Getting Into Your Dream School

Mr. Naval Aviator

  • 715 GMAT
  • 3.81 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in math statistics and economics from the University of Rochester, with a minor in Arabic and a semester abroad in Jordan
  • 3.91 GPA
  • Master’s in international relations from George Washington University
  • Work experience as a naval aviator, flying an F/A-18, to enforce a no-fly zone in Iraq. Military career began via ROTC and also served as a professor of naval science at GWU
  • Extracurricular involvement as a member of the finance and economics council at school, the political science and international relations council, and an intern to local Congressmen for two summers
  • Goal: “To get involved with emerging markets overseas, maybe work in private equity to encourage a healthier business climate in less fortunate countries.”
  • Near fluency in Arabic
  • 30 years old

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 50%

Stanford: 35% to 45%

Chicago: 50% to 60%

Dartmouth: 50% to 60%

Wharton: 40% to 60%

Columbia: 60+%

Virginia: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Ready for take-off, captain. A 3.8 GPA in math and economics, a 3.9 GPA in International Relations, a 715 GMAT, and a naval aviator? Guys like you get into HBS and Stanford all the time. It is a matter of not screwing up the application or the interview (well, not screwing the interview at HBS because the interview at Stanford is not worth much, unless you start telling bawdy sailor stories). The near-fluency in Arabic and study abroad in Jordan are added pluses.

Schools don’t focus much when considering military applicants between service academies and ROTC and take a fair share from each. Your stated goal, “looking to try to get involved with emerging markets overseas, maybe work in private equity to encourage a healthier business climate in less fortunate countries” could be sharper. I’d play up Arabic language skills and say you want to work in consulting in the region as a gateway to helping developing nations.  “Less fortunate countries” is not the preferred lingo these days, as I am sure you found in your International Relations masters program, but maybe you just lapsed into lazy blog talk by writing quickly on . . . a  . . .  blog.

Have your game face on while doing the application and especially the interviews.  Military guys also often say they are thinking, long term, of running for elected office. You could do that, too, given political experiences and masters degree. At HBS and Stanford, this is a matter of execution in some non-offensive, non-gung-ho jet pilot way, stressing leadership and cultural awareness.

For schools you mention outside of HBS and Stanford, it is that too, and a matter of convincing them you want to come.  Your impressive  stats and experiences should result in lots of blue skies.

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