Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1

Handicapping Those Tough MBA Odds

Mr. Software Engineer


  • 760 GMAT (practice tests)
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in electrical engineering
  • “GPA looks low on paper, but decent for STEM – does this count for anything?”
  • Work experience includes four years as a software engineer for three companies; project lead at a medium-sized manufacturing company; senior engineer at a health care startup and an e-commerce startup
  • Extracurricular involvement in a leadership position in a student events organization; also wrote musical scores for four campus theater productions;
  • Goal: To join a top consulting firm for a few years, then transition into a technical leadership role in industry
  • 26-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%

Stanford: 10%

MIT: 30%

Northwestern: 40%+

Chicago: 40%+

Yale: 40%+

Michigan: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: As to the 3.2 in electrical engineering, and your question, “low on paper, but decent for STEM – does this count for anything?”  Well, it may but you need to make that crystal clear on your resume and elsewhere, especially if you know what the median GPA for the program is, or what percentile of the class you were in.

As for the rest,  “Work experience: 4 years as a software engineer for 3 different companies: Project lead at a medium-sized (not well known) manufacturing company . . . Senior engineer at a health care startup (acquired in 2011) and an e-commerce startup . . . .”

Hmmmm, that is too many jobs (by one), and too many obscure jobs (by three) for HBS, Stanford and MIT, none of whom are looking for programmers to begin with (I like programmers fine, just giving it to you straight) and when they do, they prefer programmers with ONE super PRESTIGE job at blue chip places like Apple, Intel, Oracle or even programmers for places like Goldman.

All that being said, you’ve worked in some interesting environments, and done what sounds like some solid work, and other schools you note, Kellogg, Booth, Michigan might go for that, although it would help if your test GMATs of 760 came true.

Your goals as a consultant are perfect and many guys like you do, in fact, go on to powerful consulting careers, and, furthermore, consulting companies, unlike adcoms, might value your three different jobs. So things are looking brighter.

Just get a solid GMAT and think about places like Duke and Darden (they feed kids to consulting companies) as well.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.