Kellogg | Mr. Chief Product Officer
GMAT 740, GPA 77.53% (First Class with Distinction, Dean's List Candidate)
Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Kellogg | Mr. Marketing Maven
GRE 325, GPA 7.6/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Vroom Vroom
GMAT 760, GPA 2.88
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3

Handicapping MBA Applicant Odds

Mr. Systems Integration

  • 710 GMAT (Should I retake?)
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Work experience includes two years with Deloitte Consulting as a systems integration consultant after college internships with Amazon, Bank of America, and Procter & Gamble
  • Extracurricular activities include being co-founder of a non-profit in Baltimore to create policy debate programs for public inner-city high schools; also started an alumni branch for the organization and continue to judge tournaments; volunteer at local soup kitchens; policy debater in high school and college.
  • Short-Term Goal: To shift from technology to management and strategy consulting
  • Long-Term Goal: To shift to industry general management role in the tech sector
  • Concerns: “Most of my projects at work have focused on systems integration which isn’t perceived as a sexy field. GMAT score is lower than the median at some of my target schools.”
  • 24-year-old, African-American male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% to 50%

Stanford: 30% to 35%

Wharton: 50+%

Northwestern: 50+%

Berkeley: 50+%

MIT: 50+%

UCLA: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: What we got here is a AA-M-STEM (African-American Male STEM) with a 710/3.6 which is a very strong profile indeed, including your internships at blue chip firms and what sounds like some solid if boring years at Deloitte (no one cares how boring it is, and some kids at M/B/B and Goldman will be happy to match you hour for hour, spreadsheet box for spreadsheet box in the World Series of boring gigs). Plus you have some super-duper community service  extras, including actually working in a soup kitchen.

The trick in making systems integration sexy is to go lite on the tech stuff and just focus on solving problems by  working with different groups (techies, clients, non-techies in your firm, and any other group that comes to mind), and if you are rolling your eyes and saying that 99% of your work is you spitting on plugs and kicking mainframes while alone in a jungle of code and hardware, well, my friend, just take that one percent which is not that, or even the .01 percent (what I am earning on many of my cash investments, not kidding) or even the two times in your work life you actually interacted with other humans, and talk about that.  Many applicants with overwhelming people stories often get overwhelmed, so consider yourself lucky.

A 710 GMAT for an African-American male is rare, according to rumor and lore, if anyone has stats on that or other rumors, let me know. There are lots of AA females with 710+ GMATs but the whispered truth is that guys are hard to find.  All that being said, if you think you can do better, sure, take it again, it’s a pain in the butt, but so much in life is a pain, and the payoff is rarely that high.

You say, as goals, “Shift from technology to management and strategy consulting  . . . Long-term – Shift to industry general management role in tech sector. Want to be at intersection between technology and business.” Bingo.

Just make that case. It is right on the money. For HBS you could tell two stories: 1. I’m good at working with the many parts and personalities and diverse people in computer integration projects—and give examples, even if based on ‘nano’ evidence.   Then say you could have done better in building out your non-profit if you thought more like a manager, concerned with getting others to help you versus  operating like a passionate do-gooder  and doing too much yourself. You can also flip those stories.

For Stanford, just find the key growth, failure, learning moments in your Nabe work and hit on those as to what matters most. Don’t do a victory lap, do a learning lap.  We implicitly get the major good stuff. They like to see growth, setbacks, lessons and personal value creation. I’d say your chances at other schools you note, Wharton, Northwestern, Berkeley, MIT, UCLA are real solid, given the above. You just need to take a hot tub or have a few drinks or whatever you do to get real relaxed and convince yourself about how challenging and humanistic your job is.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.