Handicapping Your Elite B-School Chances

In the past four years, this 25-year-old female professional has zipped through three promotions at a national retailer where she runs a multi-million-dollar business. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.69 undergraduate grade point average, she hopes to get an MBA to broaden her skill set.

He landed a job in sales at a Silicon Valley start-up after graduating with a degree in political science from Stanford University two years ago. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.13 GPA, this 23-year-old male professional now hopes to get an MBA to assist with a desired career change into the government sector.

After working for a blue chip bank as a junior trader and then a salesperson, this 29-year-old woman fell on hard times. Unemployed in London for six months, she is hoping to get into a top business school to restart a stalled career.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.) This feature typically appears weekly on Fridays.

Sandy’s candid analysis: 

Ms. Retail


  • 710 GMAT (Q42, V45) AWA 5.5
  • 3.69 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in English and French from a Midwest private “Ivy”
  • Work experience includes three and one-half years with a national retailer based in New York, currently as a mid-level executive who manages a high profile, high volume business; promoted three times with experience in all aspects of the retail/supply chain world
  • Extracurricular involvement is limited, but it does include a few key experiences such as mentoring three company employees and volunteering once a week at the local public school; held sorority leadership positions and belonged to honor societies in college
  • Goal: To broaden my skill set outside
of the retail supply chain.
  • “Unlike many other applicants, I have actually 
run a multi-million dollar business within my organization, as opposed to
just invested in one. I would ultimately like to transition to 
strategy/brand management and focus on long-term planning, as well as 
gain international business experience”
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20% to 30%
Northwestern: 50+%
New York: 60+%
Columbia: 50+%
Wharton: 40%
MIT: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Jeepers, it is all here except your goals. This is a tight and interlinked story, basically, liberal arts major comes to New York and is a hit in the rag business, the real business, not a designer or model: “currently a mid-level executive for . .  . national retailer, based in New York. I have been 
promoted three times in the last 3.5 years and have experience in all 
aspects of the retail/supply chain world. I currently manage a high-profile, high-volume business and have a proven track record of achieving plans and strategies.”

Why mess with that? It’s gold. Every business school needs someone like that, and your stats, a balanced 710 GMAT and a 3.69 at a near-Ivy are totally solid.  The only thing which I am unclear about is your goals. You say you want to “broaden my skill set outside of Retail/Supply Chain. Unlike many other applicants, I have actually run a multi-million dollar business within my organization, as opposed to just invested in one. [Touche!]  I would ultimately like to transition to strategy/brand management and focus on long-term planning, as well as gain international business experience.”

What does that mean? Why don’t you just say you want to be an impactful and innovative leader in the retail/apparel business like Ladies 1, 2 and 3 (find some role models) –“this is the first result for a search for “women leaders in retail” – and, as well, address such emerging apparel  issues as e-commerce, sweatshops, sustainable sourcing and practices. I’m making that up, but you get the idea. Just latch onto whatever the key hot-button issues you see in your space, and say you want to address them.  Consulting or international experience can be the stepping stones to reaching such goals but your long-term goals need to be as an impactful leader.

You got a great story, and with the right heavy breathing about your goals and female empowerment, and helping clean up the supply chain, the sky is the limit.  Like many people who have been stuck at a real job for three years, you need to think bigger.

You say: “Limited extracurriculars: I mentor three employees in my company. I volunteer once a week at the local public school.” That is enough, with the right spin. You could write an entire HBS essay about either of those experiences. For example, how you are a solid volunteer in New York City Public Schools, but could have done WAY more, like gotten your company interested, gotten more folks also to volunteer, been more innovative in programs you worked with.

  • Cameron Glass

    Hoping you could review my credentials for Northwestern, Columbia, Wharton, McCombs, Darden, NYU, MIT
    GMAT: 700

    GPA: 3.5 in Finance w/ minor in Economics at Texas A&M

    President and Coach for 2 years for Texas A&M Club Water Polo Team (received Texas A&M Club Sports Outstanding officer award)

    Treasurer of Men’s Service and Leadership Organization

    Financial Leadership and Development Program for Raytheon (2 years with 1 year being on the Corporate Strategy Team). Financial Analyst for Raytheon after finishing FLDP

    Member of Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce (Volunteer work and professional development activities)
    White male, age 25

    I want to switch out of a stagnant/declining defense industry into strategy consulting

  • Mr. Nescac

    Hi Sandy,

    Love this piece, it’s been really helpful so far! I was hoping you could take a look at my stats/experiences and assess my profile. A little bit about me:

    28 year old Male
    710 GMAT (49Q, 37V, 6.0W)
    3.3 GPA from Little Ivy (think Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan) in Economics (lots of math and stats), 3.5 last 3 years
    Played two sports in college (baseball and golf)

    After college I did TFA for two years, my students did quite well. I currently sit on an alumi board for TFA, conduct interviews, was spotlighted in their alumni newsletter and have been on 3 panels for prospective students. I’ve also presented on Google Apps to local TFA corps members.

    After TFA I worked for about 6 months at an IT consulting firm implementing Epic software at hospitals. I’m still certified in their top packages.

    For the last 2.5 years I’ve been working at Google in AdWords. I am the reporting and data analysis lead for my team and have taken the initiative to interface with team members across the globe to help identify opportunities that have generated significant uplift in team productivity and revenue. The last two people I know from my org to apply went to UT-Austin and MIT (both also did TFA).

    Career Goals are to land a job in management consulting to learn bit more about how businesses work from the inside, and also apply my passion for data analysis to add value to organizations. Long term I’d like to transition to a Fortune 100 company where I can sit at the intersection of consumer psychology and data analysis and guide brand strategy.

    My top schools are Michigan, Northwestern, UChicago (legacy, not a big donor) and MIT.

    Any feedback you could offer on odds/ideas of how to position my experiences ect. would be much appreciated!


    Mr. NESCAC

  • Vincent

    I would really appreciate your help evaluating and quantifying my options.

    750 GMAT
    3.6 with a BS in Finance and a BS in Accounting from a Big10 mid-western state school. Four-year full academic scholarship.
    CFA Charterholder
    Nationality: White Male

    I am considering MIT, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Tuck, and HBS as a long shot.

    I have spent the last four years since graduation at the same firm. I work as a fixed income derivatives trader specializing in US debt. I have both screen and floor trading experience with rapid advancement. I work for a privately owned small group with 10 professionals.

    Extras: Spent the last three years as an assistant/QB coach at a local public high school where i graduated from. Serve on an alumni board for my scholarship. I actively volunteer at an inner city children’s hospital.

    I am in a declining industry and want to re-brand myself through business school. My goal is to work on institutional fixed income trading at bulge bracket desk.

    Any advice or direction helps.

    All the best.


  • GoingGolfing

    710 GMAT (Q45,V41)
    3.64 GPA from private Midwest Liberal Arts, Economics (regionally respected, nationally unknown)
    4 Years finance leadership development program @ F500 CPG
    3 roles (2 promotions, top of class) focused on marketing/brand management
    Current role in New Business Development/ Internal Startup Group working on products w/ alternative business models. Bulk of experience as financial member of cross functional teams launching products, setting prices, defending marketshare, executing ad campaigns.
    Extra Curriculars: Business Dev/Strategy for African CPG startups & Executive Committe member of mentoring program
    Goals: Brand/Product Management or Corp Strat for Sports Company (Nike, Addidas), harboring desires to get a VC/PE job but don’t think it’s wise to publish that low odds goal.
    School: Only interested in M7, need to open recruiting doors not available in UG. Stanford & MIT are longshots given my low Q so aiming at HBS, Columbia, Wharton + chicago schools.
    Comments: i’ve read through almost all of these and haven’t seen any specific FLDP profiles so wondering what you think. I’ve seen your comments elsewhere that these programs are respected; I’m not at GE and I’m a white male. My firm sends 3-5 M7 people a year and recruits 15 to marketing but the HBS kids are rarely (never?) white males….would a 740 with better Q make a difference? that’s about all i can impact right now other than the essay.

  • Hilo

    Asian American
    First generation college student
    UC Berkeley, 3.8, Industrial Engineering & Media Studies
    710: 39 V, 48 Q

    – (2 years) Teach For America, superior results, amazing recommendation
    – (less than a year) private industrial supplies company in a management role, slightly above average results
    – (less than a year) education startup in Africa in a curriculum role
    – (less than 6 months) tech/marketing startup in Africa in a managerial role
    Each transition was by choice (re: I no longer felt passionate or that I was professionally developing in the roles. In my last role, I had to leave abruptly due to an accident)

    How will admissions view my profile? What is the best way to position my story?

  • Justin

    just to add, on GMAT: 710, Q48 (78%), V39 (88%)

  • Justin


    I would appreciate your call on my odds for MIT, Wharton,
    HBS, Booth, and Stanford. Thanks for doing what you do!

    Demo: white male, 29 years old

    GMAT: 710 (plan to retake to try for another 10-20 points)

    Undergrad GPA: 3.3 (upward trending) B.S. Aerospace
    Engineering (solid leadership extracurriculars)

    Graduate GPA: 3.8 M.S. Aerospace Engineering (various
    publications, thesis, extracurriculars)

    Work experience:

    Currently work at NASA for the CFO doing agency strategy for
    her and the rest of the executive staff. Primary focus is developing options
    for budget execution given short, medium and long term agency goals; also
    manage agency portfolio analysis (~$17B). Previously a technologist and project
    manager developing game changing technology with small businesses (e.g. developing
    satellite technology that is 1/1000th the cost and 1/100th the size of
    state-of-the-art). Prior to that I was a Lead Engineer supporting the Space Shuttle
    Program and its descendant program; managed multiple teams of engineers and

    Other activities:

    Mentor underprivileged high school students interested in STEM

    MBA Goal:

    – Medium term: switch to the private sector doing management and/or product strategy

    – Long term: bring revolutionary products to the market as a CEO

  • Mr. Disney

    Hi Sandy,

    I would really appreciate your advice given my situation. Thanks in advance!

    Goal: HBS, Booth, Wharton, Yale, MIT

    710-740 GMAT expected

    3.45 GPA

    Undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics from
    mid-ranked public school

    Work experience includes three years at current role as a
    Financial Analyst for Disney, two years buy side corporate bond analysis at
    large money manager

    CFA Charterholder

    27-year old white male

    Expect strong recommendation from VP who is HBS Alum

    Extracurricular involvement: “Fairly limited. Active in
    church community service projects and volunteer as math tutor at local schools.
    I was head analyst in student managed investment fund and also leader in
    student leadership council. Very active in community support for midwest floods
    of 2008. Organized large scale sandbagging efforts and providing food/water to
    other workers.”

    Goal: To broaden business skill set and apply skills to make
    an impact on our economy through small business consulting, PE or VC; have a
    real passion for seeing the potential and building long-term value in

    Other: GPA is weighted down due to first year in college. Lifelong home and hometown was completely
    demolished in midwest floods of 2008. Mother was diagnosed with cancer in the
    same year, translating into a rough transition to college. I have a real
    passion for learning. Currently taking free Wharton MOOCs to keep up to date on
    academics. Also have FRM and CAIA designations.

    Reach: HBS, Booth, Wharton, Yale, MIT

    2nd hope: Dartmouth, Michigan, Duke,

  • space nerd

    GRE: 170 V 162 Q
    GPA: 3.7, Political Science, Magna Cum Laude
    Awarded “Outstanding Political Science Graduate”
    Undergrad: Private top 15 national university (ivy-ish)
    College Extra Curriculars: President of political magazine (50 staff), awarded Political Science research fellowship
    Work: 3 years at a boutique management consulting firm (government sector focused). Promoted twice and am now project manager. Work includes developing business strategy plans, analyzing government policy implications for business, and M&A due diligence. Have briefed CEO-level clients for billion dollar corporations and senior government agency leadership semi-regularly for past 1.5 years (space/satellite industry). Other people from this ~100 employee firm have gone to top-five business schools, but it’s not a brand name.
    Volunteering: Tutor underprivledged children in reading for 3 years
    Hobbies: Ran first marathon this past May
    MBA Goal: To transition away from consulting to leadership position in a space-focused company or government agency

    I’m especially interested in dual degree programs such as MIT Sloan / Harvard Kennedy and HBS/HKS due to interest in both business and government.

  • FR

    Hi Sandy,

    i’d really like your opinion on my chances and what I need to improve: my biggest concerns regard my employment history

    – Personal details: 29-years-old Italian male (always lived and worked in Italy)

    – Bachelor in Business Management al biggest (but not most prestigious) university in the country earned while working full time. not sure regarding gpa, but best 10% of my class (104/110)
    – Master’s degree in Marketing Management from same university. GPA 4.0 (winner of a prize as best student of the class)

    – GMAT: 740

    – Early work experience: one year as event organizer, one year as IT trainer for young unemployed in public lybraries, 6 months internship with P&G
    – Main work esperience: 4 years in strategic marketing at Enel (most important italian utility, ranking top 100 in Forbes global), with a track of promotions ahead of time and responsibilities
    – I left Enel for a M/B/B, but it went south after six months and i’m currently unemployed

    – Extracurricular include being cofounder and organizer of a series of not-for-profit associations, mainly recreational but also regarding “scientific method awareness for children”. Also Mensa member, very active in school politics during highschool, where i also was editor of the newspaper and trainer in an it class

    – MBA goal: to pursue a career in marketing/strategy in a different industry from where i worked before (tech, consumer goods, media…) and in the long term to create my own marketing consultancy company back in europe

    – Goal schools: i know my profile is not golden, but i hope i have a chance to get in at Kellog, Tuck, Virginia, Duke or Johnson (but i’m completely open to suggestion)

    do you think a couple months current unemployment is a serious issues? should i wait second round and apply after finding a new job? (i’m currently also looking at chances of volunteering for an ONG in order to live abroad for some months. do you think it could help?)

    Thanks a lot for your consideration!

  • Rachel B

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate your review- been working hard but not sure where to put my emphasis applying.

    GMAT- Scoring about 720 in practice tests
    3.83 GPA Undergrad
    Double major (BA) in International Affairs/African Studies at mid-ranked public school
    3.87 GPA Graduate
    Master of the Arts in African Studies from the “Ivy” in California

    two years working in fundraising and external relations for a grassroots NGO in DC focused on local human rights activists
    one year working for a large, international NGO in sub-saharan africa
    internships at USAID and the American Red Cross, as well as teaching/volunteering across Africa as an undergrad. wrote business plans for a children’s center in Tanzania.
    volunteer to teach life skills to refugees in the DC area
    neither parent graduated from college; 100% scholarship student for undergrad, 30% for grad

    want to get an MBA, focused on social enterprise and private-public partnerships, to help bridge the gap between NGOs and the private sector and to leverage MBA management skills to consult local NGOs in Africa on operations, fundraising and management, as well as build local capacity in African business schools.

    Thank you!

  • Mr Europe

    Hi Sandy,

    I would like you to review my odd for HBS, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Kellogg, Insead.

    Nationality: French

    25, white male (will be 26 by matriculation)

    Undergraduate: 3.4 from a top-engineering school in France (Equivalent of a MSc in Electrical Engineering)

    Postgraduate: 3.7 from Oxbridge (MSc in Biomedical engineering).

    GMAT: 730 (Q47 V44).

    Work Experience:
    3 years at GE Healtcare (in the UK) as project engineer (one year) then project manager (two years). Worked on some multi-million dollar projects aimed at designing innovative medical imaging devices.
    Used to work in a multicultural work environment (working with people from up to 6 different countries).
    Had internships while in college in Spain and China.

    In college, president of the most important student film festival in Europe and created an other in the UK.
    Volunteering for an association that organize an important film festival and other events.
    A one-month trip to Africa to do some community work with the GE community.
    Involved in welfare and community events to help poor and unprivileged with health related issues.
    Active alumni for my two former institutions.

    Fluent in 3 languages (French, English, Spanish) and conversant in two other ones (Mandarin Chinese and German).

    Short term goal:
    Working in consulting to help me gain a solid background.
    Long term goal:
    Running a company in healthcare which would focus the poorest areas of the world.

    Thank you in advance for your insights.

  • CPA from NZ

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I would appreciate if you could shed some light on my odds. One of my biggest concerns when applying is my GPA score and my lack of extras.

    -720 GMAT – Not taken yet, but consistently scoring around the 740 mark in practice tests.
    -2.53 Undergrad GPA in accounting and commercial Law from a reputed university in New Zealand.

    -Qualified CPA (Australia)

    Work Experience:

    -5 years in management accounting roles at Alcatel-Lucent NZ (Telecommunications)

    (1 yr Assistant Accountant, 4 years project financial controller). I was responsible for the financials of certain projects the company was involved in NZ. Reason for moving was that I was retrenched during a massive global restructuring exercise.

    -2 Years (at matriculation) in a financial accounting/treasury role – In the finance team of the university I studied at.

    Extra-Curricular Activities:
    -Participating in Indian cultural festivals during my final under grad year.
    -Involved in managing an Indian cultural event along with others this year.
    -Play Tennis, squash though not at any state level.
    -Travelled overseas every year since 2011. I have my sister in Atlanta which is also a reason why I’m applying for US MBA programs.
    -No volunteer work per se as a year after graduation, I started preparing for the CPA qualification which takes 3 years, hence I couldn’t focus my energies on that side of things. Also, I lost my mother in India in 2010, so my immediate efforts were focussed on overcoming personal adversity while remaining on track to completing my CPA.

    I moved to NZ from India at age 18 to pursue my undergrad degree. I worked hospitality jobs for 20-40 hours/week to pay for my living expenses whilst studying, as my parents could only pay for my tuition fees. In my application, I will try to rationalize my low scores during my first year since I was in a new country, with a new culture and having to sustain myself having never worked before (as is common in India) while also being young and inexperienced. To extrapolate the effects, my parents divorcing when I was in my second year and still overseas had an impact. My GPA in my final year was around the 3.2 mark. I realise it’s a long sob story to rationalise a low GPA, but I feel I have to take a shot at explaining it.

    Personal details:-
    Nationality – New Zealander.
    Ethnicity – Indian
    Age – 29 at matriculation

    Target Schools:

    – Kellogg, Columbia, Sloan, Yale, Ross, Stern, Duke and Emory.

    Post-MBA Goal:

    -Short Term: Transition to consulting in a Green tech/CSR specialist firm. I have realised that I don’t intend to be a CPA all my life so I’m looking for a career change to something I’m passionate about.
    -Long Term: Start my own firm focusing on green tech consulting/CSR

    I know with my stats, specially the low GPA and lack of extras, the top schools would be wishful thinking but I’ve been following this site for a while and I would really appreciate your expert opinion.

    Thank you for your consideration!

  • Derek

    Thank you for doing this column, very helpful.

    My profile is all over the place and I would really appreciate feedback for putting it all together into a cohesive story, as well as get your thoughts on my chances of getting in at top MBA programs.

    – 760 GMAT (hope this proves that I am hardworking and willing to put in effort, something that my GPA doesn’t show)
    – 3.04 GPA from UCLA undergrad Economics major (I really screwed around and didn’t try very much)
    – Leadership roles in undergrad for hiphop teams and student organizations, and really in all organizations that I’ve been involved in
    – Professional growth and upward movement in all corporations I’ve been with

    Worked 1 year in business to business telecom/tech sales, spent 1 year doing a start up business in organizational communication (think Yammer but for smaller organizations) as an analyst/consultant, and 1.5 years in an advertising agency as an analyst.

    I want to leverage the network and skills I could gain at a top business school to change the way people look at advertising. I want to lead large agencies and recognizable brands to become early adopters of technologies and innovations that could change the world.

    My choices for schools include:

    Please let me know what you think my chances are and how I can best position my experiences and mitigate the low GPA from my foolish college years. Thank you very much

  • Razak Gambit

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate if you can review my odds for Stanford GSB, HBS, Wharton, MIT, Columbia and Chicago Booth.

    Nationality: Malaysian, currently working and living in Malaysia

    GMAT: 720

    Undergrad GPA: 3.62 from BIG-10 Uni in the US
    B.S in Actuarial Science and Finance

    Male, 30

    Work experience:

    Has been with Accenture Mgmt Consulting for 6+ years since college, now specialised in FInancial Services sector – banking, customer strategy, wealth management and microfinance.

    Has been consulting clients from around the region – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam

    Other activities:

    Also played significant role in expanding family property business, venturing into hospitality industry – key achievement is acquiring and turning around an old property into a leading 3-star, 175 room hotel.

    Charity, non profit contribution – sporadic participation/ volunteering for charity event, teaching for underprivilege kids, but no signicant role as a leader or founding member.

    MBA Goal:
    – Medium term – To boost my career and enhance my credential to become an industry leader/expert in Financial Services, or strategy consulting in general.
    – Long term – I am expected to expand family business in the long term. MBA will help boost my entrepreneurial confidence, expand my network and allow me to meet some of the best mind with best ideas.

  • Approaching 35

    Hi Sandy

    Could you please comment on my profile? From the
    comments at various links on this website I understand that age and
    “pool” are factors against me but still want to see if it makes sense to

    34 Yrs Indian Male.

    1) Green Card holder.(not sure if this matters since Im in the overrepresented “pool” of Indian Engineers)

    2) 720 GMAT

    3) Undergrad in Comp Sc and Engg from India.(6th in class of 60)

    12 yrs work exp in Consulting. Worked for Oracle USA for 6 years as
    principal, for Accenture as a Manager. Run my own firm now providing
    Supply Chain consulting to AT&T. Currently involved in designing new
    processes for refurbished equipment supply chain.

    5) Captain of
    Bhangra Dance during college team(balle balle!), coached Univ of dallas
    masters folks for their dance competition(2009). Mentor kids at
    religious organization.

    6) Reason for doing MBA- I see a gap in
    standard supply chain software in the market and currently working on
    developing a software to plug those gaps. Want to grow the company I
    started last year within US first by leveraging previous Forbes 100

  • Hopeful Admit

    Hi Sandy, appreciate your advice.

    – 26 year-old white male working in Chicago

    – Attended unimpressive state school (arkansas, kansas, iowa) and did the 5-year masters in accounting program (undergrad: 4.0, grad: 4.0)

    – GMAT: Have not taken (targeting competitive score (700+))

    – Interned at Big 4 audit.

    – Worked at Big 4 transaction advisory services for a year (promoted after 1 year, which is a year early; however, spent no time as actual senior associate as I transferred jobs)

    – Currently have been working 2 years as an analyst in the asset management arm of a large insurance company doing private debt and equity investing (other analysts I know from the program have attended Northwestern, Columbia, Haas, McCombs).

    – Certifications: CPA and CFA Level III Candidate (awaiting results)

    – ECs since college: Have been our offices community services coordinator for the past 18 months, coordinating office volunteer drives/community service projects. I also volunteer at a local school during lunch twice a month. Active in multiple sports teams.

    – ECs during college: heavily involved within fraternity and held multiple leadership positions (VP, secretary, intramural sports coordinators), big brother mentor, leader on multiple case study challenges/entrepreneurial competitions that won school-wide competition

    – Goal: I know it is broad, but I would like to one day become a CFO of a large multinational corporation. I have not finalized what job I would target directly out of school.

    Any thoughts on top schools such as:

    Other suggestions?

  • Linda

    Hi John and Sandy,

    Thanks for this series of admission analysis, very informative! Can you please take a look at mine as well?

    – Mother of two young daughters under age of 3 (not sure if this counts as pro or con). Currently 29; will be 30 when matriculating.
    – Born and raised in China, family immigrated to Canada when I was 15.
    – GMAT: 750 first attempt

    – GPA: 3.71 at University of Toronto; majoring in Biological Science (Pathobiology) and minoring in economics
    – I lost interest in pursuing medicine, and decided to switch to Business
    – Worked in TD bank as Investment Rep for 2 years, good sales record, won lots of competitions on the floor.
    – Studied CFA and passed all 3 levels consecutively (to substitute for my lack of formal business training in school)
    – Studied FRM (financial risk manager) because I believe risk manager is essential for ALL types of businesses.
    – Went on maternity leave, during when I got a Risk Analyst job at TD securities.
    – So my current title is this risk analyst. I had good performance there. Worked for 1.5 years before going on Maternity Leave.
    – Currently on Maternity Leave.

    – Extracurricular: Started a website for Chinese parents in Toronto, with parenting information (like local doctors, Ontario immunization, etc). I’m the sole person working on this and it’s not complete yet (but already online). Volunteered at two hospital throughout my college years. Worked at my family convenient store for over 10 years. Worked as consultant for a number of small businesses (knew them through family business) to improve on their revenue. Organized events for Chinese students during college. Tutored high school students during college. Teach elementary level piano for kids.

    – Career Goal: I want to switch to consulting, mainly to get exposure to how big companies operate. And I need MBA to supplement my lack of business knowledge (I only learned basic economics in college, then CFA, which was finance, on my own). Eventually I want to start my own consulting company focusing on small business, and I really hope to leverage experiences with big companies to revolutionalize small businesses, to help them grow.

    Although I’m Chinese, I know I don’t count as minority, but I AM international+female. Would school appreciate that I am an ambitious mother? So I only have 4 years of working experience but I’m 29 now, because 1) I have two kids and 2) I started college 2 years later than most (kids start grade 1 at 7 years old in china, and ontario had grade 13 in high school before).

    Target schools: HBS, Stanford, MIT, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, USC (Any other school you think is a good fit for me?)


  • KelleyUG11


    I’m a 25 year old white male
    650 GMAT (taking another exam in July)
    3.24 GPA
    B.S. Finance from a top 15 undergrad business school located in the Midwest
    1.5 years as an analyst at a cement company (>$25B in annual revenue) in business development. I was primarily focused on turn-around strategy for our Gulf coast and Caribbean assets, including extensive international travel. I was responsible for typical m&a activities such as due diligence, financial modeling, swap assessments, etc.
    1.5 years as an analyst at a mining/metals company >$20B in annual revenue) in internal strategy consulting. I have conducted financial modeling for $400M in portfolio restructuring in a BRIC country, developed decision process methodology for >$1B in annual capital allocation, and conducted external benchmarking among various other activities.

    Please gauge my probability of being accepted to my following target schools:

    Carnegie Mellon

  • GlobalAmbition

    Hi Sandy,

    If you can look over my stats I would greatly appreciate it!

    3.6 GPA from good US undergraduate business school majoring in economics and sustainability
    710+ GMAT
    International applicant from Middle East
    Work experience 2 years in PE New York 2 in sovereign wealth fund in Middle East.
    Speaks 2 languages
    Volunteer exp includes microfinance in Bangladesh
    25 year old male

    Applying to Tuck, Harvard, Stanford, Fuqua, Sloan, Kellogg, Wharton, Georgetown, Cornell
    Thanks Sandy!

  • Globetrotter

    GMAT: 710 (Strongly skewed towards verbal.)

    GPA: 3.3 w/ 3.6 in major

    Age: 27

    Education: BS in Chemical Engineering from a Small (highly regarded) State School in the Midwest

    Demographic: White Male

    Work Experience: 4 years at a midwest based Oil Company/Refining company. Company is well known in the industry. Vast work experience in Asia, including China (~2 years at various locations). Time in Europe, Russia, and South America as well. Functional Mandarin language skills. Work entails managing the start-up of complex customer projects, ensuring both my employer and customer are satisfied with the service provided by our company. The work requires strong analytical, communication, and organizational skills. Work often requires working in a country where I don’t know the language. Largely a consulting role, but some physical demands as well. I have spent the majority (~95%) of the last 3 years outside of the USA.

    Goal: A management or finance role in the energy/oil sector

  • SWOtivator

    Sandy, this series is awesome, so thanks for taking the time to write it. My profile is below. I have kind of an interesting story, and I would appreciate your thoughts!

    720 GMAT, Q47 (73rd %) V42 (96th %), AWA 6.0

    GPA: 3.4 from an average state school (think University of Cincinnati)

    Undergrad Major: Economics (3.6 major GPA)

    This is where my profile gets a little tricky (ugly). After high school I attended a near-Ivy (think Duke or Vanderbilt), and to make a long story short, fell flat on my face. Serious issues with maturity, lack of direction, ect led me to eventually fail out after attending on and off for approx 2 years. I can tell that story pretty well, and have (many times, trust me), but for the sake of brevity I’ll forego the explanation here. Anyway, it is what it is at this point. After some time spent working full-time in a Macy’s warehouse operating a mail sorter (low point), I went back to school and earned the degree and associated GPA mentioned above in 3 years. The 3.4 GPA does not weigh my transcripts from my first school. Final side note: I’m currently building an alternative transcript, taking Calculus, Financial Accounting, Business Statistics, and Math for Managers (online, billed as pre-MBA math course). Hope to earn all A’s, of course.

    Work Experience: Naval Surface Warfare Officer (2009 – present)

    After graduating I applied for and was accepted as a candidate at Officer Candidate School during a time in which applications for Officer programs had increased exponentially (my recruiter told me he could fill his yearly quota in one month), from which I graduated with distinction (military readers may scoff at the “distinction”, but I was!) and commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy in 2009. I’ve been promoted twice (currently a Lieutenant), and served onboard a guided-missile destroyer as a division officer managing several divisions of 20+ sailors, as well as on the staff of the Commodore of a Destoyer Squadron as the Assistant Operations Officer. Through my first two tours I’ve completed two deployments (one to Southeast Asia, one to the Middle East/Arabian Gulf), During the latter of the two deployments I served as one of 5 Staff Tactical Action Officers (STAO) for the Sea Combat Comander, meaning that while on watch I acted as the Commodore’s direct representative to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and was in charge of the coordination and employment of the entire combined US task force for surface and anti-subsurface operations in that region. I was the only junior officer to become qualified for that position. I have been consistently ranked above my peers in performance evaluations (Fitness reports), was an honor graduate from the Navy’s finishing schools for Surface Warfare Officers, and have been the recipient of several awards, including the Navy Achievement Medal and Navy Comendation Medal. I am currently preparing to tranfer to a position as Officer In Charge of a branch of a major east coast naval facility. Through my military record I can demonstrate significant, meaningful experience in personnel and material management, staff-level logisitical and operational planning, and decision making under stress while in positions of great authority.

    Extracurriculars: In college (second one) I applied to and was awarded a spot on a business-centric summer study-abroad program in China (only student from the college of arts and sciences accepted into the program). Spent ~6 weeks in China split between Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu interacting with local college students, attending private tours/receptions at an array of companies and organizations (P&G, NewEgg, Zhu Jiang Beer Group, FedEX, US Chamber of Commerce), and attending business lectures at host universities.

    The Navy has made it difficult to volunteer my time consistently, however I have taken every opportunity to participate in command-sponsored Community Relations (COMREL) activities while deployed overseas. These have included a habitat-for-humanity type rehab project in Thailand, and visiting orphanages in both Cambodia and South Korea to deliver gifits and play with the kids. I also volunteered as a tutor for sailors seeking to earn college degrees through distance learning, and while ashore I’m an active member of the Surface Navy Association.

    Professional Goals:

    I am seeking to transition out of the active service and into a career in management consulting or corporate strategy, with the ultimate goal being running my own startup. I know that I need to do more research into my professional goals and craft a more well-developed story, and I’m working on that currently.

    I am a 29 year-old white male, seeking enrollment in a full-time program starting fall of 2014. My target schools are:

    Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Fuqua, Anderson, and Fisher (Ohio State)

    Thanks for your time Sandy!

  • ZROtag

    If anyone is willing, would greatly appreciate any feedback as I am a bit non-traditional. I plan to apply in a year or two:

    -GRE: 650V, 770Q, 5.0AW (open to taking GMAT if necessary)
    -3.93 GPA
    -24yo white male
    -Dual-degrees: Economics and International Relations; minors in German and Dispute Resolution
    -Undergraduate degree from a private, West Coast, top-50 nationally ranked University.
    -Work experience: operations at a top think-tank (Brookings), and currently process consulting for microenterprises in Ethiopia for a large multi-national development NGO.
    -Average extracurricular involvement – worked part time through out college, was a resident adviser, and was editor of our foreign affairs journal.
    -Why an MBA? To further equip me in process management. Would like to gain private-sector consulting experience in this area following an MBA, and would then like to focus on process improvement in the non-profit/international development sector.

  • Nick

    Hi Sandy – Would you mind evaluating my chances? Thanks.

    -26 year old, white, male

    -750 GMAT (44 V, 49 Q)
    -3.49 GPA from nationally recognized state school; Major – Accounting (minors in economics and international business)
    -Work experience: 1 year as an investment advisor and 3 yrs as an analyst at one of the top endowment/investment consulting firms in the world (promoted 3 times and potential for a leadership position before applying.
    -Extracurriculars: Currently on the Program Board of a charity focused on educating unemployed and underemployed people with skills to succeed in today’s job market (i.e. Resume writing, cover letter writing, MS Office tutoring, etc.)
    Goal: Private Equity Associate
    Schools: Wharton, Columbia, LBS, Darden, Tuck, Northwestern

  • y7214

    Hi ! I was hoping you could review my profile.I looking at a 2yr program from US.

