Calculating Your Odds of MBA Admission

A competitive figure skater until the age of nine, this 27-year-old Asian-American woman is an investment banking associate at a Bulge Bracket bank. With a 750 GMAT and a 3.3 grade point average from a top public university, she hopes to use the MBA to break into asset management.

After a stint on Capitol Hill as a deputy press secretary for a much admired Senator, she became a communications manager for a major K Street association. With a 680 GMAT and a 3.81 GPA from a respected liberal arts college in the south, this 29-year-old female professional expects an MBA will help her make the transition into consulting.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of

With an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, this 23-year-old Indian male has racked up nearly two years with a Big Three consulting firm. With a 780 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA, he’s planning to go to business school to help him start his own consulting firm that would focus on the needs of small-to-medium sector companies.

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 in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, 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 usual, 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, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s tell-it-like-it-is assessment:


Figure Skater Turned I-Banker


  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.3 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in political science from a top public university (Berkeley/UCLA/UMich/UVA)
  • Work experience includes one year as an investment banking associate at a lower-ranked Bulge Bracket bank
  • “I was a competitive figure skater since the age of nine, and while in middle school and high school, I was ranked nationally and internationally. Thus, school was never a priority; not only was I a part-time student, I also missed school for weeks at a time for competitions and to train with Olympic-level coaches around the country.” Quit due to injury.
  • Extracurricular involvement as treasurer and secretary of school’s Figure Skating Club, now teaching mentally  handicapped children to skate; interned with a well-known Congressman
  • “While interning 40 hours a week, I studied at Georgetown as a visiting student and received second honors. I decided I hated politics and turned to finance, landing an internship at a well-known elite boutique the following summer as a summer analyst in the bank’s asset management branch”
  • Goal: To break into asset management, a field where she had been a summer intern at an elite boutique
  • 27-year-old Asian American female

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth (my absolute dream school): 40% to  50%
Columbia: 30% to 45%
Chicago: 30% to 45%
Wharton: 20%+
Harvard: 20%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, lots to like here. Everyone loves figure skaters, especially highly accomplished ones, and “teaching mentally handicapped children to figure skate” is a heart-winning extra that could make a powerful essay in several contexts. Deciding that you hate politics after working in it is also a plus in many quarters, provided that you also achieve success in something else, which it seems you have done since you are getting along just fine at what you describe as a “lower-ranked Bulge Bracket.”

I would just call that place a bulge bracket, but point taken, e.g. if it is NOT on PQ’s lists of most popular feeder firms to top schools. Working for the figure skating team after injuries forced you out as a competitor is also a halo of some kind, not enough to change your fate any place, but as part of a very winning package, real solid. We get the idea, you are one of those actually nice people. And that, and a 750 GMAT, and what looks like an alternative transcript from Georgetown (I am not sure what second honors are? 3.6??? ) maybe  enough to bury your 3.3 from college.

NOTE: For those readers with similarly bad  GPAs which need burying, pay attention: we are talking about burying a low GPA  with a 750 GMAT and an alternative transcript. And a 3.3 is NOT a 2.7. So, what we got here is a pretty solid package in terms of work, GMATs, and a forgivable GPA.

As to your goals, “my decision for pursuing an MBA is to break into asset management because I enjoyed it as a summer intern while at the elite boutique.” Hmmmmm, not critical, but what you do mean by ”asset management?” If it is managing money for rich people, an acceptable calling in my eyes, you might think twice about overly committing to that, at least on paper, since top schools (H/W/S) look down on that a bit as being less selective than ‘straight’ investment banking.

At Dartmouth, you can get a feel for how they break down finance types from  their Class of 2012 Employment Statistics where, in a section called “Base Salaries By Industry,” they list the future jobs of  22 “Financial Services” grads into the following sub-groups:

Investment banking 10
Investment management 4
Private equity, venture capital  4
Other 4

Yet another section of the same report, “Base Salary By Function,” has a smaller group (don’t ask me why) called “Finance” with 20 grads and these numbers, by function:

Private equity, venture capital–6
Underwriting, advising–6
Corporate finance–4
Investment, private wealth management–3
Sales and trading –1.

I’m sure there is some explanation,  or passable excuse,  as to why the groups are differently defined and sized, and why, in one there are four grads in private equity and in the other six, but I don’t care. “Close enough for business school work,” as they often say about the government.

