USC Marshall | Mr. Utilitarian Mobility
GMAT 740, GPA 2.67
Wharton | Mr. Social Impact CPA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Looking To Learn
GMAT 760, GPA 3.0
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Second Chances
GRE 310, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Future Gates Foundation
GMAT 720, GPA 7.92
Wharton | Mr. Infrastructure
GMAT 770, GPA 3.05
MIT Sloan | Mr. Data Mastermind
GMAT N/A; will be taking in May, GPA 3.6
London Business School | Mr. Aussie Analyst
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Sustainable Real Estate
GRE SAT 1950 (90th Percentile), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Bassist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.61
Cornell Johnson | Mr. IT To IB
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Ms. URM
GRE 325, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Stay Involved
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Green Business
GMAT 680, GPA 3.33; 3.9 for Masters
NYU Stern | Mr. Military Officer
GRE In Progress, GPA 2.88
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Commercial Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55

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.

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.