools: HBS, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Columbia

    Thanks again.

  • Ishu Gogna

    Hi Sandy, Would really appreciate your feedback on my profile

    GMAT : 710 (Q-49, V-37, AWA -5.5 , IR -5)
    Work Experience : 2 years as of now in Siemens
    Undergrad : One of the top Indian Private University, GPA : 3.7

    Volunteering:
    1. Led a city chapter of a nationwide NGO which aimed at uplifting the weaker sections of society as a whole for 1 year. Part of this organization as an executive member for 4 years.
    2. Currently Executive Member of another international NGO which conduct food drives for needy every week and aims to eliminate Hunger.

    Extra Curricular Activities
    1. Executive member of various organizing committees at college.
    2. Finance Head of Societies in College.
    3. Part of College Dance Group.
    4. Head Boy of Junior School.
    5. District level chess player.

    Goal : To become a social entrepreneur.

    Target B Schools : Duke, Darden, Cornell, HEC Paris

  • Aaleem Jiwa

    Am I currently unemployed? Basically — working part time with my prof developing a masters level course and gmat tutoring.

    Would it help significantly for me to go back to my old job? I could essentially put my break down to a study-sabbatical then…

  • hbsguru

    could you confirm the pea under all these feather beds -to wit, you are currently unemployed???
    that is real kiss of death esp. for guy with zig-zaggy career like you.
    Some schools will buy a 770 GMAT and a good GPA –so that is strong part of this.
    But not HSW on these facts–just too much confusion.
    You say: ” but I’m hoping my relatively recent undergrad and success in management
    consulting shows that I work well with any age group and I can grind
    with the best of them!”
    Friend –leaving that job will be interpreted by schools as the oppo of that. That you are prima donna and cannot hack it out. And that comports w. resume in some way, so you really need to negative that on app.

  • Aaleem Jiwa

    Hi Sandy, would love your feedback on my profile

    36, Canadian Born Male (Indian/East African descent)
    GMAT 760 (wrote April 2017)
    Undergrad: Western Canadian University
    B.Comm Finance with Distinction (3.9 GPA) graduated Dec 2013
    PMP, CFA Level 1 (maybe 2, will know in a month!)

    I kind of have 3 distinct lives:

    1. Silicon valley IT kid
    2. Real estate investor and global entrepreneur (<– faced adversity here)
    3. Big4 management consultant (<– finished my undergrad here)

    Targets: HBS, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Stanford
    Goals: Real Estate PE/HF or something on the forefront of real estate/fintech (think blockchain for real estate, crowdfunded real estate investing, 3d printing for real estate, microcondos)

    I know my age may put me at a disadvantage, but I'm hoping my relatively recent undergrad and success in management consulting shows that I work well with any age group and I can grind with the best of them! I want to do my MBA to break into the next level and have a bigger global contribution to how we house the world and how we finance/build the next wave of redevelopment in the world's greatest cities.

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    Detailed story:
    – 1st gen Canadian, son of successful, entrepreneurial parents
    – Worked in Silicon Valley straight out of high school, IT infrastructure consulting for dotcoms
    – Visa issues from 9/11 forced me back to Canada: did half of an undergrad degree, worked in small business M&A, invested in real estate, helped build up family business, was successful
    – Worked with my father and uncle in casino and lottery business in east africa, corruption results in big losses, learn lots (manage 250 people, work with high level govt officials), still own real estate assets at home, family business still ok
    – Did some agriculture/aquaculture real estate focused consulting work in asia for DEG
    – Decided I wanted to do my MBA (friend @ DEG went to Columbia, met lots of alums, many doing cool world changing stuff)
    – Parents divorce and Dad spirals into personal/financial abyss. Oil crisis forces sale of real estate assets and family business
    – Came back to Canada, finished undergrad, lots of extracurriculars (case competitions, chair of energy challenge, director of business students association)
    – Started as a Consultant with Big4 consulting in Canada. Built real estate consulting practice from $0-$2M in 2.5 years. Promoted twice. Lots of cool, major (but local) RE projects. Side business flipping condos. Quit in Oct 2016 as Manager.
    – Spent last 6 months getting into shape and travelling
    – Currently developing a graduate level course in real estate development with old professor and gmat tutoring while I travel

