Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Ms. Engineer

  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from MIT
  • Work experience includes five years at Hewlett Packard as an R&D engineer
  • Extracurricular involvement in a company employee resource group, including two years as chairperson; set up networking events, executive speaker series; also four years as a 50-to-100-hour-a-year volunteer at a girls science and technology program
  • Goal: To move into product management in high tech
  • 26-year-old female

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 30%

MIT: 40+%

Northwestern: 50+%

Berkeley: 50+%

Duke: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Is that 3.5 at MIT on a 4 or 5 scale? That’s really key.  Assuming it is 3.5/4 well, come on down. We got a female with good grades at MIT in a bona fide science major, a premium GMAT score, 760, and five years (well, maybe one or two too many) at HP, which is still a respected company — although not by me (as a longtime — real long — stockholder and former ink junkie for your printers before I went back to toner and a generic printer which never jams or needs ink). Plus you have a ton of good service work in your company and impactful volunteer work with science and girls, a hot button issue.

Why are you not including HBS and Wharton in your picks?  Didn’t “Dee” Leopold in her Wall Street Journal interview say they are looking for engineers? While that may not be true, e.g. that they are looking, well, they will certainly be open to one who shows up at their door, especially one wearing a dress, or who could wear a dress without attracting too many double takes. Wharton will be very favorable on stats alone.

If GPA is 3.5/5, well, you still got a chance, although that is a negative obviously, but with a 760 GMAT and a MIT degree, you got a lot going for you.  I would think higher than Product Manager in stating my goals. In reality, product manager is a super big deal, but within the fever-swamp of an admissions office, it sounds like Death of Salesman stuff, some poor schmuck with a sample bag and a broken down Buick.

You need to say you want to be a leader in new areas of technology. Stanford might be a reach, if there is nothing driving you, unless you have some spit on the ball there by way of connections at HP, or can really play up your great extra of working with the Girls and Technology club.  At HBS,  they take kids like you with just serviceable execution and some luck and strong recs. At MIT, a lot may depend on real GPA and how well you fit their innovation mantra. But as noted before, they don’t kiss off too many 760 GMATs from applicants with clean criminal records (unless you are otherwise ultra nerdy, which is saying something over there). Haas and Duke should be slam dunks if you can convince them you want to come.

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