For YOUR purposes, both charts give you and readers an idea of what “Finance” types wind up doing at schools like Tuck: the vast majority do what we will call loosely IB and PE and a small runt of the litter does private wealth management and  “investment” (whatever that means). There is one poor bastard doing “Sales and Trading,” which as noted in a later profile below,  is not what folks go to business school for.

Apologies to my own broker and thanks for stocking me up on “Bitcoins” at a market peak because they seemed “weird like me.”

As to getting in to  Dartmouth, your first choice, the school  is banking friendly, friendly to social types like you, and, hey, and the baseline GPA/GMAT is 3.49/717 plus, semi-secret here,  they are  more convinced of your stats mojo by your GMAT than your GPA, so I’d say, for a gal with a 3.3, things looking possible over there.

Columbia, Booth, Wharton and Harvard? Columbia + Booth will go for the 750, might blink at the GPA, and will be taken with your story the way all schools will. At Columbia apply before December 1st, even if not ED (early decision). They have a habit of eating fast over there, and not eating any more once they are full.

Wharton will be the most difficult outside of HBS because they get lots of finance/banking apps like yours, some of them with stronger stats and work history. But, for sure, you are solid enough to be in the running.

HBS is worth the trouble, you may get lucky. A lot could turn on recs, how you present yourself (I would not say asset management over there) and how much you can combine your skating career and its ups and downs, your goals, and your  super nice personality  into stardust.  Always an iffy process, on the throwing and receiving end, but you got enough to work with.

  • Too Kind

    Hi Sandy,
    Do I get into HSW?
    I am African,
    3.58 GPA, Business Administration. Had challenges that affected my studies but do not want to shout about it. 3.88 in my final semester when problems eased.
    Did 18months business development in Africa for New York based boutique investment bank. Had fours work experience before bachelors education.
    Masters degree in Finance & Law from European School (7/10 final grade)
    Eight (8) months internship in venture capital, 6 months at a bank and presently a compliance Advisor at another bank: all in Europe.
    GMAT 710 (Expected)
    Age is 32 (too old?)
    Extras: Tutored colleagues at college, Merit Scholarship, Adult Bible Class Teacher for 10 years.
    Interested in HSW, Dartmouth, MIT, Columbia, Yale, Emory.

  • Sugu

    Hi Sandy,

    Your posts have been incredibly helpful, and I would love your input on my profile:

    I am a 26 year old Asian-Indian from New York City.

    – BSE, Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor
    – GPA: 3.65 (Magna Cum Laude)
    – GMAT: 720 (Retake?)

    Work Experience:
    – 4 years with Accenture as a Systems Integration & Technology Consultant
    o Project experiences include work in application development, system implementation, and digital analytics
    o Individual role experiences have evolved from technical to more functional positions with heavy client exposure as well as experience managing an offshore team in China.

    – Managed 70+ person Accenture Volunteer Committee to organize, publicize, and participate in 30+ community service initiatives (soup kitchens, walk-a-thons, community clean-ups, etc.) with 15+ non-profit organizations.
    – Led $20,000 fundraising campaign to help build and implement clean and safe water solutions in Kenya, Uganda, India, and Malawi through a New York-based non-profit organization.
    – Organized Accenture-sponsored Blood Drive through local New York blood bank acquiring 29 blood donations for 87 people in need. ·

    MBA Goals
    – Short Term: Transition from Technology Consulting to Strategy Consulting.
    – Long Term: Technology Strategy or General Management role in the Non-Profit space. Ideally, I would like to integrate Technology into the way Non-Profit organizations operate so that they can better address their cause.

    – Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Columbia, NYU

    Thank you very much for your consideration.

  • Guest

    Sandy –

    I am from India ,

  • joe

    Hi Sandy,

    I would like you to assess my profile
    GMAT: 710+ (expected)
    GPA: 7.4/10 from an IIT, (highest gpa in my class was 8.8/10) (screwed up my GPA in first 2 years due to a long absence from college on account of a severe medical condition)

    24 year old Indian female.

    work exp: 1+ years with an automotive giant in supply chain management

    extracurriculars: working with underprivileged children and differently abled people

    interested in: Kellogg MMM program

    Why MBA: so that I am able to start out on my own and contribute to Indian industry scenario

    (this is a very brief description of my bio, but it covers the major points)

  • user

    How does Mr ITT report a 780 score with (51%Q/46%V)

  • Mr. Retail

    Hi hbsguru,

    I was curious to know how B Schools will perceive a job in retail analytics in Oracle. The job involves lots of statistical analysis, and will be based in India. The job is more like creating value assessment cases for potential clients using intense statistics on their company data. However, there wont be any client interaction per se. Oracle is not so much a selective company in India for software related roles, but the analytics teams don’t hire fresh graduates a lot, and seem to be slightly selective.

