Handicapping Your Elite B-School Odds

Mr. Disney

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.48 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in history
  • Work experience includes two years at Disney in the corporate treasury for interest rate risk, after internships at Merrill Lynch and PIMCO
  • “Throughout college I worked as a full-time student supporting myself, which detracted from some of my involvement with student clubs/organizations. However, I received a slew of very compelling scholarships and leveraged the experiences from my college jobs to grow and overcome difficult financial situations”
  • “Concerned about my history major hurting my chances. But I do plan on taking some extra math courses to improve in the quant. area.”
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 15-20%

Stanford: 10%

Columbia: 20+%

Yale: 30%

Northwestern: 30-50+%

Chicago: 30-50+%

Dartmouth: 20-30%

NYU: 30-50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, everyone loves Disney and Disney is great feeder firm to HBS and Stanford, but usually those lucky kids are working in business development or programming of some kind, and got there after some post-college full-time, competitive blue chip gig on Wall Street or through Ivy League friends and family.

As to your concern about being a History major—pal, being a liberal arts major, and especially History,  at many elite B-schools is a plus. Business Schools are probably the last bastions in America–aside from the corrupt and sincecured and geriatric professoriate themselves (and they may have actual have doubts!)—that still buy into the now desiccated wet dream that Liberal Arts is great preparation for a career in business.

In fact, professors and administrators will tell you this if you can get them away from Downton Abbey discussion boards or cozy conferences on the state of the Liberal Arts, but I digress. I’m a Liberal Arts major and it is great training for cracking wise in features just like this, if that is your goal in life.  Of course, many Liberal Arts majors at top 10 colleges become successful in business, and go to ace B-schools and powerful careers in business and finance. But these are just really smart people, anyway, and the Liberal Arts had nothing to do with it, although you can get them to warble about the importance of the Liberal Arts at any conference which holds out the remotest fantasy they could score with some buff junior faculty or event planner.

OK, “down boy” (talking to myself), back to you. Basically you’re a guy with a lot of high quality silver and not much gold in your story and stats, which usually rules out Harvard and Stanford. Your History major has absolutely nothing to do with it. As noted, that is a plus. What is hurting you is your slightly off GPA and marginal GMAT and being in the wrong part of Disney.  (If anyone else from Treasury ever got into H or S, look hard, and you will find something different than a white male with a 3.48 and a 700 GMAT.)

You have a good deal of personal positives. Those and taking some courses will shore up your chances at other schools you list, but will not, I believe, get you into Harvard or Stanford. Getting some mega Disney big foot strongly on your side might help.  As would some amazing personal and political identity story, but I am not seeing that in the info you provided.  At other schools you list, I would call your chances in-line, both as to stats, jobs, and personal story. You should be in good shape there, after accounting for the usuals: solid execution, excellent recommendations, luck, and somehow convincing them you really want to go.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.