Tuck | Mr. Product Marketer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. Access To Opportunities
GRE 318, GPA 2.9
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
London Business School | Mr. Midwest Engineer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.69
Harvard | Mr. Policy Development
GMAT 740, GPA Top 30%
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Champion Swimmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. NFL Team Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Consulting Hopeful
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Tech Auditor
GRE 332, GPA 3.25
Wharton | Mr. Senior Analyst
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Washed-Up Athlete
GRE 325, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Southern California
GMAT 710, GPA 3.58
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
INSEAD | Mr. Fraud Associate
GMAT 750, GPA 8/10
Wharton | Ms. Project Mananger
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Chicago Booth | Mr. Average White Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. AIESEC Alumnus
GMAT 750, GPA 3.38
Kellogg | Mr. Brazilian Banker
GMAT 600, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Upward Trajectory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Fish
GRE 327, GPA 3.733
Harvard | Mr. Community Impact
GMAT 690, GPA 3.0
IMD | Mr. Gap Year To IMD
GMAT 660, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0

Predicting Your Odds Of Getting In

Mr. Math Teacher

  • 650 GMAT (taken on the day his mother went to the hospital and 100 points lower than his last three practice tests)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from Emory University with a full academic scholarship
  • Work experience includes a year in China teaching management info systems at a university after turning down a job in investment banking with Morgan Stanley; then nearly two years at Wells Fargo. After Wells Fargo, “The Dark Years…researched industries and started a child safety company. Hit the recession. Fired my staff of five. Worked crazy jobs at night and on weekends to keep the company afloat (sold sham wows, did cooking demonstrations, delivered newspapers, etc). LOST my life savings, lived to tell about it, and it makes for some funny stories.”
  • Math teacher at an urban public high school for the past two and one-half years.
  • Extracurricular involvement as captain of the crew team, fraternity president of the year, and graduation orator. Now coaches the swim team, and has taken 21 swimmers to state championships. Also leads monthly technology workshops that have taught over 200 teachers. Started a scholarship fund to help at-risk kids.
  • Goals: Merge business experience with education experience and start an education-focused search fund to buy a private school or testing facility. After five years, sell the business and reenter the school system as a superintendent. Over 10 to 20 years, “I want to be Secretary of Education.”
  • 29-year-old black

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%+

Stanford: 15%

Wharton: 25%+

Chicago: 30% to 40%

Northwestern: 30% to 40%

Columbia: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmm, given the volatility in this story, my advice is get that 700+ GMAT no matter how many times you have to take it. Do leave out the part about your low GMAT score because your mom went into the hospital. Just take the GMAT again.

My second piece of advice is about your goals. You have not had too much luck starting businesses, sooooooo, go real light on that, and certainly don’t say you want to do something odd and unlikely, like start an education search fund and sell it, or ‘buy’ a private school.

For better or worse, you are now in the public sector and since that is where you want to wind up, I would project a very traditional career path: e.g. work for consulting company in maybe educational tech, or join a charter school management company and then also become active in school management and public service.

Your story has enough head scratchers already. You don’t need to add making a quick $$ killing into the mix. Assuming you get your goals lined up in some credible way to reflect your teaching and public service work, you are a wild card with a lot of pluses.

You don’t need to show off by saying you passed on Morgan Stanley. Try to make the rest of this as credible as possible. Not sure how you explain what you call “the dark years” but I would start by not calling them “the dark years.”  It seems real simple, you left Wells Fargo to start a company, it failed over two years. The end.

Lots of lessons. Not dark–and only two years. Stop DRAMATIZING. It is not doing you any good. Leave out the part about delivering newspapers and losing your life savings. You started a business like thousands of other guys. Then discovered you wanted to combine your business background and interest in education, and became a math teacher, also a great experience for the reasons you highlight.

That way you have a compelling, non-braggy, simple story, if you add sensible non-jackpot goals. Get that big GMAT and just stress the sane and balanced and positive, and you got a real chance at most top schools, despite age and bumps in the road. You need to get the “crazy” stuff out of this, it makes us question the rest.

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.