Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Mr. UnderAchiever

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.1 Grade Point Average
  • Ivy League Undergraduate Degree
  • Work experience at Raytheon as financial analyst
  • Average extracurricular activities

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 10%+
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: Less than 10%
Columbia: 35% if early decision
Kellogg: 30%
Duke: 55%+

Sandy’s Analysis: “He’s a long shot for Harvard because he’ll never overcome his low GPA. Raytheon is not a sexy company. That’s a bad job for a smart guy and a great job for a first-generation college grad. This guy can only save himself by getting a job elsewhere at a Google, Apple, or Microsoft and thriving there and then pumping up the extras. Basically, guys like this don’t get into Wharton either because they are below par on both the GPA and GMAT or there is no counter reason to take them. Columbia might take this guy if he could prove New York reasons and goals, which grew out of his work and maybe had an alternative transcript. This seems in the Duke wheelhouse, especially if he is older.”

Ms. First Generation

  • 720 GMAT
  • 4.0 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland
  • Work experience at Raytheon as financial analyst
  • Average extracurricular activities
  • First generation college graduate

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 50% to 80%
Wharton: 50% to 90%
Chicago Booth: 75% to 95%
Dartmouth: 65% to 85%
Duke: 95%

Sandy’s Analysis: “She has the same so-so job as the other guy, but in her case, it is considered a step up, and adcoms know that even 4.0s coming out of Maryland don’t get Wall Street gigs in most cases. Her 4.0 GPA as a first generation college grad really makes a difference here. The fact that she’s female improves her odds by five to ten percentage points. As always, her chances at non-Harvard, Stanford Wharton schools depend on her convincing them that she is serious about them, by visiting, meeting other students, and having solid personal and professional reasons to attend.”