Handicapping Your B-School Chances

spyMr. Intel Dude


  • 690 GMAT (Q 44, V 39)
  • 2.97 GPA (on an upward slope)
  • Undergraduate degree in marketing at a state university
  • Work experience includes four years as a cryptologic linguist for the U.S. Air Force and NSA, with a six-month deployment in Afghanistan
  • “I basically created intelligence products for the intelligence community in a process not all that different from business I would imagine”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a top secret security clearance member of the American Marketing Association my senior year, volunteer at food shelters my freshman year, accountability monitor keeping track of over 100 airmen
  • Proficient in Korean
  • 27-year-old African American male

Odds of Success:

Northwestern: 30% to 40%
Chicago: 25% to 30%
Michigan: 40% to 50%
Texas: 40% to 50%
Indiana: 50% to 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, file this under Things Which Sound Interesting for 30 Minutes, which is actually a long time, but time enough to learn that cryptology is real technical and now being increasingly done by computers (I’m making this up, but my guess is, the truth is something similar to that) and that after the smoke clears, what we got here is an African-American Air Force vet with a combat zone deployment bonus, and a 690 GMAT  and a 2.7 with some techy sounding crypto jobs which leads one to believe that not much you encounter in business school is going to stop you, despite the low GPA.

Chicago may not swallow that, although scores in quant courses in college will count a lot (you have not reported those). Kellogg will love everything about this except the GPA.  Ross, UT-Austin and Indiana will be tilted in your favor because they are veteran friendly, you are interesting, and a 690 GMAT, especially for a male, African-American, is not chopped liver.

You note that grades got better, but were they in quant courses? Your story leans towards marketing interests and marketing today is often, fairly or not, where math-challenged types gravitate (I know, real marketing these days is becoming data crunching. But not everyone got that memo.)

One thing that could really help is putting this together in some way that inevitably leads to an MBA. You said, of your cryptologic experiences in the Air Force, “I basically created intelligence products for the intelligence community in a process not all that different from business I would imagine.” I have no idea what that means. You really need to make that more clear, to the degree you can while keeping your security clearances. Which strikes me as a lot.

You said one thing you did in the Air Force was act as an “accountability monitor, keeping track of over 100 Airmen.” That is a plus, for real. Get some plausible goals, gather up your solid leadership experiences, and explain in some simple way what you did for the Air Force. Shine the  quant part of your  story to the max, you got a lot to like.