Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In

After spending more than two years working in a male-dominated field, managing men who were four to 40 years older than her, she is now employed as a project manager at non-profit in New York City. With a 660 GMAT and a 3.67 grade point average, this 25-year-old professional hopes to go to a top business school to help her work as a non-profit consultant.

This 26-year-old Indian male went to Stanford University for a master’s in engineering management after earning a degree in computer science from a well-known regional university in India. He now works for a Big Three consulting firm but wants an MBA to advance his career.

After graduating with honors from West Point, he served his country as an Apache platoon leader and battle captain, earning multiple awards for courage under fire and commitment to mission accomplishment. This 27-year-old man is now transitioning to civilian life after suffering injuries in a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan.

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. Strategy


  • GMAT unknown
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school
  • Work experience includes two years of consulting with Bain, two and one-half years in corporate strategy with a mid-sized financial services firm in Australia, and two and one-half years with Deloitte doing strategy consulting
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer teacher in Tanzania at an orphanage, teaching English 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
  • Extensive traveler to some 45 countries, having lived in four countries including the U.S
  • Fluent in German and English
  • 29-year-old female

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 20% to 30%

Chicago: 50%+

Northwestern: 50%+

Michigan: 60%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like including 3.7 from Ivy and what I take is career progression leading to Bain. Plus what seem like some interesting extras, including teaching in Tanzania at an orphanage (bonus points). And what appears to be real solid leadership at work, “practice development, website building, training module development, coordinated volunteerism events.” Of that list, the last one, coordinating volunteerism, probably scores highest because it is peer leadership, and you are trying to get your busy co-workers to do do-gooder stuff.

GMAT? That can be an issue, especially at Stanford, which if not a GMAT whore (more likely a pretty GMAT woman who gets drunk easily and forgets what matters most, or what she claims matters most). At Stanford, especially in the final cut of high-performing consulting types, GMATs are an easy way to make a decision. I am assuming you are currently working at Bain, if not this career progression seems odd.

Age, at 29, is also a potential issue, as is three jobs. That is one job too many for most applicants. You will need to explain all that, somehow. Are you working in Australia now? Jeepers, sure hope you are from there, if not, that would be another odd piece of data? Of the schools you list, Stanford/Booth/Kellogg/Ross, you should be real solid at all but Stanford, which is always hard, and you might think about Wharton and HBS as well.

You got a lot pros and some cons, so outcomes could be varied at top schools (H/S/W) but worth covering the waterfront. I don’t care what you want to do later in life. Just go to the best school you get into, my go-to advice unless you can make a strong case why not.

Given the ripples in this profile, this is a case where solid execution counts a bit more than your average case: you really need to explain why you’ve had three jobs and why you zigzagged from consulting to corporate and back to consulting and also how an Ivy kid winds up in Australia (if you are not native). That can be done, and you need to do it with some care and cogency. FYI, for other schools, any ol’ 700+ GMAT with even splits (near 80 pct) is fine. That is what Her Majesty Dee Leopold says about HBS and it is, for the most part, true.

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