Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
MIT Sloan | Mr. Latino Insurance
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5 / 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Triathlete
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
MIT Sloan | Mr. MBB Transformation
GMAT 760, GPA 3.46
Wharton | Mr. Swing Big
GRE N/A, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Supply Chain Data Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 80% (top 10% of class)
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Indonesia
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. LGBT Social Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.79
Stanford GSB | Mr. Oilfield Trekker
GMAT 720, GPA 7.99/10
Kellogg | Mr. Big 4 Financial Consultant
GMAT 740, GPA 3.94
Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95

Breaking Through The Elite B-School Screen

Ms. Washington, D.C.


  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.55 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a public Ivy
  • Work experience includes a year in local/state government, having worked on a state representative campaign and then in the legislative office of the rep; a year and one-half in a non-profit think tank for progressive policy issues; a year and one-half at the White House, and a year and counting at the Department of the Treasury
  • Extracurricular activity includes having been a board member of Students for Choice and co-chair of Women’s Issues Commission. Have since volunteered on various campaigns, Habitat for Humanity, and local soup kitchens
  • Interested in non-profit and public sector management
  • 27-year-old Hispanic/white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard Business School: 20% to 50% (but only near 50 if some bigfoot goes to bat for you)

Berkeley: 40% to 50%

Yale: 50+%

Duke: 60+%

Michigan: 60% to 70%

Virginia: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: How Hispanic are you? Do you have a Hispanic surname and connections to Latin community, and especially do you have a Hispanic surname?

Hmmmmmm, what did you do at White House and Treasury? As noted, those are feeder government spots to Harvard and Stanford, and as noted, a lot will depend on how hard those jobs were to get, and who your peers were, and what you did. At HBS, kids like you get in and get dinged depending on how well they can put all those intangibles together and who they can juice for recommendations and phone calls.

If you can get some bold name at the White House or Treasury (does not have to be Obama but someone most of us have heard of) to really get behind your application, that can drive you into HBS since the rest is passable. That person has to do more than just write a recommendation; that person needs to make contact with someone at HBS and say, “Hey, real star here…………..give her a look.”

I just don’t see you having any trouble at other schools you note. You are close enough to their average stats, you are some kind of Hispanic, you are female, you got some solid extras, and have better and more interesting work experience than they will see from 95% of their other applicants. Plus, it all fits, even though four jobs is a lot, in your case it makes sense.

About The Author

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.