Wharton | Mr. Top Salesman
GMAT 610, GPA 4.0
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

Breaking Through The Elite B-School Screen

Ms. Education

  • 690 GMAT (Looking to retake to score around target school avg or above 720+)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in public policy from a top 10 national private university
  • Work experience as a portfolio manager/senior consultant at an educational technology consulting firm in a very niche sector, international client base.
  • Promoted twice in 3 years, youngest in role by 5 to 10 years, manage one of largest portfolios both in terms of revenue and client size.
  • Presented at national and international conferences/workshops and launched online professional learning community.
  • Extracurricular activities in college with leadership positions, selective women’s leadership program, community tutoring, sorority executive board, led campus faith organization, education policy internship and organized passing of landmark educational bill.
  • Goal: To start my own educational consulting firm/start up or lead an educational organization/school/district, short term: non-profit or management consulting to gain organizational leadership experience
  • “My weaknesses are my GPA and GMAT, non “blue-chip” company. My strengths: essays, work & leadership experiences”
  • Born overseas but US raised, unique background with overcoming adversity
  • 24-year-old Asian-American immigrant female

Odds of Success:

Stanford (joint degree in School of Education): 15% to 20%

Harvard Business School: 20% to 30%

Berkeley: 40+%

Yale: 50+%

Wharton: 25% to 40%

Northwestern: 40% to 60%

Columbia: 40% to 50%

Duke: 50% to 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, you seem to know your own strengths and weaknesses very well, which is the beginning of wisdom, but not, I fear the beginning of being accepted by Stanford or Harvard.

For the reasons you mention–low GPA and lowish GMAT, plus non-blue chip firm—you’re asking them to blink twice or maybe 1.5 times, and they will take someone similar to you with better stats and schooling. The rest is real solid, and you have a terrific halo effect from consistent work, in an important field (ed tech is a hot item, even though its benefits have been oversold, but who cares, not your fault) and lots of extras plus a good “Coming to America” story.

I like you, and my guess is, with real solid execution, which should be easy, given how smoothly your goals flow from your experience, you could be real strong candidate at Kellogg, Haas, Yale, and Duke. Wharton may balk because of stats and because you are not their ‘type’ superficially, although that can sometimes be a wild card advantage. Ditto Columbia, but their gag reflex is a little lower in your case (you might get in) because 1. It is just easier in general, 2. They have a big Ed school, where you’d be a natural fit.

Man, I just read this over, and I like you even more. I’m trying to do some regression analysis (well, what I think that means). And if you had a 3.9 and the company you work for is substantial or serious, you’d be real strong at H or S. The rest of this is just so solid. A neighbor of mine started an educational consulting company right out of Harvard Ed School, doing what seems like what your company does, and he had an HBS grad working for him. Explain the grades in some way and stress international do-gooder stories, and write back and tell me you made it to Harvard or Stanford. Somehow I think your chances are better at Harvard because you have more room to explain yourself, e.g. basically seven story ops plus a goal statement. You could really fill that out.

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series:

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen


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.