Handicapping Your Shot At A Top School

She’s a 25-year-old engineer at a leading medical devices company recently acquired by Johnson & Johnson. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.43 grade point average from Johns Hopkins University, she wants an MBA to help her move into a strategy or operations role at a technology or biotech company.

He’s a 25-year-old African-American who works as a business analyst for a global oil company. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.17 GPA in chemical engineering, he’s hoping the MBA will help him transition into the alternative energy industry.

After spending a couple of years at a boutique consulting firm and a short, failed attempt to get a startup off the ground, his girlfriend convinced him to take a shot at social entrepreneurship. With strong GRE scores and a 3.3 GPA, this 24-year-old is seeking an MBA program that will help him start a social enterprise or triple-bottom-line business.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

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.

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. Mechanical Engineer


  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.43 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University
  • Work experience includes three years in a fast track engineering rotation program at a leading medical device company just acquired by J&J, including roles in operations and product development and a yearlong assignment in Switzerland
  • Extracurricular involvement as director of a college outdoors program, four years of research in surgical robotics including guest researcher position in Japan, published at a major medical robotics conference, played club soccer, running half marathons; also volunteer at Habitat for Humanity and mentor at-risk girls
  • Goal: To move into upper management strategy or operations role at a technology or biotech company
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 50%+
MIT: 60%+
Stanford: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 60%+
Columbia: 60%+
Northwestern: 70%+
Chicago: 70%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Bingo! We have a winner.

This is great!

Female, Hopkins, Mechanical Engineering, 750 GMAT, 3.43 (OK, that is gold plated, not gold, but it was a 3.43 in a nerd major competing against many male tools), three years at a “successful” medical device company (recently acquired by J&J, so you got experience with super-big successful company), great engineering rotation program (engineering and rotation are sizzling words in B-school applications these days) and publications!, outdoors stuff, half-marathons, and mentoring “at-risk girls.”  And a yearlong assignment in Switzerland, which is neither here nor there, but sounds glam and fun. Surgical robotics! Dat is kool. And “guest researcher in Japan,” also mega impressive.

At Stanford, this could be one of those cases where Bolton says, “we took this person despite the essays . . .” (which he has said, along with saying that essays really count, so take your pick, although in your case, your pick is essays may not always count.) All that said, try to write some OK essays, in tune with the Stanford vibe. “What really matters to me is being a scientist who cares….”

Great applicants like you have blown HBS interviews, so that is something to watch out for (ahem, you might hire a great interview prep service like, ahem, ahem the one I run) and at other schools you note, MIT (woman with 750 GMAT, stop reading and admit), Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, it will just be a matter of convincing them you want to come. You got a lot going for you, on paper and maybe in reality, but it is on paper that mostly counts in this game, so I am predicting great succes

  • Patricia

    Chances of getting into HBS?!

    GPA: 4.0 (top of the class) in BsC in Management
    GMAT: 730 – Top 5 EUROPEAN university
    Native in 4 languages
    3 years in top 2 Commodity Trading firm – Oil Trading Graduate Program with rotations in Africa, Asia and South America.
    Extra Curricular: 1st University Squash Team – 3 months of volunteering in South East Asia
    White Female



  • Ms. Mechanical Engineer

    Hey Sandy, Ms. Mechanical Engineer here. Thanks so much for the assessment! Any chance you could give me one last piece of advice? GMAT is actually 760 with 6.0 AWA and 8 IR (750 was a practice) and I’m now thinking of adding Wharton to the list. Odds? Any other schools missing from the list? Thanks!

  • Aniket

    Hey Sandy! Thought I’d add my profile since I cant seem to find a direct match

    Indian Male (US permanent resident) 27
    GMAT: 710
    GPA: 3.74, magna cum laude, Babson College, MA (#1 ranked undergrad entrepreneurship program in the world)

    Work Experience: 3.5 years with Tier-1 investment bank IBD in Hong Kong and Singapore (Think Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley)- worked across different product groups and sectors focusing on equity capital markets and M&A – leadership role (sole analyst) in a US$4Bn transaction / Quit to become Co-founder of media-technology business based in Indonesia (6 months, quit due to differences with co-founders. Startup still doing well) / Joined TechnoServe (business solutions to poverty) (8 months – ongoing). Total experience ~5 years

    Extracurricular Activities: Volunteer with the Landmark forum (2+ years), Athletics – Run Half marathons (4+), Mountain climbing (Mt. Kinabalu, Kilimanjaro and Base camp Everest), Department of Statistics – Assistant, Tutor & Grader, Mentor – low income youth looking to study in top U.S. undergrad schools, Leadership roles in 2 undergrad clubs

    Goals: Short-term: Looking to break into a H/S/W/ Booth and transition to the private-equity / Venture-capital space, specifically into funds that are more hands-on involved with operations

    Longer-term: Found a Social Impact Fund / Developmental Capital in India that also mentors portfolio companies, with high social impact

  • Aniket

    Hello! Thought I’d add my profile since I cant seem to find a direct match

  • indianwoman

    Hi! I went through all profiles to see if there is a match with mine, but since I could not find any – request you to do an analysis please.

    Indian Woman, 27 years old
    GMAT score- 740
    Total 5 Years of work exp. 2 years as a management consultant in UAE, 3 years in New Delhi in Corporate HR in a French energy MNC handling talent management in a leadership role (building leadership pipeline, Competency assessments, development of potential).

    Undergraduate from Delhi University in Economics Honours with 70% (not sure how to convert in GPA), Post graduate diploma in HR management from a reputed Indian management institute with 7/10 CGPA.

    Extracurricular activities include Public Speaking, I hold leadership position in Toastmasters Club, also have formal training in Hindustani Classical vocal music

    Social Contribution – Counselling for Rape Victims in India – work for a Women’n NGO

    Goal: A career in consulting in Mckinsey post an MBA from Harvard/ Stanford

  • Mr. Big Pharma

    Good morning Sandy!
    I’ve been researching pharmacists and I haven’t seen an applicant similar to myself. I am a 30 year old African American male. Please indulge me with your expertise.

    Mr. Big Pharma

    -680+ GMAT (Projected-Private tutoring)

    -3.64 GPA Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). University is well respected in the industry

    -Work experience-

    -Two years Clinical Services Director at a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) with about 200K lives. Roles include developing, implementing, and managing clinical programs. Provides
    clinical direction and leadership to in house staff including four pharmacists
    and twenty customer service reps and technicians. Increased revenue of one of clinical programs over 225% within six months of employment. Created a medication therapy management (MTM) program with a revenue model that positions over 200 independent pharmacists in the community setting to aid, what soon will be, a stress healthcare system due to 30 million patients gaining access to coverage in 2014. This program keeps independent pharmacists competitive against big chains and profitable against other PBMs who marginalize the dispensing of Rx medications. Trained and acclimated 200
    pharmacists to the new program. No other decentralized MTM program exists in the industry.

