Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Mr. Jordanian

  • 315 GRE
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a university in Jordan
  • Work experience includes ten years in a Big 4 firm, half in audit and half in M&A services, currently a senior manager; have had assignments with the public and
  • Sectors, for companies listed on the New York and London Stock Exchanges and
  • for governments in Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, and the U.S.
  • Extracurricular involvement as a member of Seeds of Peace and clean tech champion in my office. Currently working on launching an auction website and helped several entrepreneurs with their business plans
  • Goal: To launch advisory company to help family businesses grow and empowering women in the Levant area (Jordan, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon) in addition to promoting peace through businesses in the Middle East area.
  • 30-year-old white Jordanian citizen

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%
Stanford: 5%
Cornell (one year): 40%
Yale: 20%
Chicago: 20%
Northwestern: 20%
Columbia (accelerated program): 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Despite your many accomplishments over your career, including what seems like crossing the Jordan River from audit to M&A services (is that still in audit or more advisory work?), 10 years of work experience is a large pill for most B-schools to swallow. HBS and Stanford are no go. You really belong in an EMBA or part-time program, and you also need to rethink your goals, which currently, are,  “to launch advisory company to help family businesses grow and empowering women in the Levant area (Jordan, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon) in addition to promoting peace through businesses in the Middle East area.”

Hmmmm, that is three things, all of which are admirable, but I would cut back on the last two (female empowerment and peace in the Middle East) on the grounds that MBA programs are 1) in favor of those goals, and 2) they usually don’t expect candidates with 10 years of Big 4 experience to focus on that. You would do better sticking with being a consultant to family businesses, especially if you have done that type of work in the past.

Or more promising, you note you have worked with governments, I might suggest that as a stronger goal to play. Perhaps you want to be a consultant to governments in the Middle East at the intersection of governance, accounting, business development advising, etc. Sorta the same song-and-dance from this press release about making governments work better that I suggested Ms. Politician, the above candidate,  should study. You can then mention your work with refugees, Seeds of Peace, as supplementary to that calling, and not a new career, per se.  You need to craft yourself as someone who is not radically changing functions after 10 years. B-schools don’t think they can really help you with that. You need to compose some narrative which combines the best of what you have done with your aspirations.

I don’t think your long-ago GPA of 3.1 and new GRE score of 315 will be an issue, although the GPA is low-ish.  Schools will look more closely at your long work history and record of success. As to the new GRE, the percentages are really important, since no one really knows how to read the new scores, see this blog for a pretty good explanation.  If anyone can understand that, let me know.

The fact that you are ‘only’ 30 is a plus (for someone with 10 years of work experience, that is really young) and you could be a “wild card” at the schools you note, viz. “1-year MBA Cornell, Yale, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia (accelerated program)” if you clarify your story, stress employment contacts (especially for the one-year and 16-month January Columbia programs), and focus on your core story. Leave out your auction website and helping entrepreneurs. That just sounds like you are bored and looking for a way out.  You need to convince schools that you like what you do, you have vast experience in the Middle East, both with governments, NGO’s, and established businesses as a result of your Big 4 work, and that you want to actualize all that expertise and passion as an impactful leader and advisor. Middle East governments need skills like yours (plus MBA).

You totally know the lay of the land and need LEADERSHIP and STRATEGIC skills, which is why you are not applying to EMBA or part-time programs.  How come you want the MBA needs to be part of your presentation.  If you do not need the summer internship, the Cornell and Columbia programs might really work for you.  Also look into the Sloan Fellows one-year program given by both MIT and Stanford business schools, which take older people.  Links are Stanford and MIT.  Kofi Annan got that degree from MIT, and you can use him as a role model of how you want to help governments.

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen

Part XII: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIV: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVI: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVII: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVIII: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIX: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XX: What Are Your Odds Of Getting In

Part XXI: Handicapping Your Odds of Acceptance

Part XXII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part XXIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXIV: Do You Have The Right Stuff To Get In

Part XXV: Your Odds of Getting Into A Top MBA Program

Part XXVI: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXVII: Breaking Through The Elite MBA Screen

Part XXVIII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXIX: Can You Get Into A Great B-School