    GMAT 710 (Q49,V35)
    Personal stats:Indian, Male,28yrs
    undergrad GPA-8.2/10 from well known engineering college (non-IIT though)
    postgrad GPA-7.6/10 from IIT

    -Working as a Operations and Maintenance manager in a renowned Public sector transport company
    -Leading a team of 12 engineers and 28 technicians to manage the Telecommunication and revenue services
    -Working in a 24×7 environment and handling passenger traffic > 30 million p.a.
    and revenues> $100 mil p.a.
    -Conduct in-house&external training and involved in the mentoring program
    -Previously worked in sales (6 months) for global bluechip company before leaving for higher education.
    -Work experience in current role- 3.5 yrs


    -Nothing extraordinary post college
    -Active member of NGO working towards promotion of equality among youth
    -I volunteer to tutor kids for undergrad competitive exams on weekends
    -Founder of robotics club in college-helped and guided on multiple award winning projects
    -Volleyball captain in college
    -Represented college in national level volleyball and football competitions

    Post MBA- Short term:I want to get into Tech consulting
    Long term: Entrepreneurship- working on outsourcing projects in tech management

  • Utilities Guy

    Hi Sandy,

    It’ll be great if you could evaluate my profile and answer some
    questions …

    Profile summary

    – GMAT 710 (Q49, V36, AWA 5.0) First try 660
    – Undergrad: non IIT engineering college in India, well known though!
    2009 passout GPA: 3.74, B.Tech. Mechanical Engg
    – Scholarships-2007/08/09

    Work Experience:
    -Will be 4 years 10 months by the time of joining
    -in an Indian FMCG major

    -Operations and Maintenance Management
    #Leading a team of 3 engineers and 31 technicians to manage the entire operations and maintenance of utility systems and ancillary services for a manufacturing plant
    #Planned and managed engineering services budget of $1M and energy budget of $2.2M.

    -Energy Management
    #Co-ordinated the operation and maintenance of a total of 16 MW wind turbine generators.

    #Led a project for IGBC Green Factory Certification for the unit.

    -Project Management
    #Set up the maintenance systems of the Plant Utilities from scratch based of Integrated Facilities Management Principles
    #Identified Six Sigma and lean implementation/ improvement opportunities in engineering operations and ensured timely execution.

    -Cross functional exposure
    #Involved in a cross-factory, cross-functional job evaluation exercise along with senior management for evaluating job descriptions and roles/responsibilities for entire division’s technical managers.
    #Managed the HR activities for outsourced utility team: compliances with labour laws, training and development, ramp up/ramp down and attrition management.

    Extra Curriculars……….

    #at current workplace: Secretary of Canteen Management Committee; Member of Central Safety and Energy Conservation committees.
    #College: Member of Youth Red Cross Society; Fine Arts Club and Drama Club; Hostel mess management, took arts/drawing classes for underprivileged students in a local village school.


    1) What schools do I have a chance of getting into…..targeting MIT LGO, Duke, UCLA, Darden, UNC, Cornell, Tepper

    2) What should be my post MBA goals….was interested in consulting: energy/ renewables/clean-technology….the specifics and long term goals are hazy as yet…

  • Sammy

    Hi Sandy,

    It’ll be great if you could evaluate my profile:

    GMAT: 720

    Undergrad: Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), GPA: 7.5/10.0

    Grad school: University of Alberta, Canada, GPA: 3.2/4.0 (published 2 papers including 1 on chemical engineering education)

    Work Experience: Business Analyst at Capital One, USA for 2.5 years; presently working on a family business in India (will have ~6 months of experience by the time I apply; this role entails general management of the company and business development); 3 month research internship in Africa during undergrad (United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) sponsored project)

    Extra curriculars: Elected Vice President of Academic Council while at Alberta; Volunteer at the Fringe Theater Festival, Alberta; Guidance & Counseling Unit Head during undergrad; Several student body positions while in undergrad.

    Aiming at: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Rotman (Toronto)/Other Canadian schools.

    Please let me know if I can expect to be admitted in any of these schools.

    Many thanks,


  • mephiston1

    Hey Sandy,

    I’m just trying to see where I should apply for MBA school for my best options. I already tried Stanford’s college senior program for a deferred entry for 2014, but didn’t make it. I can regroup for this years round of applications in October, but I’m trying to figure out what the best way to spend the next year is. My brother has a start-up company that just obtained VC funding, and it seems like that might be a good way to gain business experience quick. Or should I just focus on getting a job first and trying for the MBA in a few years? (After taking the GMAT)

    Mr. Rocket Scientist
    GRE: V:164, Q:168, A:5.0 (online GRE converter to GMAT yields 740 (670-800 range)
    3.79 GPA

    Just graduated
    Aerospace Engineering Degree Major with Minor in Communications from one of the top ranked aviation schools in the US.
    Work experience includes an internship with the Aviation Authorities, and 2 years in the military as part of the draft. Was selected for Special Forces, but washed out due to training injury.
    Extracurricular involvement included being elected as Editor-in-Chief of the college newspaper. Long list of improvements to the organization including cutting down printing costs, streamlining production processes, and restructuring for better responsibility distribution. Belonged to two honor societies in college and awarded “Who’s who amongst American Colleges and Universities”
    Goal: To obtain business skills to become a well-rounded individual well-positioned for management.
    Currently looking for jobs, but has an open option to attend Aerospace Engineering Graduate School and be funded for school.
    24-year-old non-American Asian male (2 years spent in the armed forces makes me older)

  • CorpFin

    Hi Sandy,

    Hope you’re still doing this! Please help; I can’t find anything relating to the value MBAs place on my work experience area.

    -GMAT 750 (haven’t taken but fairly confident – always score 95th-98th percentile on first try – SAT/ACT, CFA Level 1 first try with 15% of the recommended studying, other graduate school tests taken as backup to placate parents when Wall St melted down)

    -GPA 3.47, call it 3.5. had 3.8 in upper-level, major Finance/Econ, Good Midwestern Private lib arts school. Went to this school because I received its best scholarship, but it has held me back constantly in finance by not being known in NYC, and I need to get a Brand name to advance

    -Work Exp – 2 years as of now, would be 3 at matriculation. Corporate Finance @ F100 company – this is what I’m curious about…it’s not banking, although I deal with Bankers every day. CorpFin actually has higher-level exposure than corresponding workers on my level at IBDs…for example MDs come in to pitch my company (no Analysts or even MBA Associates get to make the meeting) but I go to every pitch along w/my boss and a few of our higher ups. I analyze and recommend Debt issuances, stock buybacks and basically every other thing dealing with Financials or markets for my firm. For a company with 10s of thousands of employees, my team is very small, so I’m thinking this is a small field and that’s why you haven’t done any CorpFin people yet in this series. Also known as Treasury at some companies. So to summarize, it’s a less sexy banking/consulting, wherein I recommend financial/funding/capital strategy, but get paid a fraction of a Banking Analyst.

    -Extracurriculars – can’t compete with most MBAs but decent. Some volunteering through company, did more in undergrad. Outside of work I’m very musical (play a few instruments) and am a novice with a few years experience in combat (train in jiu jitsu and boxing)

    HWS, Booth, NYU, CBS. Outside of these schools and the few others in the top tier, I would honestly not bother matriculating. I understand MBA can help many through the teaching, but for me it mainly provides value in getting a recognizable prestigious name and meeting other intelligent driven people. StanfordGSB would uniquely help me think about entrepreneurship and might hasten my movement to that area, but generally coming from a HF direction (see below).

    Purpose – move to Hedge Fund. Overall, my longer-term and legacy goal is to focus on US competitiveness I’ve always wanted to bring some manufacturing back to my hometown, which has been decimated by offshoring. For now I would like to focus on getting a lucrative enough job that I can save up to fund this. I’ve learned quite a bit about investing and have a good analytical framework but CorpFin isn’t recruited to work at Hedge Funds and networking through the CFA (my goal in taking it) hasn’t yielded anything yet, so I’m looking at an MBA to rebrand and use Pre-and Summer-internships to move into this space.

    25yo white male

  • NotMyActualName

    Also, extensive volunteering with several national organizations.

  • NotMyActualName

    3.85 GPA
    660 GMAT
    Graduated as a English major from a regionally known state school (not top 200).
    In college was the President of the English club, President of the Broadcasters Club, and volunteer for Students With Disabilities.
    Currently work for Teach For America as high school English teacher. Prior to this I was a district sales manager, manager of a restaurant, ran for political position in my city, and was an aide to a member of congress.
    I held a job all through college and am a first generation college student.
    Looking to apply to top 20 programs.

  • Dreamgirl


    I am not sure if you are evaluating profiles anymore. If you are – here is an interesting one for you.
    I am a 27 Year old Female of Indian Origin. Coming from modest middle class family in India. Parents barely graduated from no name colleges in India. No one in my family has stepped outside the country for studying or for working before me or after me.
    I helped run the family business from the age of 14, after my father passed away, and Mother needed help, and finally left the country to pursue Undergraduate degree.
    I received my Undergraduate degree from Third Tier US state university in the midwest, on Full Scholarship (Chemistry and Plastics Engineering- dual major – gpa 3.6). I was the only International student in the entire class to have the Undergraduate Research Assistantship – which paid for the University and Living expenses.
    Worked several Jobs through the Undergraduate degree along with the research. Won intra college awards for undergraduate research.
    Masters Degree from an Ivy League (Think Columbia, Cornell, Yale) in Operations Research (3.1 gpa). Graduated in the recession job market of 2009 with a Consulting profile in a No Name small Consulting firm. However, through the same consulting firm, I am assigned to work at Large Fortune 100 Financial sector companies in NYC/ Wall Street, on long term IT implementation projects (think Wall Street investment banks and insurance companies). Currently on a long term consulting assignment in the world’s largest Insurance provider company, as a Lead Business Analyst/ Product manager to implement a financial IT product. No Direct report, but I am personally responsible for the successful delivery of the project, hence responsible for indirectly leading experienced Developers to build a successful product. I act as a Liaison to the Business side to provide vision to the product and ensure timely and successful delivery. I also lead the Testing efforts of the new product, and eventually the successful release to users.

    Extracurriculars are weak: Leadership roles in Ethnic and International student clubs in Undergraduate. Research and part time work during undergraduate.
    Nothing during Masters. Currently involved with one Ethnic group NGO, but no leadership role.
    Mentor 4 College students in India.
    Love travelling (unfortunately started travelling only after I started earning at the age of 24, hence a long way to go before I can become a world traveller)

    Gmat: Low score of 680, debating whether I should retake.

    Goal: I want to leverage my Technical and leadership skills to get into the Executive track of some Fortune 500 company IT firm, or IT Division of some Financial Services company and eventually head Technology.

    Applied last year to Harvard, Columbia, Wharton and got Dings before interviews.

    I am really interested in LBS, Kellogg, Stanford. And intend to re-apply to Harvard, Columbia Wharton. What would be my chances? and how can I leverage my story? Also, I know I am in the age range of an EMBA, but that is not what I want to do. Becaus of my Masters, and a Late start in Kindergarten, I only really have a total of 3.5 yrs of Work ex so far.

  • JW

    Hi Sandy, thank you for your continued insight in to the MBA admission process.

    I am fully sponsored by my company, a global boutique investment bank (H/S/W alumni), to pursue an MBA. I unfortunately have a low GPA (2.01).

    Generally, how does company sponsorship affect one’s odds of being admitted into a top MBA program?

  • George

    Hello Sandy,

    Please do provide your opinion on my stats!


    GMAT: 780, Grade: First Class – 74.2%
    Degree: B.Sc (Hons) Accounting and Finance
    University: Warwick Business School

    Language Proficiencies: English (Fluent), French (Fluent), Arabic (Fluent), Hindi (Fluent), German (Fluent), Malyalam (Fluent)
    Work experience: Rothschild M&A analyst (2 years)

    Extra-curriculars: President of a 1500 member University Careers society, VP of a 300 member Ethnic society.

    MBA Goal: To achieve career advances, develop strong managerial skills and a wider perspective that will greatly aid me when I establish a hedge fund in my mid 30s.

    Ethnicity: 23 year old Indian Christian male. (High School in Dubai, UAE)

  • Online in Minneapolis

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on my profile:

    – 31 year old Male
    – 710 GMAT (69% Q, 97% V)
    – 3.3 GPA from Boston University: While there was Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff of the Student Union. Additionally I founded a large cross university group (30 Boston area colleges involved) to act as Political Action Committee representing students. Lastly I founded a group to run the Boston Marathon in support of a local women’s shelter
    – BA in Political Science and BS in Broadcast Journalism: Graduated 1 year early to work on the 2004 presidential campaign.
    – Worked for the last 8.5 years at a Fortune 250 Diversified Financial Services firm in a number of sales roles, including financial advisor, district manager (leading a team of 14 FA’s) and associate branch manager (leading a team of 28 FA’s). The last 2 years I’ve spent as Director of National Sales in our corporate office leading 3 separate teams.

    – EC: Volunteer at 2 different non-profits as well as a mentor through the the Everybody Wins Children’s Literacy charity

    Lastly, what makes me unique is I’m only considering distance learning or online MBA’s due to recently having a child and earning a very good income. I’m also in between a regular or EMBA based on my age and experience. I’m considering UVA, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, IE and the joint LBS/Columbia program.

    Any thoughts?

  • Manuel

    Mr. Kreisberg, judge my odds please! Here is my background:

    26 year-old Latino

    3.81 GPA from the University of Virginia (History Major/French Minor), Phi Beta Kappa, graduated with High Distinction.

    3.80 GPA from Stanford University (Masters in Latin American Studies)–Full Ride (US Govt Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship to learn Portuguese)

    GRE: 620 V; 580 M (will retake)

    Speak English, Spanish, French and Portuguese fluently.

    Worked for a top-law firm in DC for two years after UVA (thought I wanted to go law school); worked for an int’l development consulting firm in DC after grad school and currently live in São Paulo working as a project manager for a int’l logistics firm, which focuses on Wind Energy (manage 8 employees) and exclusively for our client (GE Wind).

    Thank you!

  • NanoITnerd

    Dear Sandy,

    Would love your insight:

    – 710 GMAT – 92% (66%Q, 92%V) (Puzzling over whether I should retake, though I mismanaged my time on the math section)

    – Grew up in small town in middle east, graduating class of 15 in middle school, went to Boarding School in Canada for highschool, Head prefect and Valedictorian.

    – Undergrad in pre-med at a top Canadian university (3.75 GPA), with 2 senior thesis projects. Top merit based entrance scholarship (Awarded to 40 out of 3000 entrants)

    – Master’s at University of Toronto in Biophysics and Nanotechnology (3.7)

    – Joined a Fortune 100 Financial Services multinational based in Europe as part of their management talent training program

    – Began in internal consulting group, working on board level strategy focusing on the IT organization (Consolidation of some areas, divestment of others)

    – Transitioning into project management, executing on the strategy initially worked on. This lead to managing an international team through the IT activities related to the divestment of many business units

    – Recruited to a middle-management role in the new corporate IT greenfield setup as a result of this project. Built up a service management organization serving 6 Business lines internationally, hired a team of 11, embedded IT processes across the datacenter and new IT organization. I report into a CIO and work directly with many others in the organization, including the Group CIO.

    – Limited extracurriculars due to workload and having to learn about enterprise IT by fire. Also because I want to travel across Europe in limited free time! Heavily involved in extracurriculars in university, including editor in chief of the medical journal, Residence/Dorm Adviser to ~30 1st years, United Way chair for university, part-time R&D consultant, started a short-lived educational startup.

    – Speaks 3 languages fluently (English, French, Arabic) and 2 others at basic level (Dutch, Spanish)

    – Would like a CIO or CEO position in lifesciences/pharma, high-tech or financial services, or advising/investing in companies through venture capitalism, focusing on IT and lifesciences.

    – Age 28, initially planning to apply for 2016 class, but decided to give round 3 a shot this year.

    – Target schools: HBS, Stanford, LBS

  • amir Timur

    Hey wonder if you could handicap my odds.
    Graduated 2003 with BS physics ISU (Ames), GPA 2.5. (3 years instead of 4)

    GMAT 770 (50/46)
    Had a chance in 2005 to go through India’s IIMs but had started a business,

    Converting Diesel/petrol/Other fuel engines to run on natural gas.
    Customers include Billion dollar corporations and government of India public transport fleet.
    Business slowed in 2010 due to Irrational Government subsidisation of Diesel etc.
    Have since volunteered a lot at local Lion’s Club events for underprivileged children.
    In college several extra curriculars…
    6.0 Rating squash player US.
    Closed business in 2012 after 7 years and looking for an MBA that would help me segue into the oil and gas industry. Prefereably project management of unconventional shale/Tar sands.
    Would look to run a business in this segment, transferring skills gained working in the us/canada to India.
    Look for your input.

  • Guest


    I don’t know if you still do the evaluation

    GMAT: 650

    GPA: 3.6 at a small private liberal art college majored in chemistry and minored in business with pre-medicine.

    Work Experience: Working as a chemist for 2.5 years for a Japanese scientific instrument company in the US. I helped some of the big name customers like Intel, P&G, 3M, and BP. I am also an internal expert and a training course instructor for the best selling instrument. I got an employee of the year in my first year and got a nomination for the president’s award my second year.

    Extracurricular: I was a TA for 4 professors and lab assistant for 3 different labs in college.
    I taught elementary school students at a local church. I am a social event coordinator for the same church now.

    Personal background: I grew up in Korea for 18 years, and then made a transition in my senior year in highschool when I moved from Korea to the States. Also, I have been through a serious illness while the transition and had to go through 2 years of treatment while I was in college

    Target Schools: Northwestern, Yale, Cornell, and Duke

  • Chewbacca

    Great series. Thanks for doing it!
    If you have the availability, I’m considering the option of b-school applications in a few years.

    My figures:
    -GMAT: 660 (plan to retake)
    -Undergrad (Johns Hopkins University)- 2.9 GPA. BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering + minor in Entrepreneurship and Management. I was an NCAA student athlete while also on other club sports teams for the first two years. Decided to stop athletic competitions and focus more on studies, resulting in a general upward trend of my GPA each year.
    -Grad school (University of Pennsylvania)- 3.5 GPA. Masters in Biotechnology
    Currently: Associate Consultant in market research, servicing pharma/biotech and healthcare industries. Been working here since finishing grad school (a little over half a year ago), and have worked with several of the world’s leading pharma companies and billion-dollar brand products.
    Past: Researcher/fellow in medical research labs all throughout my undergrad and graduate studies.
    -Extensive extracurricular involvement with my church, for which I have traveled to several countries around the world through many years as a volunteer teacher to students ranging from elementary school to high school, an appointment as a literary publication editor, and an appointment to oversee English literary publication projects (servicing all associated English-speaking countries). Extracurricular activities while in school included sports (as mentioned), business plan competitions, and consulting-interest groups.
    -Interested in early-stage venture capitalism. This interest developed while completing some projects during my undergrad and grad studies that culminated in receiving intellectual property protection for medical device applications, and won some business plan competitions. I felt that VC is an area that would allow me to witness the latest technological developments while helping the developers advance their products.

    What would be appropriate target schools and reach schools? Researching MBA programs at the likes of Wharton, Kellogg, UCLA, USC, GWU, but open to any consideration.

    If it’s of any use, I’m a 25 year old Asian son of immigrants.

  • Ms. Engineer


    I am a female engineer looking to make my way into business and management and eventually running a/my own company. I majored in computer science (BS) in the engineering department.

    EC’s- started and maintain a university figure skating club despite ice rink being 40 miles away from campus & engineering club in my 1st year, elected/currently lead a different women’s engineering club & the figure skating club (currently a 4th year undergrad). I am a liaison for a non-profit group that is fundraising and going to build an ice rink by my university. Received a handful of university awards including a leadership award and philanthropic awards, and figure skating 1st place awards in high school.

    College/Experience: 2nd tier school. 2 highly technical internship experiences where I discovered I would prefer technical management, rather than specific technical jobs in the future

    My stats are as follows: 2.93 total gpa, gmat: 640. I would be fresh out of college upon starting my MBA, but am also getting unsolicited interviews by the highest tier technical companies as I approach graduation.

    Targets: Berkeley, UCLA, Northwestern, UChicago, UCSD, NYU.

    Want an MBA with emphasis in finance to be well rounded from my technical background, and have taken a number of economics courses and a handful of business courses.

    Does this leave me with any chance at those schools and would you recommend other schools to apply to?

    Thank you for your time 🙂

  • HRbackground

    Also, my goals:

    Immediately to return to my company (where I have a strong network) in a consulting capacity, then to start a non-profit consulting for small family and immigrant businesses across the US (similar to Endeavor, but here in the US)

  • HRbackground

    Hi there,

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of my background in these profiles, but none with similar work experience:

    GMAT: 710 (99%V, 69%Q)

    GPA: 3.12 (avg. at school for my class was 3.04)

    Undergrad: large, private top 20 in US institution (BA in International Relations and BS in Business Administration simultaneously); 1st generation college student; worked 30-40 hours per week to support family and help put two younger brothers through state school (so limited extracurriculars given workload/course overloading); no internships (mother was sick, so went home during the summers to work/help care for her)
    Work experience: started as an assistant in McK/Bain/BCG, now MBA Recruiter in same firm (launched and now lead global recruiting process from top MBA program for the firm) – while it’s non-traditional, wondering how companies would view “what I have to offer the class” given so many of their students are interested in applying to these firms. Also: actively involved in various training and non-profit committees in the firm.
    Outside work: passed CFA level 1, mentor/representative for college alumni association
    25 year old female

    Schools: Wharton, Columbia. NYU, Kellogg

  • JohnAByrne

    That’s a hard question to answer without having the ability to ask a bunch of other questions, such as how challenging is your current job? How much are you learning in it? How old are you? Do you want to go to the IIM or would you rather go to a business school with an international reputation? If you would go to IIM anyway, I would just do it now and get it over.

  • Kota

    Hi John, I am a graduate from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. I had given the GRE two years ago and got a score of 1520/1600. I am presently working for an intellectual property consulting firm. It is pretty niche but does real good quality work here in the States. MY GPA is 3.25. I have got an admission from an elite B school (Indian Institute of Management) here in India, and my company is willing to offer me a work visa. I am not sure if I should take the work visa offer and aim for an MBA admission a couple of years later or go ahead with my present admission. Kindly advise me on the course of action to be taken

  • Spanish Lawyer

    sorry but I forgot to explain more important data:

    -As a extracurriculars, I have been at a debate team of my university. I have also been teacher of M&A and tax litigation at a small academy for professionals who are interested in those areas.

