Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Mr. Pop Star

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in psychology from Yale
  • Work experience includes four years as a pop recording artist signed to a major label with mainstream releases in Japan. Have singles charting in the top 50.
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder and president of a volunteer organization mentoring adoptees from other nations as well as extensive involvement in ethnic organizations
  • Fluent in English, Japanese and Korean
  • “I know I am a non-traditional applicant (I do not know of any other Japanese pop stars applying to b-school) but I have been planning on business school from the beginning. I had initially planned on lining up a job in management at a top Japanese record label (did a summer internship at a top label) but ended up signing to a label instead when they asked me to audition after seeing a demo tape that I sent. I thought that working in the industry as an artist would give me a unique vantage point for when I transitioned to the management side.”
  • Goal: “To return to Japan/Asia (the market is increasingly becoming pan-Asian) and hopefully be in a unique position to do top management work at a major label.”

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40+%

Stanford: 30% to 35+%

Wharton (Lauder Program): 40% to 60%

Columbia: 50+%

Chicago: 50+%

Dartmouth: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Sounds good to me, and you got all the bases covered, including a 3.7 from Yale and a 740 GMAT, plus solid extra currics. You are not that much of a non-traditional candidate. Just stress, as you have in your note to us, your business intentions, and lay out some plausible career in media in Japan. You can say, as you propose, that  you want to do ‘management’ at some record label, but try thinking bigger than that and say you want to build out your recording industry experiences to become a leader in digital media/new media blah, blah in Asia  which could mean x y or z.

So much of music is now becoming morphed into other business models, e.g. Pandora or iTunes, etc. So lay out some possible futures using music and new media as a base, and for good measure, say you want to facilitate the exposure of new types of music, media, artists, art forms, although that is not strictly necessary. Truth is, Stanford loves jive like that, and HBS has been known to smile at it.