Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Mr. ReApplicant

  • 690 GMAT (plan to retake)
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from an Ivy League school
  • 3.7 GPA (master’s)
  • Graduate degree in engineering from another Ivy League school
  • “I was dinged at H/S for the
class of 2013 and now looking to re-apply to H/S/W, Sloan, and Columbia for the
class of 2015”
  • Work experience includes a year as an Internet entrepreneur, four years at a top three management consultancy (with fast promotions); currently working in venture capital (2 years experience at matriculation)
  • Extracurricular involvement mostly focused around fraternity; residential advisor; mentor budding entrepreneurs across Europe
  • Dual citizen of U.S. and a European country but lived in Europe my entire life except for five years in the U.S. for college and
graduate school
  • Goal: To lead a technology start-up in
Silicon Valley or New York
  • 30-year-old (at matriculation) white European with U.S. passport

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Stanford: 20%

Wharton: 40% to 50%

MIT: 40% to 50%

Columbia: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is interesting regression analysis (if I know what that means, and I may not) because I am trying to block out of my mind the dings from last year and thinking what I would have said if you had posted this before your rejections.  What we got here is a low-ish  GPA (for kids applying from M-B-B consulting (although you were an engineer), and VC), low-ish GMATs, an unclear pedigree in VC (is your firm a frequent feeder to H/S/W? That is an important missing element). You have a bit too much work experience (and that was last year) and nothing powerful driving you in. Did you get an interview?

Being European and living in Europe is a marginal plus. I would have called your HBS odds last year as 25-30% depending on the quality of the VC firm and Stanford odds as 15-20%, assuming you or your firm did not have a wire into Boy Bolton, which apparently you do not.

As to this time around, well, what is new? Besides being older and wiser, you still have two negatives in this game—that marginal GPA and the low-ish GMAT.

A GMAT burp to 720 will help solidify your chances at Wharton, where guys like you often wind up (classy education, M/B/B , but no stardust or boffo stats and older). I think you chances at Columbia are solid as well, especially if you can execute and knit this baggy suit of a story into some forward-looking narrative about what it all means, which given the raw material (engineering background, consulting, start-up, VC, Europe) should not be hard.

Sloan goes for guys like you as well and lack of extras or anything superficially interesting is not biggie to them. They pride themselves on not caring about that.  You might actually be a Sloan type, for real, although that is also not something they are overly focused on. The key is to seem like a Sloan admit type.  A better GMAT would help loads. They would rather have someone with a solid GMAT score than someone who truly fits in.

“Goal is to lead a technology start-up in Silicon Valley or New York.” Hmmm, I would not say that, you are giving up the Europe card, which is one real differentiator.

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