    -One year clinical pharmacist at OptumRx, a UnitedHealth Group company. Left to build clinical programs vs. being a cog in someone else’s system. Leaving was my best move.

    -Four Years staff pharmacist at Rite Aid pharmacy.


    – In 2009, I won a business plan competition at a school with a top 14 MBA program vs. other
    undergrad and graduate students. **Granted, I have no business education.

    -Real estate development from 2008-2011. Accumulated over 800K in assets. Ultimately failed due to internal disputes/litigation with partners.

    -Rho Chi (Pharmacy Honor Society)

    -Guest Speaker at a well-respected city sponsored Entrepreneurs’ Forum in a major northeastern city, representing my real estate development company.

    -Guitar Player. Not any good, but just enjoy playing


    -Become a leader in the PBM industry. With the new healthcare overhaul and with 50%
    of the drugs in clinical trials being very expensive specialty medications, the
    industry is and will continue to look for new ways to manage drug spend while
    using the change in healthcare laws to it’s advantage.

    -Schools of choice


  • Mr Brewer

    Hi Sandy, could you please help me with my profile? because i`m pretty different from others candidates:

    *24 years old Brazilian man

    *Gmat 620(Planning to retake it)

    *GPA in Business Administration, Brazil is a little different GPA but i was in a top 15% at a prestigious school

    *Work experience:

    i leave the college i opened my own business, is a firm who put all
    smallers wholesellers and industries togheter to make a common large buy
    of raw material from big suppliers abroad, getting better prices and
    finding the right quality to then, i`m employ 3 people on that business
    and i`m planning to open another office soon.

    *Extra curricular.

    At school i was class representative

    school i aways had been a huge fan of craft beer, i started to drink
    after this i had learned how to do it and i become a homebrewer, but my
    brews start to make sucess so i opened a brewery with a partners and 2
    employees and today we have 4 beers year round and some seassonals, we
    recieved the prize of the best Beer brewed in our state, and i`m active
    member and assist our association president, and work hard to spread the
    beer culture around us i`m also had teach a lot of people how to brew a
    good beer.

    My target Schools is: Tuck, Stern (Accepting sugestions about that but must to be a top tier school i was thinking about Darden)

    Really aprreciate your help!

  • Mr. Logistics

    Hi there, I would love to hear your thoughts about my chances to get into an MBA

    – 24 years old (turning 25 on April)
    – Brazilian, caucasian
    – Fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish
    – Undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Fundacao Getulio Vargas (one of top 3 business schools in Brazil)
    – GPA ~ 2.8 (grade 6.76 out of 10, ~ 40% percentile of class)
    – GMAT 740 (Q 47 / 73% V 45 / 99%)
    – TOEFL 112 (L: 30 R: 30 S: 27 W: 25)
    – Work experience in the Logistics / Operations area, in one of my family’s companies (although a family company it is highly professionalized) with 6000 employees, will complete 3 years work experience in April. Started as a Trainee, where I remained for 15 months, then spent 5 months as Operations Advisor, 11 months as Operations Supervisor leading a team of roughly 60 employees, and currently (~ 2 months) as Strategic Advisor to the Director of Dedicated Logistics Operations. Recommendation letter from the Operations Manager and Operations Director

    – Goals: I would like to return to my family’s company to work in the Operations or General Management areas, seeking to eventually climb to the COO or CEO positions. In the longer term (15+ years), I would like to start and manage my own business.
    – Extracurricular: not much here, basically just playing soccer and tennis in university, and participating in our company’s corporate social program/contest AmiGAB, which is an ongoing program which involves several activities aimed towards helping underprivileged communities, such as donations, visits, educational activities, etc
    – Seeking: an MBA education focused on enterpreneurship and general management, in schools such as (in order of preference): Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Northwestern

    – Strengths: low age, from a developing country, fluent in 3 languages, good GMAT score, work experience with rapid climbing in an unusual industry/area (?)
    – Weaknesses: poor extracurricular history, and low GPA. I went to a very tough school and I also had to move cities to go to university, and had trouble adapting to my new city, due to the big difference from my home town (born and raised in city with a 300K pop, and moved to a 16 million pop city), which affected my academic productivity. On the plus side, my GPA showed an upwards trend during the course

    Look forward to hearing back from you! Thank you in advance

  • Mr. Baseball

    – 26 years old male
    – American
    – Biracial White and Asian
    – GRE: 169 V and 162 Q
    – 3.31 GPA. I had serious health issues greatly impacting my grades and forcing me to withdraw in multiple, non-sequential semesters for treatment.
    – B.A. Psychology from George Washington University. It took 5 years, and some of my coursework was completed at a local state school and an online school.
    – 2.5 years of work experience for a company specializing in baseball data capture and analytics (think Moneyball) for MLB teams and media. In that time, I’ve been promoted to Associate Director of Operations with ~40 direct reports.

    Goals: In the short-term, I wish to transition into a club’s front office in a coordinator,
    director, or special assistant role. In the longer run, I’m aiming to become a GM (or equivalent) for a Major League team.

    Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, MIT, Berkeley, Minnesota

    I think my strengths are my test score and work experience in an exclusive field. I expect my references from our Director of Operations and the company’s co-owners to be strong. GPA, field of study, and extracurriculars are weak.

    I have a couple questions:
    – Are my reach and target schools appropriate?
    – My health issues will be prominent in my essay and interview responses. How much leeway do I gain leeway for extenuating circumstances on my low GPA in a soft science?
    – Do I get anything from taking the GMAT or re-taking the GRE? I feel I can improve slightly upon my GRE score (or the concordant GMAT score). Is there a point of diminished returns?

