INSEAD | Ms. Social Business
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Healthcare AI
GRE 366, GPA 3.91
Harvard | Ms. Risk-Taker
GRE 310 (to retake), GPA 3 (recalculated)
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Funder
GMAT 790, GPA 3.82
Chicago Booth | Mr. Non-Profit Latino
GMAT 710, GPA 3.06
Harvard | Mr. Fresh Perspective
GRE 318, GPA 3.0
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Harvard | Mr. Green Energy Revolution
GMAT 740, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. MPP/MBA
GRE 325, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Technopreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.2
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
London Business School | Mr. College Dropout
GMAT 690, GPA NA
Harvard | Mr. MBB Latino Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.75
Stanford GSB | Ms. Top Firm Consulting
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
INSEAD | Mr. Truth
GMAT 670, GPA 3.2
INSEAD | Mr. Powerlifting President
GMAT 750, GPA 8.1/10
Harvard | Mr. Mojo
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Law To MBA
GRE 321, GPA 3.77
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Startup Founder
GMAT 740, GPA 4
Wharton | Mr. African Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Sommelier
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
Kellogg | Mr. AVP Healthcare
GRE 332, GPA 3.3

Assessing Your Odds Of Getting In

She manages a $100 million-plus category for a big retailer in the Chicago area. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.6 grade point average at an Ivy League university, she has ambitions to get into a top-four business school but has already gotten ding letters from Harvard and Wharton.

He graduated from West Point and is a U.S. Army captain with seven years of service and two combat tours. His long-term goal is to start a company that helps enlisted soldiers get into university. But a 620 GMAT and 3.1 GPA could hold him back.

She’s a brand manager at a big brand credit card company, fluent in French and well traveled. With a 660 GMAT and a 3.75 GPA, her goal is to use an MBA to move into the consumer packaged goods industry in an international assignment.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What this trio of MBA applicants share in common with others is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get an invite? Or are they likely to end up in a reject pile?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As he has in the past, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. Sandy is taking a break for the long Thanksgiving weekend but will be back right after that.

Sandy’s tell-it-like-it-is assessment:

Ms. Credit Card

  • 660 GMAT (planning to retake)
  • 3.75 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from a small top private school in mid-Atlantic region; studied abroad at the London School of Economics
  • Work experience includes three-plus years as a brand manager at a big brand credit card company.
  • Extracurricular involvement providing pro bono marketing strategy for non-profits; also took a month off last winter to volunteer at an orphanage in Ghana
  • “I want to get an MBA in order to further develop my leadership and analytical skills and grow my global network to transition into a consumer packaged goods brand manager role (preferably with the opportunity to work internationally).”
  • Fluent in French
  • 25-year-old female originally from Montreal, Canada

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%

Stanford: 10% to 20%

Wharton: 25% to 35%

Dartmouth: 25% to 35%

Columbia: 30% to 40%

Duke: 35% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: HBS and Stanford don’t like credit card companies (like most normal consumers!). For among other reasons, those jobs are not seen as hard to get as jobs at such companies as Procter & Gamble or Nabisco, and also less interesting. Schools think most credit card companies spend all their time trying to find suckers who will run up late charges, and a marketing/brand manager job at a credit card company is sort of like a pig hunting for those late-paying truffles. My apologies if that is not what you do. Just letting you know what you are facing.

HBS and Stanford use credit card companies, as well as Big 4 firms (not consulting), as a way to recruit minorities. There was a streak of African-American women from the Big 4 at Stanford, one or two a year, for about five years in a row, and then I lost count. If anyone reading this is non-minority and worked for a credit card company or Big 4 (only, not as a step to private equity) and is now at HBS or Stanford, and is not an Olympic medal winner, please write in and tell me.

Let’s assume you get a 700+ GMAT. I’d still say H and S are going to be hard. Wharton takes folks like you, as do other schools like Tuck, Columbia, Duke, and Darden based on all the wonderful stuff you highlight above. But you will really need an improved GMAT. I don’t mean to stress you out, but at places like Wharton and Columbia, the difference between a 660 GMAT and a 680 GMAT is HUGE. That would be the minimum for someone like you.

Reading this over, there is a lot to like, and if you worked at J&J instead of Mastercard or Visa, you’d be a solid case for Harvard and in the lottery at Stanford. You still might squeak by at HBS, with a ~700.

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.