    What’s your view ?

  • Maya

    Hi Sandy! Love this series, really helps me better understand the admissions process. Here’s my profile:

    Female Singaporean (ethnic Indian) (yes, I’m from a pretty small country)

    740 GMAT (48Q, 42V)
    Electrical Engineering major with approx 3.46 GPA (approx because my university uses a 5-point scale) from top local university ranked world top 10 for my major. Had a couple of Bs in first year math classes but won awards like dean’s list in my last 2 years.

    Spent a summer at an Ivy League in a class on sustainability. This class inspired me to join a local environmental non-profit. I now have been volunteering there for 3 years, initiating and leading some of their projects. Got the chance to collaborate with government organizations and energy companies through these projects.

    2.5 years work experience at a Fortune 500 high tech semiconductor company. Got hired after winning an award from them for my engineering thesis. Job involves a lot of statistical analysis and collaboration across different departments.

    Goal: Transition into the energy/sustainability industry in an innovation/ strategy role.

    The schools I’m still considering are Stanford (should I even bother?), Booth, Kellogg (maybe their MMM program), MIT, Berkeley, Michigan, Duke, Carnegie Mellon. I want to apply to dual degrees in MBA and sustainability/environment where they are offered. Or emphasize my interest in the relevant concentrations if they don’t have dual degree programs.


  • JW

    Hi Sandy, thank you for your continued insight in to the MBA admission process.

    I am fully sponsored by my company, a global boutique investment bank (H/S/W alumni), to pursue an MBA. I unfortunately have a low GPA (2.01).

    Generally, how does company sponsorship affect one’s odds of being admitted into a top MBA program?

  • sam


    Asian -Nepali

    325 GRE Q-165 V-160

    CGPA- 7.5/10 Civil Engineering,Top 10 Government Engineering College,India having many Harvard alums

    Extra curriculars-

    Average during my stay in college

    Work Experience-

    5 months-Hydro power Construction(Nepal Government Project)

    4 Months -Hydro power Project Development in Energy Department at a national bank,
    Working as a fellow at Teach for Nepal, will apply to business schools after that

    Goal- move to Consulting in Renewable Energy or non profit sectors








  • Michael

    *730 Gmat

  • Michael

    Hello Sandy,

    I would love to hear from you about my chances of getting into some of the more international MBA programs such as Insead.

    18 year old (skipped a few years) white male / Grew up on 2 continents

    3.5 GPA at an Ivy League (after community college)

    Undergraduate degree in Business Administration
    2.5 Years at a global management consulting firm (small but well known. Glowing LOR from CEO/Founder)
    Extracurriculars were excellent
    Good LOR from professors
    Semester + Summer Abroad (Italy and Germany)
    Trilingual (knows 3 languages)

    Planning to go to MBA right after college (with work exp) and into international business.

    Thank you in advance for any information and help.

  • Mike

    Wonderful story…it brought a tear to my eye as I recalled my own childhood and the sacrifices my parents made. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Mike Lee

  • hbsguru
    Nice New York Times video of kid who wrote a moving college admission essay, it is that easy if you got the story and can tell it.


  • RepeatMBA


    Could you give me an assessment of the following profile (2nd MBA):

    Gmat 750
    Engineering Undergraduate from top indian school gpa 3.2
    Graduate degree in management from top indian school cgpa 7.24/10.0
    8 years of extensive experience in real estate financing

    Targeting top 10 colleges in US.

  • aeroengineer

    Hey Sandy,

    Really appreciate the series and this entire website. It definitely helped me figure out a lot of the application process. I applied to a deferred entry for Stanford but didn’t get it. I plan to apply again either later this year or next year, but this time to a whole bunch of school. I hear things like Haas and Duke being slightly friendlier to engineering types, and I was hoping to get an idea of where I should be applying to for the best chances of acceptance

    I want to get an MBA so that I complete my skill-set, and will then possess communication, analytical and business skills. The most important thing to me would be to ensure that what I do for the next few years will make me appealing to top MBA schools. Currently waiting on jobs at various big name aerospace firms, and start-up companies of all types on the West Coast.