    – I’m 28 years old (my Law degree and Master together lasted 5 years).

    I will be happy if someone could review my profile or give an opinion, a part of Sandy, of course.

  • Spanish Lawyer

    Hi, Sandy. I would really appreciate if you could review my profile. Here we go:

    700 GMAT. TOEFL 112

    Graduated as a Lawyer at ESADE & Master in Law at same school. My average score was 7,5/10, being the 7th in the ranking. The first ranked had an average score of 8,2/10.

    Worked one year at the Best Law firm in Spain. Then move to PWC and worked as a Lawyer for four and one half years. My experience is focused in M&A (tax point of view) and mainly in tax litigation. I left the best law firm in Spain to go to PWC because I was convinced for doing so by a Senior Partner who was my tax law teacher at ESADE (I can get a good recom letter from him).

    I want to make an MBA in order to complement my law knowledge with strong business inputs and maybe to change my career.

    Target: Top Ten US B-Schools.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Dear Sandy

    I really appreciate your reviews – great insights of adcoms heads! I plan to apply this fall for the 2014 intake. It would be great to get some advice from you.


    720 GMAT (on second try – first try 660), 114 TOEFL

    27 years old male German

    2.9 GPA in International Management from largest private university in Germany

    7 Years with BP Oil (3 years post grad) at the time of enrollment
    – Lead Pricing Analyst for the UK (most recent – 1.5 years at time of enrollment)
    – 1.5 years as Project Manager responsible for customer service transfer (Germany)
    – 4 years work and study program (studies funded by BP) in rotation

    9 years voluntary work for the Federation EIL after own exchange experience in the USA for a high school year in 2003/2004. Various accomplishments during this period: Awarded honorary ambassador of South Korea for contributions on human rights in conferences and lectures.

    Why MBA? Move into strategy consulting

    Target schools: Kellogg (Northwestern), Booth, Duke, INSEAD, Goizueta (Emory)

    Currently prefer the one year programs (Kellogg and INSEAD). The Booth and Duke curriculum are great options due to flexibility and concentrations. Goizueta (Emory) is my safe choice.

    Thank you!

  • Rossgrad

    I would add Michigan Ross to the list. You would be a great fit for their life science team in the Frankel Commercialization Fund or the Wolverine Venture Fund.

  • FutureBiotechCEO

    Here is my school list:


  • FutureBiotechCEO

    Hi Sandy,

    GMAT 720
    Undergrad GPA 3.0 from no name liberal arts college. Studied Chemistry.
    Worked as an engineer for 3 years at a mid-size pharmaceutical company.
    Masters GPA 3.9 from an unknown grad school affiliated with a consortium of colleges considered the west coast equivalent of Williams. Studied biotechnology.
    Worked for two years at the largest Biotech company in the world in a project manager role.

    Extracurriculars: Started a student chapter of the most well known women in biotech organization during grad school and am still deeply involved. I was also president of the Parenteral Drug Association (one of the largest technical associations within the industry) my 2nd year of my grad school and am still an active member. During college I tutored children from disadvantaged neighborhoods. 

    Why I want an MBA: I would like to transition into biotech venture capital. I love being on the cutting edge of technology and have strong viewpoints on where the biotech industry is headed, but feel that an MBA would provide me with the financial skills, business acumen, and network necessary to be successful as a VC. 

    Background: I grew up very poor and in a rough area, but am not a minority (white woman). My mom worked days and attended college at night and was able to graduate after many years, so I am not a first generation college student. However, in terms of going to college in the traditional sense, I am the first in my family and am the only one to have attended graduate school. I have worked since I was 16 including during college and full time during graduate school to support myself and help my family. 

    Miscellaneous: I will be 30 when I matriculate. Also, I am really worried about my undergrad GPA and the lack of name recognition of my undergrad. I navigated the college application process on my own with little guidance since my parents didn’t have much experience. I just attended the school that gave me the full ride. Once there I did well but lacked clear goals and was in a bit of culture shock, which contributed to my lackluster grades. While working at my first job, I really fell in love with the biotech industry and developed the goal of working in a management role at a large biotech company. Knowing what I wanted allowed me to be more focused during my masters program. I love my current job and have successfully managed the development of a highly promising drug from preclinical to Phase III trials. The drug is one of the stars of my company’s pipeline and has been front page industry news each time it has moved on to the next regulatory phase. However, I feel that VC will allow me to make more of an impact and influence the direction of biotech in a more meaningful way than working for a single company.

  • Alex

    Hi there, let me jump in, hopefully this one is interesting. Am curious about my chances at some of the top schools and your thoughts on which ones gravitate towards backgrounds like mine (am concerned about low GPA, hoping caliber of undergrad school and strong career story post college make up for it)-

    GPA: 3.17 from #1 Ranked College in US
    GRE: 1570 (800 Verbal, 770 Quant)
    “Mini-MBA” from Haas School of Business (Berkeley) with a 3.8 GPA (3 classes)

    Jobs since college:
    -Community Manager for very early stage startup
    -2 Year Management Consulting at Accenture in the energy sector, strong extracurriculars while there
    -1 Year (so far, will be 2 by the time I apply) of Corporate Strategy at a big name Clean Tech firm, with at least one promotion

    -I want an MBA to strengthen analytical skills and to help get those higher-level positions in Corporate Strategy/Strategy Consulting. I feel passionately about clean technology, renewables, etc after working in the field for 3 years.

    Other Fun Facts:
    -Hispanic female, 25, Mother (and mother’s family) was an immigrant (did go to college, in fact grad school)
    -Father lives in Europe, have grown up in between the US and Europe
    -Fluent in Spanish and German
    -Regular volunteer with Junior Achievement, member of a non-profit board (same non-profit that I volunteer at)
    -Ran a small environmental campaign that saw regional results; Was invited to speak at a press conference with senator

  • Nonprofit Entrepreneur

    Sandy, please evaluate my profile!

    – 770 GMAT
    – 3.4 GPA
    – Completed business and lib arts degrees at Public Ivy
    – entrepreneurship experience in high school and college, won various entrepreneurship awards and competitions
    – worked 3 years in top commercial bank as strategy analyst, promoted twice to manager level
    – board member on two entrepreneurial organizations, regularly teaches entrepreneurship to inner city students
    – have done microfinance projects in four foreign countries
    – goal is to start my own microfinance/community development organization
    – male, age 25, ethnic minority…but model minority, don’t know if that actually hurts me

    What are my chances at the top schools? HBS/Stanford/Wharton? Cheers-

  • TeacherMan

    Mr. Kreisberg, I’d love your help judging my odds. Here is my background:

    -3.4 GPA; degree in Public Policy from Duke (GRE – 161 V; 162 Q)

    -Work experience: Currently a second year teacher with Teach For America (planning on at least one more year at the same school);

    -Extracurriculars: Created leadership development program for students at the school where I teach; college mascot (interesting twist!); managed 100+ person community service program in college; part-time job as special events manager in college

    -Goals: I want to improve the way schools and districts are managed, making them great places to work. Education consulting and eventually school/district leadership (hoping to combine with an M.Ed. or MPP) with the aim of leading a school district or education consulting firm

    24 year old white male

    I’m looking to apply to multiple joint-degree programs (for business and education), but should I still take the GMAT? Or will the GRE be fine?

    Target schools:



    Thank you!

  • valueinvestorguy

    Hi Sandy,

    I’d like to thank you for all the helpful profile evaluations. I couldn’t find one very close to mine though, so I’d be really grateful if you could evaluate my profile.

    Here goes:

    23-year old Indian (as in India, Asia) Male
    GPA: 9.21/10 from BITS-Pilani; B.E. (Hons) Computer Science graduated July 2011.
    GMAT: 780
    CFA Level 1 passed, L2 candidate.

    Work ex: Software Developer, Epic Systems Corp (Biggest US Healthcare IT provider) for 1 year and running, in Madison, WI. Directly recruited from India via on-campus interview. No MBAs at Epic.
    (How do Adcoms view Epic?)

    Extra Info (in plain language, just in case):
    Some increase in responsibilities (performance test representative for team – highly analytical job; triage incoming bug reports into levels of priority which is actually used). Have managed technical projects. Mentored 2 newcomers. Make occasional customer trips to gauge customer satisfaction and find areas for improvement and sometimes for customer support.

    Extracurriculars at college:

    Maths Teacher and Content Creator for an organization that taught laborers’ children on campus.
    Panel coordinator for all Computer Science events at national level technical festival – led a team of 18 people from event conceptualization to execution for 5 CS-related events.
    Winner of multiple national-level technical competitions.

    Current Extracurriculars:

    Working with a fund-raising non-profit for education of children from low-income families in India. Currently trying to raise large amounts of funds from Epic.


    Avid value investor. Extensive knowledge of value investing and equity analysis on a personal level. I maintain a personal portfolio of US value stocks in my spare time.

    Want to shift my career into finance (investment management) with a bang. What better than an MBA? Will take up a job in the US/Canada to gain more industry experience and Eventually start a Value-based Hedge Fund in India. Indian hedge fund industry is currently very small. I already have some of my affluent relatives ready to invest, intend to make more connections along the way.

    Target Schools:

    CBS Early Decision (target is Value Investing Program)
    Stanford (tall order?)
    Ivey (Canada) (Value Investing Centre)
    Rotman, Toronto
    Any top-10 US b-school suggestions matching my profile and goals? Kellogg/Sloan/Darden/Tuck/etc…
    Univ of Wisconsin Business school – I met the director at a CFA outing, he has seen one of my analysis reports and liked it; am in touch with him.


  • LAC Athlete

    Mr. Kreisberg,

    -Age- 25, White Male
    -GMAT 700
    -GPA: 3.87 Top 40 Liberal Arts School

    -Double Major: Economics and Political Science

    -Junior Fall Semester Abroad at Cambridge (A’s in all courses taken)

    -Extracurriculars: Varsity Baseball, VP of Student Investment Group, Class Treasurer

    -Work Experience: All at same firm. First as a Summer Analyst after my junior year, then for the past 3 years as an analyst. Investment Banking Division (M&A) at above average middle-market firm in NY (think similar to KBW or Cantor Fitz.).

    – Ultimate Goal: Either PE or HF
    – Curious if I have any shot at these: HBS, MIT, Yale, Wharton, or Chicago


  • Derp

    What are my odds for an MBA at any of the P&Q top 10 programs?

    – 720 GMAT
    – 3.4 GPA with a strong upward trend
    – I have a bachelor’s degree in finance from an elite undergrad b-school.
    – I did 3 internships with major companies including a fortune 50 during my undergrad years (and did graduate in 4 years) and 3 years of work experience doing mostly finance, accounting and data analytics projects for clients that are in crisis or special situations at a Vault-top-25 consulting firm where I am a senior associate.
    – I have extra-curricular involvement as a leader in a business club, being elected to a student government position, studying abroad for a semester, working part-time for my university for 2 years, and I was awarded a fairly prestigious merit scholarship.
    – I have 2 potential goals and I will apply with the one that I think matches each program the best. They are to either advance into commercial real estate investment and development so I can influence and shape the cities of the future across the globe (real estate has long been a passion of mine) or to advance into private equity where I can influence and shape the young companies that will change our lives in the future (I am a very future-oriented guy.)
    – 25 y/o white male

  • Do-good-dancer

    Hey Sandy!

    I have enjoyed reading this series so much that I am now
    throwing myself into the lion’s den… I come from a non-traditional background
    so it is often difficult to gauge how I stack up to other candidates. Not sure if my so-so quant score is enough to make up for a generally quant-less background (aside from web analytics and budget management).

    700 GMAT (Q44 V41)

    3.95 GPA, Double major in Spanish and political science. Studied abroad in Spain for a semester. Attended a large SEC school based on an athletic-based scholarship I received for dance. In addition to dancing, I also held recruitment and event planning positions in my sorority.

    28-year-old white female

    Work: Three years running all things communications (marketing, PR, media, web content, etc.) for a small, but national, civil rights non-profit. Prior to me joining this organization, there was no online marketing, social media, or branding. Launched marketing and rebrand which resulted in huge increases in membership and recognition. Other
    experience includes a junior role at a large non-profit, campaign spokesperson
    in a battleground state during 2008 Presidential election, internship for a senior U.S. Senator.

    Goal: Initially I would like to work on the analytical side of consumer research and marketing for a socially responsible corporation. Eventually, I hope to take knowledge gained from working in the private sector, while serving on some boards, and return to the non-profit sector as an executive director.

    Extracurricular: Currently am a volunteer staff member (marketing) and a dance company member of a local non-profit dance company. The organization provides adult dancers an outlet for continued performance and offers free classes, after-school programs, and scholarships for youth who otherwise would not be able to afford dance. Teach dance one night a week. Spent three years cheering professionally for the NFL (on the side). Have been on two overseas tours to perform for the troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Aid in the planning and production of a fundraising event that benefits Operation Smile.

    Other: First generation college grad on my mother’s side.

    Target Schools: Wharton, Darden, Booth, Kellogg, McDonough,
    Smith (Maryland)

    Thanks in advance for your time!

  • Mr. TFA

    Dear Sandy,
    Could you assess my profile?
    670 GMAT (Q40, V41), AWA 5.5, IR 6 (plan on retaking)

    Undergraduate degree in economics from Morehouse College, 3.1 GPA

    Work Experience: Teach for America Corps Member, taught pre-algebra and algebra

    Extracurricular involvement: Teaching ACT prep courses at the local rec center, assistant coach for rec league basketball team (9th – 12th grade division)

    Goal: Would love to enter the consulting services industry, with the eventual goal of returning to the rural area where I teach and servicing small businesses through consulting and starting an incubator. Would also love to use that experience to branch out into venture capital/microlending in the area as well.
    24 year old African American male
    Target Schools:
    (plan on applying to a few more schools through the MBA Consortium process)

  • Mr Coming Back Home

    680 GMAT

    3.0 Undergrad – State – worked fulltime in major policy positions during fulltime schedule

    Top 15 Law school

    29 at matriculation

    Worked in the White House and State House prior to law school

    Never practiced law. Thought I wanted to start a company. Came out and worked for a tech-start-up, took company from black to ready for acquisition. focused on capital formation and did the wear-all-hats start-up phase. still on board of company today.

    Turns out I loved the capital formation part, and was pretty damn good. started a merchant banking firm for lower middle market (not start-up companies). was involved in $100MM in transactions last year and started doing cross-border work with Brazil (acquiring US technology).

    truly need an MBA to build on what we’ve created. plan to return to firm to build on what we created – use mba to purchase, operate and sell smaller PE companies, which are neglected and beneficial and better understand opportunities in Brazil.

    ran for public office, won very expensive, high-profile primary in major metro area, lost in the end – district is 200k people. nationally recognized for policy work in state.

    Looking for CBS or Wharton. True international strength and PE biggest factors. Immediate family alums from Dartmouth, Columbia (financial mathematics) and Wharton (MBA).

  • Samir

    Dear Sandy,

    Could you please assess my profile

    The Middle-East Banker
    27 Years old
    1st generation to go to high school (let alone higher education)

    Joint Undergraduate Degree in Economics, Maths & Business Administration
    from a reputable French university (GPA 3.6)
    Master in Finance from a top 5 French Business School (GPA 3.7)
    GMAT: 720 (Practice)

    Total Number of Years: 3.5 Years (& 1 year of internships)
    – Long-term internships in Paris and London for a top management consulting
    firm and two bulge-brackets banks (Investment Banking) as part of my master’s degree
    – 1.5 Years as a Corporate Finance & Business Development Analyst in the
    Middle East (Dubai) working for a World’s leading Media Company – fast-tracked
    to a regional business development role
    – 2 Years as an Investment Banking Analyst and then Associate developing the
    investment banking arm of a regional banking group (part of the group which
    started the investment bank), selected by the COO to work directly with him on
    key transactions, trained and mentored several analysts and developed training program for local interns

    Extra-curricular Activities
    1) Founded a social networking group with a vision to help Muslim expatriates
    in the Middle East seeking relocation, career advices by creating a unique and
    consolidated online platform. Developed several social-oriented initiatives to assist community members in Qatar and the UAE (Relocation advices for new or soon-to-be
    expatriates, Career Advices, Family happenings & networking events in the
    Middle East, Crowd fundraising for individuals families in distressed financial
    situation in the Middle East and for humanitarian projects in France &Africa)
    2) Ongoing start-up project in the field of offshore legal services targeting
    US and Middle East-based firms with the aim to provide significant cost savings
    to the purchasers by using the comparative advantage of lower labor and
    overhead costs in an offshore jurisdiction
    3) Founding member of local Hip Hop Dance Crew leveraging 10+ Years of Hip Hop
    dance experience as a performer and a teacher. Local initiatives include hip hop dance classes for children and adults, dance performances during international sports events and marketing events and international dance tournament organization
    4) Certified Skydiver since 2010 and Captain of a local touch rugby team

    Target Schools
    London Business School
    Chicago Booth
    Haas Berkeley
    Tuck Darmouth

    Short-term Goal: Join an early-stage venture capital firm with a focus on Middle East/South East Asia
    Medium-Long-term Goal: Leverage on my pre-MBA experience (Islamic Finance & M&A), skills & network developed during the MBA (entrepreneurship skills) and post-MBA experience (VC fund) to start my own VC fund

  • Mr Civil Servant

    I am interested in applying for my MBA, however have some rather different goals than the usual applicant:

    GMAT: 680 and 710 (Two Practice tests)
    UG GPA: 3.1 (3.55 Major GPA) in International Relations (Top 50 university, top 10 in IR)
    PG GPA: Upper Second Class Honours – 2i (3.4-3.7 equivalent US GPA)) MS in International Relations from top 5-10 UK university
    Work experience: 6 years at matriculation. 2 years as a policy consultant to a foreign government and the energy sector (contract basis), 1 year as a management consultant for a Big Four (KPMG, E&Y, PwC NOT Deloitte), 3 years as an analyst for the DoD, including deploying to Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern travel.
    Extracurriculars: At university – rowed crew, debate society, and college political party
    After university – Volunteer at Help for Heroes (UK), Wounded Warrior (US), and coach crew for a local high school
    Programs I am considering:
    Yale SOM
    Wharton (bit of a Hail Mary?)

    At matriculation will have worked as an analyst for the DoD for 3 years (where I deployed to Afghanistan and traveled in the Middle East), prior to that I was a management consultant (Big Four) in strategy, primarily focused in the Oil & Gas and Defense sectors for a year and spent a year consulting to the Civil Service and energy sector in a Western European country.

    Education-wise, I hold my BA in International Relations from a Top 50 university (top 10 in IR) and a master’s from a top UK university in IR also. Grade wise I did alright, earning a 3.1 UG GPA (3.55 in my major) and a 2i (equivalent 3.4-3.7 GPA) in my master’s. In terms of the GMAT, I took a couple practice exams with no preparation and scored 680 and 710 a little over a year ago and have always been a strong standardized test taker (SATs (98th/99th percentile), SAT IIs, etc).

    My reason for wanting a MBA is fairly specific. I have a long term interest in DoD reform and Civil Service reform as a whole. Particularly I am interested in helping to develop a more dynamic and professional civil service, which can attract the top applicants similar to the UK and French Civil Services, which the US does not do at present.
    Mr Civil Servant

  • W.


    Appreciate all the work you do here. Enjoy reading each of your new posts.

    Interested in getting your take on my chances.

    28 year old, white male

    GMAT: 690 (2nd attempt)

    GPA: 3.3

    Attended mid-major, Midwestern state school (Miami, UofCinci, Ohio U., Ball St., etc.) where I majored in economics. School offers a 4+1 and received an M.A. in Economics. While in school, I was active in a number of student organizations, including the undergraduate student government. Spent two years as a member of the student government before being elected as student body president my senior year.

    I have spent the previous six years working for a Midwestern, middle-market private equity firm. Prior to graduation, I interned with this same firm after a student government colleague provided an introduction to a family friend at the the firm. I was hired directly out of school as an analyst (our firm’s first direct-from-school hire) and am now an associate with the firm.

    Outside of work, I am involved with our city’s young professional board for one of the performing arts (orchestra, ballet, etc.).

    Reason for MBA: Many of the senior members of my firm have received their MBA’s (although not all) from schools such as Booth, Kellogg, and Ross. I see an MBA as a way to broaden my perspective on operational and strategic matters for businesses outside of just understanding the financials. Currently I take part in crafting industry and investment strategies for our new investments, but do not play as large of a role post-acquisition. I enjoy working with the smaller middle market companies we invest in. Upon graduation, I plan to take a more senior role within my firm or a similar group and take a more active part in crafting operational strategies for portfolio companies. Long-term, I see myself leaving private equity to work in an operating role within a portfolio company or other middle-market company.

    Target Schools: Booth, Kellogg, Ross, Stern, or Columbia (would like to spend some time in NYC if possible)

  • Tim

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks very much for your analysis and insights. There seems to be quite a growing trend for business schools to offer one year pre-experience master degrees. May I ask if you think having a master in management degree would lower one’s odd to get in an MBA? I’ve read quite a number of entries of the MBA handicapping series, but could not find anyone with a master in management. It would be greatly appreciated if you could offer some feedback for this group.

    Here’s my background:

    GMAT: 750

    Undergrad: a third tier US school in the mid-west (double majors in Finance & Accounting, 3.8/4.0)

    Master: London Business School masters in management. Student Award (2 of 141, highest student honor)

    Nationality: Chinese. Age: 25

    Work Experience: 2 years as a sales analyst in a top tier investment bank in Asia, manages a $50MM USD discretionary portfolio with my manager. Had a 6 month rotation in the project management team helping the bank to build its banking business (deposit/loan), supervised four teams and reported to senior management (COO). Will have 3 years of work experience before matriculation. Before IB, I started my own business in E-marketing and made over $100,000 in 1.5 years while I was in college.

    Extra-Curricular: two years of part time volunteering at IRS preparing tax returns for low income people (VITA). Backpacked to over 80 cities in five years (mostly free through my online marketing business).

