Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6

Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Mr. Green

  • 730-750 GMAT ((haven’t taken yet, but I teach test prep for a living)
  • 3.45 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in public policy from Duke University
  • 3.95 GPA Master’s
  • Master’s degree in creative writing from an artsy-fartsy East Coast liberal arts college
  • Work experience includes four years at a Bay Area think tank doing education research; one year teaching test prep in Bangkok for a major American company; after earning the MFA, became a hotel reviewer and photographer for a New York City web startup that went bust
  • “Couldn’t find another job, dabbled in editing, freelanced, tutored, Have had some things published in respected lit journals and websites, including The Huffington Post, but nothing major.
Eventually took a job as an instructor and curriculum-developer for a small American education company in Shanghai just to put an end to the growing black hole on the resume. “
  • Extracurricular involvement as a tutor for underserved local children in college; New York Cares volunteering in NYC; started playing chess and competed successfully in several local tournaments; various charity runs (with several high finishes, actually)
  • Goal: To get into the green sector, either via a for-profit (green energy consulting) or NGO (species or habitat protection).
  • “A you can see, it’s been a long strange trip, and I totally understand that when both prospective employers and B-school adcoms see my resume, fair or not they’ll see someone who hasn’t been able to commit to a career path. In short, I want to hit the reset button on my career and with my scattered history, I see B-school as the best way to do that.”
  • 33-year-old male

Odds of Success:

Duke: 20% to 30%

North Carolina: 30% to 40%

Michigan: 25%

Berkeley: 20%

Cornell: 35%

Carnegie Mellon: 35% to 40%

Notre Dame: 35+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, it’s a roll of the dice and hard to predict.  You need to

  1. Get that 730-750 GMAT
  2. Stress the one part of your career that is solid, “4 years at a Bay Area think tank doing education research . . .”

Saying you want to work in green energy is nuts and desperate, and not a “reset.” It is a reincarnation, which is something B-schools do not believe in. You have a solid enough ‘education’ theme, given the think tank and your volunteer work, to cook something up that is much more convincing, either online education (find out the major players and say you want to work for them), or educational technology, or educational consulting, not the lone practioners who help get kids into college (that would be me), but advisors to educational organizations on issues like government relations, technology, human capital. Find out if major consulting firms have educational focuses, and say you want to work for them. OK, I just did that, check out this, from McKinsey!


“We serve a wide range of education clients spanning school systems, vocational, and university education. In the past five years alone, we have worked on more than 400 education projects in over 60 countries.. . .At any time, we have over 70 consultants working on education projects around the world, many of whom have previously served as teachers, policy makers, institutional leaders, researchers, and education entrepreneurs.

“Our work focuses on the most pressing issues facing educators today:

–System performance transformation

–Education for employment

–Talent and performance management

–Administration and operations

–Institutional improvement . . . .”

Blah, blah, blah.

Dude, are they calling your name or what?????

The trick is to seem employable. Your biggest problem is not the periods of unemployment, it is your age. Thirty-three is pushing it, but it could fly at places like Duke, Darden, Cornell, Carnegie-Mellon, especially if you retool yourself along the lines above.

Scary, but getting that GMAT score will really make a difference–both for getting into B-school and getting a job at a solid management consulting firm.  Guys like you were meant to be consultants.

Once you feel the fire, and find out more, you can rev yourself up to submit a powerful and passionate application.

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.