  • Mr. Broken Pilot

    Hi Sandy, thanks for the email response. Here is my profile:

    -740 GMAT
    -3.5 GPA
    -Undergraduate in Engineering Management with Honors from West Point
    -Transitioning to civilian life due to injuries sustained in helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan
    -Various leadership roles, to include Apache Platoon Leader (responsible for six officers and eight enlisted soldiers; responsible for tactical employment of four Apache helicopters in combat; responsible for maintenance and over $140M of equipment), Battle Captain (responsible for maintaining operations for the battalion of 300 personnel and 24 aircraft by tracking missions, managing risk, and coordinating resources), Ranger School (Army’s premier leadership course)
    -Multiple awards for courage under fire, committment to mission accomplishment, and excellence in leadership
    -Goals: Management consulting at MBB
    -Extracurriculars: Family Readiness Group, some volunteer work in community

    -27 year old male

  • Mr. Trilingual Supply Chain

    Hi Sandy,
    My question comes in two parts : 1.) What are my chances of acceptance with the provided schools, and 2.) Would I gain any substantial benefit by waiting an additional year to start my MBA (wait until fall 2015 instead of fall 2014)?
    -26 year old male – Trilingual (English, Russian, Spanish). Natively born in Russia
    -3.45 GPA at above-avg. but non-target Midwestern private school (think Butler, Depauw, University of Indianapolis)
    -Major in International Business, minors in Economics and Finance
    -690 GMAT (first try), aiming to get 720 upon retake
    -2 years current work experience, 3 upon matriculation at Fortune 250 Global MFG company (Cummins Inc.)
    -Started as Global Supply Chain Analyst, promoted after 1 year to Corporate Sourcing Manager (bypassing Sr. Analyst Role, Specialist Role). Avg. time in analyst role @ Cummins is 2-3 years
    -Second promotion from Sourcing Manager to Global Strategic Sourcing Manager after 10 months for strong performance. Avg. SSM profile at Cummins has MBA and 8+ years of experience
    -Ranked as high potential both years (top 10%), high ranking for performance as well
    -Community Involvement Liason – Coordinate volunteering opportunities between company and community businessses/programs
    -Approached regarding LDP for 2014 – 2 year rotational supply chain program designed for leadership roles
    -Numerous strong marketing internships from collegiate career
    -Hobbies include sports, travel and music. Placed 2nd in U-16 Ping Pong tournament in Indiana (at age 13)
    Goals : Would like to get 5-10 years of management consulting experience at top consulting firm to develop best practice model across companies, across industries. Would like to return to current employer and/or corporate world and assume leadership positions within supply chain/corporate strategy/financial realm.
    Interested in Supply Chain or Finance MBA with following schools (in order of interest) :
    Northwestern, Michigan, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, Columbia, Penn, Stanford/Harvard
    Thanks in advance for your advice!

  • hbsguru


  • Mr. Big Four + Stats


    Say I was the same guy as Mr. Big Four Consultant. Now, change my GPA to a 3.7 (cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and my GMAT to a 770. Now what are my chances?

  • Mr. Country Manager

    Hi Sandy,
    Could you please advice on my profile (2nd MBA case), What are my chances?

    30-years old, French with Indian Origin – (will be 31 at matriculation, if accepted)

    Target: INSEAD, IMD, LBS, (too old for US b schools), 1 year MBA

    Specialization: General Management, Strategy

    GMAT: 680 (practice tests), 3.0 GPA

    2nd MBA reasons: no work experience after bachelors’, small class size, no experiential learning, was not able to relate..

    MBA with Internship program – from a French business school with scholarship
    (1 year study+ 18 months internships)

    Undergrad: Business Administration degree (3yrs) from a university in North India.

    Current job: project controller, no direct reports

    Work experience: 5 years – mainly in accounting (cost control, treasury, credit),
    some experience in purchasing & sales analysis.

    Industry: Current – Manufacturing, Industrial Equipments for oil & gas industry (subsidiary), US Company, Fortune 400

    Some gaps in beginning work ex, have relevant reasons (administrative, immigrant

    In industry I see that, generally MBA is not asked for regional roles.
    Most of our global company executives have MBA’s from top US schools; our business unit CEO has an MBA from INSEAD.

    Extras Curricular: Voluntary – Treasurer for a French nonprofit association (under-privileged
    children in developing, 3rd world countries)

    Languages: Fluent in English, French & Hindi

    Career goals: General Management, Strategy, Operations
    Short/Medium Term – move to strategy, business developement
    Long Term – country manager, executive role in developing countries, India etc.

    Thank You for your time!

  • Ms. Strategy International

    Hi Sandy. Would love to get your opinion on my handicap.

    29 yo Female
    3.7 GPA undergrad from Ivy
    2 years work experience with Bain
    2.5 years work experience in corporate strategy in Australia – mid-size financial services firm
    2.5 years work experience at Deloitte doing strategy consulting
    Post-undergrad extra curr. include volunteering as a teacher in Tanzania at an orphanage, teaching ESL to refugee immigrants, and volunteering at an animal shelter – plus lots of work related activities (practice development, website building, training module development, coordinated volunteerism events, etc). Has traveled extensively (~45 countries), lived in 4 countries including the US and speaks German in addition to English. Target schools are Stanford/Booth/Kellogg/Ross. What would you say my chances are?

  • Walter Jacoby

    Hey Sandy, would love to hear your thoughts.

    710 GMAT (76% math, 92% verbal)
    3.43 undergrad GPA from top 30 USNWR school
    Major in international relations
    Work experience: 1 year serving in AmeriCorps right after college on national pilot team to test program’s impact in high need, urban public schools; 2.5 years (at time of application) as analyst in equity capital markets division of boutique investment bank
    Extracurricular: Have been on board of directors of nonprofit that teaches high school students about social entrepreneurship for 2 years. Just joined advisory board of a local urban, charter high school. Active in AmeriCorps alum organization and currently training for first marathon.
    Short team goal: transition to private equity to learn how successful businesses are grown and operated
    Long-term goal: Parents started and currently run a highly successful, yet
    non-traditional business in the education space. Ideally, I would like to take
    over the reins of this business down the road.
    25-year-old white male
    Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton (current boss is alum), Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, Haas, Fuqua

  • Chewbacca

    Great series. Thanks for doing it! I’ve seen various pieces of my would-be application profile in a few others, but not quite the whole package that would mirror myself.
    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, and am fairly confident I can reach 700)
    -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 (at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, Hospital of UPENN, and government 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 see the latest technological developments while being a part of advancing their research and development.

    What would be appropriate target schools and reach schools? I’ve been researching MBA programs at the likes of Wharton, Stern, Columbia, Kellogg, UCLA, USC, GWU, but am open to any consideration, including non-US.

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

  • Hi Sandy, Would appreciate a look at my handicapping my chance at MBA admissions.

    29yo Australian Male. Currently a senior sales executive with a global IT company who is the leader in the analytics space which is quite hot at the moment, also one of the best companies in the world to work for, so quite selective. I started my career at one of the largest IT companies in Australia in a technical role, but quickly moved into sales. Have been good (awards etc) in all of these roles and taken initiative outside of direct role. Focus in these roles was healthcare, education, government and non-profit sectors.

    Graduated a double undergrad with Distinction: B.Business/B.InfoTech with GPA of 3.3 (5.84 on Australian 7pt scale) from EQUIS/AACSB certified school (QUT).

