What Are Your Odds Of Getting In

She was a Big Four auditor for three years before moving on to a career in public health. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.8 grade point average, her dream schools are INSEAD, Harvard, Chicago and Berkeley.

He works at a hedge fund in New York but really wants to land a job at a bulge bracket investment banking firm. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.1 GPA from Fordham University, his target schools include Dartmouth’s Tuck, Virginia’s Darden, and Cornell’s Johnson Schools.

For the past four years, she has worked in digital media but now wants to “get out of the weeds” and move into management consulting or product marketing. Will a 720 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA be enough to get into Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton?

To find out if they have what it takes to get into a top business school, we’re again turning to Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com. For the tenth time in a row, he’ll 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 tough love analysis:


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.8 Grade Point Average
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting and international business from a Midwestern state school
  • Work experience includes three years as a Big Four auditor; now work for a large U.S.-based civil society NGO that does public health
  • Extracurricular involvement includes being a member of a jazz band and a marching band, executive positions in my sorority, and a campus orientation leader; volunteer regularly with a women’s health rights organization, and occasionally assist the Girl Scouts of America program in my region with personal finance workshops.
  • Goal: “I’m interested in doing oft-overlooked administrative capacity building for local (in-country) civil society organizations, and can see myself doing so either through an NGO or by starting my own organization.”
  • 27-year-old woman

Odds of Success:

INSEAD: 60+%

Harvard Business School (Joint MBA/MPA with Kennedy School): 40% to 50%

Chicago (With AM from the School of Social Services): 60+%

Berkeley (With MA in international and area studies): 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Retaking a 730 GMAT is a possible nutcase alert. So, don’t retake. In general, Big Four experience is a mixed bag. That is not a competitive job for schools like HBS and they expect kids who start work at a Big Four firm to somehow find a way out after two years or so and snag some kind of better job. The number of straight Big Four admits (not minorities) in HBS is real small.

But it seems that you have done that if the import of your note is that you are nowrking for “a large U.S.-based civil society NGO that does public health work — I plan on staying here two to three more years and hope to do a six- to 12-month rotation as a finance manager in one of the countries we serve.”

Wow. A 3.8 from some kind of Midwest school and the 730 GMAT. Plus some extras with women’s health and the Girl Scouts. Jeepers, sounds like you are applying from Lake Wobegon because it is real homey and in this case, this kid is above average. (Our international readers who are lost are referred to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Woebegon). I think you got a real good shot at INSEAD, which takes older folks and likes Americans and will be impressed with your language skills. Booth and Berkeley in the joint degrees you want are in line as well.

Whether you should wait two more years is a hard call. How long have you been at your new job? In two or three years, you will be 29 or 30, with possibly too much work experience. On the other hand, the work experience seems right in line with what you want to do. The issue becomes how much value added are you going to get in admissions terms from those extra two years. A lot depends, really, on when you started that job.

Right now, you look like a CPA who is smart enough to get out. Your goal of keeping books for an NGO is laudable, although you need to tap into the ‘space’ which is growing up around that concept, after folks have discovered that 99 percent of aid gets sucked down local rat holes of one kind or another.

The following, an excerpt from The New York Times, is really worth noting, as is the book and the message. This is important for you and all potential do-gooder applicants: “It’s in the realm of charity, and especially in international aid, where [management} methods are really succeeding beyond the confines of the corporation, as Alex Perry, chief African correspondent at Time magazine, demonstrates convincingly in “Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time” (PublicAffairs, $25.99). This little gem of a book heartens the reader by showing how eagerly an array of American billionaires, including Bill Gates and the New Jersey investor Ray Chambers (the book’s protagonist), are using concepts of efficient management to improve the rest of the world. “Lifeblood” nominally chronicles the global effort to eradicate malaria, but it is really about changes that Mr. Chambers, Mr. Gates and others are bringing to the chronically mismanaged system of foreign aid, especially in Africa.

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