Handicapping Your B-School Chances

startupguyMr. Environmental Engineer


  • 710 GMAT (practice)
  • 3.38 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Alabama at Huntsville
  • 4.0 GPA (master’s)
  • Master’s degree (in progress) in engineering from the University of Alabama
  • Work experience includes a year in an undergraduate co-op program with a regional design/build firm and three months as a civil engineer at a small, loccal utilities department; one and one-half years as an environmental engineer at a large engineering and technical company
  • “Work consists of environmental remediation projects for both private clients and government agencies (primarily DoD). Identified as an ‘emerging leader’ within the organization and serve as a team lead for its early career development program”
  • Extracurricular involvement during undergraduate years mentoring and tutoring at-risk children at a local school as part of an honors course on social responsibility; led a team that designed a solar-powered water disinfection method for small, remove communities (one of three teams selected nationally to present at the 2011 ASCE-EWRI World Congress); volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Alabama (mentor, STEM tutor, athletics); outdoor enthusiast (rock climbing, mountaineering)
  • “I’m a little old to not have more work experience, but I definitely fit the ‘late-bloomer’ stereotype. I meandered somewhat aimlessly for four years in undergrad, before finding my niche”
  • Short-term goal: To transition into management consulting
  • Long-term goal: To start an environmental remediation/energy resources company
  • 27-year-old white male from the U.S.

Odds of Success:

Duke: 40% to 50% (assuming in all cases, you get that 700+ GMAT)
Dartmouth: 20% to 40%
Cornell: 40% to 50%
Virginia: 40% to 50%
Michigan: 50%
Carnegie: 50%+
Texas: 50%+
Emory: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a likable and consistent story in a hot and green  area, environmental engineering and remediation (whatever that is, but you keep hearing about it), and you have the jobs and degrees to back it up. Let me get this straight, your current “full-time” job (while getting your degree)  is “Environmental Engineer at a  . . . top-5 private engineering and technical management company” where your  “work consists of environmental remediation projects for both private clients and government agencies (primarily DoD) . . . “?  Plus your are presenting  a 4.0 in your graduate degree, and a projected 710 GMAT (or even a 700 with good splits).  You also have a real active set of engagements in high-quality extras (“Led a team that designed a solar powered water disinfection method for small, remote communities . . . one of 3 teams selected nationally to present at the 2011 ASCE-EWRI World Congress . . . “) and more.

All that is  a solid profile for your target schools (Tuck, Johnson, Darden, Ross, Tepper, McCombs, Goizueta) for sure, and you might be able to do ‘better’ e.g. maybe HBS (with a solid GMAT). They might blink at the low-ish GPA given the graduate 4.0 because they like engineers, they like remediation projects, and they will be happy to have some guy from  Alabama  to add to their collection of foreign flags.  (It will go right in front of Albania.)

Wharton could go for this story  as well, for many of the same reasons. They might like to see a higher GMAT (720+).

What you can do over the next year to better your chances is excel at work, which you appear to be doing, and keep up your extras. But mostly this will turn on work performance, stay with that big company.  Environmental remediation is a field with a lot of small and medium sized companies and it really helps to work for a Big 5.   You also need to get super recs and show  technical leadership and steady advancement up the green company food chain. You got a totally solid and winning story, just keep it going.