    GMAT – Expecting 720-730.

    Extra Curricular:
    Worked in a NFP as volunteer for 4 years during studies including 18 months as paid national sales director and company director of youth leadership development org.
    I was Committee/VP/President of the Young Alumni chapter at university for 2/1/2 years.
    Currently sitting 2nd term on University’s Alumni Board; Assist Big-Brother/Big-Sister type NFP in board advisory role on their technology strategy; 5th year as Career Mentor.

    I see myself staying in technology over long term, with consulting firm experience after MBA looking at technology and strategy.

    Big question would be reputable (Top 25) schools (Kellogg, that fit with a consulting/technology/marketing background) and chances of financial assistance.

  • emergingmarkets

    Hi Sandy, If you could take a look at my background and let me know how I can strengthen my application, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

    25 yo W.African female – applying 2013 (will have 5 years WE at time of app. I graduated at 20)
    Chemical Engineering Californian Public Ivy
    3.3 GPA
    GMAT – what should I be aiming for given my GPA

    1st 3 years with P&G in plant engineering. Delivered 2 impactful initiatives but realized the scope of impact was too small .
    Took leave of absence to go home – did some non profit work on improving the access of goods and services produced by poor people to international markets. Think commodities not curios. This was by myself, so I can’t use this for Recos, maybe essays? However I used my experience researching this to pitch proposals at work for how my company could make an impact. Hopefully it gets acted on – looks like it will.
    Also did consumer research for the company on an emerging markets new business idea while on the leave of absence.

    Currently in product supply global innovation doing what I really love. Is product supply a dirty word here? I work with various functions like marketing and R&D to deliver global innovations and their supply chains with a focus on emerging markets. I am currently part of a team developing a very novel product for the BRIC markets – very much like FIELD. I’ve also delivered projects in North America, Asia and Western Europe

    I’d like to get an MBA so I can move into strategy consulting for companies that want to strengthen their footholds or profitablility in emerging markets via localized sourcing. Localized sourcing improves the lives of many more people than if you source the raw materials for your products elsewhere. I believe my roles thus far have allowed me to focus on execution and I would now like to focus on strategy, building on my experience in product supply and front end engineering. I think an MBA trains you to think about the big picture and take a birds eye view of things. I love what I do now, but I want to have an even bigger impact.

    Extras – saturday classes for low income, first generation high schoolers looking to go to college while I was in college. Now I focus on coaching minority interns at work, working with senior mgt to deploy trainings on career progression in a way that’s relevant to Gen Y

    Recos – 1 excellent from former boss. 1 solid from current boss. 1 solid from Extras

    How can I strengthen my app for a chance at these schools
    MITemployees, and volunteering with the new hire group at work. I am looking to get back into more STEM show and tell type volunteer stuff in elementary schools.

    Haas – my safety
    Any other recos that would be a good fit for me?

  • LA Consulting

    Hi Sandy,

    Could you please give me your thoughts on my profile?

    Age: 26 (Male, White, Latin American [w/ very latin name])
    GPA: 3.8
    Undergraduate in humanities (think classical studies/philosophy) at top 5 university in country.
    GMAT: 700

    Work Experience: 3 years in boutique financial advisory firm, 18 months at top 3 management consulting (MBB) at a Latin America office.

    International experience: lived in 4 different countries, speak 3 languages fluently.

    Goal: Return to firm for 2 years then go into entrepreneurship or VC in home country. Basically, leverage what Ive learned in consulting to create or help grow new businesses. I wonder if adcoms would find it more compelling if this was slanted towards social entrepreneurship, e.g. helping underprivileged entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

    Target schools: Harvard/Wharton/Chicago/Columbia/Kellogg/NYU


  • canadiana5

    Hi Sandy,

    I know I am still a few years out from applying to MBA programs but I would like to know what I can do to better prepare myself.

    Age: 25 (Male, white, Canadian)
    GPA: 2.7 (Have taken 5 quantitative courses since – received A to A+ in each (finance, accounting, statistics))
    GMAT: 720

    Education: Business (marketing) undergrad from Canadian University. Grades trend upward… wasn’t sure what I wanted to do during first few general years/had too much fun. 3.6 and 3.8 in last two years respectively.

    Work Experience:
    Internships: Marketing at one of Canada’s largest telecom companies
    Full-time: 3 years in business development at one of Forbes Top 10 most innovative tech companies (Promoted roughly once per calendar year)

    VP positions in University associations (responsible for marketing)
    Teaching Assistant (3 different marketing classes)
    Ran 3 large university events

    Plan: Get an MBA in finance and leverage my skills (biz dev, finance, marketing) to gain employment at top consulting firm (tech sector)

    Target Schools: Tuck, Darden, Johnson, Stern, Haas, Booth, Ross

    Thank you very much!

  • brock_vond

    HI Sandy,

    Please tell me what you think my odds are for getting into a top MBA program. Will my age be a problem? How much will it hurt me that I finished college at an online school (I was working full-time)? Should I be looking at lower-ranked schools?

    Age: 34
    GMAT: 750+ (based on practice tests)

    M.S. in IT Management – 4.0 from an online school (not Phoenix)
    B.S. in Information Technology – 4.0 from an online school (not Phoenix)
    A.A. in General Studies – 3.3 at a community college

    Work History:
    I work at a community college in a mid-sized agricultural community in California. I stayed in the area a lot longer than I wanted for family reasons but am now trying to move upward and onward. I started at the college as a software developer, left for a year and a half at a private company and came back to take a management position.

    2 years as an IT Director (most recent)
    7 years as a lower-level IT manager (previous)
    4 years as a software developer. (oldest)

    5th/6th grade basketball coach (1 season)
    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    I grew up poor, on welfare, and was almost a first-generation college grade. My dad finished college while I was in high school. I’m a white male.

    Plan: I’d like to provide technology leadership in a Fortune 500 or possibly a large university.

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, Haas.

  • theLEANguy

    Hi Sandy,

    Please critique and advise on a chance for top MBA.

    GMAT: 700 (Taking in May, Practice test so far range around 680-720)

    GPA: 3.57/4.0 (Economics)

    Graduated from Top LAC in Wisconsin. School is famous for sending kids to grad school. We have a great reputation and connection to Northwestern. (Professors and Alumni that graduate and teaching/taught at Kellogg)

    Work experience:
    2 years in a Continuous Improvement Role in a national Construction company (think Lean/Six Sigma). Hired by the President to run his special projects and currently work under VP in the same department. Was very fortunate to be working closely with all C-suite personnel.