    Recommendations: direct manager (executive director in the bank) + program director at LBS (ex-director at Booth). Would this be a good combination? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Goal: Work in the US. I know you may laugh at this… but after living in the States, UK and Asia for 7 years, I confess that I do see the U.S an ideal place to settle down. My goal is to work in a Fortune 500 as a manager, ideally in Tech and Energy. I have an opportunity to manage a large chinese SOE’s US business, supported by family members, on condition that I get an MBA from a top U.S. School.

    Target School: HBS / Wharton / Columbia / Stanford / Berkeley.

    Thanks in advance for reading this!

  • hungry jack

    Sandy, not sure if this was an oversight or not, but you mention that the 710 GMAT for Ms. Retail is balanced at 42Q, 45V. In fact, its far from balanced when comparing the percentiles, (Q~57%, V~99%). Its still a 710 though.

  • BigOil

    i didn’t mean to cause such an uproar. I have been investigating my MBA potential for as long as I can remember, even while I was a pre-med. I have always known that I wanted to move into senior/executive level management in a technical field, I simply did not know which field that was for quite some time.
    I have certainly considered taking 2-3 years after graduating to apply to MBA programs as well as taking an even longer time and applying to executive programs. I think that pedigree has, to a certain extent, caused me to post on this blog, but I do regard my school as well as others very highly, and in fact, I think that the best program and networking in the long run may actually be at McCombs when it comes to my field.

    I suppose I will wait and see if Sandy has anything to say. I appreciate both the positive and negative criticism and will take some effort into doing more research on the individual topics.

  • Joey

    I suppose it calls for a red-state, blue-state and international P&Q!

  • Jim Dolan

    neither does your trying to sound smart….just makes you look like more of a chode, especially after you did exactly what you accused me of. Good luck on your journey kid.

  • Efraim

    It’s always the same on P&Q…Either the pinheads argue about some rankings or some ethnic group hijacks the thread because some international school no one has ever heard of gets ranked below Harvard..and today some Southerners have decided to re-fight the civil war. Ridiculous!

  • LonghornJoe

    Sorry TA, I don’t like what Dolan said but I’m afraid I don’t share this blind enthusiasm either. There is nothing wrong at looking at the facts and making informed judgements. Simply believing that one can do anything is really meaningless without actually doing the arduous leg-work required to strengthen such belief. Many folks who mean well offer advice that will help aspirants achieve their dreams. By simply dismissing it all as some fad or random musings neither helps the candidate nor does it help further collaboration and dialogue.

  • LonghornJoe

    Your condescending attitude does not beguile your apparent contempt. I’m afraid I neither have the patience nor the inclination to disabuse you of this. Please continue to stay ignorant!

  • Kevin

    But also be forewarned that this process requires a lot of time and money and constantly shooting for the stars without covering your backside will likely come back to bite you. How bad would it be to apply to 8 top programs and spend $2K-$3K (assuming no consultant and not counting opportunity cost) and get dinged by all of them because you overshot the schools you should be applying to?

  • Pino

    Good comparison! I always thought Sandy would make a good guest on the daily show or he could do a Letterman top 10 about MBA applications!

  • Jim Dolan

    Haha, never did I attack a southern school. I recommended that he apply there because they would be easier for him to gain admission to….pretty public knowledge that every school you listed accepts a higher % of students than H/S/W/other top programs. I have no issue with Southern State schools. They are great matches for some applicants.

    The kid posed his question in a public forum and I exercised my right to comment on it. Plenty of people will come on here and build him up telling him he can get into any school over night, but I chose to go the other way and point out some issues. How presumptuous and arrogant can you be longhornjoe….assuming I have a problem with Southern state schools?

  • Dan

    **southern schools (typo above) – lest I not acknowledge it and be abused and accused and berated by people like Jim Dolan.

  • Dan

    Uva, unc, Georgia Inst of Technology, UT Austin, Clemson, Virginia Tech. NC State, Texas A&M,Univ of FL.What’s so bad about all these schools? All southern state schools! I’m outraged by these carte blanche ad nauseam attacks on southerns schools.

  • TA

    Yo Dolan are you#$#@%@# to be talking like this. Hey Big Oil go all out man..its your life ….no one no one determines your future…not even sandy , these people are just here sa advisors…..a honest clean compelling story will always come through and strike someone in any of the top 15 schools….this whole thing is a big fad…theres plenty of seats….yeah acceptance rates are 10% but its the same 100% that go 10x 10 into the top schools…esssentially unless you re a completely useless f#%@ (**dolan**) you ll get in somewhere…be confident…success in life comes to those who go take what they fuckin want….period…go take it and own it…everything else is bull

  • LongHornJoe

    BigOil — My $0.02 — you have spent a lot of time getting an education and I would say don’t worry about the 2+2 programs. Spend 3 or 4 years in the O&G industry and gain some experience. Strengthen your credentials…and then apply to a full time program. I would say — now is not the best time if you are shooting for schools like Harvard. What’s the hurry in going back to school for an MBA? Work for a few years…especially in oil and gas you might realize that you don’t even need an MBA in most verticals. It’s not like the finance industry where an MBA opens up positions higher up. Furthermore, you need to make a clear case as to why you need an MBA. At the moment — I don’t think it’s that clear and given your rather “lengthy” bachelors program — there will be a huge burden on you to make the clearest possible case for an MBA. But that said…if all you want to do is an MBA — I would focus on slightly lower ranked schools that will be more open to you rather than schools like HSB, Stanford, Wharton etc. Good luck.

  • LongHornJoe

    Hey Dolan — That kid posed a question to Sandy. Why do you find the need to belittle him? You could have given that same advice without coming across as a total jerk. And there is nothing wrong with a Southern State school..How presumptuous and arrogant can you be? Ok — the kid may apply to Harvard’s 2+2 and will likely not get in (most don’t)…and yes his profile doesn’t jump out at you and it raises more questions than it answers. But at least he is willing to come out here and reach out for some help from guys like Sandy. Your post is appalling.

  • BigOil

    I’m glad I took the path I did to find what I wanted to do. it allowed me to definitely rule out other things that I was curious about.

    Regarding my parents, I was not sure whether or not it would come up at all, but the situation is a big reason as to why I did not participate in many extracurricular things (clubs and the like). I have always been in a financially stressful situation, and maintaining the grades I have while working so much to pay the bills was not easy, and I think it should be included in my story. However, I am not your typical “underprivileged individual”, and I felt that that part of my story should be addressed.

    And as to your “manning up” comment, I won’t even address it.

  • Jim Dolan

    Wow, someone needs to learn how to make up their mind and complete things. Also, why would you ever need to explain your parents financial situation on applications? Nowhere does it ask for your parents situation, and the only reason you would put it in is to try to get pitty points….yet your parents are not poor? Hmmmm….go for a southern state school or man up a whole lot before you apply to top programs.

  • BigOil

    Mr. Kreisberg,

    I am a
    -Junior in petroleum engineering at a large state school in the south with a large petroleum engineering department considered one of the best in the U.S. (but not located in Texas).
    -I have been an undergraduate for 6 years and will have a cumulative of 7.5 years at graduation due to some changed majors.
    -I have a 4.0 overall GPA in all coursework taken, and I highly doubt this will change before graduation.
    -I have not taken the GMAT yet, but my practice tests estimate about 740-760. I do very well on standardized test. I have scored very well on both the MCAT and LSAT.
    -I landed a summer internship at a blue chip oil and gas company last year as a production engineer. I did so well over the summer that I was allowed to remain on staff part time during the school year. I commute to school about 100 miles away a few days a week and work the other days and every weekend.
    -I have been extended another offer as a senior intern this coming summer prior to my senior year with the same company, and I will accept.
    -This summer, I plan to apply to B-schools with 2+2 programs (or something similar).
    -My extracurricular involvement is not extensive as I have always worked during my undergraduate years in the service industry as a bartender and/or waiter. I was promoted while I was working as a bartender to assistant manager.

    -My parents could not afford to help me out with college, and my extensive stay in undergrad has been costly, particularly due to the fact that all of my scholarships ran out after my fourth year. My parents, however, do not look broke on paper. They make over 100K a year together, but they have four children, are in debt up to their eyeballs, and spend way more than they bring in. I hate trying to explain this situation away, and I am not sure how I will handle it on my applications.

    For extracurriculars:
    -I spent one year in ROTC as well as a special fraternity within ROTC for the most-qualified candidates. Within this fraternity, I was promoted to one of the highest levels of leadership in my class, however, I had a few medical issues that needed waivers, and I ultimately decided not to take the military path.
    -As a pre-med student for three years, I volunteered a lot at a hospital in the MICU, and I became fairly involved when a good childhood friend came in on a night that I was volunteering. This experience, however, led me to realize the medical path was not for me.
    -I had a stint as a biochemical research assistant over a couple, but I was little more than a glorified dishwasher as my adviser had no faith in undergrads and gave me no real worthwhile assignments.
    – I have begun to volunteer with animals in no-kill shelters and have found that it is one of my most passionate non-educational/professional undertakings. I hope to spend more time with shelters and possibly utilize some management skills in order to help out as much as possible.
    – I actively participate in my school’s section of SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers, the main society for our profession), but I have not taken on any leadership roles due to working all the time while maintaining my grades and volunteering in the shelters.
    -Goal: My real goal is to move into a face-tracked management position while still maintaining some technical integrity as an engineer and eventually moving into an execuitve position. I suppose I would say something along the lines of “I hope to utilize my technical knowledge and combine it with a working knowledge of the energy industry in order to help lead a major company into the new global energy age, much the same as X, Y, Z.” <–(I would work on this extensively in the future, I'm sure, possibly throwing in something about B-school being able to optimize my prospects as a leader and manager). As an aside, I plan to continue environmental awareness within the industry, particularly due to the recent oil spills and the public's general view of an oil company as an environmental bad-guy. Most blue chip companies realize that there is no way of continually growing if the you do not have the favorable public image, and there is a large call for giant O&G companies to participate in more environmental friendly initiatives.
    -23 year old white male (apply in 6-10 months at 24, graduate at 25)

  • Tuck

    I like your analysis, but you tend to be too dismissive of schools outside of the big 3.

  • Sandman

    Thank you very much for getting back to me. I will contact in an official capacity after speaking to my board president and our executive team. We would be very fortunate to have you over. Many, if not most, of our members are very interested in pursuing an MBA at elite institutions. But often times, the expectations and pre-mba preparations (i.e. building a good MBA resume, thinking and planning ahead) are not ideal. I’m sure we would benefit greatly from your insights, knowledge and experience. Thanks again and I will get in-touch with you soon.

  • hbsguru

    thanks, I’m a big Nate Silver fan. IF you contact me at hbsguru@gmail.com
    we can talk over speaking engagements, let me know what you have in mind.

  • Sandman

    Sandy to P&Q is like Nate Silver to the NY times! You sir, are the reason I come to this website; and you are by far the most entertaining and knowledgeable MBA guru out there! I’m an executive board member of a young professionals assoc based in Houston, and was wondering whether you do speaking engagements directed at young professionals interested in pursuing an MBA?

  • Hoya Saxa

    Mr. Silicon Valley might want to consider Georgetown McDonough