Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

If you’ve been unemployed for two years do you have any chance at all of getting into a top business school?

If you were a young woman who is an assistant editor at a national magazine but boasts a GMAT score below 700, would Harvard Business School even look at you?

And if you’re a young Asian who earned three undergraduate degrees and now works for a bulge bracket investment bank, do you have a chance to get into your dream MBA program?

For the eighth consecutive week, we’re turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, to answer these questions and give his assessment on 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 tough love analysis:

Mr. Unemployed

  • 710 GMAT
  • 2.94 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a big state school
  • Work experience includes three years of entry-level work, but unemployed for two years “due to economy and poor credit”
  • “I will have mediocre recommendations since I haven’t really had major responsibilities in my entry level jobs”

Odds of Success:

Wharton: Zero
Columbia: Zero
Cornell: Zero
UCLA: Zero
Boston University: -20%
Arizona State: -30%
Baruch: 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: I feel your pain, pal, but schools won’t. You are not getting into any top-15 business school with this profile. There is just no compelling reason to take you. Business schools are not in the business of getting jobs for unemployed people. They are in the business of taking wonderfully employed people and making sure they stay that way. Your explaining to them how the MBA will help you excel in the future is the last thing they want to hear. They don’t go for the Lourdes routine.

You don’t enter Harvard, Stanford or Wharton and then throw away your crutches. You enter H/S/W on a motorcycle and leave in a Ferrari.

You really need to look into some regional schools, or night programs. The 710 will go a long way there–although even there, try to present a concrete future plan, based on prior work, and not some miracle story.
Sorry to be even a bit flip. I hope things turn around for you.