    Mr. Aerospace Engineer
    740 GMAT
    3.79 GPA in Aerospace Engineering from one of the best schools in the Nation
    Minor in Communications
    Rose through the ranks and elected Editor-in-Chief of the college newspaper
    Completed 2 years in the army as part of the draft
    Did an internship with Aviation Authorities
    Awarded Who’s who amongst American Colleges and Universities
    25-year-old South-East Asian (2 years draft makes me older)

    Stanford has always been a dream for me, but I’m now looking at Berkeley and UCLA, just so that I can actually be accepted somewhere. I’m open to suggestions about where to go.

  • Myra

    Hey Sandy,

    I’ll be applying to B-School with a degree in Business Administration from a
    good (not Oxbridge/ LSE but right below) university in the UK. I have a first-class degree, which is equivalent to a GPA of around 3.75. However, in the UK the final year counts for
    70 % of my grade, my second year count for only 30% of my grade and my first
    year does not count at all. I didn’t really put in much effort in my first
    year-and-a-half, and my grades were mediocre, including one failure (in a quant
    course). However, my grades rose very steeply in the second half of my degree and I have a 740 GMAT.

    I graduated last year, and plan to apply to B-School in 2 years’ time. I work with my family business in China, and I’m leading several initiatives for re-structuring the company’s various processes and have seen significant improvements in different areas of the business, thanks to my effort. As for extra-curriculars, I teach financial literacy to underprivileged women in my city in China, as a volunteer at an NGO that aims to make migrant, female Chinese workers more financially educated and aware of their options for furthering their career.

    I would like to apply to Wharton, Columbia and Cornell, but do I simply not
    stand a chance at all because of the failed course on my transcript and my
    working with the family business and not a brand-name company? Is there anything I can do over the next 2 years to improve my chances? Thank you so much for your input.

  • hbsguru

    Harvard Law School to accept college juniors, with STEM kids preferred, Dee Leopold at HBS says ‘HEY, THAT’S MY IDEA!!!!” Can Yale Law School be far behind? Soon you will apply to medical school fr. 4th grade.

  • jprosario

    Hey Sandy –

    Would appreciate an assessment on my profile:

    – 730 GMAT

    – 3.7 GPA from top 50 college (finance/accounting major)

    – 1.5 years at a Big Four (in consulting group)

    – 1 year at start up in NYC (company flopped)

    – Presently at a well known pre-ipo tech company in a finance/ops role

    – CPA

    – On the youth board of a non-profit that teaches business skills to inner city youth

    – 25 year old hispanic male (born outside the US, grew up in the northeast)

    – Goal: Become an influential figure in the start-up world (VC or executive level of a growing company)

    Top schools:

    – Stanford

    – Haas

    – Harvard

    – Columbia

    Aiming to apply in 2 years or so. Anything I can do to improve my profile?


  • hbsguru
    pretty funny HBS version of the “I’m on a boat” meme with very good looking students on that boat. Even the one left behind is cute.

  • hbsguru

    Another in a rash of stupid getting off the WailtList stories: why don’t these IDIOT reporters ask the hateful adcoms how come they don’t publish stats about how many kids were on WL for past five years and how many got in, and, basically, why? I realize it is fluid and stressful, but adcoms actually ENJOY the black box part of it, it supports their uber paradigm that admissions is just a mystery, and I am in charge of that mystery, sorta like the Holy Ghost. It should not be too much to demand that b schools w. WL (that is all schools) publish stats about size of WL and past outcomes–and how many of those admitted, basically did nothing more than affirm their interest, which is what schools ask. . That might not reduce anxiety but it would convince applicants that adcoms were being fair and professional and not their often casual and happily careless selves.

    On a College Wait List? Sending Cookies Won’t Help


    Students are bombarding their dream schools with baked goods, craft
    projects and dossiers of testimonials in an effort to get an edge — and
    get off the waiting list.

  • JMike

    Hi Sandy,

    I would really appreciate some insight on my profile.

    -White Male

    -3.1 GPA in Econ from well ranked state school

    -730 GMAT (not great splits, 99% verbal, 67% math)

    -Work Experience – 5 years w/ a large, publicly traded engineering company

    -Came on in fast track rotational program, did 6 month placements in US, UK, China and Brazil. Then worked in business development for 2 years in Brazil, promoted to manage the team of 9 after 1 year. Recently promoted again to global business development role back in the US.

