Calculating Your Odds Of Getting In


Mr. PE

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.63 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Utah
  • Work experience includes nearly four years as an associate at a private equity/venture capital fund in New York with “top decile returns for our vintage”; had job offer from a bulge bracket investment banking firm after interning with UBS special situations group and worked for the private equity arm of a family office
  • Extracurricular involvement in the student-run venture capital fund; consult for small businesses and have run some charity races; also run a small fund of family money for the past five years that is beating the market averages
  • Goal: To continue to work in the alternative asset management industry, perhaps focusing more on public equity; long-term would like to run my own fund
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%
Wharton: 30-50%
Columbia: 40-50%
Chicago: 40-50%
Yale: 40-50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, after the three applicants above you, your story is pretty simple. Guys like you (white guys with 3.63/740 GMATs and solid experience) get in and get dinged from HBS depending on the brand of firm you work for, execution of your application, recommendations and extracurrics.

The two wrinkles here at HBS is what they will think of going to PE right out of college, despite banking internships and financial experience in college, and a lack of any powerful extras by their lights. The reason going straight to PE is a wrinkle and not a plus at HBS and also other schools is that they like to put guys like you into buckets of where you worked first, how you did there, and what 2nd job you managed to get from the investment bank. That is why both brand name jobs and career progress is so important for financial types. You almost sort yourselves, like the Olympic trials.

First is how well you did in getting the IB job and 2nd is how well you did getting the PE job, and then, assuming the kind of generic numbers you are throwing up (3.6/740) what else there is in the app to give you a little more push.

Let me give you the bad news or maybe the surprising news. A lot of things you note above as positives (your fund is in the top decile of performance for its type, your management of small family fund of money is beating the averages) are of zilch interest to HBS because if you really have a gift for picking stocks and managing money, HBS won’t help you, and could hurt. Instead of staying the wonderful wise guy investor you apparently are right now, you might go to HBS and become a confused and insincere humanist and confused do-gooder. Similarly, the fact that so much of your activity is finance related, including working with the endowment at school, managing the family fund, helping with the student fund, and skipping IB to go right to PE/VC, could strike the more liberal arts types over there as being “over-determined,” a great therapeutic word which just means, too much of the same thing.

You got too much finance and your goal statement, “continue along in the alternative asset management industry, maybe making a bit of a switch by focusing a little more on public equity rather than private equity . . .” Well, dunno, it does not have the same zing as the dream of the guy before you — who wants to start a tech incubator in the ‘hood for kids. And remember, I don’t think he is getting into HBS, either. In your case a lot will turn on what they think of your PE/VC shop.

As noted, though, a close call, so feel free to write back from HBS next year and call me a jerk and feel free to add that you and the incubator guy are now BFF

The better news is that guys with your very solid stats and accomplishments routinely get into Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, and Yale.