Assessing Your Odds Of B-School Success

Mr. Peace Corps

  • 720 GMAT (49 Q, 40 V)
  • 3.57 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from a Big Ten university
  • Work experience includes 20  months in operations for a large, regional trust company in the Midwest after a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sub-Saharan Africa working in AIDS prevention
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, and a local museum
  • Short-term goal: To work in entrepreneurial ventures stateside; as
a back-up to that work in management consulting
  • Long-term goal: To transition back to work in developing countries
 in an entrepreneurial capacity, helping boost their economic capabilities with the goal of eventually decreasing their dependence on foreign aid
  • 25-year-old

Odds of Success:

Chicago: 50%
Northwestern: 50+%
Michigan: 60+%
Wharton: 40%
Duke: 60+%
Yale: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Those schools—Booth, Kellogg, Ross, Wharton, Fuqua, Yale—are in line and they admit and ding guys like you depending on execution, recommendations, and luck.  A 3.57 GPA,  and especially a 720 GMAT,  is real solid and so is your story. Going into the Peace Corp was probably a good career move, whatever else it was, and since it links back to other volunteer gigs for you at Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Club, the so-so job in between–20 months working in operations at a large, regional trust
company in the Midwest—becomes a good anchor of Mid-Western solid values in an aspirational and exotic resume of AIDS prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Your short-term goal statement could use some tweaks: “Short term: work in entrepreneurial ventures stateside; as a back-up to that work in management consulting.” Phew, I don’t know where all this entrepreneurial Kool-Aid is coming from but applicants should be aware that it sometimes  strikes fear in the hearts of most adcoms  . . . because it is so undefined and hard to count successes.  One thing adcoms do not want is unemployed or underemployed grads hanging around. So I would be real careful about saying you want to be an entrepreneur unless you had some kind of track  record doing that, or some solid track record in an industry, e.g. electronics, consumer retail, or writing apps for smart phones, where entrepreneurs often have success– at least success for some period of time (that period when adcoms fill out employment success forms, e.g. 0-3 years from graduation, which is mostly what they care about).

Folks–and that means you and the army gal right above you–consulting is not a dirty word! Adcoms love it.  Too many applicants think they need to “distinguish” themselves in weird ways. Do not go to great efforts to stand out — if you have genuinely ‘stand out’ features they will be unmistakable. FIT IN.  By that I mean fit in with the common aspirations and actual employment likelihoods of people in your future B-school class and people with backgrounds like you.

As to your long-term goal, you say: “transition back to work in developing countries in an entrepreneurial capacity, helping boost their economic capabilities with the goal of eventually decreasing their dependence on foreign aid.”  HUH? Decreasing their dependence on foreign aid??? Friend, you are applying to business school, not divinity school. That is a goal for the corrupt prime minister of those countries to tell his rabid followers at pep rallies while ambassadors from the U.S., China, and other countries stuff his pockets with greenbacks and wire money to his Swiss bank account.

Stick with being a consultant in Foreign Lands and say you want to create jobs and improve health care and education. I don’t mean to pick on you, but unanchored entrepreneurship and footloose save-the-world-ism is not going to help you.

Adcoms like goals connected to real jobs. Consulting is not a dirty word.