    Extracurricular:
    – Volunteered as a teacher in post-tsunami Sri Lanka
    – Do some work with new immigrants to help them tailor their resume and experience for Canadian market
    – Speak to MBAs 1/year about getting a job in management consulting

  • hbsguru

    lots to like but a lot of silver and not gold here, esp. stats.
    You can apply now and see, and then reapp.
    No downside except the grief.
    If you have more time, 1. est. good track record at new firm, and think about retaking GMAT, hate to say it, but see PQ related article about Stanford’s 740 average score.
    BLAME THEM for this madness.
    I do not think K is a ‘reach’ in your current profile, you are their type and lots to like, and a 720 still means sorta OK over there.

  • hbsguru

    haha, you seem like belt and suspenders type, with a safety pin added just in case.
    I could see you getting dinged fr. HSW even if app is executed correctly, if your bucket is crowded. Given how annoying you are, you could

    also have some bad luck at Booth and K.

    Dunno, rather than add someplace you dont want to go to, I’d stick with those 5, and reconsider more schools maybe R2 or next year.

  • mba_applicant062917

    Hey Sandy, Would appreciate your feedback. Aiming to apply this year but considering waiting another year to improve work experience and volunteering. Thoughts?

    24, Asian American female
    GMAT 720
    Undergrad: top undergrad business school, non ivy
    GPA 3.4 (I can maybe pull the grade deflation card?)

    WORK EXPERIENCE (2 YRS TOTAL)

    – F500 global telco expanding in US enterprise market: 18 mo. rotation program, promoted, high performer for 2 yrs. Part of an “intrapreneurial” team leading expansion into US. Project mgmt experience across IT client service/delivery. Also led 2 internal strategic initiatives.

    – Left a month ago to join a digital innovation lab as a project manager. (backed by a big 4 acctg and top 5 tech firm).

    COMMUNITY EXTRA CURRICS:

    1) Junior board for a nonprofit that teaches NYC students to save for college. We are developing a new fintech product. I support the founder on funding efforts (social impact incubators applications), comms, and field programs/events. I interned for 6 months in college, re-engaged 8 months ago.)

    2) Separately volunteer w/ students in NYC public middle schools, speak about transition to high school

    WORK EXTRA CURRICS:

    1) Steering Committee, Women’s Network 2 yrs – planned networking/speaker events. Also led partnership discussions with UN.

    2) Corporate Foundation 2 yrs – volunteered at community events, judged applications for business plan contests, improved employee engagement w/ Foundation

    GOALS:
    Product at top 5 tech firm OR strategy consulting (which should I focus my app on?) I think my work experience ties nicely into either.

    REACH: Stanford, HBS, Kellogg
    TARGET: Haas, MIT

  • MBAdreams

    Thank you for your time and words of encouragement!

  • mba_applicant3112

    Thanks Sandy! Appreciate you taking the time.
    Just a follow up question:- Do you think my target schools (Top 5) are reasonable or should I look at other schools too?

  • hbsguru

    blah blah lots to like altho also some explaining needed, you got too many jobs so you will need to connect those dots in some honest and spun way (both) and then get full value out of your impressive extras w. out sounding like a blowhard (that boo boo happens a lot even for do-gooder types, seems they fall into
    Application Halitosis Mode).
    Recs will be impt and will have to add value in explaining your story, so collaboration w. rec writers here is even more impt than w. average applicant.

