Handicapping Your Elite B-School Odds

Ms. HBS 2+2 Wannabe

  • 780 GMAT
  • 3.87 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree with three majors—math, biology and economics—from a non-Harvard, Yale, Princeton Ivy
  • Work experience includes stints in two neuroscience labs during school, one with a Nobel Laureate chemist; a consulting internship with a pharmaceutical contract research organization; a one-week externship at Deloitte Consulting and a one-month internship with GE Capital; currently working part-time at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • Extracurricular involvement includes starting a microfinance club on campus, being chair of an undergraduate research board and a cultural advocacy board, president of an honor society and also led a housing project for immigrant refugees
  • Goal: “Interested in healthcare/biotechnology management and business development, but not sure yet of the specifics (this is where I hope the 2+2 program will help mold my career trajectory).”
  • 20-year-old Southeast Asian female with very low income, first generation college student

Odds of Success:

Harvard 2+2: 50+%

Stanford (sleeper 2+2 program): 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: This looks like a solid HBS 2+2 profile to me. Also note you can apply to Stanford’s “knock-off” 2+2 program (2+2 plus 1 year later than Harvard’s), less well known, but the same deal. You apply as a college senior and then defer for two years. Details are on the Stanford website. A 780 GMAT goes a long way–not the whole way, but a long way, along with what seems like a solid, if zigzagging 3.87 undergraduate record, they will get the idea. The real strength of this profile is that you are a science/math major who can actually show a good deal of  interest in bio-tech–and not writing algos for Hedge Funds (although one cannot predict the future).

Accordingly, your internships at labs should be stressed rather than the work you have done at banks and GE Capital. You need to handle those “finance-type” gigs as ways of finding out how big banks work and not secret trysts with the love cannot speak its name (you want to be a  . . .BANKER). To the extent you did any healthcare etc work while working in those soiled temples of finance, you should highlight that.

You say “ . . . overall I’m interested in healthcare/biotechnology management and business development, but not sure yet of the specifics (this is where I hope the 2+2 program will help mold my career trajectory). .  .” As Dee Leopold sometimes says in interviews, when she hears a really good answer . . .”BINGO.”

You’re also active on campus and coming from poor, first-gen background is another plus. You got a lot of energy from the accomplishments listed above: three majors, two minors, what seems like eight different jobs and heading many organizations. If you can figure out some way to bottle that, well, you can bring down gas prices and get Obama re-elected.

At any rate, this is a solid 2+2 profile.

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.