Calculating Your B-School Odds

Mr. California Dreamin’

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in history from a public Ivy League university
  • Work experience with a Big Four auditor for two and one-half years, working largely with private client in our Silicon Valley office
  • Extracurricular involves as co-founder of an charity to promote leadership and academic achievement for high school athletes; involved in youth soccer
  • Goal: A transition into more finance/operations roles in growth companies, preferably tech. Transferred San Jose office to gain more experience on tech companies. Ultimately, I want to be a CFO/COO of a tech company.
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 10%

Harvard: 10% to 15%

MIT: 30+%

Berkeley: 20%

UCLA: 30%

London: 30+%

Sandy’s Analysis: The successful traditional trajectory of a Big-Four auditor into HBS or Stanford has been to get a more prestige job before applying. That could mean, in most cases, a transition into strategic consulting at same firm or peer firm, or in the good old days before TARP et al, getting a gig at a private equity shop. Also, some guys went from Big Four for two years into corporate finance at a Fortune-100 type company.

Stanford used to, and still may, have one or two “bespoke” seats for minority candidates from the Big Four. That side-door aside, If anyone knows a white male auditor who got into Stanford or HBS directly out of the Big Four (without pull of some kind), please let me know. I am not saying it never happened — although that could be true — but I am saying it is rare.

So one thing to think about is getting a job with a consulting shop, a Fortune 100 company or some ‘sexy’ hi-tech company. If somehow you transitioned into being an employee, with some kind of impressive title,  at that “private” Silicon Valley firm where you are now stationed, and that company is a hot company, that would be a HUGE plus in your story.

You might also then  discover you no longer want or need an MBA. Given your impressive other stats, 3.7 public Ivy, 710 GMAT, and bunch of “good guy” extras, I think your chances at Haas, Anderson, Booth, London??? (Why???? I’d sub in Columbia Early Decision) and  Sloan are realistic, and will depend on the usuals of hitting the right buttons at each school and the school’s selectivity. I am not seeing this as a fit at MIT, but they are hard to predict since one of their entry portals is people who don’t seem like MIT stereotypes. Alas, that is usually women.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder of C-Change Media, a global digital media company of higher education content. C-Change now has five websites, including Poets&Quants, and the author or co-author of more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers, and is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, and editor-in-chief of Fast Company. He also is the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools.