Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Ms. K-Mart

  • 670 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from state school
  • Work experience includes three years at the headquarters of the largest retailer in Arkansas, focused on developing strategy, plus two years in retail selling clothes to girls who were size zero, and two years recruiting high school students to study engineering
  • Extracurricular involvement includes black belt in martial arts, volunteer ten-plus hours per week helping elementary school children.
  • 25-year-old Asian-American female
  • Goal: A career switch from engineering to social entrepreneurship

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Kellogg: 60%

MIT: -40%

Georgetown: 50%

UNC: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: OUCH! Lots to like here including K-Mart experience (aren’t they the largest retailer in Arkansas?). By the way, show I saw about Wal-Mart said they hate MBAs and don’t hire any and are proud of it. But, of course, you are not trying to get hired. You are trying to leave. This is just possibly an HBS profile, since Harvard likes the biggest anything, including biggest ***holes, of whom there are many in each section, and you have some other good karma working for you, including being an Asian Female in a Macho Company and how-you-overcame-that stories  (I don’t care if it is true or not, it is “truth-able,” given what HBS and other schools think they know about Wal-Mart, so go with it).

Other good story ideas are dealing with anorexic fashion hounds and diverting them to therapy, recruiting high school kids, and volunteer work and black belt, which I take it, is not from Sam’s Club?  All that is great, and you might slip in, but the 3.4 GPA, even in an engineering program, and the 670, combined, might be your downfall. There is a saying, by me, that  “HBS will blink once, but they will not blink twice,” and you are asking them to blink at both your GPA and your GMAT, and they are reluctant to do that. Like everything else, it happens, but not all that often.

If you are hog wild about HBS, I’d keep taking the GMAT until you can’t anymore. A 730 would really make a difference for you, and I do not say that to everyone about HBS. For the record, and for others reading this, if one has no HBS earmarks and a 690 GMAT, getting that score to 730 means zilch, so does getting that GMAT to 800. HBS is pretty GMAT agnostic past a certain point, it is only when GMAT and GPA are both on low side that raising your GMAT can help.

OK, back to K-Mart gal, you have a real solid shot at Kellogg, and should be very strong at GTown and UNC.  MIT is more GMAT and GPA sensitive, especially in tandem, than most places, so I am calling that less than 40 percent. They also don’t care so much about extras.

As to your goals about social entrepreneurship? Huh? The best story you got going for you is engineering and Wal-Mart. So why screw with that? Supply chain is the dirty secret of the Internet. Wal-Mart is the world’s leader in supply chain. Sister, you’ve been given the royal touch at birth. Don’t mess that up now and say you want to be a communist.

Say you’re really interested in supply chain management, especially in stores which cater to size zero people because the clothing often gets lost because it is so small. Well, just kidding, but you get the idea, some supply chain, retail operations leadership shtick.

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