What Are Your Chances Of Getting In


Mr. 2+2

  • 780 GMAT (Q: 51 (98%); V: 47 (99%)
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in physics and history at a non-HYP Ivy
  • Work experience includes summer internship at a small hedge fund; (“I know not ideal for 2+2, but best way I could find to test out my quantitative skills in the real world for a summer”)
  • Extracurricular involvement as captain of a club sport, heavily involved as a science tutor for underprivileged elementary school students
  • Goal: To be in management in an established science/engineering based company or startup. “Basically I love science and am very quantitative but would like the every day tasks in my career involve working with people. If not accepted, will most likely get a Ph.D. or (less likely) go into the workforce”


Odds of Success:

Harvard 2+2: 40% to 50%

Stanford: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, a 780 GMAT and nosebleed (4.0) grades in Physics and what looks like a 3.9+ GPA overall is a good start to 2+2. As you suggest, the sweet spot for HBS 2+2 is so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and I think Physics fits in there someplace.

This 2015 2+2 Class Profile Information, from the HBS website, is worth a gander.

Testing Information

Complete Range

of GMAT Scores

Average GMAT 720
Range of GRE Q 680-800
Range of GRE V 570-800
Average GRE Q 773
Average GRE V 662
Average GPA* 3.76


Educational Background

Engineering/Natural Sciences/Technical Disciplines 60%
Humanities & Social Sciences 34%
Business Administration 6%
Undergraduate Institutions Represented 45

Source: http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/class-statistics/2+2/

Based on that, you are deep in the sweet spot, since 60% of the admitted kids are in STEM disciplines and your GPA and GMAT are way over their averages (780/3.9 for you, 720/3.76 average). Not listed above, but on the same page is the total number of applicants/admits: 828/100.

Thank you, Your Royal Highness Dee Leopold for being so transparent. (Seriously, try getting those stats from Stanford. If anyone can, please post).

So anyway, you got a good start. Working at a hedge fund is not what they expect 2+2ers to be doing the summer before applying but they will wink at it and your explanation is solid. Just make it real clear that you intend to pursue a career at the intersection of science and management, and try to sound savvy about what companies you admire and why.

Your work tutoring kids in science in an underserved school district is real solid and probably worth an essay. You can twist that into the one about something you wish you had done better, and say that while you did 1, 2, 3, you could have done A. B. C had you been more of a leader, planner, fundraiser, and innovator. But instead you ‘just’ fell for the easy stuff of teaching kids a, b, c who were adorable and a lot of fun. You can then use the other essay to talk about some science project, which is a platform for your goals. Have your recommender confirm those stories.

All that said, 2+2 is hard, and many kids with 760+ GMATs and 3.8 GPA get dinged. The pool is really self-selected and powerful, viz. the average 2+2 GPA (3.76) is higher than that of the regular “dummy” HBS class (3.67). Nonetheless, you got a total story, great extras, and above-average stats, even in this crowd.

You say, “I don’t yet have everything wrapped neatly into a story, but I have an entire summer to create one. I think I’ll have a pretty good overall story by the end of the summer, but not an amazing one that would blow away an admissions officer.”

Dude, you don’t need an “amazing” story. All you need is a solid story that convinces us you want to be an impactful leader in a science-based company. As noted, just cite some companies as roles models and some leaders there (do some homework) and that will get you through both the app and the interview.

Turning to Stanford, or what I like to call, The Stanford “Stealth 2+2” (they never really talked about it, or named it, and they just made it up out of the blue after HBS did an “iPhone” on them several years ago), well, that  is harder to predict.  If you check out their webpage and read between the lines, you get the idea they are also looking for nosebleed stats and favor a science bias.  Of course, the idea of listing any actual data about the class, the way HBS does, well, hey, “we don’t need no stinkin’ data.” (But you do.)

Of course, this being Stanford, it also helps if:

1. You have some “change the world mojo” (both in fact and as part of your shtick, you got the facts in your story but also might want to tilt your goals that way if you can) and

2. You, your school, or your recommenders, have some Stanford ‘gonnections” as Mr. Wolfsheim, from our earlier profile, might have put it, although people have claimed to have gotten in to Stanford by just applying.

The challenge for you and Stanford would be figuring out what to say about What Matters Most and Why—you would need to leverage your love of science and tutoring kids with the usual friends and family recitation–could be done. My guess is also, Stanford is more WOWed by a 780 GMAT than HBS, although Stanford adcoms sometimes brag about how many kids with 800 they turn down every year. That stunt  does not rebut my point that Stanford values the GMAT more than HBS.

Soooo, with some fancy execution, you got a real solid chance in Palo Alto as well.  Do not say you are only applying to 2+2 and if you don’t get in, you will get a Ph.D.  You need to sound totally  fired up about science and business.

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