Handicapping Your MBA Odds

With a 750 GMAT and 4.0 grade point average, he was valedictorian of his college class. His goal is to work in healthcare venture capital for the developing markets.

She’s a consultant who scored an impressive 760 on the GMAT and boasts an Ivy League degree. But she has a puny 2.5 GPA to overcome.

He’s an Olympic medalist who spent eight years as a full-time athlete and now co-owns and runs a gym. But he’d like to work in business development or general management.

What these and other MBA candidates want to know is whether they have a chance to get into a top business school. For the seventh consecutive week, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As he has in the past, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting in. 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.

Sandy’s take-no-prisoners analysis:

Mr. Coxswain

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.8 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree from public Ivy
  • Work experience includes a year in intelligence, a year in carpentry, and now employed by a large international development organization doing stabilization work in Southern Afghanistan.
  • Will probably spend three to four years here unless I leave for the Navy.
  • Extracurriculars include varsity coxswain; biked from Texas to Alaska to raise money for cancer research & started department at university for social innovation
  • Rhodes finalist

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 50% to 60%
Stanford: 50% to 60%
Wharton: 60% to 70%
Tuck: 60% to 70%
Booth: 70+%
Kellogg: 70+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, there’s a lot to like including a 3.8 and many ‘manly’ accomplishments such as rower, carpenter, bike rider, Afghan stabilization ninja. Hmmm, only working in ‘intelligence’ doesn’t seem to fit the macho framework 🙂

I’m not sure of your age and timeline. If you have been at an international development organization for two-plus years, with this set of accomplishments, you can apply now.

As to joining the Navy, do you have Seal Team 6 fantasies? Well, who can blame you? And schools will wait, even if you flunk Seal Team ocean swim drills and wind up a regular swabby. Military applicants are welcome until about 30 and even older if a pilot with ten-plus years required gig.

That could be important, because while I am no expert, I think Seal Team Six, or DEVGRU as it known to non-experts like me who read the Internet, is not a three-year gig, since you have to fly up from another Seal Team, and that takes time. Of course nothing too shabby about a gig on Seal Teams 1-12 minus 6 either). Anyway, especially with a 720+ GMAT, you got the goods. So it is a matter of just telling your story as per each application’s various nooks and ponds. Guys like you get in all over. In terms of how they don’t get in to Harvard/Stanford/Wharton, well, in rare cases it is a massive execution snafu, where, if military, you just tell war stories and say goals are to make bigger bombs, and if USAID, you just annoy people somehow. Of course, at HBS, and maybe Wharton, there is always “sudden death” by interview so prepare for that when you get there.

Man, you are about as “Tucky” as a guy can get without joining the Village People, and it would just be an issue of convincing them you want to camp out with them for two years while chopping down trees, white water rafting and catching up on course material on your iPod while going up ski lifts (or even going down ski slopes, if you are used to more challenging terrain).

Same deal with Booth and Kellogg. You will need some do-gooder/military goal statement about how the MBA will make you more impactful as a leader in context A, B, and C. But those are easy to generate. Just make sure A, B, and C relate to stuff you have done.

  • I think  this  web site  has  very  superb   composed   subject material   articles .

  • PatrickA
  • Alpinist

    Also, Lived in Hong Kong for 2 years during undergrad and climbed 7000+m peaks in the Himalaya and Andes Mountain Ranges several times.

  • Alpinist

    – HBS
    – Chicago
    – Wharton
    – Northwestern
    – Stanford
    – Tuck

  • Alpinist

    I would really like my case reviewed:

    GMAT: 730

    Undergrad GPA: 2.8 – Finance at regionally respected state school

    Cisco Systems Strategic Planning Financial Analyst – 2 years

    Private Capital Underwriting Associate- Distressed Debt, Turnaround Mezzanine Debt, Turnaround / Growth Equity Investments – 3 years

    Extracurricular Activities: Leadership Volunteer for Technical Mountain Rescue / Flight for Life

    Age: 27


  • Mr Engineer

    Forgot to mention interested schools. Also I am thinking about part time.

    1. Haas
    2. Booth
    3. McCombs

  • FingersCrossed

    John & Sandy:

    I would very much appreciate an analysis my potential candidacy for Business School. I am hoping to apply to Haas, Columbia, Stanford, and Yale this fall with the intention of tacking on an MPH in Family Planning between Yr 1 and 2 (unless the school has a joint-degree program e.g. Berkley). I’m so excited!

    GMAT: 720
    GPA: approx. 3.5 from Brown (Not calculated officially. Oh Brown.) Public Policy
    Gender: Female
    Age: 25 (at Matriculation)
    – 1 + Years at Sport-for-Development (HIV-focused) organization in sub-Saharan Africa as the lead on development (helped secure over $1m) and as a project manager on UN and State Department-funded initiatives (managed over 20+ educators)
    – 2 Years at a large USG-funded International Global Health organization focusing on Pediatric HIV/AIDS as a member of the New Business Development Team
    EC: 4-year NCAA D1 athlete (team sport), CDC Certified HIV Counselor at D.C. Mobile Clinic, Grant writer for D.C.-based sport-for-development organization (HIV)

    Thank you, in advance, for your honesty and help!

