Can You Get Into A Top MBA Program?

An avid boxer, this 27-year-old entrepreneur expects to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament this year. With an expected 750 GMAT and a 3.65 grade point average, he wants an MBA to help him launch an SAT prep company.

For the past seven years, this 29-year-old Wharton undergrad has been in the Marine Corps, flying attack helicopters. Married with a child on the way, he wants to go to business school once his military commitment ends to transition back into civilian life.

He’s a disenchanted lawyer who wants to be more involved in decision-making and leadership. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.6 GPA, this 28-year-old wants an MBA to transition into consulting and eventually public sector management.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these 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 HBSGuru.com, 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 candid assessment:

Mr. Pricing

  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.05 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • “I had my priorities wrong and partied more than I should have instead of focusing on an extremely challenging programs, but it was a great experience. I had a near MBA experience in terms of interacting and living and socializing with people from every part of the world”
  • 3.5 GPA (Master’s)
  • Master’s degree in operations research from the University of Texas-Austin
  • Work experience includes semester internship with Marriott hotels in pricing and revenue management and forecasting; currently working for more than two years as a pricing scientist in a mid-sized Texas-based consulting firm
  • “Most senior managers in this firm are PhD’s or masters degree holders. Some of them believe business school is a joke”
  • Extracurricular involvement in fitness and nutrition over the last ten years
  • “Very affable person with great interpersonal skills”
  • Goal: To get involved in technology-based startups
  • 27-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Chicago: 20% to 40%
Kellogg: 20% to 40%
Michigan: 30% to 50%
Dartmouth: 20% to 30%
Berkeley: 30% to 50%
MIT: 10% to 20%
Carnegie Mellon: 30% to 50%
INSEAD: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, we get the picture, and in your next re-incarnation, my advice is, “wait a couple of years to start partying.”  Remember that no man on his deathbed ever said, “Jeepers, I wish I had gone to more stupid parties as an undergraduate than going to HSW.” No my friend, as your life passes before your eyes, you will see how going to those stupid parties, and doing other silly things you thought were fun, and meeting diverse people, and winding up at some 2nd tier business school, and some other low-rent jobs, like, er, this one, “pricing scientist in a mid-size Texas based consulting firm,” where you got to rub shoulders with such witty types as, “Most senior managers” who thought that “business school is a joke” well, all that was deeply not worth it. Especially when the “what could have been” image appears, going to a top-tier B school, where the lay-about alums hire those dead-ender PhDs to set the prices on whatever widgets they are selling and spend their days and nights at fetes for such exciting personalities as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

I also love this crack, “I had a near MBA experience in terms of interacting and living and socializing with people from every part of the world . . .” Friend, the time to have an “MBA experience”—near or far– is after you get into a great MBA program. The time to bury yourself in your dorm and get good grades is before. Got that now??? You add, “very affable person with great interpersonal skills.”  Sounds true to me, but I hope you got my point by now.

You seem to understand that those low-ish grades and database- disc- jockey jobs are not getting you into HBS or Stanford, which is true. So you ask, quite rightly, what about, Booth
 Kellogg, Ross, Tuck (EA), Haas, Sloan,Tepper and Insead. You got a 730 GMAT (good) and 3.0 at Urbana Champaign, a highly respected program, and a mixed bag of science and stupid jobs (quant pricing guru) and an affable personality. That could be enough for most of those places, except maybe MIT, who get a lot of affable Desis like you except with way better stats and jobs.

A lot will depend on creating a thread that somehow links your esoteric science jobs with the less exciting stuff for Marriott and the Quant-Pricing consulting firm. You are obviously a smart guy and that could be enough at those places, plus some nominal do-gooder jive (which seems missing from your record).

You need to come up with goal statement which draws on your background and sounds like you have bigger things in mind than a mid-tier quanty pricing consulting firm in Texas, not that there is anything wrong with that.

“Most senior managers in this firm are PhD’s or masters degree holders. Some of them believe business school is a joke.”  Love it! Do you know what a lot of MBA’s also think is a joke? Spending eight hours a day in some air-conditioned strip mall in Nowhere Texas, applying your God-given quant skills to figuring out how much to charge for peanut butter. Especially when you could be doing productive things with your talents, like manipulating Libor rates, and telling regulators why you actually didn’t. That future, my affable friend, is yours at most of the schools you mention. Just get your act down.