Handicapping Your B-School Chances

guyMr. Brewer


  • 620 GMAT (planning to retake)
  • GPA in top 15%
  • Undergraduate degree in business administration from a prestigious school in Brazil
  • Work experience includes starting two successful businesses after graduation: a firm brings together smaller wholesalers together to allow for large common purchases of raw materials; employs three and plan to open another office soon; and a brewery launched with partners and two employees that sells four beers year round and some seasonal brews; received prize for the best beer brewed in our state;
  • Extracurricular involvement as a class representative in college, a home brewer of craft beer, an active member of the trade association for beer
  • “I work hard to spread the beer culture around us. I have also taught a lot of people how to brew a good beer.”
  • 24-year-old Brazilian male

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 30% to 35%

New York U: 30% to 40%

Virginia: 40% to 50%

MIT: 30% to 40%

Columbia: 20% to 30%

Wharton: 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: A guy from Brazil who is 24 with good grades from a leading Brazilian university who started two smallish businesses (if I am reading this right), one a small craft brewery (two employees and four beers) and the second a commodity purchasing company (with three employees) would be an attractive candidate for many business schools.

The actual note you sent was either rushed or reflects only minimally serviceable English writing skills. If your TOEFL score is real low or if the verbal part of the GMAT is below 50 percent, that could raise a real flag. How do you think you will do in an interview?

Assuming you get past that, and get a GMAT with OK splits in the 660-680 range,  and the businesses you allude to in your note are for real, I’d say you have a solid chance at Sloan because they like guys from Brazil. You seem like a cool guy (hey, you make beer!) and you probably will be able to signal to them, and other schools,  that you won’t need them to get you a job.

That plus, however,  does raise the issue of why you want an MBA in the first place? That is another key issue for you. If you say that you plan to go back to Brazil and become a big shot in the rampantly growing Brazilian Beverage Industry (the fact that beer and other beverages colossus  AB InBev is partially a Brazilian company adds credence to this, somehow, don’t ask me why, I guess it means folks in Brazil drink liquids, strange to say!) Just spin out your story of expanding both your companies, merging with other companies, taking over other guys, extending your product line to include all kinds of craft drinks and even diet food. Just make it credible, structured, and clear that you GOT A JOB WAITING and are ONLY getting an MBA to learn state-of-the-art management and leadership while meeting  mentors and partners who will help you ramp up your already begun Brazil bev companies.  Let them also believe that a reason you want an MBA is to  start the most wicked craft brew club in North and South America at their very campus!

Tuck will go for the beer club, that is for certain. Beer?  Yes! GREs? Maybe. They are  likely, as are other schools,  to drink the beverage entrepreneur Kool-Aid story we have mixed up since you  actually have a solid foundation of accomplishment behind it. You have already started two businesses in the beverage space. Darden will also go for this, if only to keep up their boozy reputation. That is to say a reputation as being a school where future business leaders imbibe  the golden truths of business leadership while sharing in amber (and clear and red and white) beverages as part of a balanced experience.

If you are able to solve the GMAT and language issues, and spin this out in a convincing way, you could also think about places like Columbia and Wharton. Brazil is a really hot place to come from right now and you hold out the promise of being the real Brazil Kid (whatever that means) versus the “usual” Brazil kids who went to prep school and college in USA and work for McKinsey or Goldman, and have no idea how to get from Vila Mariana to Botujuru on the Sao Paulo Metro.  (I just looked that up :-), are these subways or bus lines or both http://www.metro.sp.gov.br/pdf/mapa-da-rede-metro.pdf? )