Can You Get Into A Great B-School?

Mr. Phi Beta Kappa

  • 740 GMAT
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in English from an Ivy (but not Harvard, Princeton or Yale)
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Work experience as a marketing manager at a successfully growing Bay Area startup. In three years went from intern to marketing coordinator to current job
  • Extracurricular involvement in sketch comedy as an undergrad, serve on a task force for a progressive Bay Area independent school
  • Goal: “Interested in moving toward higher-level strategy roles, eventually in venture capital”
  • 26-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 35% to 40+%

Stanford: 30%

MIT: 50+%

Dartmouth: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, an Ivy 4.0 and a 740 GMAT is a good way to start a discussion. A lot will depend on what firm you work for and what B-schools think of it. Your extracurricular with a progressive independent school could be a big plus, depending on what you do and what impact you have made. Adcoms like education reform in all its facets, from Teach for America to Khan Academy to educational technology.

What I don’t fully get is your goal in venture capital, which does not flow clearly from what comes before. Compare yourself to the guy directly above you from New Zealand, where the whole story is braided together. Your story could sound like you’ve been reading too many glossy business magazines featuring VC titans, so that is something to avoid. You claim the transition is based on wanting to move “toward a higher level strategy role,” which is the right type of generic  baloney to be slicing in this situation. But you will need to make it more personalized and refined and maybe focused on helping firms grow in areas similar to the one you are now working in.

It might help to have a road map of some kind, involving consulting in a similar industry, and then name leaders who walked a similar path. There are many.  It would help if the  guys who started your current company have Harvard, Stanford or Wharton backgrounds and VC funding so their recommendations will have some added credibility (not strictly necessary).

It would also help if your marketing manager role gets you savvy about social media. Schools are beginning to catch on that students who actually know about that stuff are valuable. It was a frequent Dee Leopold question in Harvard’s last round of interviews, viz. “How do you use social media?”– updating (or supplementing) other Leopold favorites like “How do you get your news?” and the  ancient and quant question of hers, “What books do you like to read?” (Well, she still asks that too, along with similar questions about newspapers and magazines).  All that aside, you got a solid profile and an almost-solid story.

Good question for our readers—pretend you are  an admissions officer and could only take one of these two very qualified candidates, the New Zealand guy or this VC-bound guy.

What is your choice and why???

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