Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In

She’s a 25-year-old African American whose goal is to make the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.

He once got an “F” grade in calculus from a prominent British university. But this former male model has a 750 GMAT and now runs a small firm that produces and markets theater and comedy.

A graduate of West Point, he now has a leadership position in a Special Forces unit. He speaks two languages and spent a year as a volunteer at an orphanage.

He’s a 28-year-old senior at the University of Oregon who will be the first in his family to get a college degree. He worked at a ski resort before becoming a mortgage consultant.

He’s a consultant with KPMG who also did a two-year stint as a financial analyst at the Walt Disney Co. He scored a 660 on the GMAT but has a 3.86 GPA from Ithaca College.

What all of them share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools and graduate with an MBA degree. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get an invite? Or are they likely to end up in Harvard Business School’s reject pile?

For the fourth consecutive week, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants. Kreisberg has a reputation for telling it like it is, and in this installment he doesn’t disappoint. One would-be applicant is told his chance of getting into Harvard and Stanford are “zilch.” What about Dartmouth or Yale? “Zilch, plus a Hail Mary,” he says flatly.

As he has in the past, 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 (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a half dozen or more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature next week.

Yet another reminder: Reading a handful of stats and random attributes of a would-be MBA candidate is like reading tea leaves. There’s no science and a lot of art to this process. Without the benefit of having all the details of an applicant’s candidacy, it’s not possible to say with total certainty what the exact odds for any one person might be.

Nonetheless, Kreisberg’s judgments carry a lot of weight. Since becoming a full-time admissions consultant in 1995, he has seen and interviewed thousands of candidates who want to get into the very top schools. He knows who has made it and who hasn’t, and he’s willing to share that knowledge here.

Sandy’s candid analysis:

Ms. Olympia (Athlete)

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.15 Grade point average
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from UC Berkeley
  • Worked for a Big Four accounting firm for a year before becoming a sales trainer
  • Employment history unique due to her goal of making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team
  • Extracurricular involvement includes competing on Berkeley’s Division 1 track and field team.
  • Has also worked and volunteers at LGBT political and non-profit groups
  • 25 years old

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.