  • mba_applicant3112

    Hi Sandy, could you please evaluate my profile.
    A 26 year old Indian Male, graduated from one of the top IITs with a dual degree (b.tech+m.tech) and a GPA of 8.4/10 – top 10% of class.
    Target Schools:- Stanford, HBS, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg
    GMAT score: 750
    Work exp:
    1. 2 years at American Express working in Risk Management for US Consumer Cards from their India office. Got Analyst of the Quarter and Performer of the Year Awards, both awarded to top 5%.
    2. Started my own venture in adventure tourism space while working at Amex which didn’t work out and shut it within 7 months.
    3. Worked at an early stage startup (homeservices – think Thumbtack) for 1 year before it got acquired due to funding crunch. I was part of core team – product head and business head for one of the three cities.
    4. Been working at Paytm (unicorn digital payments company backed by Alibaba and Softbank) since last 9 months in a product role and working on products to make financial services more inclusive.
    5. Intern with McKinsey and Company for 2 months in analytics and research intern for 2 months in Sweden.
    Extra-Currics:-
    1. More than 6 years with an NGO for welfare of underprivileged disabled children (inspiration from my father who is a prosthetic doctor).
    2. Travel and adventure sports enthusiast – travelled across 16 countries and all over India. Intermediate level trained paraglider, avid mountaineer – climbed glacier in Norway, several treks in India.
    3. Selected to Participate in Jagriti Yatra – an annual program taking 500 individuals across India to network with social entrepreneurs and inculcate the spirit of social entrepreneurship. Been assisting fellow participants’ ventures pro-bono since then.
    4. Several other community service initiatives- teaching an underprivileged kid for 2 years in college to help him gain admission into a top univ, organizing skill identification programs for government school students, part of CSR programs at Amex.
    5. Part of Entrepreneurship cell at IIT. Founder the incubation unit and organized the first 2 entrepreneurship summits.
    6. Quizzing – won 50+ quizzes during school and IIT.

    Goal: Tech Product Management in short term and start a fintech venture in long term.

  • mba_applicant3112

    Hi Sandy,
    Earnestly waiting for your review here. Thansk!

  • Nonia B

    Hi Sandy,

    I don’t have the typical B-school profile, but I was wondering if you could evaluate my chances at Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, UCLA, and Cornell. A girl can dream!

    I’d appreciate any candid feedback, be as brutal as you want.

    Age: 25
    Gender: Female
    Nationality/Ethnicity: African with British nationality
    GMAT 750

    -Undergrad: Modern Languages and History for Undergrad at top 10 UK school.

    -2:2 Degree award in the end due to personal circumstances. (Depression and money issues)

    -Come from a poor African immigrant family who settled in the UK, and first to go to university in my family.

    – Post university I spent 2 years teaching English at a top business school in continental Europe (A blip on my part, I was lost and wanted to practice speaking the modern foreign language that I had studied at uni)

    -During this time teaching English, I started a programme to help refugees learn English and the language of the country I was in.

    -Currently an Art Advisory and Finance analyst for a major bank in NYC

    -Recently started a non-profit to help underrepresented minorities get more exposure to the arts and museums in general.

    -I also have 4 years volunteer experience for 2 different crisis lines- one was led and run by students where I was elected to the executive committee, and the other one was in the country where I taught English.

    Goals: To continue growing the arts-based non profit, and expose women and minorities to the world of art and head the art advisory and finance department of a major bank.

    Thanks in advance, I welcome all your honest feedback.

  • SEAtoMBA

    Will do! Appreciate you taking the time!

  • hbsguru

    lots to like including Hispanic American background (assuming you are US citizen) and work for what seems like brand name companies, esp. current gig.
    You just need to make those jobs sound like internal analyst and biz development rather than more pure accounting. And make sure work in next 2-3 years IS like that.
    Rest is real strong. Get that ~720 GMAT and apply to top schools, they go for this profile.

  • 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,

  • SEAtoMBA

    Hey Sandy,

    Would appreciate you reviewing my profile:

    3.63 GPA, BA in Business Adm. (concentration in Finance) from Western Public Ivy, grad at 19 yo
    7xx GMAT (yet to sit for exam)
    3 yrs. work experience (will apply with 4 or 5 yrs experience)

    First job out of college was as an Analyst at a private, PE-backed software company in Seattle, WA, reported directly to Director of Finance .