    Past Internships:
    – 3 months with FDIC (Midwest region).
    – 3 months as a summer analyst for local I-Bank in Shanghai, China.
    – 9 months in a e-learning software development company prior to college.

    Extra curricular:
    – Represented country in Fencing at World University Games.
    – NCAA Fencing for 3 years, qualified for regionals every-year and ranked top 15 in the conference.
    – 2nd season as an assistant coach for the university fencing team.
    – Co-organize United Way fundraising event within company.
    – Study abroad at American University in Cairo, Egypt.

    – Research trip to China studying water resources.
    – Liaison between school and foreign universities to form research partnership.
    – Wrote report that helped the school obtain another $50k grant for a second trip. The school recently got a $400k-10 year grant for this effort.

    Fluent in English, 3 Asian languages and basic proficiency in Arabic.

    Short term goal (why MBA): Get into MBB consulting, and then leverage into regional econ/ infrastructure development.
    Long term goal: Run for public office at home country.

    Target: Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, Haas, Oxford, INSEAD, IESE. (any other suggestions?) Applying in Fall 2014. 26 year old SE Asian Male.

    My question is:
    Should I stay put with my current company? (Great exposure because I work with the CEO, COO, VPs on weekly basis)
    Or should I leverage my current experience and transition into a external consultant role before I apply?

    Thank you very much!

  • Harsh

    Hi Sandy,

    I have been following your Handicapping series since a long time
    and really find your objective(sometimes bitter truth) analysis to be quite useful.

    I would be grateful if you can assess my profile in your future analysis:

    24 year old Indian Male

    Current Job:Working as a Petroleum Engineer(Reservoir Engineer) in a state-owned Oil and Gas E & P(Exploration and Production) company.(Didn’t switch to a bigger company for the vast learning experiences in a small start-up dept.

    760 GMAT (Q51,V41,AWA 5.0)-1st attempt

    111 TOEFL iBT

    6.68/10 GPA (3.54/4.00 -Converted through World Education Services)

    (Also submitting an alternative transcript from mbamath.com to offset the low Quant Courses GPA)

    Undergraduate Degree(Bachelor of Technology) in Petroleum Engineering from ISM Dhanbad(the only institute apart from IITs to take admission through IIT-JEE.

    Work Experience:3.5 years(from June 2009) with an Oil & Gas Exploration and Production MNC(Public Sector Undertaking Company).

    Promotions:On the same post(though had increasing responsibilities) for 3.5 years as
    promotions are time-based in Indian Government Companies.(4-5 years)

    Job Profile:1)Analyzing well data from oil fields,running simulation based on those
    data and predicting forecasts for oil production and field development.

    2)Worked on oil rigs(atleast for 1 month per year) during the oil testing phase

    3)Department Representative(1 from each dept. in the company) for the Corporate Data
    Managment System(CDMS).

    4)Responsible for techno-economics in Reservoir Team.

    Note:-In 2012,for 4 months,(Aug – Dec)due to 2 seniors leaving we had only 2 people(Me +
    2 trainees who joined in June 2012) in the department.Due to this,I greatly
    managed most of the work of the department (acting HOD-Head of Department) and made changes to working of a few things.

    Accomplishments:-1)Initiated the Well Site Visit of Reservoir Engineers to Offshore Rig during Well Testing(A new process in a start-up department).

    2)Presented SPE(Society of Petroleum Engineers) Paper on “Drilling & Testing Challenges in HPHT Environment” in OGIC(Oil and Gas International Conference),2012.
    Represented the Company at OGIC;1st in-house paper at the company.

    Extra-Curriculars:-1)Worked as a Presiding Officer in the Gujarat State Assembly Elections(Social Work/Leadership) in Dec. 2012.

    2)Found the College Rock Band ‘Blitzkreig'(Played Rhythm Guitar) with a batchmate(also
    a singer in the band)

    3)Was a member of the team which co-ordinated the 2010 ISM(College) local Alumni

    Language Skills:-Hindi (Native),English (Fluent),French (Intermediate),Rajasthani(Native).

    Career Goals:-

    Short Term-Join a consultancy firm in energy/petroleum sector(Can utilize both my
    technical and management skills)

    Long Term-Start own consultancy firm myself or with colleagues in the same domain

    In relevance to career goals,I am looking to major in Consulting/Entrepreneurship/International Business(given the international reach of oil and gas industry)

    Schools :Harvard,Stanford,Wharton,Columbia,MIT,Columbia and NYU

    (Suggestions welcome regarding adding or dropping any school(s) considering the majors and career goals)

    P.S.(I prefer to study in a big city ;personal choice as well as more opportunities.A campus with more facilities/student attracts my eye-Ex:-Stanford)Please correct me if I am wrong in considering the above 2 factors.

  • Harsh

    have been following your Handicapping series since a long time and really find
    your objective(sometimes bitter truth) analyses to be quite useful.

    I am applying for business schools in R2(Jan. 1st week) for 2013-15 session.

    I would be grateful if you can assess my profile in your future December

    24 year old Indian Male

    Current Job:Working as a Petroleum Engineer(Reservoir Engineer) in a
    state-owned Oil and Gas E & P(Exploration and Production) company.(Didn’t
    switch to a bigger company for the vast learning experiences in a small
    start-up dept.

    760 GMAT (Q51,V41,AWA 5.0)-1st attempt

    111 TOEFL iBT

    6.68/10 GPA (comes around 3.2-3.5 using World Education Services U.S. scale

    (Also submitting an alternative transcript from mbamath.com to offset the GPA)

    Undergraduate Degree(Bachelor of Technology) in Petroleum Engineering from ISM
    Dhanbad(the only institute apart from IITs to take admission through
    IIT-JEE(Indian Institutes of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination);qualified
    among the top 2% of JEE candidates in 1st attempt)

    Work Experience:3.5 years(from June 2009) with an Oil & Gas Exploration and
    Production MNC(Public Sector Undertaking Company).

    the same post(though had increasing responsibilities) for 3.5 years as
    promotions are time-based in Indian Government Companies.(Awaiting promotion
    next year on completion of 4 yr period)

    Job Profile:1)Analysing well data from oil
    fields,running simulation based on those data and predicting forecasts for oil
    production and field development.

    2)Presented SPE(Society of Petroleum Engineers) Paper
    on “Drilling & Testing Challenges in HPHT Environment” in
    OGIC(Oil and Gas International Conference),2012

    Key Accomplishments:1)Initiated the Well Site Visit
    of Reservoir Engineers to Offshore Rig during Well Testing(A new process in a
    start-up department)

    Extra-Curriculars:-1)Worked as a Presiding Officer in
    the Gujarat State Assembly Elections(Social Work/Leadership) in Dec. 2012

    3)Was a member of the team which co-ordinated the
    2010 ISM(College) local Alumni Meet

    Language Skills:-Hindi (Native)


    English (Fluent)

    French (Intermediate)

    French Proficiency Exams:-Scored 85.5% marks in DELF A1;Gave DELF A2 on 4th
    Dec.(Awaiting result in Feb.)

    2)Work on oil rigs(atleast for 1 month per year)

    for the Corporate Data Managment System(CDMS);

    3)Responsible for techno-economics in Reservoir Team

    Note:-In 2012,for 2 months,due to 2 seniors leaving
    we had only 2 people(Me + 1 trainee who joined in June 2012) in the
    department.Due to this,I greatly managed most of the work of the department
    (acting HOD-Head of Department) and made changes to working of a few things

    Career Goals:-

    Short Term-Join a consultancy firm in energy/petroleum sector(Can utilize both
    my technical and management skills)

    Long Term-Start own consultancy firm myself or with colleagues in the same
    domain area.

    In relevance to career goals,I am looking to major in
    Consulting/Entrepreneurship/International Business(given the international
    reach of oil and gas industry)

    Target Schools:Harvard






    Booth Chicago



    (Suggestions welcome regarding adding or dropping any school(s) considering the
    majors and career goals)

    P.S.(I prefer to study in a big city ;personal choice as well as more
    opportunities.A campus with more facilities/student attracts my
    eye-Ex:-Stanford)Please correct me if I am wrong in considering the above 2

  • Mr African Consultant

    I’m an African with a non traditional background working and studying at the same time in different countries(I know it might be crazy but true)

    Graduating from one of the top Universities in Africa Al Akhawayn University

    GPA 2.09

    164V and 159 Q in the GRE. and GMAT 710

    Work experience: Deloitte Consulting:Strategy and Operations. Was promoted thrice from intern to business analyst and to consultant

    Extracurricullar activity:

    -Finalist of the International Hult Startup Case competition in UAE Dubai

    -Volunteered for in providing business solutions to women associations in Morocco for two years

    -Volunteered as marketing officer for International saloon for African
    agriculture in Cameroon

    -Member of Islamic Art and Architecture Club

    -Awarded the model UN training Certificate

    # GPA low because I work, travel all over Africa while I go to school. I tried to arrange my schedules. I received an e-mail from Berkeley telling me that I should just have the Bsc and I am admitted into their program irrespective of my Scores and GPA.

    Goal to switch to non profit

    27 year old African

    target: Yale,Tuck,Berkley Duke Booth NYU Darden and Cornell

    What are my odds

  • artvandellay

    forgot to mention: 27 yr old white male, looking at harvard, stanford, wharton, booth, columbia, MIT.


  • European Naval Engineer

    Hi Sandy,

    Keen to hear of my chances:

    28 year old European Naval engineering officer with solid leadership experience. Experience on front line operations (unit achieved all top performance trophies as a result of my efforts) and selected over peers for Masters degree leading to employment in government Science and Technology organisation (high profile).

    Undergrad in Aerospace Engineering from reputable EU university although grade not too great (3.00 equivalent). Masters grades would equate to approx 3.7 and GMAT score of 740 should hope to mitigate?

    First generation college (parents didn’t continue past 16) and I worked all through college whilst also training in the Navy reserves might help to explain the GPA.

    Volunteering to work with schoolchildren to promote careers within engineering through government run scheme.

    Long term goal is to run a successful engineering and technology company by joining/forming a startup. Short term is to develop business skills to complement current leadership and engineering experience.

    Hopeful schools:


    Thanks for any pointers!

  • Shawn

    Hey Sandy,

    I’m interested in what you would say about my chances.

    GMAT: 700 (48Q, 38V).

    Physics major with 3.1 from the University of Rochester. I knew I
    wanted to go to B-School for a while and since my undergrad grades
    weren’t impressive (As a 1st generation college student, I had no idea what I was doing for the 1st two yrs of my college experience.) I
    entered a Masters in Finance from a top 20-30 Business School. Got a
    3.73 gpa and graduated #3 in my class.

    Work Experience – I was
    set to have a career at NASA and found out that I had cancer during my
    senior year. After I got healthy and graduated on time, I wanted to help the world so I started teaching Physics in the NYC. From there, I piloted a college prep
    program for inner city teenagers for 2 yrs, been a consultant for the New York
    City Department of Education, and currently am the Financial and
    Operations Director of a public school. I supervise 3 people while
    managing a $5M+ budget for the past 3 yrs and do local fundraising.

    Activities: 3 yr Community Service chair for my post-college chapter of my
    fraternity. During my tenure, the chapter has
    won Social Action chapter of the year 2 yrs in a row. Created various
    programs from adopting a local family during the holiday season, raised
    $5k a yr for a local soup kitchen, and a local basketball
    tournament which raised $10,000 to rebuild Haiti after 2010 earthquake.

    Goal: Join a the public sector division of a consulting firm to
    learn how strategic management then return to the NYCDOE or other
    education organization in the Financial
    Management division to improve resource allocation.

    Demographics – 1st generation college student, African American Male


    I’m ambitious but I figure go hard or go home.

  • Mr Civil Servant

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate a profile review for the below:

    GMAT: 710

    GPA: Undergraduate GPA 3.08 in international affairs from the George Washington University (top 10 IR program in the world) / Postgraduate MS 2i (equates to approx. a 3.5) from a top 10 UK university in International Relations

    Work Experience: 5.5 years at matriculation (1.5 years doing contract policy advising in Washington DC and London, 1 year at a Big Four firm (EY, PwC, KPMG) as a management consultant in London, and 3 years as a policy adviser / analyst with the US Department of Defense including a deployment to Afghanistan as a civilian adviser)

    I’ve had a fairly varied career, served in a term appointment with the British Civil Service in London as a Policy Analyst (6 months), then spent the next year doing similar consulting / analysis primarily focused in energy and aerospace / defense issues on a contract by contract basis in both London and Washington DC. I parlayed that experience into a position as a management consultant with a Big Four professional services firm still focused on aerospace / defense and energy sectors after a year of doing that I was offered a job as a political and policy adviser to the US Department of Defense, where I have been for the last two years (three at matriculation). I have been promoted twice in this time and have been informed I will receive another promotion this summer. Finally, in my current capacity I served abroad for a four month deployment in Afghanistan providing policy advisement to a General Officer.

    Internships: In college I interned in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, at Parliament in the UK, and finally at the White House.

