Your Chances of Getting In

Ms. First Generation Grad (Mghribiva)

  • 670 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics and language studies from a highly ranked liberal arts college
  • Work experience as an economic consultant at a good but not top consulting firm for more than two years; plus two years in the Peace Corps.
  • Speak five languages
  • (I think I could help myself by retaking the GMAT, but what are my odds as they stand? Also, any thoughts on the fit for these schools?)

Odds of Success
Harvard Business School: Less than 20%
INSEAD: Better than 50%
Berkeley: 40% to 60%
Michigan: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is not reading as an HBS admit. You’re just too low on the GMAT, GPA, and job status meters. For other schools, your career trajectory, goals and why you need the MBA must be carefully crafted.

If you are a U.S. citizen or North American, INSEAD might like you. Admission there for Americans is in line with these stats. Did you do Peace Corps before or after economic consulting? First generation college graduate cuts some bait, as does good liberal arts school (I am assuming not Ivy). You need to package all this correctly and explain decision to join the Peace Corps, especially if that is what you are doing now. Michigan and Berkeley should be possible if you can do that.

Sure, taking the GMAT would be a plus. I’m happy to speculate, but more data about goals, etc. and career order would help.

Mr. Internet Startup (try me)

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Earned a joint BS/MA degree in applied economics from a 50ish ranked private university
  • 26 years old
  • Built, launched and ran a web startup that ultimately failed
  • Writing has been published by The New York Times
  • International traveler who is also a self-taught computer programmer
  • Extracurriculars include volunteer experience and soccer and rugby player

Odds of success:
Harvard Business School: Less than 30%
Stanford: Less than 30%
Wharton: 40%
MIT Sloan: 50%
Dartmouth: 50%
Columbia: 60% if early admission

Sandy’s Analysis: You are a good example of a guy with a lot of impressive stuff that weighs more in the real world than it does on planet admissions (which is sorta like the moon in some cases, with its own gravity field). A 3.8 GPA and a 720 GMAT are totally fine, as is quant background. Spending four years with a web startup is something schools will pay lip service to, but at bottom, they would prefer that you either worked for Google or founded Groupon, never got an MBA, and gave them a building in 30 years. There is not much in between. Ditto on your writing published in The New York Times. I am impressed but schools don’t care all that much since it does fit in their wheelhouse. (And the record of journos who do attend business school is mixed: they often write tell-alls which have been done already).

Why do you want an MBA? That will be key. This ain’t smelling like a H/S/W admit, although maybe Wharton. You should try Sloan, which nominally says they like entrepreneurs. I have my doubts about how many kids they admit with only entrepreneurship experience (Rod Garcia–the MIT Adcom head—if you are reading this, please check in and tell us).

The trouble with you from the school’s POV is that you are too self-taught and that seems to be your preferred model. You need to explain why you need an MBA and MBA training. This is like that Eagles song Desperado. That has been your M.O. and now it is time to explain why you have come to your senses.


Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now.
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow