Handicapping Your Personal MBA Odds


Ms. Entrepreneur

  • 650 to 720 GMAT (expected)
  • 2.8 GPA
  • Currently a Class of 2013 student working toward a bachelor’s degree in business management; plan to get a master’s in marketing in 2014
  • Low grades due to illness in past year resulting in a hearing disability and trouble concentrating
  • “Both diplomas are to improve my skills, knowledge, and application for an MBA”
  • Work experience includes having served as a manager in a sports club and then launching own sportswear company in the past three years with two other entrepreneurs
  • Extracurricular activities include serving as a child camp counselor every summer; helping children in difficulty by learning values in sport; training a team that has been a two-time France champion; working with association and school to help disadvantaged families
  • “I grew up with a single mother who was a professional dancer and rhythmic gymnast”
  • 28-year-old French black woman

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 10%

Harvard: 10%

Columbia: 10%

Berkeley: 10%

Northwestern: 10%

New York: 10%

Sandy’s Analysis: If I understand this correctly, you do not yet have a B.A. and are 28 years old. You have been attending college for the past three years, and thus the low GPA (2.8). Prior work history is managing a ‘sport club” (gym?) for seven years and then, at some point 3 years ago, you started your own “sportswear company  . . . with two other entrepreneurs.” You also plan to get a master’s degree in marketing after your B.A. and then apply for your MBA?

I acknowledge your unusual and challenging background — French, black, raised by a single mother, excellent extracurriculars, start-up company,  and recent, serious-sounding hearing disability.  Those elements will not get you into HBS or Wharton, largely because you do not have a traditional work history, and from what you write, are not really a big-time entrepreneur.

Those schools like something solid to anchor an opinion on, and with no Brand Name jobs, low GPA, and a very unusual career path, well, they just almost never admit profiles like that. Also, for the record, for you and others reading this, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you do not get counted as a “minority,” although your circumstances will still register with the adcom. But you won’t get whatever push that status might have granted you.

I’m also unclear about your goals, why do you want an MBA?  I support your idea of getting an M.A. in marketing after you finish your B.A. Why not use that as a gateway to getting a job with a BIG company for a couple of years, earn some money, get some cred, and then apply to top schools for EMBA programs. You have a lot to offer with a career in marketing, a history of working in sports, black, French, disability . . .I can see the Nike campaign you will run already . .  .but what is missing is some brand-name work history.

You also noted Columbia, Haas, Kellogg, and NYU as target schools. Those MBA programs are going to be difficult as well following your current plan, especially if you don’t get a real solid GMAT (680+) and even if you do.

Some brand name work experience after you complete your M.A. will really change your whole story.  Get into the best marketing program you can , and once there, start hustling for a Fortune 500 job.  After that, you will be a much stronger candidate. I would suggest, at that point,  some kind of certificate program or EMBA (those programs will credit your prior work history as part of the 6+ years of work experience they usually require). Or even an MBA, if you are still set one at that point, which may not be the case.

But it you do  get a marketing M.A. and then work at Nike or some big sports company for 2 years, get a 700 GMAT, and then apply to HBS and Wharton, well, you’d be an interesting reach case with a real powerful story. You’d be 33 or so, but they might blink at that if the rest were compelling, which it might be.

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