Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Engineer
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. Banking To Startup
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. M&A Post-Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Non-profit
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. IB/PE To Fintech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.14
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
Wharton | Mr. Master’s To MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
Said Business School | Ms. Ordinary Applicant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
McCombs School of Business | Mr. First-Time MBA
GRE 332, GPA 3.3
USC Marshall | Mr. Versatile Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
HEC Paris | Ms. Public Health
Harvard | Mr. Big Fish, Small Pond
GMAT 790, GPA 3.88
Chicago Booth | Mr. Music Into Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.8
Wharton | Mr. Fintech Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.04
Wharton | Mr. Top Salesman
GMAT 610, GPA 4.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Latino Insurance
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5 / 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
INSEAD | Mr. Sailor in Suit
GMAT 740, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Triathlete
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Ms. New Wave Digital Creative

  • 660 GMAT
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in journalism and English from the University of Florida
  • Work experience includes four years split between a Los Angeles-based public relations agency for digital media companies, a D.C.-area arts nonprofit, and now a D.C.-area web design and web marketing company where I am a project manager
  • “I’m an admittedly run-of-the-mill creative-leaning Caucasian female with a liberal arts background. Middle-class, both parents graduated from college, and my father did graduate school as well. Both have worked in defense contracting and consulting with big firms.”
  • Extracurricular involvement in the college equestrian club, sorority [but no leadership position], extra German classes, and a short stint with guitar lessons. I also had voice (opera) lessons and private hunter/jumper horseback riding lessons, and now am orchestrating a sizable charity concert to save a local literary landmark from closure

Odds of Success:

Columbia: 20% to 30%

NYU: 40%

UCLA: 40%

USC: 50%

Georgetown: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You sound more disorganized than you need to be. This is a pretty straightforward career in digital media and just stick with that. Go light on the, “I’m an admittedly run-of-the-mill creative-leaning Caucasian female with a liberal arts background” attitude and just get on message that you have degrees in journalism and English and have spent four years working in digital media, in a variety of roles.

Stop making laundry lists of how white and middle class you are. No one is going to hold that against you. And omit the non-essential extra-currics like ‘short stint with guitar lessons.’ Horseback riding and opera are OK for some later essay about interests but the meat-and-potatoes should be work in digital media. Stress company and its size, in terms of number of employees, revenues or any metrics that are available, especially if they are publicly traded.

As to current job, and this is real important, WEB DESIGN is a real red flag on business school applications because it often means someone working out of a Starbucks, or some even hipper Cafe, not that there is anything wrong with that, but too often business schools read web design as equal to a “confused young person making just enough money to keep them away from local venue of Occupy Wall Street” but not someone we want at our school.

Again, stress the size of the company and the fact that you are not actually designing sites but are project manager in what I hope is a BIG-ish company.  Once you get that story straight, you become possible at places like NYU, USC, GT and UCLA–you could do yourself a big favor by taking the GMAT again and again to see if you can get 680 or better.

The biggest 20 GMAT points in the world are those between a 660 and a 680. Into that valley of death ride many of the folks with 600 GMAT scores. Columbia to the right of them, NYU to the left of them. In case our International and techy readers do not know that famous poem, Charge of the Light Brigade.

One could also argue the biggest 20 GMAT points are between 680 and 700, it depends whether you are trying to scratch your way into H/S/W or 7-10 USNEWS].

You are the kind of opera singing, guitar strumming, web-designing sunshine-state lady on horse back a lot of schools would like to give a break to (hard to say why, but that is the way I feel. You ought to link up with the 770 cheerleader and somehow raise money for charity with some clever YouTube clips).  But giving a break to a 660 is hard; giving a break to a 680 just feels so much better.

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.