Harvard | Mr. Mojo
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Law To MBA
GRE 321, GPA 3.77
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Startup Founder
GMAT 740, GPA 4
Wharton | Mr. African Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Sommelier
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Kellogg | Mr. AVP Healthcare
GRE 332, GPA 3.3
HEC Paris | Mr. Strategy & Intelligence
GMAT 600 - 650 (estimated), GPA 4.0
INSEAD | Mr. Powerlifting President
GMAT 750, GPA 8.1/10
Harvard | Mr. Green Energy Revolution
GMAT 740, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Ms. Top Firm Consulting
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Technopreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Schoolmaster
GMAT 710 (to re-take), GPA 3.5 (Converted from UK)
INSEAD | Mr. Sustainability PM
GRE 335, GPA 3.5
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
INSEAD | Mr. Truth
GMAT 670, GPA 3.2
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Marketing
GRE 327, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
McCombs School of Business | Mr. CRE
GMAT 625, GPA 3.4
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Tech Engineer
GRE 310, GPA 4.0

Handicapping Your B-School Odds

She works for a major Russian metallurgical company, heading up a finance and economic analysis unit. With a 740 GMAT and a 4.0 grade point average, this 28-year-old professional hopes to get an MBA to transition to management consulting or investment banking.

He was a collegiate football player for a top five liberal arts school. After spending two years at a boutique investment banking firm and another two on an acquisitions team for a public company, this 25-year-old wants an MBA degree to help him land a job with a top-notch asset management firm.

This 26-year-old professional manages one of the largest solar farms in the U.S. With two master’s degrees from Ivy League schools under his arm, he now wants a third in business to help him become a major energy developer.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is here again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s candid analysis:

Ms. Auditor

  • 740 GMAT (Q50, V41)
  • 4.0 GPA
  • 109 TOEFL
  • Undergraduate
degree in accounting from a no-name University in Siberia
  • Work experience includes five and one-half years in the audit department of a Big Four firm in Moscow; among top 5% of employees in each year; also one and one-half years as head of finance and economic analysis department in a Russian metallurgical company
  • “No one from
the Russian office of our company has an MBA. Head of our U.S. division has an MBA
from Chicago Booth.”
  • Extracurricular involvement as coordinator for a children’s educational organization, helped with resume and English workshop for disadvantaged youth, volunteered in Africa for one month in local hospital, LBGT activist and member of Toastmasters Club; also have a small start-up with a colleague
  • “Have a good
history of overcoming adversity: first generation college, worked part-time through school years, single parent, mother’s serious illness”
  • Goal: To transition to management consulting or investment banking
  • Applied to INSEAD and was dinged after interview
  • 28-year-old
Russian female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% 25%

Northwestern: 35% to 45%

Wharton: 30% to 40%

Chicago: 35% to 45%

Columbia: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Jeepers, this is pretty solid and your ding at INSEAD is surprising. It might have been your interview or the fact that no one at your company can write good recommendations, since no one has a U.S. MBA.  Not sure what to say about that. You need to remind those clowns, that writing a recommendation for a U.S. school requires phrases like,  “John is the best analyst I have seen in 20 years, in a cohort of over 300 other analysts . .  .”  and that only means that “John is sorta OK,” unless you back that up with many stories and metrics proving it.

One issue for you is that you are in the age range for an EMBA, with what looks like eight to nine years of work experience at matriculation.  That could impact your chances at places like HBS, where admitted students with 9+ years of experience this year (according to chart on Dee’s Blog) = 31, out of total class of ~915. And a good number of those 31 are probably military or special cases, which you are not.  I would not be surprised if stats at other U.S. schools were similar, although Wharton tends to run older (as do Duke and Darden, which you might look into, as well as Tuck ).

If you had not told me that you were dinged at INSEAD, I would say to apply there, as your best shot, and that is still my advice. Reapply. TOEFL of 109 is low-ish, so that could be another issue. You might think about retaking.  Aside from that (age, low TOEFL), man, this is real solid. You seem to have Fortune 500-level jobs (which make up a bit for no-name schooling) and a 740 GMAT with real solid extras. As noted here in the past, Big 4 jobs in Moscow are considered much more selective than Big 4 jobs in U.S., although another issue for you could be that your work is audit vs. consulting. Still, it is a selective job, which you did well at, and got out, and transitioned to analyst at a Fortune 300 metals company. Add some adversity stories, first generation college, and dunno, I like you, so give it a whirl.  HBS might go for this if execution has good karma, although alas, their new application makes it hard for someone like you to explain herself.


Wharton runs older, and has a more welcoming application, and as noted, Duke and Darden run oldest, and your dreams can come true there. Columbia won’t give you a loan unless you have a U.S. co-signer, so that bums out a good many International applicants. Aside from that, you’d be a solid applicant there, too, based on stats.

Consulting and IB are OK goals, although being 30-31 when you graduate could make getting entry-level jobs in those fields challenging, but you have real special auditing and language skills, so that could tip things in your favor.  You might pick a goal which better leverages your accounting and metals savvy, although I am not sure what that would be. Transitioning to executive track at company like the one you currently work for might do it.

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.