Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Mr. Consultant

  • 660 GMAT (Taken it twice and not sure I have time to take again)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in business management
  • Work Experience includes two years at a process-consulting firm, worked on some healthcare clients (think Big Four consulting, not strategy) one year as an internal auditor for a national health plan (Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, United Health Care)
  • Extracurricular involvement includes a two-year church mission to Australia, was vice president of the business school student association, organized an annual charity auction and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity
  • Goal: “I’m passionate about the healthcare industry and its (many) unique challenges. I plan to use an MBA to facilitate a move away from audit and towards healthcare consulting (provider side). Specifically, im interested in helping organizations manage and plan for the effects of healthcare reform.”
  • “Do you think I have a shot at any of the above in light of my low GMAT score? Or better to wait until next year?”
  • 26-year-old white male.

Odds of Success:

Duke (dream school): 30%
UCLA: 20% to 30%
Northwestern: 25%
Vanderbilt: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Aside from a low GMAT and a low GPA, you’re a totally likeable guy. And actually, average GPA at Duke, your dream school, is 3.4. Alas, their median GMAT is 696 so the question becomes do you have 36 GMAT points (a lot!!) worth of charm. Let me give you some tough love. B-schools are mildly biased in favor of Mormons because the LDS values of family, hard work, sobriety and honesty are in synch with generic business values. Also, my guess is, most schools’ experiences with LDS members are positive. So that is a small plus.

After that, doing a mission is kind of baked in (even if not all LDS kids do so) and Australia is not ranked as high on the value chain as a country where you operate in a more foreign language and culture. Your extras, even though Church related, seem real solid, even by LDS standards, so that is a plus. The fact you are working in a health care environment is positive, but offset by the fact that it seems to be, in your own words, “process” and “auditing” centric.

Shake all that up in our Duke-tini mixer and what do we got??? Close one, but I am calling it more likely “no” than “yes.” One decider is the fact of your low Quant score on the GMAT. If you tweaked this, with a 680 GMAT and a mission to Latin America, and being president of the Business School Association instead of vice-president, you’d have a fighting chance of having them blink at the GMAT and Second Tier work gigs at solid companies. In your present incarnation, there is nothing driving you in, and the cherry on the non-alcoholic Duke-tini ding is being white male. Anderson is actually tougher than Duke to get into, so I’m not optimistic there either. Ditto Kellogg. Vanderbilt is totally in-line stat wise, so you got a real solid chance there.

I don’t see any downside in applying to the whole menu this year, especially Duke, sometimes those schools get to know you through the application process, and that can help next year. I would also find a great GMAT tutor, focus only on the Quant part, and see if you can get another 5 questions right. Some more ideas are to think about taking the GRE’s instead. You might find the Quant on that exam a bit easier or different. If you are really gung-ho, and cannot move the needle with the standardized testing, take some real solid math courses over the summer to develop an alternative transcript.

I’d be interested in any reader responses about GMAT vs. GRE for kids who have a hard time on the Quant part?