Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
Darden | Ms. Inclusive Management
GRE 313, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Latin American
GMAT 770, GPA 8 of 10
Columbia | Mr. Oil & Gas
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Admission
GRE 329, GPA 3.99
NYU Stern | Mr. NYC Consultant
GRE 327, GPA 3.47
NYU Stern | Mr. Brolic Bro
GRE 305, GPA 3.63
Tuck | Mr. Running To The Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Kellogg | Mr. Pro Sports MGMT
GMAT GMAT Waived, GPA 3.78
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Real Estate Developer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.12
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Commercial Lawyer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Tech Impact
GMAT 730, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Data & Strategy
GMAT 710 (estimate), GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Dreaming Civil Servant
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Mr. Tech PM
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Platoon Leader

  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada
  • Work experience includes five years of continued leadership positions that include Afghanistan deployment as engineer team (platoon) leader.
  • Extracurriculars are military-community sports, family events. Also includes some volunteering at special community events such as festivals. Essays/recommendations will include details as to why extracurriculars were hard to define given the military commitments.
  • Goal: To continue move from tactical to strategic leadership in consulting post-MBA with eventual goal to start my own company that utilizes skill sets from military and MBA.
  • First generation Chinese-Canadian, speaks English, French, Mandarin. Extensive travels with global mindset for future employment/entrepreneurship.

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 45+%

Stanford: 30%

Wharton: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: I’m pretty sure being Canadian military will not be a drawback, and might even be a plus, and if this were a West Point application with a 3.8 and a 730, and a cross-functional and cross-cultural Afghanistan deployment, I’d say your chances at HBS and Wharton would be pretty solid. Being first generation Chinese is an added plus. You don’t need to explain why extra-curriculars were military related. Schools understand that. Just have your recommenders do the usual rec things.

Work the volunteering at community events angle. Given solid grades and GMAT, and Chinese/Canadian twist, there is a lot to like here. As with many military applications, the trick is expand your accomplishments to include working with locales, working with enlisted guys who have marginal education, and initiating do-gooder stuff for villages, etc. Don’t get caught up in “action-hero” stuff too much. Remember that by and large these applications are read by women. Stanford is always more selective, but you are in the chase there as well. A lot may turn on coming up with a stand-out “What matters most . . .” essay which somehow plays off first generation/Chinese themes and touches on what motivated you to attend the Royal Military College in first place. You can fill in “war stories” in the shorter essays.

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.