  • womenentrepreneur

    Ran through all the profile analysis but couldn’t find one close to mine. So hoping you would pick my profile in your next analysis:

    GMAT : 710
    GPA : 3.7 ( from a non IIT engineering college ) BE Computer Science
    Nationality : Indian
    Gender : Female
    Age : 31 ( at Matriculation )
    WE: 6 yrs as a Software Engineer at an MNC
    2 yrs as an entrepreneur running an E-commerce venture ( profitable )
    EC : Head one of the city divisions of a Non-Profit working to promote entrepreneurship in India. Executed various programs under this community.
    Awards : Won various awards as a women entrepreneur, selected for Leadership Programs, covered in multiple online media, have a case study on my entrepreneurial journey covered in a book.

    Planning to apply to H/W/S this fall. Whats your take on my chances??

  • Andrew

    Can you do one for an very intelligent, but otherwise average Caucasian male? I go to a top 50 private school (not Ivy), have a 4.0 cumulative, and anticipate a high (720+) GMAT score. But I’m a white, male, finance/econ major with no incredible volunteer/entrepreuner accomplishments that lived a comfortable, stable childhood with well-to-do parents. Do I have any shot at M7?

  • havstar

    I’d like to see Sandy’s analysis of someone from a Big 10 public school who – according to a recent article on this site – has no chance of getting into a school like Wharton due purely to prestige.

    23 y/o “Non-Academic Minority” Male
    2 years (3 years upon matriculation) with Samsung in a purchasing – support, supply chain management – role , responsible for $40 million of annual spend.
    750 GMAT
    3.7 from Iowa State in an engineering program with a business specialization (general engineering with calculus), one of two in a class of 30 to graduate with honors
    Extras include leader in the fraternity in college, leader of employee group (200+ members) at work, leader at local american cancer society, leader in mentoring program for disadvantaged youth, bi-lingual in Mandarin, working now on Portuguese (will this even help?)
    I spent 4 years living overseas and studying abroad in Beijing for high school and have traveled overseas to Asia for work as well.

    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – Wharton
    – MIT
    – Northwestern
    – Chicago
    – Duke

  • I know I had my profile evaluated already as Ms. Hospitality (http://poetsandquants.com/2011/07/01/part-ii-your-chances-of-getting-in/2/), but my GMAT score was an estimate of what I think I’d score (660) and I took it this week and got a 730.

    And to address Sandy’s questions, my firm doesn’t have a history of sending employees to business school because our core business is design services (which don’t need an MBA). I work in a support function on the corporate level for the world’s largest hospitality design firm. I know it’s not as selective as say, Google, but I would imagine it’s selective for the industry. I don’t know how that plays into things.

    Can you re-evaluate my chances for the same schools? Thank you!

  • Government Work Experience

    Hey John & Sandy,

    I posted earlier, but didn’t have much detail. Really wanted to get my case reviewed so here’s the whole thing…

    Initially failed out my top state school with a GPA 1.5
    Turned things around:
    Got AA from Community College in Business: GPA 3.7
    Got BS from in Financial Economics from the second best state school in my state: GPA 3.7

    Went on to work for a mutual fund company managing over 20 billion dollars as a Financial Reporting Analyst aka Mutual Fund Accountant. Was really interested in Portfolio Management but after the market crashed the hopes of that were nill (While doing this I was taking math classes at school to strengthen my skills necessary for a financial background)
    Changed jobs, went to the federal government (Census Bureau) to work in the Economic Directorate as a Statistician.
    All the while, did a masters in Economics from Johns Hopkins with a 3.95. Specialized in Econometric methods, Finance and Macroecnomic theory.

    I am also vice president of my family business (construction management) where I have helped negotiate contracts, do budgeting, cost analysis, etc.

    Age: 28
    GMAT: 720
    Gender: Male

    Schools: Wharton, Chicago, NYU, Yale, UVA, Duke, Michigan, Cornell, Georgetown (in order of preference)

    Please review my case!!!! Thanks

  • Archie

    Forgot to mention:

    – Varsity level fencer (for just 2 years)
    – Intramural baseball (3 years)

  • Archie

    Hi John/Sandy,
    A request for a profile evaluation, please:

    Academics: Undergraduate GPA of 90.6% (graduated at the top of the class for my major; beta gamma sigma honors). Graduate degree in finance from a top 3 Canadian business school (GPA:3.75/4.0)

    GMAT Score: 710

    Extra curricular: Student body VP in undergrad – Initiated and managed student sponsorship program and participation of students in external conferences
    – Took part in several national and international business case competitions; won an award
    – Won several scholarships in undergrad for extra curricular and community involvement
    – Consulting club executive in grad school: initiated a student based case interview prep program and managed the pro bono consulting arm of the club.
    – Continued community involvement through a not for profit that works with new immigrants

    Work Experience: with a no name consulting firm in technology and operations (less than 2 years). Co-Managing a portfolio of 5 clients.

    Please evaluate for the following schools: HBS, Kellogg, Tuck, Ross, and Darden


  • A

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I’d greatly appreciate your feedback:

    GMAT: 700
    GPA: 3.43
    BA in Economics from NYU
    6 years experience working as an Analyst for a NY-based fund of funds
    no extracurriculars (unless hobbies count)
    29 y.o. female

    Dream schools: Stern, Columbia, Wharton

    Thank you.

  • Ms. Non-Profit

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I would GREATLY appreciate your feedback. My background is unique compared to many of the people you have profiled, so it has been difficult to know where I stand!

    GMAT: 700
    GPA: 3.9 from Tulane University. BA in Communications and Spanish
    Phi Beta Kappa

    28 years old female

    I have worked for a major international non-profit organization. Five years ago, I began in an entry-level position and have had excellent growth throughout the organization. Presently, I am the Director of Missions. I manage a global team of 10 people and manage approximately 25 – 35 annual missions, or projects, each year. They are complex, long-term projects and I am responsible for the development, planning, execution, financial oversight and marketing of each.

    Extra-Curricular: Founding member of a local non-profit organization that helps young professionals become involved with volunteer work. Acted as the foundation’s Communication Manager for 2 years until I moved to a different city.

    Schools I would like to apply to:

    Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

  • California Dreamin

    Apologies, forgot to mention the following:
    -Passed all four parts of CPA exam first time
    -Work with primarily private, growth companies in various industries. have worked on an IPO
    -ideally would like to become head of finance for a start-up and help it grow

  • California Dreamin

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I’d greatly appreciate you taking a look at my profile and give me an indication of my chances at:

    -25 year old WASP Male
    -3.7 GPA from UCLA (but B- in Calculus), History major, Accounting minor
    -710 GMAT (stronger verbal, weaker quant)
    -Early 2-yr promote to Senior Assoc at PwC (Audit practice)
    -Operations manager at Pro tennis tourney during college
    -Co-founding charity/soccer org to host college combine/showcase and all-star game for HS boys and girls in hometown
    -Started own local adult league soccer team and incorporated into larger club
    -Leadership roles in other extra-curriculars during college

    Thanks a ton!

  • experience

    Tough one here:

    570 GMAT (took cold with no prep. not that admissions cares)
    3.0 from state school
    started successful company
    work in venture capital industry
    28 years old

    Duke, UNC, Wharton, Stanford, Yale

  • Great Work Exp. but average other stuff

    Oh, and forgot. 06 Grad. Asian male.

  • Great Work Exp. but average other stuff

    Hi John,

    Would love it if you could help handicap my chances.

    GMAT: 710
    Work Experience
    GPA: 3.7 from top Canadian undergrad business program (Richard Ivey)
    A) J.P. Morgan S&T x 4 yrs (Assoc x 1, Analyst x 3)
    B) PIMCO: Product management x less than 1 yr (Current job)
    Extra Curricular: Average. Alumni mentorship programs. Also mentored new hire JPM analysts & interns, and Zog sports mostly

    Columbia early decision (BY FAR no. 1 choice)

    I feel that my work experience is more than solid, but I feel there are other drags:
    A) the GMAT score isn’t great
    B) The ECs are a little weak.
    C) Canadian school not as well known.

    Can my work experience help me overcome all that?



  • ausdenbergen

    Hi – 27/F who would greatly appreciate if my profile could be analyzed:

    -730 GMAT without studying, plan on re-taking and am confident I will score higher.
    -3.8 GPA from the business college at a large state school
    -Languages: Speaks English and German fluently, going back to school part-time in the fall to learn French (have a gift with languages – pick them up quickly)

    Work experience: 3 years auditing with a Big Four firm (have my CPA), one year (so far) in financial reporting and internal controls for a large civil society NGO (traveling abroad on short-term technical assistance trips 1-3 times a year). Plan on applying in 2-3 years, and staying with my current organization until then.

    Extracurriculars: very involved in music, greek life, honors and other campus leadership programs during undergrad. Currently, running, still doing music for fun, as well as volunteering regularly with a women’s reproductive rights organization.

    Looking to enter an MBA or joint MBA/MPA program in order to enhance my leadership and analytical skills and find a professional network that will help me enter into more of a managerial role in international development, on the administrative side. Considering ideas for starting my own organization, which could be either for-profit or NFP. What can I do in the next 2-3 years to improve my chances of getting into a top program?

    Dream schools, in order:
    HBS joint program
    Chicago Booth


  • Non-Profit to Profit?

    I am a former dancer and current non-profit director looking to transition into social sector consulting post-MBA.

    Undergrad: Juilliard (scholarship awards)
    GPA: 3.6
    GMAT: 750 (48 Q, 45 V)
    Age: 28

    Recent job: Grew start-up arts non-profit from $100K to $2M in 3 years
    Prior: Professional dancer
    Extra-Curricular: Business adviser to several arts/theater companies,
    choreography, volunteer arts teacher in under-served schools

    Looking at UCLA, Tuck, Stanford, Berkeley, Kellogg, Cornell

  • someonerandom

    I’ll play… as Mr. Entertainment:

    GMAT: 730
    GPA: 3.5

    Undergrad degree from very large state school with B.A. in Finance and B.S. in International Studies and plenty of honors courses

    Work Experience:

    2 yrs at fortune 10 financial management program (entertainment division)
    1.5 yrs as financial analyst, then 1/2 of a year as Financial Manager for (large, very well known in the business world) non-profit institute… then took a risk and jumped back into entertainment with…
    1 yr as director of operational finance & coordinating producer for VC backed entertainment/production company

    Age: 27 now
    Extracurriculars: On Board of Directors for regional music festival for 3 years as unpaid/volunteer work, touring professional musician, and marathoner

    I’m leaving for an MBA because my entertainment company has little upward mobility for non-mbas and is also having funding issues. I’m going for an MBA because I would ultimately like to run an entertainment company. I want to work in business entertainment consulting post-mba for a few years to help get me there. Also interested in management consulting for schools with less of a presence in entertainment, and I can tailor my resume as such.

