Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

For the past seven years, he’s been an active duty Naval officer who has seen deployments on a submarine and in Africa. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.65 GPA, this 30-year-old male hopes to get an MBA and return to either the military or government in a leadership position.

This 25-year-old female professional works for a consumer technology trade association, managing events, trade shows and conferences. With a 700 GMAT and a 2.9 GPA, she wants an MBA to transition into a marketing job in the consumer tech industry.

He’s a first generation college graduate who works in sales for a medical device company in Silicon Valley. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.1 GPA, this 24-year-old Hispanic male expects to use the MBA to land a consulting job in the life sciences and biotech fields.

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 an invite? Or are they likely to end up in a reject pile?

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.

In this, the 47th episode of our highly popular handicapping stories, Kreisberg is at his tell-it-like-it-is, laugh-out-loud finest. He tells one applicant who already has a one and one-half year MBA in entrepreneurship from Baylor: “Harvard, Stanford and Wharton do not consider an MBA in Entrepreneurship as anything but a money-driven brand extension, variants of which they offer themselves to geezer-dreamers and Gyro-Gearloose inventor types and certainly no substitute for their full-monty, transformational, gender-bending, soul-enhancing, divinity-creating, universe-expanding, Mount-Sinai mounting, mother-effing two-year program.”

As he has in the past, 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 (please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience), we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature next week.

Sandy’s assessment:

Ms. Tech Marketer


  • 700 GMAT
  • 2.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from Virginia Tech
  • “Chose to major in business midway through and my grades significantly improved in the second half of my studies”
  • Work experience includes three years at a consumer technology trade association in Washington, D.C., managing events, trade shows and conferences (two promotions in three years)
  • Extracurricular involvement in college as an officer of a business technology club and advertising sales for the university’s print and digital publications; now volunteer with a local technology professionals and entrepreneurs group
  • Goal: To land a marketing job doing brand development and strategic partnerships in the consumer technology industry; longer term would like to lead a marketing consultancy specializing in technology brand management
  • 25-year-old female


Odds of Success:

Berkeley: 20% to 30%

UT-Austin: 30% to 40%

Georgetown: 30% to 40%

New York: 20% to 30%

Columbia: 10% to 20%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, this is a perky message from the “belly of the beast,” the trade associations and trade shows, conferences and forums in such everyday products as consumer tech which drive a good deal of our economy. I’d be curious to know the number of our readers from IB, PE, consulting, and even tech itself, who have been to a trade show. Guys drinking real whiskey, furtive couplings in hotel rooms, bloated expense accounts . . .sorry if I got this wrong, I’ve never been to one either. And neither, my guess is, have most adcoms, although they may have been to business school forums, which my guess is, are a more sedate and less intoxicated set of grin and sedate gropes. (Yeah, I know, you’d be surprised.)

OK, moving right along. What we got here is a 700 GMAT, a 2.9! GPA (with ‘significant’ improvement once you found yourself as a business major) and, since 2009 a solid job as a SOMETHING, title not given (with two promotions in three years) for a consumer tech trade association in Washington D.C. (the mother city of all trade associations, so you are playing in the big leagues).

Plus a tightly-woven, in terms of your goals, set of part-time jobs in college (producing ad placements for the university’s digital and print publications/media channels) and current extracurriculars (“volunteer with a local technology professionals and entrepreneurs group – assist with monthly investor pitch/networking events”).

That GMAT may save you. I don’t see this at Columbia. They just won’t swallow a 2.9 in most cases, and marketing is not their sweet spot. Other places you mention, Berkeley, University of Texas, Georgetown, NYU, are all possible, especially if grades your last two years were really much improved and the schools will credit that as your ‘real’ GPA.

The fact that you have a tight story and seem like a marketing type, is a plus, and the fact you have only had one job and have received quick promotions is another. You seem like a marketing type, make that clear in your app and recs.

Your post MBA goal –a marketing position focused on brand development and strategic partnerships within the consumer technology/electronics industry–is right on and a big plus because you will be well positioned by experience and personality to do that. Schools like their grads employed.

If you want to give yourself two more inches of admissibility, take a course in Stats, or Microeconomics or Calculus this summer at some local college, just to show them you are walking the extra mile and can shut up and take stuff in, and then spit it back out on an exam, which is sorta a proxy for business school, all the smoke and mirrors notwithstanding.

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