Assessing Your B-School Odds

He’s a self-described handsome and personable 29-year-old who works as a senior project manager for a consulting firm. With an undergraduate degree in sociology and philosophy, this poet wants to go to business school to help him start his own consultancy “at the nexus of the government and the private sector.”

She a quant and a poet, a Big 4 auditor who has played the violin for 17 years, having twice performed at Lincoln Center. But this 26-year-old Ukrainian woman is worried that her low 3.1 undergraduate grade point average  and low quant score on a 730 GMAT will keep her out of a top-ranked business school.

A graduate of the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School, he’s spent five years as a Naval Officer. He’s now looking to get an MBA to help him transition into venture capital and entrepreneurship. His dream school: Stanford.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these would-be MBA candidates share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature.

(Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s assessment:


Ms. Big Four Ukraine

  • 730 GMAT (V97, Q76)
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business and MIS from a top 20 B-school
  • Work experience includes four years at a Big 4 accounting firm, starting off in the IT Advisory practice focused on Consumer Products and Media & Entertainment industries; obtained Certified Information Systems Auditor certification
  • Extracurricular involvement in firm’s women’s network; actively involved with Cosmetic Executive Women and active in New York’s tech/start-up scene
  • Violinist for 17 years, having played in numerous orchestras and performed at Lincoln Center twice; amateur photographer and avid traveler
  • Main concern: Low undergrad GPA due to my pre-med classes, low quant score on GMAT
  • 26-year-old Caucasian female, originally from the Ukraine

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 30% to 35%

Columbia: 30% to 40% (if Early Decision)

Yale: 30%

INSEAD: 50% to 60%

London: 50% to 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, violin-playing Ukrainians and amateur photobugs score high with me, and you have a good deal to like even for adcoms, whose tastes often have different hot spots.  I think your concern over your ‘low’ Quant score on the GMAT (76 percent Q with total score of 730) is misplaced. That is fine for most schools, and the fact you were working in (and majored in) finance and MIS should tamp down any actual fears about your abilities to do quant-type stuff.

The rest of the GMAT is a beauty contest, and your 730 is quite a good-looking score.  The GPA issue is a more valid concern, schools will cut you some slack with the pre-med story, but what is GPA with first, pre-med year out of the mix? That could be an important issue.  Your work experience, consulting at a Big-4, is solid for schools you are interested in, and you have both firm and general extracurrics, which make you seem like an active and attractive addition to most B-school classes.

You don’t state goals, but I assuming something to do with Consumer Products, Entertainment and Media (CPEM? TED’s Balkan cousin?). So that is a good fit in an expanding and exciting area. The fact you can leverage actual tech skills (“Certified Information Systems Auditor” certification)) into sectors like Consumer Products and Entertainment, is another employability plus.  Those areas often attract ‘soft’ applicants who then discover, “ whoa dude, there is numbers here and not just taking pictures of models in the latest shade of blush.” Your quant background (even beside GMAT score) will be a plus.

All that said, I think Wharton may gag over the 3.1 and Big Four. Although as we have noted, Wharton’s “80 percent GPA window” is wider on the low side  than many imagine.  Some rave recommendations would help.  Columbia does not like swallowing a 3.1 either, but if you applied Early Decision there, and stressed how being in New York City could help you hussle in your CPEM career aspirations, and made it clear how employable you would be, well, it is an acceptable reach. Really lobby them by going to forums, taking the tour, etc.  Yale is a wild card since they are trying to re-imagine themselves, partly with solid stats. I think you stand a good chance at INSEAD and LBS.

LAST WEEK’S COLUMN:  Handicapping Your Business School Odds

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