Getting Into Your Dream School

Mr. & Mrs. Brazil

Mr. Brazil

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from a Top 10 university in Brazil
  • Fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish
  • Work experience includes five years at an Anheuser-Busch International subsidiary in Brazil with some history of sending employees to top U.S. schools; joined as a management trainee and moved up to become a distribution analyst, then logistics coordinator, then logistics manager, and now work in a planning and performance role
  • Extracurricular involvement as marketing manager and then CEO of a junior enterprise in college, leading consulting projects at listed companies; also helped high school students develop a company through Junior Achievement
  • Goal: To join a general management consulting company and eventually move into a family business (medium-size company, with over 1000 employees)
  • 27-year-old Brazilian male

Mrs. Brazil

  • 700 GMAT (expected)
  • 3.3 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in industrial engineering
  • Master’s degree in metallurgy
  • Work experience includes six years at one of the ten largest steel companies in the world; joined as management trainee, then begun working in quality lab. After couple years, became coordinator of the lab; two years later, moved to another city to become Brazil specialist in quality for downstream mills
  • Extracurricular involvement in junior enterprise in college and a participant in several consulting projects; volunteer supporting children from poor families and also part of Junior Achievement at a public school
  • Goal: To move into consulting, and then to a consumer goods company
  • 29-year-old Brazilian female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40+% (Him); 20% to 30% (Her)

MIT: 40% (Him); 30% (Her)

Wharton: 40+%

Dartmouth: 40+%

Northwestern: 40+%

Chicago: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Correct me about those Brazilian GPAs: yours is 3.4 and your wife’s is 3.3—those are slightly low by U.S. standards but we have seen that Latin American and Spanish GPAs run low. Is that the case here, or are those 3.4 and 3.3 better compared to U.S. GPA’s? If so, to the eyes of the adcom, you are the stronger candidate, since you are younger, have a 740 GMAT, and work for an International Consumer Brand.    One could make the case that a woman in a technical/managerial  role for a steel company  is more rare, and I would agree, at some adcoms,  your wife might trump you as a wild-card (it could depend on execution of your apps, if she really plays up the woman thriving in a macho environment, that could be very attractive).

There is a chance you could get into HBS and your wife could get into MIT.  MIT is always looking for women, but it would help if her GMAT really was above 700.  Good looks only get you so far there.  If so, she becomes a very attractive candidate–a woman with an Industrial Engineering degree and another one in Metallurgy PLUS actually using those degrees in a steel mill  . . . it’s B-school movie stuff.

All that said, I’m seeing your wife as a reach at HBS, based on her age,  bronze and silver stats  . . . unless HBS also falls hard for the “woman with a hard hat in the steel plant story.”  Her saying she wants to do consulting is OK, but her ultimate goal of leading/working for a consumer goods company seems to be throwing away her greatest asset.  I would strongly suggest she reconsider that.

HBS as a rule does not give a lot of weight to two-fers (e.g.,  the school will admit  both partners of a marriage or long-term relationship as a small courtesy to one of them), although being a spouse of an admit  could tip the balance maybe late in the Wait List season ,  when the adcoms want to close out the year, and like who cares, why not?  MIT is more open to two-fers, so that is another option.  For the record, there are about 6-10 married couples per class at HBS, i.e., couples who arrive married, and both are matriculated. There are a lot more married couples where one spouse is a student and the other is what they call a ‘partner.’  Mitt and Ann Romney, to take one famous example.

At Wharton, I think you both have a solid chance.  I am not sure how open they are to package deals. Your chances get better in Chicago—both of you could get into Booth or Kellogg, or one each, since both of you, in terms of stats, extras, good jobs, etc. are “in-line” for both schools. Tuck is open to couples, and you both seem the Tuck-y type, in terms of extras, international background and likeability. Might be the best place for you both actually. It’s a real solid school with tight community.

So your school choices are real smart, in terms of winding up in the same city, if not the same school.

Your goal of running your medium-sized family business (1000 employees) will be effective depending on what family business is, and how much you can make a case that you could transform and expand it, and make it into job and value creator, etc. If it is in manufacturing or some high-value part of the service economy, your case becomes easier. 

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.