Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Ms. Real Estate

  • 710 GMAT (92% Verbal, 71% Quant, 92% total)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from the Wharton School
  • Work experience includes three years at a real estate private equity fund largely working in distressed asset management, completing over $220 million of loan workouts, and two years at a real estate private equity secondary fund, working on $190 million of secondary market acquisitions
  • Extracurricular involvement with a philanthropic organization to host
 bi-annual fundraisers to benefit underprivileged children; career and college prep mentor for underprivileged
 high school students; tutor grade school kids, both at the office and on the weekend, through a literacy organization. Was women’s rugby president and captain
  • Goals: To move into a deal sourcing role at a private equity (real estate or traditional) or venture capital fund.
  • 26-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 15%

Berkeley: 40%

MIT: 30% to 40%

Columbia: 40% to 50%

London: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Close call at HBS and Stanford, but I think you will be a couple of bricks short of a load at those schools. Hard to pinpoint why but a 3.4 versus a 3.6 and a 710 with a 71% quant and two OK but not prestige sounding jobs (regardless of what you have accomplished, which sounds like a lot, but is mostly just gray noise to the people who read apps) all conspire against you.

Sounds like extras with under-privileged kids is more serious than most PE extra-curric  stories but that is not going to change the see-saw.  What could is if the firm got behind you in some strong way and had back channels to either Harvard or Stanford — and was willing to use them.  Also, a lack of innovative or inspiring goals (on Planet Adcom, your goals are fine with me) is another potential negative. If you will be matriculating with six years of PE experience, that is also another cloud on horizon, potentially a big one at H and S.  Once we get past H and S, you begin to become a stronger candidate: Haas and Columbia are both picky about keeping up their GPA and GMAT averages (you a shade low on both) and their high yields (and strong Quant scores) but you are in the running at those places because of employability and general likeable profile.

I would signal to both places, and especially Columbia, that you are really interested by 1) Visiting (and having your attendance noted at Columbia, don’t just sniff around. Go to a formal info session) and 2) Applying early. You could really help yourself by applying ED at Columbia but even if you don’t decide on that route, get application submitted by end of October at the latest.

Somewhere in the archives of adcom interviews (I think on BusinessWeek), Linda Meehan, the recently retired, long-serving adcom head at Columbia, is on record as saying they don’t like December applications (although they may take a few) — so-called ‘rolling admissions’ be damned. Well, she did not put it that way, but that was the clear inference.

MIT is always looking for smart females, and despite the fact that there is not a “whole lotta shaking going on”  in your past or projected future in terms of their key buzz term, “innovation”  (and a slightly-off Q GMAT), they do claim (not too loudly) to be interested in the intersection of real estate and finance, which is where you seemed to have pitched your tent. So they could surprise you. LBS should be in-line for you. The place is not that hard to crack, especially for Yanks, but why would you want to go there? Isn’t real estate, like politics, local? Even in private equity?

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.