Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
NYU Stern | Ms. Luxury Retail
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Russland Native
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Aerospace Engineer
GRE 327, GPA 3.92

Handicapping Your Odds Of Acceptance

She’s a 30-year-old marine biologist who for six years worked as a purser on a super yacht. With a GMAT of 680 and a 3.48 grade point average, this Canadian now wants an MBA to shift into a financial career.

A Marine Corps captain, he managed 200 personnel and $5 million of equipment and has spent two years as an analytical chemist for a biotech company in San Diego. This 32-year-old has raised his GMAT score from 500 to 630 on the second try, but he’s hoping to be accepted by a top-ranked business school.

He’s a 29-year-old American who is fluent in Mandarin and working for a venture capital firm in China. With a 740 GMAT and a master’s degree in biotech, he expects to get an MBA and then return to China to take on greater responsibility in venture capital.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants share in common 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, 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 usual, 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, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

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

Ms. Marine Biologist

  • 680 GMAT
  • 3.48 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in marine biology from a Canadian university with a minor in business
  • Work experience includes six years as a purser aboard a large super yacht, assisting with a $7 to $10 million budget, human resources, concierge and itinerary planning for Forbes Top 100 clientele; also seven months working for a new research vessel non-profit company specializing in oceanographic research.
  • Goal: Shifting career into finance
  • 30-year-old Canadian female

Odds of Success:

London Business School: 40+%

University of Western Ontario: 50+%

Sauder School of Business: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, you should read last week’s entry on architects as the go-to love interest for Rom-Coms and Adcoms.  If there is any profession that can top even architecture in terms of being “cool,” it is marine biology.  Think I’m kidding? Read this college application essay from Rachel, on my website, in the famous “Worst College Essays Ever Written Section.” She wants to be a pediatric (baby) marine biologist because the profession is so cool, and as she says,

I like the ocean, small things, and animals. 🙂 . . . .

By the way, I was looking in your course catalog for the marine biologist courses and those courses seem to involve working with fish or things like fish. 🙁

I’m not really all that interested in fish, I mean I’ll take the required fish courses, but what I am really interested in is animals that live in or near the water, except fish. 🙁

I like seals, especially baby seals, 🙂

Of course, you did Rachel two better since 1) You actually got a marine biology degree and then 2), You avoided real fish and baby seals altogether by, in your own words, being a purser “onboard a large Super Yacht. Assisting with a $7-10 million budget, human resources, concierge and itinerary planning services for Forbes Top 100 clientele . . .”  Oh boy,  fat cats at sea   . . .if only those life preservers could talk .

I assume you have heard all the Gilligan’s Island jokes, or maybe that show is before your time or banned in Canada.

OK, let’s get back on terra firma: you’re 30, have an OK GPA from some boutique marine biology college which probably the Canadian business schools you mention have heard of — and for any other B-school, well, it’s marine biology!  After the mist clears, basically you have been performing some hands-on accounting and project planning services for what I take is a small company, e.g. the owner of the Super Yacht.

That, plus the marine biology halo effect should be solid enough for the schools you are interested in if you can make a case as to why you want an MBA. Your stated reasons, that you want to “switch into finance,” really needs to be honed into some story which captures your past  and makes sense in terms of being able to get that job when you graduate.

As noted before, goal statements are half image projection, half fantasy, and half due diligence  about the chosen  profession and how a school can help you as well.  Yup, that is three halves and good goal statements are that dense.  You need to capture some or all of those elements into yours.

It is unclear from your profile which job you currently have, the non-profit gig or the Super Yacht job? NOTE TO PROFILE WRITERS—ALWAYS MAKE THAT CLEAR WITH A NOTE THAT SAYS—CURRENT JOB and then just list others in reverse chronological order.

Assuming it is the Fat Cat job, you need to somehow project those skills into a plausible job at X, Y or Z and say that is what you want to do post-MBA, and that is why you need the degree.  X, Y, and Z need to be jobs which 1. Often require an MBA, and 2. Somehow engage with what you have done prior, even if it is a stretch, adcoms like continuity blended with change rather than naked change. Just off the top of my head here, you might say you are interested in the intersection of finance and hospitality and leisure (since that broadly speaking was your Fat Cat Ocean gig). Then find some people with MBA’s who work in that field via Google or Linked-In, and use them as role models.  If you really want to max this out, find the 5 biggest hospitality and leisure operators in Canada and sniff around for potential jobs there.   Sure, it’s artificial hokum but it reads well in an application.  How hard is it to find info like that, well, I found this in less than 3 minutes on Google.

A great place to start.

General note: it just amazes me how often kids writing  B-school apps somehow forget about Google –a tool they would turn to 100 times a day for trivia.  That same search came up with a .pdf from Deloitte Consulting about trends in the Canadian hospitality industry–written in French!  Pas moi, but maybe our marine biologist can read it.

One next to last thing. You may also have to explain why, given your age and experience, you are not applying for an Executive MBA.

Finally, I am not sure I see the case for someone like you going to school in London. You really should do some homework about where grads at London Business School get jobs, especially if you want to stay in Canada.

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.