USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Darden | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10
Harvard | Mr. Midwest Dreamer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Foster School of Business | Ms. Diamond Dealer
GRE 308, GPA Merit
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Undergraduate GPA
GMAT 720 (Expected), GPA 2.49
Stanford GSB | Ms. Try Something New
GMAT 740, GPA 3.86
Darden | Mr. Military Missile Defense
GRE 317, GPA 3.26

Handicapping MBA Applicant Odds

Mr. Cello Prodigy

  • 790 GMAT
  • 4.0 GPA (Bachelor of Music degree)
  • Undergraduate degree in cello from the Juilliard School of Music, graduating at the age of 17
  • 3.23 GPA (B.S. in Marketing)
  • Undergraduate degree in marketing from the University of Notre Dame
  • Work experience includes a year in the Peace Corps in Nigeria helping to build wells and filtration systems to provide clean water to villages; currently work as a market manager in general filtration at Parker Hannifin, leading a team of three direct reports
  •  “Toured the world as a concert cellist, performing as a soloist and chamber musician. I was injured in an automobile accident, suffering nerve damage in my left hand, thus ending my performance career. I didn’t want to teach or compose and felt burnt out, so I decided to go back to school and live “the college experience.”
  • Goal: To gain the tools that will help me start my own business, which is to explore advanced filtration technology applications for clean water solutions in Africa and South America
  • Concerns include “my low GPA at Notre Dame (I did have fun though!)
and my non-sexy career path (No consulting, or Wall Street)”
  • 26-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% to 50+%

Stanford: 30% to 40%

Wharton: 50+%

Yale: 50+%

Northwestern: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, injured musical prodigy (my sincere sympathies but just laying this out for you), plus do-gooder ideas for African water wells! Are you in those TV ads for “Go To Meeting” where a band of diverse hipsters teleconference about their unspecified Kenya Water Project, sharing mind burps they have gotten from water balloons and lobster tanks (not making this up folks).

This also has overtones of “The English Patient,” great mythos, and the 790 GMAT is such a great add-on, like not only gifted but smart. Man, I don’t know your personal situation, but you should post an email address: lots of readers out there may want to meet you. Both Stanford and HBS go for outlier stories like this, and between you and the bio-pharma guy, Dee Leopold may not need any Pavarotti arias on her Walkman for a month.

OK, you got a 3.23 at Notre Dame (how did you pick that place, no offense to its hyper-loyal alum and fan base but it just does not synch-up with the rest of the story). That could be a problem but then there is that 790. And you got a great explanation about being young, gifted and silly and sheltered enough to worship at the bogus shrine of Joe College. Also working for a relatively no-name company is an advantage as Poets&Quants continues to embarrass Stanford (especially) and other schools about their hypocritical reliance on brand name feeder firms. You will give the ever-affable Derrick Bolton a chance to say, “Oh yeah, we took a kid from Parker Hannifin with a 3.23 from Notre Dame, and no, he was not a minority, just a regular guy who had some potential, see anyone can get in.” Bolton likes to tell stories like that.

Just execute on your powerful goals and do the diligence about what schools are looking for– you got a real chip on the table.  As to explaining the GPA, I’d go with suggestion above (wanted to be normal for a change), which is what you seemed to say in the first place. Wharton, Yale and Kellogg go for outlier stories like yours as well, but you can never tell.  Dude, you are in the game, but results could be random.

LAST WEEK’S COLUMN:  Assessing Your B-School Odds Of Making It

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen

Part XII: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIV: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVI: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVII: What Are Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVIII: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIX: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XX: What Are Your Odds Of Getting In

Part XXI: Handicapping Your Odds of Acceptance

Part XXII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top MBA

Part XXIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXIV: Do You Have The Right Stuff To Get In

Part XXV: Your Odds of Getting Into A Top MBA Program

Part XXVI: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXVII: Breaking Through The Elite MBA Screen

Part XXVIII: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXIX: Can You Get Into A Great B-School

Part XXX: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXI: Calculating Your Odds of Admission

Part XXXII: Handicapping Your Elite MBA Chances

Part XXXIII: Getting Into Your Dream School

Part XXXIV: Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

Part XXXV: Calculating Your Odds of Getting In

Part XXXVI: What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

Part XXXVII: Handicapping Your Business School Odds

Part XXXVIII: Assessing Your B-School Odds Of Making It

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.