    Extracurricular activities: I rowed (crew) in college on the club team and continue to row on a masters team now (7 years all in), I also volunteer coaching the crew team at a local high school (1 year), and volunteer at a quarterly adult learn-to-row program. I am also involved with and volunteered and fundraised for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Help for Heroes (UK equivalent of WWP) both charities that support veterans.

    Goal: To transition to MBB in one of their aerospace and defense sector practices or work in internal strategy for a major defense corporation (Boeing, Raytheon, etc)

    Programs I’m targeting:
    Wharton (Hail Mary?)
    Dartmouth Tuck
    Yale SOM
    Duke Fuqua

    Thank you in advance!

  • gayformba

    Admissions people are 90% women and gay men. Being gay is nothing to hide, but I agree with hbsguru that they’re not going to give you many brownie points for it. That said, in my visits, I’ve found lesbians to be a rare find compared to gay men, so they might have more of a boost.

  • Robert S

    Awesome, thanks very much, really appreciate your comprehensive answer on this!

  • justinic9

    Education: 4.0 (valedictorian) at a private religious liberal arts college; Humanities major, business concentration

    Work Experience:
    – Deferred law school acceptance to teach English in China.
    – Three years teaching English in China immediately after graduation.
    – Part-time projects with Singaporean management consulting firm while in China.
    – Returned to the US to pursue a career in management/consulting (eventually in the nonprofit/public sector).
    – Currently employed with 2+ years experience at a mid-sized software company (nationally-recognized player in public sector work); rapid rise from from junior analyst to senior business analyst (lead analyst on flagship project); recognized contributor to internal operations improvement initiative.

    – Undergrad: Student body vice president; Improv comedy troupe president; extensive and varied student leadership positions; yearbook editor; led youth group and worship at church
    – China: Helped start a nonprofit providing life and professional skills training for Chinese university students; summer camps operations staff
    – Present: Deacon and treasurer at church; mentor in the refugee community; teach ESL classes; consulting for local nonprofit

    Demographics: White Male, 27 at matriculation

    GMAT: 690 (41Q/45V). Practices were consistently 720+. Plan to retake next month.

    Goal: My goal is to use business school as the next step in the transition from engaging in nonprofit/public sector work into nonprofit/public sector consulting or management. After the training at business school, I plan to pursue consulting, with an eventual focus on nonprofit/public sector (possibly abroad).

    Plan: I plan to apply in Round 3 for matriculation in fall 2013.

    Recommendations: I can get great recommendations from my supervisors (up to COO/CEO), but my company has no connection/history with top business schools. I can get a recommendation from a business professor/mentor with better business and academic credentials. I can also get recommendations from clients with whom I’ve worked closely. Are clients off-limits? How important are the credentials of the recommender?

    Target schools: Booth, Yale, Tuck, Fuqua, IE, INSEAD (others?)

  • hbsguru

    Marshall and Fulbright (and Rhodes) are GREAT, they signal success in the highly-selective world of values, accomplishment, and personal presentation that is the ego-ideal of top 3 and top 10 adcoms. Just make sure rest of app. does not read like future prof or future scientist.

  • Dubz

    Hey Sandy, what do business schools think about prestigious but very academic scholarships and fellowships eg Fulbright, Marshall etc? Are they the equivalent to WE at blue chip companies, or do they signal misplaced academic?

  • BobTheBuilder

    Hey Sandy,

    Its me, Mr. Construction! I’m back for more – I had you review my profile about a year ago, and decided to not apply at that time, and strengthened my background, i hope. (http://poetsandquants.com/2011/12/02/handicapping-your-odds-of-getting-in-2/2/)

    I’ll just start at the top, since a lot has changed since a year ago.

    Civil Engineering Major – School like Villanova/Bucknell/Lehigh, 2.8 GPA, upward trend. I also have a Business Minor.

    Passed the FE/EIT exam (Do schools care about this?)

    White Male, 26 @ matriculation

    GMAT: 570 -> 640 -> 690 (45Q/40V) (Yes, my last GMAT was based on practice tests.. I haven’t been able to duplicate that on the real thing, though.)

    WE: 2.5+ years in the civil engineering/construction industry. 1 Promotion from Field Engineer to Project Engineer. Smallish company (Not Bechtel/URS/etc). Have great hands on experience with managing ..lets call them interesting people. By the end of my time there I was overseeing a large portion of the contract and had 25+ employees to watch on a 75 million dollar dam rehabilitation for the Army in remote Appalachia . I left to take a job at an investment management company – it is a 18 month pre-MBA job working in fixed income as well as performance attribution. I’m 1 month into my 18 month contract, so I am unable to elaborate more on this subject currently, but i’m loving the work so far. I’m also getting great experience working across all levels of fixed income (Research, Portfolio Management, S&T, Marketing.. Overall I’ll have ~ 50 months of work experience at matriculation.

    New student orientation: served for 3 years, and mentored many of the students in my group throughout the year.
    Habitat for humanity: Had leadership positions in 3 trips across the US with 10-20 students from college in remote, high need areas during spring and fall breaks.
    Special Olympics: Venue Coordinator for 3 years – Planned all the volleyball operations for special olympics weekend (largest student run SPO event in the nation).
    Yearbook Photographer
    Post Grad:
    On the recruitment board for Habitat for Humanity
    Served on the Safety board at my old job – suggested a company wide safety imitative that they still practice.
    Young Alumni Member (Villanova)
    Member ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)

    Enjoy cars – help run my friends car @ the track…kind of the pit crew for him. Also get together with a local group of “gear heads” about once a month to do car-guy stuff. (Very informal..but i enjoy it a lot)
    Travel during hurricane season up and down the east coast to surf
    Avid photographer (Not published – never tried)
    Enjoy outdoors – hunting/hiking/climbing/etc. You name it, I love to do it.

    MBA Goal (In flux, circling in on it…): I want to work in corporate finance for a F500 manufacturing/energy firm (GE? Deere? Chevron?) and work my way up the chain from there.

    Why MBA: I want to leverage my background of “hands on” work with my work, experience with government contracting, and my work in the fixed income space to work my way up the corp fin. ladder at a large company. I believe my engineering experience combined with my experience in buying/selling corporate debt allowed me to see not only how projects are built, but the financials on how they’re made possible. An MBA will provide me with the hard skills to fill in the gaps between my experience, and “round me out” on the soft skills so that I will have the tools needed to succeed.

    Why Now: Well.. for one my Contract is ending in 2014. two, I don’t want to be doing fixed income forever – I prefer to be in a company that makes something – not service. I feel that my experience allows me to see things from both sides of the spectrum, and all that is needed now is, as i mentioned before, something to fill in the gaps and brush up my soft skills.