    Still choosing schools, but thinking HBS, Booth, Tuck, Northwestern, and Columbia…

  • Top tier but low end?

    Hi John, I have some great credentials but numbers might not quite be there. Worried I won’t make the cut against the consultant cohort.

    Male, 27
    710 GMAT (stronger on V than Q)
    3.4 GPA from Wharton undergrad
    McKinsey – 3 years (3rd year senior analyst spots are competitive)
    Google in UK- 1 year (working across Europe)
    Extra curricular: Main college activity was President of major volunteer organization similar to Habitat, very little post college

    Wondering about chances at: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, INSEAD, Sloan

  • Small School

    I’ve also posted my info in the comments of every one of these evaluation articles. PLEASE evaluate my candidacy in one of your stories.

    29 at matriculation,white male
    GPA: 3.83 at BYU-Idaho (current president is former HBS dean)
    GMAT: 710
    Work Experience: 1 1/2 years at small derivatives trading firm; 2 1/2 years starting a derivatives trading and investment management firm; market volatility necessitated a move to working for a reputable brokerage firm for a steady, predictable income (2 yrs at matriculation).
    Extracurriculars: 2 years service as a missionary (volunteer) in Asia (learning and speaking local language) including positions of leadership of up to 15 individuals, co-captain of intracollegiate basketball team, various church leadership positions(president of congregation’s Sunday School, president of men’s quorum), participation in other clubs. Continued church participation and leadership post-undergrad, church basketball participation.
    Desired industry: I want to get back into trading or investment management (but with a large established firm) utilizing my past experience with derivatives.
    My experience in derivatives is making me strongly consider the two Chicago schools, but am also considering other top schools:
    HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg
    Please let me know my chances. Thanks!

  • Ms. JD/MBA

    OK trying again with some more background info:

    I was hoping to get some feedback about whether my story is clear and makes sense in terms of progression and learning. Also, I would like to gauge my chances at some of the top programs.

    I am interested in getting a joint degree – JD/MBA. My ultimate goal is to work in corporate sustainability at a large company because business has the ability to move the needle and bring sustainability more into the forefront than just regulations and government. My story is that corporate sustainability is at a cross-section of law and business, and I hope to leverage a strong background in regulatory law to further business interests in a manner that is environmentally friendly.

    I previously worked in energy efficiency at a large manufacturing firm. I was working directly for a vice president in a two-person group. Opportunities for advancement would have required moving to the Midwest, so after my first performance review I decided to look for another position. My primary role was in lobbying and marketing, so I decided to go to a consulting firm to get some deeper experience in business operations. I worked in strategy and organizational change at my consulting firm.

    My profile is below:

    Asian Female
    Age: 25 (26 upon matriculation)
    GMAT: 770
    LSAT: 172
    Undergrad GPA: 3.77

    Undergrad school: Top 10, non-Ivy private, majors in Political Science and Arabic, worked 30+ hours a week while in school, TA for Arabic for 2 years

    Work experience:
    1.5 years at Fortune 100 manufacturing firm in marketing and government relations (lobbying for sustainability/energy issues)
    1.5 years at second-tier consulting firm (think Accenture, Booz Allen, Deloitte) and still here
    Promoted ahead of schedule by one year

    Extracurriculars in sustainability
    Board member of young professionals organization for consultants – registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit
    Fundraising for American Cancer Society, city’s ballet company

    Targets for JD and MBA programs: Harvard, Stanford, UPenn, UVA, Duke, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Northwestern, UChicago

  • Zig

    -25 y/o White male
    -~2 years in Corporate Development at F100 life insurer and ~1.5 years in Strategy & Corporate Development at major consulting company (guiding internal strategy and looking at acquisition opportunities for the company)
    -3.82 from WashU with dual majors in Finance and Political Science. Received Honors in both Management and Political Science.
    -GMAT: 710 (taking again in Sept.)
    -Extracurriculars: Ran student business in college, on Board of organization advocating for people with developmental disabilities, started and run NYC branch of child literacy nonprofit

    – Harvard
    – Wharton
    – MIT
    – Northwestern
    – Chicago
    – Duke
    – Mighigan

  • rottenSystem

    Having graduated from a public university with a MBA 20 years ago, it is ironic that with globalization, things have not really changed in 100 years. Back then you needed to be white superrich and well connected to get into the Ivy Leagues. Now the only thing that has really changed is that “white” is now replaced by “asian, white, or token minority”.