    -Fluent in Portuguese and Spanish

    -Extracurricular as a mentor for under privileged students, and a Brazilian equivalent of Habitat for Humanity. Also give corporate ethics training globally at my company.

    -GPA explanation – I never graduated high school, and left school and home when I was 16. I later got my GED, and worked my way full time through college. I didn’t have the maturity to really focus until later in life, after finding a career, getting married, etc.

    -Goals – To work in consulting, helping companies and brands to expand strategically in growing markets. I worked in several different divisions of my company, and can point to success in new market development.

    -Target schools – HBS (I know it’s a reach), Berkeley, UCLA and UT.


  • steve

    Hi Sandy, would appreciate the evaluation

    white male, 27, no masters degree

    680 GMAT (45Q/38V)

    3.2 GPA at service academy, economics major

    5 years as a nuclear submarine officer, currently an executive aide to a 3 star admiral in DC

    desired schools
    Wharton, Tuck, Darden, Duke, NYU

  • hbsguru

    oh boy, a famous psychic is debunked!!!!! I hope this wont be me.

    Sylvia Browne’s Cleveland Fail
    The famous clairvoyant’s unflappable certainty has finally caught up with her
    in the Cleveland kidnapping case�she said Amanda Berrry was dead. Other mediums
    saw trouble coming, so why didn’t she? The Daily Beast’s Winston Ross talks to
    psychics about the flop.

    it at The Daily Beast

  • hbsguru

    Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom on What Really Happened When Facebook Bought Instagram
    Good story in Vanity Fair about the founding and later sale of Instagram to FB for $1B.
    Success Porn for Friday with lots of VC detail.

  • hbsguru

    thanks, I’m no Inside Google expert, but that is exactly what I am talking about, a part of Goog with huge head count and iffy although sure, competitive jobs, for kids, my guess, who did not get jobs w. McKinsey, Goldman, The World Bank or TFA (possible you could turn down a job at TFA for adwords, but….). I think to jet your way out of AdWords into Stanford B school you would need some amazing success story at AdWords, rapid promotion, and solid GPA and GMATs to boot. My guess is, such a story wld be an outlier. It is possible that AdWords, like Big 3 Accounting companies, could be a place where Stan. looks for URM’s, viz. the perennial admit to Stanford of the A-A Big 3 woman.
    I don’t mean to be snarky, but I am sure AdWords etc. is competitive for

    non-elite grads, and that means lotsa good people, but you get the idea.
    If anyone has contra data or anecdotes, I am all ears. I see the resumes of 150-250 kids per year who have made it to the interview stage at H and S, and I ain’t ever seen ONE fr. AdWords.

  • lex

    What about the vast majority of 22-27 year olds who work at Google in AdWords? About half I know work in a “customer service+” role, and the other half in sales. How do b-school adcoms view those types of roles? Google is still really competitive to get a job, even for those types of roles.

  • hbsguru

    ok, as to Stanford, you may have a point, Google is NOT listed in PQ survey of top feeder firms to Stanford,
    AND ODDLY, NEITHER IS ANY “TECH” or even tech retail COMPANY. including MSFT, Oracle, or Amazon, etc. I am not sure why, but I think it has more to do with PQ methodology and small numbers at Stanford, than “reality,”– all you need to do to get on the PQ top 30 list as a feeder company to Stanford is have 3 kids from the company in the class, I dunno, I got a feeling there are 3 Googlers at Stanford, even if they did not turn up in the PQ surveys of LinkedIn, FB etc.

    And even if there are not, I stilll stand with my point, that Google would be a good place to apply from, PROVIDED, you have a selective Google job. E.g cert anything in Biz. Development (and a prior job in IB) OR Product Management (typically a post MBA job, but if you are on that ladder) any engineering job which shows career advancement (to lead, or manager) and is more than glorified coding.

    This raises an impt issue if you want to compare working at Google vs. Working for IB or MBB–at IB or MBB you either got a selective job as associate or (with a few exceptions, in say Wealth Management or maybe HR) you are not applying to B school. There is no vast middle ground. At Google, there are just more people absolutely, and there is the tech track which may be hard for B schools to get a handle on. SO what your chances are at Stanford if you went to Level 2 uni, and majored in CS, and got ok grades, and then worked for GOOG as some kinda techie for 2-3 yrs, hmmmm, that could be tuff, without more. Anyone???