    Moved to Silicon Valley after a merger and led integration efforts, owned P&L statements, and trained new hires.

    After two years with this group (pre- and post-merger) I transitioned to my current Analyst role at a Seattle tech giant, where I’ve been for 1 year.

    Extracurricular: volunteer director of young adult programs at local church, mentoring HS students of the Brazilian immigrant community helping them plan for college

    Goal: Transition into finance leadership at tech company

    Expecting solid recommendations from managers, from previous role and current one, possibly one from a Columbia alum, focusing essays on being first-gen American, first-Gen college grad, up from community college to W. Public Ivy, etc.

    22-year old Brazilian-American male, fluency in 3 languages

    Applying in next 2-3 years to Columbia, Booth, Haas, LBS, maybe a long shot at HBS if the GMAT score is up there?

  • Saurabh Shinde

    Hello Sandy,
    Would really appreciate help on my profile evaluation for the August 2018 intake. Here are the details:
    Age: 27
    Pool: Indian, Male, Engineer.
    GPA: 2.8
    GMAT: Yet to take it, expect to score at least 730.
    Work Ex: Total – 5
    1.25 with Fortune 100 company in India.
    1.25 with education startup, good growth and performance.
    2 years as Founding Member and Head of Sales at VC funded startup (one of top 3 startups in its field in India). Made it to Forbes list of 20 startups to watch out for. Headed team of 70 people across 6 cities, generating turnover of $200,00 per month. Led a lot of initiatives and handled P&L for 2 cities as well. Unfortunately we had to shut down in Dec.16. Have taken some time off since then, will start working this in July again.
    Colleges: Stretch: MIT, NYU, Ross, Haas.
    Match: Duke, UCLA, Darden, Cornell.
    Safe: Georgetown, UNC
    Post-MBA goals: Strategy Consulting, Technology (Product Management).
    Would love to hear your take on the choice of colleges and any edits to the list.
    Thank you.

  • hbsguru

    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.
    _________________________________________
    GET THAT GMAT EVEN IF YOU HAVE TAKE TEST 5X A YEAR FOR NEXT FOUR YEARS.
    get jobs at firms that feed applicants to your target schools, both first job and next one.
    Develop rec writers at each job.
    You seem on the way to your target schools, and with gold plated jobs and that 730 GMAT you might be solid at Wharton, HBS etc.

  • hbsguru

    😉

  • hbsguru

    Goal: become an entrepreneur, create companies with important social
    impact internationally (especially regarding climate change).
    ———————————
    huh????? rest of this is solid vanilla (and that is good) why think adding some banal sprinkles on top of that is going to help. DO NO HARM, you got no entrep background and those goals seem taken fr. fever dream after looking at centerfold of PENTHOUSE FOR GREENIES.
    You got a solid story, say you want to be a consultant that helps Green companies or lead a Green company. Just drop entrepreneur, that is often code word for ‘nutcase’ to adcom, esp. when it comes out of the blue, as it does here. You don’t need it.

  • hbsguru

    you seem to be doing everything right to optimize the boo boos in this story, so keep doing that, e.g. taking courses, etc.
    Just normalize this: “with an eye on potentially getting into VC/small cap PE as my (admittedly unlikely) pipe dream.” SCHOOLS DON’T LIKE PIPE DREAMS, THEY SELL PIPE DREAMS AND AS THE SAYING GOES, ‘DON’T BS A BS-er.’
    Working for large company for 4 years (incl 3 in rotat. leadership!) is solid.
    Issue is which one of these schools, given those facts, will swallow your 3.18 in order to get your 750 GMAT????
    –let me just say, that is better way to present a “boo boo and and a cookie” than other way around.
    [3.9 GPA and 600 GMAT!] —
    “Kellogg, Tuck, Stern, Anderson, Fuqua, McCombs, I might throw a hail mary to HBS?”

