Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Mr. Would-Be Consultant

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business
  • Undergraduate Degree: Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario
  • Work experience includes two years at Kraft Food as a senior financial analyst and eight months at Loyalty One, working in international strategy and mergers & acquisitions on a growth business in Brazil
  • “Senior people within our division have gone Chicago and HBS but no one at my level has been fed into top B-schools”
  • Extracurricular involvement as vice president of finance for the Western Indo Canadian Student Association, event planning volunteer; post-college lead on networking committee at Kraft, mentor at KidsNow for troubled youth
  • Goal: To enter strategy consulting role helping companies develop consumer insights from big data
  • 25-year-old East Indian male


Odds of Success:

Harvard: 15%
Wharton: 20%
Stanford: 10%
Chicago: 30%
Kellogg: 40%
INSEAD: 50+%
London: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is going to be hard at Stanford and HBS because there is too much silver and not enough gold, although it is close. Ivy is fine school for both Harvard and Stanford, and a 3.7 is a fine GPA. HBS would be happy with a 700 GMAT if they otherwise loved you, but after schooling you become slightly less lovable to them.

At Stanford, kids do get in with 700 GMATs but not Indian males from Kraft. HBS is OK with Kraft for minorities and women and other stories of kids from non-traditional backgrounds and 2nd tier schools who are mainstreaming,  but that is probably not you. Kids who get into HBS from Ivy usually work for banks, private equity firms or top consulting companies or Canadian pension funds (Ontario Teachers Pension Plan comes to mind as a real feeder.)

The fact that you had been a vice-president or foot soldier in most of your extra currics seems, unfortunately, too typical of your resume in general, although your extras are solid.  The fact that your current firm, Loyalty One, has not fed candidates into top schools, and is in a currently unfashionable line of work (loyalty program metrics) — well, to adcoms, anyway — ain’t helping.

Other schools you mention, Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg, Insead and LBS are certainly in-line and take kids like you all the time. Your goals are fine, sorta, but using big data to help businesses as a consultant is a tricky area. That works in biotech, medical records, and safety. Loyalty programs are just scummy to adcoms, even though they probably are compulsive users themselves, given how much travel and lunching  they do. Leave loyalty of any kind out of your goal statement, except maybe as a reason why you love your dog.