- 570 GMAT (practice exam)
- 3.9 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in economics from a no-name state school
- Work experience includes two and one-half years in a finance/accounting job at a major blue chip company and then a leap to another blue chip high on the Fortune list in a job with greater responsibility
- Extracurricular involvement includes various volunteering activities.
- “I do have some good leadership experience, but some of it is politically charged and highly controversial and I’m not sure whether I should risk mentioning it.”
- Career Goals: Upper management role in a blue chip firm. “My real goal is entrepreneurship and I have some action there, but if B-Schools despise entrepreneurs who “think big” and may, as a result, become “rich,” then I guess people will be incentivized to hide that aspect of their personalities.”
- Plan to matriculate at age 27 or 28. I would feel more ready if I could matriculate at 28, but I’m worried about age
- First in family to go to college from an extremely poor background
Odds of Success:
MIT Sloan: 20%
Chicago Booth: 40%+
Sandy’s Analysis: Get the chip of your shoulder about schools disliking success and entrepreneurs and stop being paranoid about “politically charged” volunteer work, assuming it is not anti-gay rights, anti-choice (closer one, but downplay) or anti-immigrant. Dunno what I’d say if you were Tea Party honcho. That could be close and require special treatment. I probably would not mention Tea Party by name but just say you are an activist for limited government.
On the bright side, you got a lot going for you, including a 3.9 at a non-name school, poverty, first in family to go to college and a couple of blue chip jobs. High GPA from a no-where school and Blue Chip work experience is usually a great formula to get into top schools. Just try to get some kinda 650 GMAT.
The fact that you got 3.9 as Econ major will go a long way in giving schools assurance that you can hack B-school math. As to goals: YES, stick with wanting to be a leader in a Blue Chip firm and do not, out of the blue, say you want to be an entrepreneur. That does just not compute and anyone can say that. You could also say, in the proper application lingo, that you want to lead a ‘growing’ or ‘innovative’ firm or make some Blue Chip firm more so.
I don’t think it makes a big difference if you matriculate at 27 or 28, although 27 is probably better. But if you say you want to be a management consultant or join some Fortune 100 leadership program after earning your MBA, most schools will see that as plausible even if you are 31 at graduation.
Guys like you, with real victim and sob stories and full backing of firm, get into Stanford with a ~700 GMAT. HBS takes dudes like you, if you execute properly. MIT cares the least for sob stories, and the GMAT really counts over there, so chances are the least there, oddly. Wharton would like a 680. Best chance with a 650 would be HBS, strange to say. You don’t need to push any envelopes on the application, just take a regular-sized envelope and address it very clearly.