    HBS has too many dudes like you w. no boo boos–and it is possible their white male average GMAT could already be ~750, so you are not offering super much to them, but sure, try.
    Kellogg–goes for wholesome internal consulting and consulting stories like this, so change goals and try,
    Stern, Fuq, Andy, McCombs: all places you belong, and it could happen, just get As in summer school and present in ways THAT DO NO HARM.

  • hbsguru

    ahem, HBSGURU words of wisdom about bad grades and low GMATs. Adcoms will (sometimes) blink once but they will not blink twice. So try to have one of those in normal range for your target schools.
    As to how much good life story can impact a profile? First let’s start w. real impt. stuff, about good life stories. The best life stories are overcoming adversity and overcoming victimhood –esp. if you are URM to begin with. HBSGURU words of wisdom for applying to Stanford: BE A VICTIM OR HELP VICTIMS!!!! I know not everyone is so lucky. But if you have a victim story, that can help.
    The daily double is being a victim who then overcomes that and helps other victims.
    If you got a powerful story along those lines and tell it well, it could help you become an admit from the bottom 1/5 of either Stanford GMAT or GPA pool. Bear in mind, at Stanford the bottom 1/5 GPA and GMAT scores are pretty high. So no, a good victim story will not help you get in with a 490 GMAT or a 2.1 GPA as a rule. Analysis is the same at other schools, with their own stats blended in to the formula.

  • hbsguru

    get that 730 GMAT even if you have to take GMAT 2,3 times. This is a great profile and consultant’s dream but you story writes itself.
    Military exper as enlisted vs. ROTC etc. can be powerful and it fits your “up from adversity . . .story . . .”
    Working for MSFT is also great, an anchoring job that shows schools you can cut it in corporate enviro, there only really extant question after reading your story. And you check that box.
    Stan. loves stories like this, altho they sometimes have access to applicants with similar story and more solid stats, that is why the 730 really counts.
    Other schools also want to give you a break, and a 730 will make it easy for them.

  • MBAdreams

    Hi Sandy, would really appreciate you evaluating my profile for 2017/2018 admissions cycle:

    28 yrs old/Male/US Citizen/Latino (1st generation American, parents were undocumented immigrants from Mexico)
    3.31 GPA from top public business school (think UNC, UT Austin, UVA)
    Dual degree in Finance and Economics (BBA and BA, respectively)
    730 GMAT (projected, have scored around this in practice exams)
    Current experience:
    1 year of experience in the 2-year FLDP for Microsoft (currently on 2nd rotation), will have 2 years of corp exp if I apply next year as opposed to this year’s admissions cycle

    Past:
    4 years of enlisted military service in the US Navy (graduated from high school, enlisted in Navy, then went back to college for degree using GI Bill) – mostly in administrative/accounting roles + military police experience
    (I’ve often seen you talk about officer military experience, but not sure how adcoms would view enlisted experience)

    Community involvement:
    -Sit on the board of local chapter of one of largest Latino professional orgs in the US, focused on helping and developing underprivileged students into leaders, in every sector of global economy. I’ve been involved since 2013, first as a student member at my college chapter then as president of that chapter. Continued to serve in my professional career after graduating. Fast tracked from intern on the board to director in less than 4 months. Most of my off time goes into mentoring students, planning/executing fundraisers for scholarships

    Goals:
    Short term: MBB or strategy in a large tech company
    Long term: Social impact consulting focused on helping people from underprivileged/low socioeconomic backgrounds, in a non-profit such as The Bridgespan Group or McKinsey Social Initiative

    Targets:
    HBS, Stanford, Booth, Wharton, Kellogg, Haas, Sloan, Columbia, Darthmouth

    Concerned about my late age (28, going on 29 this year), as I’ve heard it plays a factor into decisions, don’t have as much corporate experience compared to others my age as I’m on my first job out of college (not including enlisted military experience, which happened right after graduating high school). Heard some advice that it’d be better for me to apply sooner rather than later, considering.

    Would appreciate any and all feedback, thanks Sandy.

  • Ross

    How much does a good “life/background” story matter on applications? Can it overcome a low GPA or GMAT? Thanks.

  • 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.