Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58
Stanford GSB | Mr. Doctor Who
GRE 322, GPA 4.0
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Data Savvy Engineer
GRE 316, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9

Handicapping Your Odds of MBA Success

Mr. Chip Design

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.26 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science from California State University
  • 3.7 GPA (master’s)
  • Graduate degree in electrical engineering from UC-San Diego
  • Work experiences includes five years of solid IC chip design experience for wireless communication products at a global semiconductor company
  • Extracurricular activities include fundraising for HIV/AIDS charity; also participated in aidslifecycle, a seven-day cycling tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for HIV services and awareness of HIV/AIDS; volunteer for community events to support equality
  • Goal: To switch to management consulting with a specialized team in technology
  • Long-term goal: To move into private equity PE firm that specializes in technology
  • 30-year-old native of Taiwan (Came to the U.S. at the age of 17 as an international student; first in the family to study in the U.S. and graduate from college)

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Stanford: 10% to 20%

MIT: 30% to 40%

Wharton: 30% to 40%

Columbia: 30% to 40+%

Northwestern: 40%

Berkeley: 50+%

Duke: 50+%

UCLA: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Let’s see: a 3.2 GPA at Cal State U (OUCH!), a grad GPA of 3.7 at UC San Diego, a 740 GMAT, 5 years experience and now a senior engineer in chip design at a global semiconductor company, and real solid extracurrics in AIDS-related charities.  Not seeing that as Stanford, just because of low grades and pedigree of tier 2 Cali schools, although I could change my mind if your firm has a history of placing kids there.

You are also tilting old in terms of business experience for many schools, especially if you will be 31 with  six years of engineering at one firm at matriculation –that is tilting toward an EMBA.

Here is some free advice: stay away from saying you want to go into PE as a long-term goal.  Top schools already got tons actual PE guys and gals, and also many wannabes with IB backgrounds . Make the point, in whatever way possible, that you are interested in innovation and technology and leadership, and want to lead, reform, and guide cutting-edge tech companies.

While that could happen (and has) in reality via some tech-oriented PE firm, don’t say it. It sounds like tech guy dreaming  and not a career path for a guy who will be 32 or 33 when he graduates –and then plans to do consulting for a while.  In fact, given your age, I’d not mention consulting, either. Just say you want to transition from tech leadership to general management at some exciting  tech company, and give examples of guys who have done that.

Wharton is not a natural fit with this background but you are solid enough, and the 740 makes up for the low-ish first GPA (as does, a bit,  the immigrant story and a real bit, your graduate GPA). Columbia is also not a natural fit, and they may wonder what you are doing there, so apply early, if not Early Decision. You should be in-line at Kellogg, Berk, Duke and UCLA. Try to explain in ALL cases why you want an MBA and not an EMBA which, as noted, you are approaching in terms of age and work experience.

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.