Handicapping Your Shot At Getting In

Mr. Black Belt

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.25 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in industrial and system engineering from Texas A&M
  • Came to the U.S. with my family after finishing high school in the Middle East, first attended a community college then transferred to Texas A&M
  • Work experience includes four and one-half years with General Electric Energy where he earned a Six Sigma black belt
  • Extracurricular involvement mostly in political activities to raise awareness of issues facing Arab-Americans and the political situation in the Middle East
  • 28-year-old Arab American
  • Goal: To use MBA for a career change to management consulting with companies like McKinsey, Bain, or BCG, becoming an expert in the energy practice
  • “I know career plans are not exciting but I am not planning to apply to Stanford and change the world…if I had plans to change the world I would not have contemplated doing an MBA or getting an engineering degree in the first place”
  • “Would retaking the GMAT and getting a jumbo score have an effect?”

Odds of Success:

MIT: 30% to 50%
Berkeley: 30% to 40%
Michigan: 50+%
Duke: 50+%
Virginia: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: MIT is real close and they are hard to figure. You got a lot of what they like, but they don’t go for sob stories about grades, no matter how compelling. And one thing they don’t need is another Industrial engineer, since you can trip on them all over campus. GE is good, rotations are good, goals are fine. Extras at MIT don’t count, and I am not sure they are hurting for Arabs either, although that helps a pixel.

MIT is one of the few places that will give you bonus points for a jumbo GMAT, like 760+, so if you really think you can crack that, might be worth a try. Also, many of those consulting firms you like sometimes ask for GMAT scores, and they got big eyes as well. Although, to be honest, just from reading your note, you don’t strike me as a Bain type, but once again, I hold out that real possibility that writing to me brings out the worst in many people, and a very different and more charming, optimistic, less sour chap will turn up for his Bain interviews.

Beyond MIT, I think all your virtues, even if the GMAT stays at 720, and the solid career at GE, makes you really in-line at other places, including Haas, Ross, Fuqua, and Darden. One piece of advice: raising awareness of issues facing Arab Americans is fine, stay away from the Middle East “political situation.”  Same advice I give across the board. Mid-East issues are raw, and your application can easily wind up on the wrong desk, especially at schools with student application readers. But anyplace. The downside of picking sides in the Middle East is just too great, and the upside is very, very small.