  • havstar

    Public School Student / Kind-of Minority? I don’t think I’ve seen this end of the stick yet.

    23 y/o Asian Male
    2 years with Samsung in a purchasing role (3 years upon matriculation), responsible for $40 million of annual spend.
    750 GMAT
    3.7 from Iowa State in an engineering program with a business specialization (general engineering with calculus), one of two in a class of 30 to graduate with honors
    Extras include leader in the fraternity in college, leader of employee group (200+ members) at work, leader at local american cancer society, bi-lingual
    Not sure if this counts, but I spent 3 years living overseas and studying abroad in high school. Maybe

    – Harvard
    – Stanford
    – Wharton
    – MIT
    – Northwestern
    – Chicago

  • ReturningVP

    Looking into both EMBA and MBA programs / need to take my shot at top tier in spite of the age difference with cohort. Fifteen years in technology after working way thru college. GPA is 3.2 finance/acctg BS second-tier private MDW university. IBM in Chicago and UK then sales mgmt in two other software organizations. Looking at Chicago area and West Coast school. GMAT 700. Heavy volunteer experience as advocate for Spec Needs kids after Corp career departure several years ago.
    What are my chances at
    Unv Washington
    others? Thanks from a ‘non-traditional student ‘

  • ~700 GMAT
    ~3.7 GPA
    ~B.A. with honors from University of Chicago, double major in sociology and gender studies

    ~interested in working in non-profit sector/public sector post-MBA
    ~work experience = 1 year @ law firm as legal assistant. 2.5 years @ non-profit health clinic. Entered as quality analyst, promoted to senior quality analyst after 1st year, promoted to strategy analyst after 2nd year. Report directly to senior management and lead special projects/initiatives. Very strong recommendations from current job.
    ~extra curriculars post graduation: junior board member for women’s economic advocacy non-profit, homeless shelter volunteer
    ~in college: president of Asian American students group, board member of gender studies center, vice president of fashion organization (are college activities too old to talk about?) could also get very strong recommendations from former professors
    ~25 year old Asian American female, US citizen

    Top Choice Schools:
    UChicago Booth

  • Indian AVP Hedge Fund Administrator

    Sorry for adding late to previous – I can get good recommendations from the CFO and the Asia-Pacific Managing Director. Can also get one reco from ex-MD who is now India MD at the world’s “topmost” Investment Bank.

  • Indian AVP Hedge Fund Administrator

    Dear Sandy and John, if you could assess my candidacy for HSW, Columbia and Tuck (plus any other top school you think I should consider given my credentials below).

    Indian Citizen, Male, 28
    720 GMAT
    Undergrad – Bachelors of Commerce, First Class, from a national tier-2 college
    State scholarship in seventh grade, cricket player for the state under-19 team, quizzer for the state

    Work experience: Excellent growth, 7 years, entirely in India (except for a month each in Canada and London for board-level business review)

    Since last 2.5 years Assistant Vice President – Corporate Planning with a Canadian hedge fund administrator (not big company, 500 employees and 60 million dollar annual revenue)

    Previous to this 2.5 years as Lead Analyst (joined as Analyst) in a mid-market market analysis firm where I consulted world’s top airlines and shipping companies on market demand forecasting). My industry reports quoted multiple times in international trade media.

    First two years of career at a homegrown but NASDAQ listed financial services BPO in sales support / pre-sales.

    Already dinged at INSEAD after applying in R3 for Jan 2012 entry. Now gearing up for top US schools 2012 entry. Please advise if I stand any chance.

  • ben

    GMAT: 760
    Undergrad: 3.65 from Wharton, finance and stat concentration
    Work exp: Algo trader for bulge bracket firm (2 yrs), plus 5+ years of internships with hedge funds and prop firms before that
    Extras: youth mentoring/tutoring
    Applying to: Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, UChicago, Northwestern


  • Scott

    Hi! Long time follower but first time poster. First off, just want to say that this website is excellent. Great source of information for prospective MBA candidates! I’ve been reading all of the profiles from this series but haven’t really come across one similar to my profile yet. If you would be so kind as to take a look at mine, it would be greatly appreciated!

    Undergrad: Top 10 public school in the US (UC system)
    GPA: 3.4
    Master’s in Education: 3.8 GPA
    GMAT: 720
    Age: 28
    Work Experience: Taught for 2 years through Teach For America, short stint (6 months) at ecommerce internet start-up, 2.5 years as Site Director/Education Consultant for top non-profit education organization (extremely well-known in the education space, started by TFA alum Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of DC Public Schools – although probably not as widely recognized outside of education circles)
    Extras: BUILD (build.org) mentor/volunteer for inner-city youth, volunteer with Citizen Schools (tutoring urban youth)

    Target Schools:
    Stanford (applied R3 this past year – dinged)
    Wharton (applied R3 this past year – waitlisted)
    Columbia (applied late this past year – waitlisted)

    Thanks in advance!

  • Tommy

    GMAT 690 (Q48, V36)
    GPA: 2.8 Univ. Illinois (take addt’l coursework at UChicago…2A’s, 2B’s)
    Exp: 3 yrs as proprietary trader for top-tier firm; also work w/ senior management on strategic initiatives
    Extras: Tutor/mentor to low-income children, elected to Student Senate at U Illinois

    Applying to:

  • Indian-IT Risk Mgmt Ops

    Hi Sandy,

    I am the next type of Indian brother.

