Calculating Your B-School Odds

After a stint with Bain & Co. as a consultant, this 26-year-old made the enviable switch to a hedge fund. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.7 grade point average at a “little Ivy,” he’s now hoping an MBA will give him the tools to start his own investment management boutique.

She grew up in the family business, a hotel company with over 10,000 rooms worldwide and now works for a start-up owned by AOL founder Steve Case. This 27-year-old professional wants an MBA to help prepare her for the day when she could take over the family concern.

He’s a Big Four auditor who works in Silicon Valley. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.7 GPA, this 25-year-old wants an MBA to help him transition into the role of a chief financial officer of a tech company some day.

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 an invite? Or are they likely to end up in a reject pile?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, takes a crack at analyzing these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

Sandy is busy earning his living working with Round one HBS applicants this week so we have posted five classic profiles below. He will be back next week. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature.

Sandy’s assessment:

Mr. Hedge Fund

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from a little Ivy college (Williams/Amherst/Swat)
  • Work experience includes two years at Bain Consulting before transitioning into an equity hedge fund for about 3.5 years
  • Extracurricular includes being president and founder of a number of clubs, sat on a number of advisory boards to college executive leadership (diversity boards, career services boards, lecture committees). Also had a hand in developing alumni relationships for the career services.
  • Goal: “Starting a full service investment management boutique.”
  • “Mostly wondering if I’m already too experienced to make a run at the MBA.”
  • 26-year-old Chinese born in the U.S.

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%
Stanford: 10% to 20%
Wharton: 40% to 50+%
Columbia: 40% to 50+%
MIT: 30+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Do I have this right: five/six years of experience, two at Bain, and then since 2008 at an equity hedge fund? That could be a real issue at HBS and also Stanford, where they begin to distrust applicants that far out based on some mildly nutty theory (a rare screwy bee in Harvard Dean Nohira’s bonnet) that applicants over X years in banking/finance are somehow being shipped off to business school as a sop for not being promoted to Junior Master of the Universe.

Now just what equals “X years experience” in this formula is an issue, and less of an issue with you since you have only been in finance for four years, and X is less than that. But the two years at Bain might get unfairly stapled onto that, in some wacky thought system (which adcoms are subject to) so that is the way your work history could bite you.

All the rest is solid, although let me add, for general readers, not sure if this applies to you per se, that extras having to do with alum clubs, and the board work you seem to have a long list of, are good but not as good as outright engagements and ladling soup at do-gooder orgs with an impact far removed from yourself. Beware of seeming too much like a board networker and not a genuine do-gooder.

Columbia should fall into place. Sloan will like how solid all this is, and they are the last place standing which welcomes applicants interested in financial engineering , which it seems like what you do. Sorry if I misread that, but they will like what you do anyway. The issue at Harvard and Stanford is the too-much experience and lack of impactful do-gooder extras, although difficult to say how big an issue that will be.