Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Mr. Solar

  • 800Q 670V GRE
  • 3.2 GPA
  • 26-year-old Hispanic male (with a Hispanic surname)
  • Undergraduate degree in geological sciences from Princeton University
  • 3.8 GPA master’s  degree in statistics from a top Ivy
  • Completing master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California while working full time
  • Work experience includes developing and managing renewable power with a Fortune 500 company; commissioned largest solar farm in New England ($10 million) and largest solar farm in Northeast ($100 million); currently manage largest solar farm in all of the eastern U.S.A; one of the youngest managers in company history
  • Extracurricular involvement running a small Internet business with a partner at Harvard that paid for all my college costs (partner went on to Stanford GSB directly out of Harvard and it was a significant part of his story); also ran a small energy company that bought and sold natural gas in my junior and senior years; founder of Minorities in Commodities USA, a support/information network focused on minorities in the commodities industry or those looking to enter (2 years); founder of Othello Group, a GRE/GMAT tutoring network focused on minorities
  • Goal: To become a major energy developer or manage a large player in the field

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

Stanford: 30%

Wharton: 40% to 50%

Columbia: 40% to 50%

Dartmouth: 30% to 40%

New York: 50+%

Yale: 50+%

MIT: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis:   Hispanic with Hispanic surname,  800Q/670V GRE’s, some impressive GPA’s in grad school, and a low-ish,  but you say near average GPA at Princeton in “geologic sciences” (hard science does not get any harder, I imagine) , plus a Fortune-500 job and you also work on a big solar farm???  Sounds solid to me, as are extras, so this is a case of just executing on basics, getting super recommendations, and not blowing key interviews.

You may, along with millions of others, find the HBS application annoying because it will not let you explain all the above in any extensive way, but you can get most of it into the application and resume in outline, 200-character format (they count a space as a character by the way), and we just have to trust them to pay attention to the fine print, which they usually do.  Really take up a lot of space on resume to describe your extras, even if it means going to two pages.

The Stanford, “What matters” essay may give you more room to breathe, so you need to thread some story there about how X or Y (energy or being Hispanic) has helped you grow, and try not to give a “greatest hits” reel but instead some growth stories.  Your chances at other places should be solid if you can convince them you want to come. Your goals and motives, as stated – “become a major energy developer or manage a large player in the field”—are real solid.