Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Student Product Manager
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Ms. FANG Tech
GRE 321, GPA 3.7
Columbia | Mr. CPA
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. Digital Health Start-Up
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Sports Management
GMAT 690, GPA 3.23
Darden | Mr. International Trade
GRE 323, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Health Clinic Founder
GRE 330, GPA 3
Said Business School | Mr. Strategy Consulting Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.98
Stanford GSB | Mr. Robotics
GMAT 730, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Aspiring Tech Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. Supply Chain Latino
GRE 320, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Operations Manager
GRE 328, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Private Equity Analyst
GRE 320, GPA 3.3
GMAT 770, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Basketball To B-School
GRE 334, GPA 3.73
Harvard | Mr. E-Sports Coach
GRE 323, GPA 5.72/10
INSEAD | Ms. Insightful Panda
GMAT 700, GPA 87.5%
NYU Stern | Mr. Bioinformatics
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Impact Investment
GMAT 760, GPA 3.2
Chicago Booth | Mr. Nonprofit-ish
GRE 333, GPA 3.81
INSEAD | Ms. Humble Auditor
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
London Business School | Mr. Investment Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 2.2
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Healthcare Tech
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Chicago Booth | Mr. Civil Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.9/10

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.