Berkeley Haas | Mr. Looking To Learn
GMAT 760, GPA 3.0
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Second Chances
GRE 310, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Social Impact CPA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Future Gates Foundation
GMAT 720, GPA 7.92
Wharton | Mr. Infrastructure
GMAT 770, GPA 3.05
MIT Sloan | Mr. Data Mastermind
GMAT N/A; will be taking in May, GPA 3.6
USC Marshall | Mr. Utilitarian Mobility
GMAT 740, GPA 2.67
London Business School | Mr. Aussie Analyst
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Sustainable Real Estate
GRE SAT 1950 (90th Percentile), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Bassist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.61
Cornell Johnson | Mr. IT To IB
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Ms. URM
GRE 325, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Stay Involved
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Green Business
GMAT 680, GPA 3.33; 3.9 for Masters
NYU Stern | Mr. Military Officer
GRE In Progress, GPA 2.88
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Commercial Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55

What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

Mr. Civil Servant


  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.08 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in international affairs from George Washington University
  • 3.5 GPA (master’s)
  • Master’s degree in international relations from a top 10 U.K. university
  • Work experience will include one and one-half years doing contract policy advising in Washington and London; one year at a Big Four firm (EY, PwC, KPMG) as a management consultant in London, and three years as a policy adviser/analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense, including a deployment to Afghanistan as a civilian adviser
  • “I have been promoted twice in this time and have been informed I will receive another promotion this summer”
  • Interned during college years in both the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as Parliament in the U.K. and finally at the White House
  • Extracurricular involvement includes crew in college; continue to row on a masters team now; volunteer coach for the crew team at a local high school; volunteer at a quarterly adult learn-to-row program; also involved with and volunteered and fundraised for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Help for Heroes, both charities that support veterans.
  • Goal: To transition to a top consulting job in an aerospace and defense sector practice or to work in internal strategy for a major defense corporation

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 35% to 40%

Dartmouth: 40% to 50%

Yale: 40% to 45%

Columbia: 30% to 40%

Duke: 50+%

Northwestern: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, deeply-likeable profile with a diverse and interesting set of stories, with touches of gold flake (Senate and White House internships in college, British and U.S. civil service gigs, rowing, Wounded Warriors and field work in Afghanistan). On the boo-boo side, to adcoms, not me, is low GPA at so-so college, gut major (which you followed up on and made honest) and OK grad school performance. 710 GMAT is a good one, and a real solid anchor, amid a lot of one-off gigs and contract work.

Your path forward, short term, is rock solid and I could not have said it better:  “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.).”  As for long-term goals, I would build out some BS on top of that, to wit, wanting to reform, green, innovate and lead in that sector. Huh, what does that mean? Do some homework. One dirty little secret of admissions essay crafting  is that a Google search, say for “Innovation + Aerospace”, is often the frist step on the high road to success.  That way you become a real nice guy, teaching rowing to high schoolers and geezers, with lots of Brit/US civil service experience, a 710 GMAT, and a pipe full of buzzwords about reforming aero/weapons– a very enticing picture. Wharton is not a Hail Mary (as you suggested). It is more like a really long field goal, given that there is lots to like here. The GMAT can shut up the doubters, and you seem deeply like a future consulting success story.

All that goes more at Tuck, where they totally go for rowers, DOD types, and nice guys. Columbia might go for this but they are most likely to balk at low-ish stats and zig-zag work history. Your projected success as a consultant will appeal to them. Yale is small and so it has less room for hunches about  nice guys but there is enough there as well. Fuqua and Kellogg go for regular guys like you.

A lot will depend on execution and interviews — you need to present yourself as being as likeable as your best features. It’s easy to read this and see a guy jumping around from 2nd tier schools and jobs with low GPAs. It is also easy to take a close look and say, “Jeepers, I like this guy.”  You need to provoke the 2nd response by dint of story and recs.

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.