Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Ross | Mr. Verbal Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3

Your Chances Of Getting An Elite MBA

Mr. Submarine Officer

  • 670 GMAT (taken twice, not taking again)
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy
  • Work experience as a submarine officer and a department head on his second sea tour; will have nine years experience when he applies to business school next summer
  • Extracurricular involvement includes teaching Sunday school and mentoring younger sailors on financial management and budgeting
  • Goal: To attend a top ten business school in order to attain a position in either the energy industry or financial services
  • 30-year-old male, married with two children

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%

MIT: 15%

Wharton: 15%

Dartmouth: 20%

Chicago: 20%

Duke: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: As often noted, one real important element of service academy applications is your GPA, even if it was 10 years ago, and you got a lot of water, as it were, over that bridge. A 3.5 in Systems Engineering is acceptable and a 670 GMAT is marginal but OK if schools otherwise like you.

I’m not super familiar with service requirements for submariners (do you have to sign up for nine years, like jet pilots? I don’t think so) and spending that much time in the service could be a small negative at places like HBS, where I think this is going to be a reach based on nothing compelling driving you in, old age, marginal GMAT, and, well, that will usually do it.

MIT might go for the system engineering background but GMAT (compared with other military guys who are younger) might be an issue there. Ditto Wharton. Other schools you mention, Tuck, Booth, and Duke are plausible. Tuck and Booth could go either way. You should be strong at Duke and also consider UVA. Both run older and are military friendly, and your dreams can come true at both as well.

Your say your goal is “the energy industry or financial services”—I would go with energy industry, based on your undergrad major in systems engineering and your time spent on nuclear subs. Whatever the reality is, that makes a good background story. Schools got plenty of finance types, but they don’t have guys who work with nuclear energy on an up-close basis. I would think about saying you want to be a consultant in energy, and do some research about what that means. Just search for McKinsey (or BCG, Booz, or Bain) + energy, and you can get a real education in about two hours. E.g. Unlocking energy efficiency in the US economy—A McKinsey report.

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.