    GMAT – 740
    GPA – 67%(First class) from a top 25 institution in India
    Age – 23 (24 at matriculation)
    Work Exp : 3 yrs (at the time of matriculation) in one of the biggest Multi national banks in the world. Profile – Analyst in the IT Risk and Security Management division. Got promoted in my first full year.
    Extra Curriculars – Freelance journalist for a local magazine (primarily doing restaurant reviews). GMAT & SAT Mentor to kids (some of them have learning disabilities). Member of High IQ society (certified IQ= 138).

    Kindly evaluate my chances for:
    CMU (Tepper)
    Emory (Goizueta)

  • China citizen
    27 years old
    700 GMAT
    2.63 Grade Point Average(for explainable reason )
    Undergraduate degree from second tier ivy league
    rise in uighurs area, many experinece from multi-culture

    Work experience:4 years in leding spacecraft egineering company with several promotions and rewards
    7 years online-work in accounting&biding for family company

    want to know chance of
    -other schools you think fit for me
    thank you for your time !

  • Stephanie


    Could you please have Sandy assess my chances at the following schools. I’m a bit younger than most applicants so I was wondering if I can get some input on whether I should apply sooner or later. Thanks!!!

    GPA:3.4 in Biochemistry from a State College through an early entrance program (started college when i was 15)
    Asian-American Female

    Work experience: Worked internet marketing while in college. After graduating worked for two years at an international electronic manufacturer (#1 in it’s division) as a program manager assigned to develop and manufacturer cloud computing hardware for a top 10 account.

    Extra-curricular: In college, was elected to student government and president of 3 other clubs, became a Youth Officer for a local Youth Leadership Program for Asian Americans, did a myriad of service project with a service fraternity.

    From reading Sandy’s comments, I understand that my GPA isn’t the greatest but I was wondering what my odds are at currently and if I should wait to gain more job experience to help save my GPA.

    – MIT
    – Harvard
    – Yale
    – Wharton
    – Tuck
    – Booth
    – Columbia
    – NYU

    Thank you for your time!

    Best regards,

  • EnviroSuit

    Do mine!

    GMAT: 740
    Undergrad: 3.46 from H/Y/P Ivy
    Work experience: 2 years at well respected environmental NGO working on corporate projects and internal strategy
    Career goals: social entrepreneurship or sustainability consulting
    Extras: Club sports president & volunteered in local elementary schools in college, after college served as regional class coordinator for alumni events and served on local board of post-undergrad public service fellowship program.
    Primarily interested in:

  • China citizen, 27 years old
    700 GMAT
    2.63 Grade Point Average
    Undergraduate degree from second tier ivy league
    Work experience: 4 years in spacecraft egineering
    7 years in family company(online-work,accounting&biding)
    rise in uighurs area, many riots
    I want to know chance of Columbia,Tuck, Duke, Darden,Cornell or other schools you think fit for me
    thank you for your time and patient !

  • ConstructorTR

    Hi HBSGuru and John,

    I’d be glad if you can assess my odds as well.

    -Turkish citizen, 25 years old
    -Undergrad: Civil engineering from top university in Turkey, GPA: 2.2
    The reason for the low GPA was a serious illness throughout the uni. years.
    -GMAT 740
    -Work experience: 4,5 years international experience in construction business (1,5 years as a QA/QC engineer w/ raise in salary after 6 months, leading technical staff of 7-8 in Kazakhstan; almost 1 year technical department manager in Romania, leading a department of 10; 2 years managerial positions in Russia leading 50-150 people w/ 2 times raise in position)
    -Extracurriculars: Undergrad: Organised streetball tournaments, helped several charities periodically, created a stock market–forex study group, traveled to 10 countries. Post grad: Attended Rotaract and Rotary meetings, became a Rotarian (actively taking part), started tennis club in the company.

    I want to apply to NYU, Yale, UNC, Duke and Emory for 2012. Another question is does it matter if I apply for the first round or second?

    Thanks in advance for your valuable expertise and time.

    p.s.: My guesses for your first quiz are
    1. Azerbaijan
    2. Finland
    3. Moldova
    4. Zambia
    5. Uruguay

  • Regina

    I’ll take a stab at the fun quiz only coz I really need to know the answers. The suspense is killing me…

    I’d say there is unlikely anyone attending HBS from 1) Azerbaijan, 2) Bhutan 3) Brunei 4) Moldova and 5) uruguay?

  • And here is another quiz–

    Which of the following countries, NONE OF WHICH CURRENTLY HAVE ANY KIDS AT HBS, do you think would give you the most Politically Correct HBS bonus points, if you lived there at the time of your application ?

    1. West Bank
    2. North Korea
    3. Cuba
    4. Tunisa
    5. Botswana
    6. Tibet
    7. People’s Rebuplic of Cambridge
    8. “People’s” Large-Lot -No-Development-Zone of Lincoln (home of ????)


    dual citizen of a country that will likely have no other applicants to top MBA programs


    Which of the following countries have kids currently enrolled at HBS: 10 Countries, and only FIVE right answers. *

    2. Azerbaijan
    3. Bhutan
    4. Finland
    5. Brunei
    6. Moldova
    7. Zambia
    8. Zimbabwe
    9. Uruguay
    10. Trinnidad & Tobago

    *data based on Academic Year 2010-2011

  • Mr Dreamer

    I also wanted to add that I have no real extracurricular activities. I also plan to apply early decision at Columbia. I also want to add that I’m pretty bad at interviews, being an introverted engineer type.

    By the way, thanks to John for building an excellent site, and thanks very much to Sandy for doing this handicap series. I think my case would apply to many others, because there are a lot of unemployed people right now who are interested in going to grad school, and are wondering how their extended unemployment comes off.

  • Mr Dreamer

    Hi Sandy, I would like to be considered for handicapping odds:

    late 20s
    BS in engineering from big state school, GPA 2.94
    GMAT 710
    3 years entry level work experience
    unemployed for 2 years, due to economy/poor credit/discouraged
    plan to write very focused essay on why MBA will allow me to excel in the future, but I will have mediocre recommendations (since I haven’t really had major responsibilities in my entry level jobs)

    i would like my odds for Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon

  • Todd

    Accidentally put Duke twice.

  • Todd

    Age 29
    720 GMAT
    3.0 from small state school
    JD from a state school
    Assistant Attorney General (state Attorney General’s office)
    First gen college grad
    Not a large body of quantitative work.
    Extras – Econ Development Panel, some other small charity work
    Interested in General Mgmt at a startup or entrepreneurial company

    Haven’t posted since the first one.

    Could you comment on my chances at:

    Tuck, Fuqua, Duke, Darden and Anderson?

  • Cameron

    Just to add to my “story”, reason why I decided to take on a BA in Art History was to develop my reading and writing skills because the major is very very text heavy. It has definitely helped and I don’t regret it.

    Thanks again!

  • Cameron


    Could you please have Sandy assess my chances at the following schools. I have a unique background with 3 different degrees. Hard to compare myself to others. Thanks!!!

    23 Year Old Asian Male
    GMAT 710 (Q51, V35) – came from China 7 years ago so verbal is still not the strongest. Very comfortable quantitatively.
    Cumulative GPA: 3.65 from a middle-tier state school
    GPA Breakdown my degrees/major:
    – BS Accounting/Finance – GPA: 3.85
    – BS Mathematics – GPA: 3.8
    – BA Art History – GPA: 3.2

    Was hoping that although my GPA isn’t the HIGHEST, they would look favorably upon the “more important” GPA pieces, my BS in business and math.

    Completed these three degrees in 4 years which required consistently taking 22-24 credits a semester (at least 5 semesters) so that also helps to explain why my grades aren’t higher.

    Also paid for college myself, worked part time in high school to finance some of it and took out many loans.

    Internship back in college with Siemens in their marketing division.

    2 years work experience at bulge bracket investment bank within their controllers and risk functions.

    Looking to make a career switch to a more client facing role such as consulting.

    – Former VP in a business fraternity in college
    – Went on a trip to China to help students learn English
    – Leader for “early career” church group

    Again, I have a hard time finding a profile like mine anywhere so would greatly appreciate it if you could have Sandy assess my chances at:

    – MIT
    – Harvard
    – Yale
    – Wharton
    – Tuck
    – Booth
    – Columbia
    – NYU

    Thanks in advance John! Please keep these coming!

  • Nathnael,

    Ok. You got it. Next week, for sure.

  • Nathanael

    Same John, no disrespect but I’ve been waiting for a college profile or two. None have showed. Would you kindly include my profile as well for assessment?

    Male – 22 Years Old
    730 GMAT
    3.94 GPA from SUNY School
    BS Finance / Accounting

    2 Summer Internships at a bulge bracket investment bank
    Off-season internship with another bulge bracket investment bank in equity research
    Off-season internship at a small PE shop

    President/Founder of Mentoring Program on campus that has received acclaim; incorporates involvement from firms (eg. Big Four and I-banks) and undergrad b-school administration such as Dean and Career Services
    President/ Former Senior VP of Business Fraternity
    Peer Advisor in Undergraduate b-school office
    TA for multiple courses including accounting
    A capella group
    Religious group – Former leader
    Intramural Athletics

    Could you please assess chances at:
    Harvard 2+2
    Stanford GSB

    If you could have Sandy look this profile over, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  • Bruce Vann

    How does someone have a negative chance at anything?

  • Ms. Journalist

    Hi Sandy and John:

    Would appreciate very much your assessment and analysis on my chances to: HBS, Tuck, Kellogg, Haas, Yale, Darden, and Fuqua.

    – GMAT: 690 (will retake in a few months)
    – GPA: 3.80 Journalism major from top J-School (public)
    – Work Experience: 1.5 year (3.5 years at matriculation) Assistant Editor at a national magazine
    – Extra Curr: Chapter Leader of local Alumni Association, Sorority House Chair, Co-founder of Field Hockey club, Society of Professional Journalists member
    – 23 years old (25 at matriculation)

    Thank you very much!

