Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Ms. Auditor

  • 690 to 730 GMAT (practice tests)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate law degree from a South African university
  • Work experience as a tax consultant for a Big Four audit firm for two and one-half years
  • “In my first year, I took the initiative to start up a new business line on transfer pricing and built it up from scratch under minimum supervision”
  • Extracurricular involvement as the treasurer of H2O, an NGO which builds wells and provides water filters to the poor; participate in a number of other such projects with my rotaract club; also member of the CSR committee and write a weekly column for the country’s largest newspaper
  • “We need CEOs who wont accept bribes and employers who will recruit solely on merit. We need private sector leaders who have been exposed to the world and who have something significant to bring to the table as far as our county’s economy is concerned. And I want to be one of those world business leaders, who will take the steps to economic transformation”
  • 25-year-old Ugandan female

Odds of Success:


London: 40%

Northwestern: 30% to 50%

Oxford: 50%

Harvard: 40+%

Stanford: Could happen

Sandy’s Analysis: You got a lot going for you, and the last time I looked, which was one minute ago, there were ZERO students from Uganda at Harvard Business School, which is a school that has a flag for each student’s country and likes to buy new ones.  Not to mention that you are a woman educated in South Africa and working for what you correctly note, is a big deal company in Africa, to wit, a Big 4 firm, and on top of all that, you are “the treasurer of H2O, (helping to overcome) an NGO which builds wells and provides water filters to the poorest villages  . . .” which is always a winner of a thing to do, and beyond that, you “also participate in a number of other such projects with my rotaract club and [are] a member of the CSR committee at my work place.” And then “In addition,[you] write a weekly column in the largest newspaper in the country.” Plus, you seem to be some kind of star at work, starting a new business line, etc.

Jeepers, with a 3.4 and an expected GMAT of 690, especially if you were able to get that GMAT to read 80 percent on both sides, I’d say you might stand a real chance at H/S/W.  Has anyone from your firm applied to those schools before? Those outcomes would be very revealing.  Your goals, of fighting corrupt business practices in Uganda are a plus, if executed correctly. I would not present myself as a reformer per se, that is what elected officials do, with the help of business, but rather as someone interested in helping businesses to grow to create more jobs and services and opportunities.  That could be as the leader of a consulting firm — basically the same story for you as the Vietnamese kid from U Mass in this set—strategic consulting, providing opportunities and advice for companies. Yes, in reality,  how fire people, but not always.

Oddly, you might stand a better chance at U.S. schools than INSEAD and LBS, which sometimes run older, but I think you got a fighting chance anyplace, given the many attractive and rare features of your profile.  If you are concerned about the GPA translations you are getting on the internet (to translate your 70.2 percent at that South African University into a 4 scale, check it again on the World Educational Services website [http://www.wes.org/] and be prepared to explain in your application what your class standing was.  Schools will be open to you because of the female/Uganda story. Just please, get a solid GMAT and you got a really bright future as an applicant.

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