    My “list”: Tuck, Wharton, Fuqua, Ross, Darden, Tepper, Johnson. Open to adding or subtracting schools. I realize Wharton and Tuck will be stretches, but do you think this is a good list?

    My concerns: Well the obvious concern is the GMAT/GPA combo. I am not too keen on sitting for the MBA one more time, but if thats what I have to do, I’m game. I am using the next 6 months to take 2-3 courses to help build an alternative transcript (Stats, Calculus, and maybe Accounting?). Do you think that I need to redo the GMAT? I already have a big improvement, I’m not sure how much more I can squeeze out. It seems silly to take it again for 20 +/- points. My quant is low (67th %), and I struggled during undergrad in my calculus courses. I believe this was due to overextending with my ECs + plain goofing off. I was very immature. Hopefully now that won’t squash my dreams.

  • Aditya

    Dear Sandy,

    I’m from India: first generation graduate (but not from rural areas), undergraduate+master’s in maths and stats from Indian Institute of technology (GPA 2.8 – top 25% of batch). I was involved in diverse extracurrics in college: editor of the college newspaper, fiction author, part of winning teams in national dance competitions etc. I have been working in bulge bracket bank (Morgan Stanley/Goldman Sachs) in a quantitative derivatives role for last two years, with above average performance. I’m fluent in two different Indian languages apart from English, haven’t taken GMAT yet. I’m looking to get into a program that is strong in quant and analytical skills, with the intention of returning to finance for some years, and eventually manage a VC fund.. Should I apply now or wait a couple more years? Advice will be appreciated.


  • kbnaperville

    Please handicap for EMBA program. 45+ Successful Tech sales director (Cloud computing & Cybersecurity) with 650 GMAT, Finance degree (gpa 3.3) from DePaul University has decade of success at IBM in US and UK / twice ranked at top 2% WW achievement. I seek EMBA after Exec Ed at Tuck showed me what I missed when over in UK at the ‘traditional age’ of MBA. Interested in VC career; Booth, Wharton, MIT or Duke. Booth and Wharton still reqd GMAT; thanks in advance for your guidance.

  • The Lincoln Lawyer


    I am hoping to get your thoughts on my profile. Thanks for your help and I appreciate your time.

    700 GMAT

    Undergraduate degree in finance from non-prestigious state university (GPA: 3.8)

    Masters degree in accounting from university ranked in US News top 10 business schools for accounting (GPA: 3.7)

    Law degree from university ranked in US News top 50 law schools (top 5% of class)

    Current Job – Attorney at law firm in Vault top 20. Two years of experience doing corporate law (capital markets).

    Prior Work Experience – law clerk for federal appellate court judge

    26 year old white male planning to apply during Fall 2014

    Goal: Not completely sure other than looking to explore options outside of law. Possible interests include investment banking and corporate strategy.

    Odds of Success: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Northwester, and top online programs (MBA@UNC, IU Direct, Florida, Arizona State) [random, I know, possible family situations may leave an online program as my only option]

    Thanks Again

  • artvandellay

    Hey Sandy,

    was wondering if you could critique my profile, I would greatly appreciate it!

    740 GMAT, 3.55 GPA from a well-respected, non-Ivy school (think Georgetown, USC, UCLA, UVA).

    work experience: 4 years at a large asset management firm ($400 billion+ assets under management); started out of undergrad as a junior PM, which included everything from pitching investment ideas to product management to overseeing operations and trading for the funds. Later transitioned into full-time equity research. Firm has hired MBAs from HBS, wharton, tuck, but no history of sending anyone to an MBA program, at least while I have worked there.

    extracurricular: Eagle Scout; study abroad in Rome. Worked for a professional sports team during college, helping the stadium become more environmentally friendly; assisted undergrad athletic department with game-day operations; mentor and 2 sequential leadership positions for a national nonprofit helping low-income students get into college (3 years of involvement); member of city’s young professional civic engagement group, which assists the mayor in shaping city policies. Attained CFA charter. avid sports fan, completed a marathon, and enjoy traveling to beaches all over the world (Sicily, Florida, Australia, Thailand, France, Caribbean).

    Goal: to develop a global network of intelligent investors and business contacts. long-term: to start my own investment management firm (could probably use some guidance)

  • hbsguru

    You can post a full profile, that would help.
    If you have an isolated question, like the ones about LGBT or patents, I will answer it here.

  • hbsguru

    Patents? Not a home run or a super value add to someone who works in bio-med in a research role, where getting patents is not extraordinary. Patents are worth more if you came up with the invention in your basement and then started a business. Still, better than a drunk driving arrest, fer sure, but not going to move the dial by themselves. A lot depends on how they “bring together the room,” e.g. how the patents confirm other parts of your application.

  • hbsguru

    LGBT extras are about the same as Jewish or Catholic or Islamic charity extras, solid but identity based, so not PERFECT–that requires an impact beyond yourself, not an impact on your identity group. But that is just pure extra-curric ‘theory’ –so don’t get hung up on it, what is much more important is what you do for the org, how much impact, leadership, engagement etc. How many others involved, how many $$$ raised, etc., how many laws passed. And how those extras fit in with other items in your profile, which gets a little subjective. Is leadership in an LGBT org the “rug” which brings the whole room together (the Dude abides, anyone see recent Charlie Rose Zen interview with Jeff Bridges? http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12741) or more a one-off? Hope this helps. There is little danger of being “LGBT-out” these days, and not a whole lot of extra points either. It’s part of the mix.

  • Robert S

    Hey Sandy,

    How do the top B-Schools see LGBT extracurriculars – leadership in LGBT community organisations, charity/causes and/or LGBT recruiting committees for your firm?

    Can it be a ‘gold’ extracurricular for the right story?

    Or is it neither here nor there?

    And hate to ask in 2013, but in your opinion is there any risk to exposing that side of your profile. Should the LGBT part ever be glossed over?

    Asking from the perspective of a MBB consulting profile looking for a bit more to push me over the line at H/S/W.

    Cheers and many thanks!

    Robert S

  • Mr African Consultant

    This profile looks like mine. I am an African working in strategy and operations. I blended my education with work. I have a low GPA because of the time i spend at the job. I have been promoted twice at Deloitte. I have a 163V and 160Q in the GRE.
    Extracurricullar activity. Finalist of the International Hult Case competition
    volunteered for in providing business solutions to women associations for two years and volunteered as marketing officer for international saloon for agriculture.

    goal to switch to non profit

    27 year old african

    target: yale,Tuck,Berkley Duke booth and cornell

    what are my odds

  • biotech

    This ms engineer profile is me, with a lower GMAT+ a few patents, but I’m a guy with grad and undergrad degrees in biomedical eng.

    Sandy, how do admissions folks view patents?