  • Mr. EarlyStarter

    Thanks, John. And thank you for providing such interesting material.

  • Ok. Guaranteed: EarlyStarter and Inner City will be featured next week. Promise! Thanks for sharing your details and for reading the site.

  • Fernando

    Mr. Inner city

    I am going to give it another shot and add some more detail :). As I mentioned, I will love to get feedback as I have been promoted to post-MBA position at my current company and want to know if it makes sense to get my MBA, or in other words, do I have a shot at the top school.

    -650 GMAT (will take it again but assuming score does not change)
    -B.A. Economics, 3.2 GPA from non-HYP Ivy league School
    -Latino, immigrated to Oakland when I was 8, first-generation college student
    -Work Experience (in order, most recent to oldest):
    -1 years Corporate M&A at a very popular corporation in Pacific Northwest (not Microsoft or Amazon), will have 2 years at firm when I enter school
    – 1 Year at Mega-fund (40bn in assets) Private Equity. I was in front-office / investing side (New York) (left firm after a year to help start M&A team at corporation, as company had no experience with M&A and thought it was an amazing opportunity)
    – 2 years at Bulge Bracket Investment Bank (New York) (Emerging markets M&A, rank in top tiers)

    -Activities and Societies: MLT and SEO (minority business programs), MLT fundraising class captain; Microfinance advocate at investment bank

    Potential Schools (in order of preference):

  • Mr. EarlyStarter

    Hey guys,
    I really appreciate you guys doing this for us. The reviews are very insightful. WE HAVE SEEN PLENTY OF 720+ 3.0+ ARMY GUYS and 680+ 3.5+ MINORITY WOMEN, BUT WE HAVE SOON NOOO COLLEGE KIDS. The profiles are beginning to repeat themselves in this series. but there are so many more eligible and different profiles that could be reviewed. This is my third or fourth time submitting to be reviewed. I just want to see ONE, college senior review to hear Sandy’s thoughts. If my profile is too specific, feel free to generalize it a bit. I do not mean to be rude or whiny but I just feel that my profile or one similar would be a fresh addition to the typical weekly reviews.

    -700 GMAT
    -B.S. Chemical Engineering
    -3.8 GPA from Texas Tech University (top 25 Engineering School)
    -22 year old Nigerian American (fresh out of college)
    -Work Experience (beginning with the most recent): [Shell Oil Internship, Eastman Chemical Co-Op, TETRA Technologies Internship]

    That is all my experience in the engineering industry. I did well in all my internships and Co-Ops. I developed products, devices, and process improvement for all three companies. I helped these companies profit from my short time spent with them. They have all offered me full time jobs upon graduation. Within these internships I worked in corporate offices and on the operations level making my experience very diverse because I am neither a button-pusher or a rough-neck but more like a combo of both. This work experience totals to 5 terms which is 18 months. I know it is not two years but, most schools do not have that requirement as stated in some of John’s other articles discussing the increase in younger applicants being admitted to top MBA programs.

    I also have a year of experience working as an RA of a non-traditional dorm (older students, handicapped students, and upperclassman students). Back home, I work seasonally as a Sales Associate at Calvin Klein (for the past 4 years).

    -Activities and Societies: *starting with highest level of involvement*: American Institute of Chemical Engineers (SORC Representative), Texas Tech University Men’s Rugby(Fundraising/Recruitment Chair and All-State Player), Christ in Action(Servant Leader), National Society of Collegiate Scholars(member), Alpha Lambda Delta(member), Phi Eta Sigma(member)

    Short Term: I want to get my MBA to serve executively in the energy industry while having the technical background to make good decisions. Long Term: I want to develop assisted living centers.

    Once again, I have not seen any fresh out of college reviews and not too many AA males either. We apply to business school as well and are very curious!

    2+2 Program
    MIT joint MS in Engineering and MBA (would have to wait two years)
    Kellogg (MBA or MMM after waiting two years)
    (your suggestion)

    Thanks Again!!

  • Enviro Man

    Hi John,

    Would appreciate your comments on my prospects –
    1. 6 years of technology sales experience to oil and gas companies (Shell, BP, Exxon). Employed at top German engineering conglomerate.
    2. Worked in Singapore for five years and was responsible for sales in eight countries. Promoted to USA and delivered strong results.
    3. Selected in companywide future leaders program – top 0.5%.
    4. Want to go back into the field of sustainable technology delivery in developing world.
    5. GMAT – 720, Undergrad GPA – 3.3/4
    6. Masters in Engineering – Quasi Ivy League (joint degree program -Stanford).

    Target Schools –
    Tuck, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and may be Harvard.

  • help help help

    John – can you please please please assess my potential???

    -GMAT: 710
    -GPA: 3.75 Small New England Liberal Arts, Economics Major
    -Work Experience: Electricity Consulting, 2 years will large well respected firm, left to go to smaller firm with less prestige but more opportunity for client interaction and responsibility (1 year).
    -Planning to continue in energy consulting
    -Recently relocated and volunteered to be Alumni Events coordinator for my city – very active in alumni relations
    -Interested in Haas, Duke, MIT, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Yale
    -How will retaking the GMAT change my odds?