Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
GMAT 620, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Business Reporter
GMAT 2150, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. IB Deferred
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Kellogg | Mr. Military In Silicon Valley
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. E-Sports Coach
GRE 323, GPA 5.72/10
Wharton | Ms. PMP To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.72
Columbia | Mr. CPA
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Health Clinic Founder
GRE 330, GPA 3

Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Mr. Construction

  • 720 GMAT
  • 2.75 GPA (I finally sobered up and got a 3.4 in my senior year)
  • Undergraduate degree in civil and environmental engineering from top private but non Ivy University
  • Work experience includes two years as a project engineer for a large, heavy civil construction firm; youngest promotion from field engineer to project engineer and worked on high profile, $100 million-plus projects
  • Extracurricular activities include three years of orientation leadership in college, three years as a venue coordinator for the Special Olympics and week long trips for Habitat for Humanity during spring and fall breaks in college
  • Goal: A job in general management, strategy or marketing for a large Fortune 500 energy company
  • White American Male

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 10% to 20%

Northwestern: 30%

Duke: 35+%

New York: 30% to 40+%

Cornell: 30% to 50+%

Yale: 40+%

Michigan: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Your GPA will impact you everywhere, and is probably a deal breaker at Wharton (I mean they are sending emails to kids they INTERVIEW, with higher grades and GMAT’s, and CFA’s, suggesting they go back to school). A 720 GMAT will give you some school that wants to take a chance on you. You might have developed an alternative transcript via online BS courses or brick-and-mortar BS courses, not because you would learn anything, but just as a willingness to undergo punishment and a show of good faith. Schools like that model. Shows them you really want to come, and more importantly, that in addition to being sober, which is kind of a baseline, you can also shut up, have junk funneled down your mouth without gagging, and spit it back, which, ahem, after the smoke clears, is what you will be doing for two years chez them.

OK, given you did not do that, you are going to have to roll the dice, and find an adcom who is willing to sacrifice some U.S. News basis points for what is obviously a solid career with real accomplishments (viz. speedy promotion). Saying “I’m sorry” about the GPA may or may not help, but is certainly necessary and expected. The best way of saying ‘I’m sorry” is to demonstrate what a great career you have had.

Apply to lots of places, and certainly Ross. Your dreams can come true there. You are basically trolling for a break, and oddly, it is a numbers game once you get your story and mea culpas rock solid.

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.