Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Football


  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.25 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and mathematics from Baylor
  • 3.95 GPA (masters)
  • MBA in entrepreneurship from Baylor’s year and one-half program
  • “Balanced education with 40+ hours of weekly preparation, travel and participation in NCAA Division 1 football…Because my athletic eligibility extended into a 5th year, Baylor offered to pay for free education. I chose the entrepreneurship MBA because I was selected for a one-year ‘Venture Fellow’ Co-Op working as a business analyst for an Austin venture capital firm”
  • Work experience with Boeing in the company’s highly selective two-year engineering leadership development program
  • Extracurricular involvement as a ‘walk-on’ Baylor varsity football player who earned full scholarship, became a senior team captain, earned 1st Team All-Big 12 Academic Team and inducted into the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Honor Society; also board member in Seattle Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Professionals, founding president of Seattle’s Baylor Alumni, do ToughMudder extreme endurance racing, and had a 4th place national finish in the Red Bull Flugtag contest
  • Goals: To join a global transportation strategy consulting division within McKinsey, Bain or BCG
  • “Reason for second MBA, in brief: There is no comparison to the level of strategy education & peer-based perspectives my target school list can provide, as compared to Baylor. I don’t feel I should be penalized for taking advantage of a free education while I completed my athletic pursuits”
  • 26-year-old white male
  • “I sincerely appreciate this series and would love your insight – the good, the bad, and the ugly!”

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40%

Stanford: 30%

Wharton: 40% to 50%

Northwestern: 50%+

London: 50%+ (But why?)

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, as to the ugly, I don’t know what you look like, so that will be blowing in the wind for a while. Feel free to post a pic and we can have our discerning readers respond.

As to the good and the bad, it is mostly good, especially since your 5th year GPA of 3.95 does a lot to clear up the only pimple on the face of this story, your 3.25 GPA, which is also explained in part by 1. A full-time Division 1 football career (and captain, something schools really like, not to mention ‘walk-on’ Hollywood story and Hall of Fame), 2. A mechanical engineering major (do people still do that?), which does not strike me as gut city or the typical major for football players.

The Boeing gig is PERFECT because it builds out the engineering background, is selective, and B-schools deeply respect rotational programs like that at Blue Chip companies. I take it no one is blaming you for those Boeing Dreamliner fires, especially the one last week in Boston. Aviation is something adcoms pay laser attention to, but thankfully for you, mostly as to how they can pad out the tons of frequent flyer miles they rack up junketeering over the world for forums and, what is even a bigger waste of time, meeting each other. Seriously!

Your goal: “Transition out of engineering with a laser focus on joining a global transportation strategy consulting division within M/B/B” is money, dude, because as often noted here, adcoms love future consultants for the reason that many people who claim to be future consultants actually wind up…as consultants. As opposed to many people who claim to be future X Y or Z. And if ever anyone had the DNA to be a successful consultant applicant, dude, it is you. Athletics, engineering, leadership, solid 2nd-tier school, 710 GMAT (even “Bain-dead” Bain which often has a 720 GMAT floor will budge for a guy like you because you will seem like their type. Not in reality because you are much too interesting, but on paper, which is what counts over there, and more importantly, that scenario will click in the blue-sky mind of the adcom who will be imaging all this and tickling herself while she reads your app–everyone likes to be a match-maker).

Schools will easily blink away at your MBA in Entrepreneurship from Baylor’s 1.5 year program because 1. They will want to, and 2. H/S/W 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.

Well, you will have to explain that as well, but you got two good angles (1. 5th year eligibility moola and school service and  2. Blah, blah you want to learn general management consultant skills en route to leading big companies and creating miles and miles of highways, railways and fireproof skyways.  (“We don’t need no stinkin’ entrepeneurship MBA . . .:).

Your extras (Seattle Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Professional board member, Seattle Baylor Alumni Network Founder and President, ToughMudder extreme endurance racing, 4th place national finish in RedBull Flugtag contest) are also admirable and civic-minded, assuming that “Flugtag” is something serious and G -rated and not just some silly double-entendre cooked up by those jokey tigers at Red Bull.  If not, send me an application.

OK, just Googled “Flugtag,” it is not a creation of the frat boys at Red Bull, it is German for “flying day” and it is a contest for pilots of self-made airplanes (no need to send me an application!), but great work in entering that contest at all–and coming in fourth. But don’t just leave that Flugtag hanging there. Make the self-made aircraft part real clear on your app.

Soooo, bottom line, it’s all good to me. The only possible weaknesses, the 3.25 GPA and the so-called MBA can be poofed away. Just execute your apps in some sober and school-friendly way, and your chances at H/S/W are solid. Your whole story is just bolted together with great work and extra accomplishments and schools love to admit low-ish stat (but not too low) white guys like you and pretend they are risktakers and humanists.

Kellogg should be solid as well, they like your type (Mid-Western “Wright Brothers” values). London? Why??? Go to a top US school and work in London for an internship, if you were dreaming of studying their subway or hoping those Dreamliners won’t catch fire in the rain??

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