  • hbsguru

    ????–It is #5 at HBS see below

    Top Feeder Companies to Harvard B-School
    by John A. Byrne
    Harvard Business School’s Top Feeder Companies
    Estimated % ofClass of 2013
    Estimated Number inClass of 2012
    Number Found in Facebook

    1. McKinsey & Co. New York, NY

    2. Bain & Co. Boston, MA

    3. Boston Consulting Group Boston, MA

    4. Booz New York, NY

    5. Deloitte New York, NY

    5. Google Mountain View, CA

  • twentytwelve

    Hi Sandy — you call Google an Ultra Blue Chip company, but I know its not one of the Stanford or HBS top feeder companies. Any note about why its Ultra Blue Chip but not a top feeder company? Thank you!

  • hbsguru

    Report fr. the Hedge Fund Fun Gathering in Las Vegas, a must read for HF fans.

    The hedge fund faithful, more than 1,800 strong, have come here for
    the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT. Held over four days,
    SALT is a Wall Street schmooze-fest. This year’s lineup of speakers
    features the investors Daniel S. Loeb and John Paulson, the politicians Nicolas Sarkozy and Leon Panetta, and the entertainers Oliver Stone and Al Pacino.

    It is also a matchmaking service, with funds peddling their services
    to the world’s richest investors, and the world’s richest investors
    seeking out the next superstar manager. And this being Sin City, it is,
    perhaps above all else, a good time.

    The ringmaster of this spectacle is Mr. Scaramucci, a Goldman Sachs
    alumnus with a Harvard Law degree whom many simply call “the Mooch.” In
    an industry known for reclusive traders and math geeks, the boyish Mr.
    Scaramucci, 49, is Wall Street’s first hedge fund impresario, a P.T.
    Barnum in a Ferragamo tie. In a gilded industry that has preferred to
    stay below the radar, Mr. Scaramucci embraces the white-hot center of it

  • nolitan

    Sandy –

    How about a slightly modified version of this game? I just finished up my application cycle and I’m curious to see if you can guess my results. Here’s my profile:

    White Male
    780 GMAT
    3.65 GPA at a top-couple liberal arts school
    4 years economic consulting (top firm)
    1.5+ years cleantech (relatively well-known firm)
    Varsity Athlete and Teaching Assistant in school, minimal EC’s post-school
    Goal – Move into HF investing

    Schools (All R2 and submitted in early January):

  • hbsguru



    One student told others on a school listserv to “Watch out!” Another suggested giving us bogus names. Another called for a “boycott” — and apparently his classmates complied.

    This reaction seems peculiar to Yale Law, as we got nothing but positive responses when contacting students at Harvard Law, Harvard Business School, and various undergraduate colleges.

    Yale Law promotes itself as a place where “a spirit of collaboration reigns.” Students don’t get grades, as all classes are honors/pass/low-pass — that’s right, no failing.

    Read more:

  • hbsguru

    2+2 programs at both HBS and Stanford (deferred admision) go for dudes like you (assuming 720+ GMAT), e.g. accomplished STEM types with mix of research and industry experience, and some solid extras as well such as computer camp for teen girls, etc. Hearing loss is an interesting angle as well, sounds like Stan 1 material.

    My advice wld be continue to get good grades –that is like ITEM ! on your agenda.

    Taking semester off to work for Ultra Blue Chip company like GOOG is OK, but prob not for any company, altho that is a tuff call. HBS is looking for smart and sorta lost kids in terms of what they want to do, altho you need a good elevator pitch about goals, spending too much time worknig for no-name start up might get them thinking you are ACTUALLY SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START A COMPANY which is not their favorite type, since they cannot do much for them (despite trying –admissions’ view of this is diff than faculty, and my guess is, admissions is right. ) So only take semester off to work for Google or Microsoft, and even then, you might be better doing that in reg. summer gig.

    Anyway, guys like you get in and dinged depending on execution, luck,. recs and not blowing the interview at HBS.

    Sheryl Sandberg is good role model to a point, but save her for the gals, find your own male role model.

  • Jon

    Hey Sandy,

    I’m a huge fan, you have been so helpful! I know I am young, but I was wondering about 2+2 and Stanford deferred.

    I am a 20-year old white male

    GPA: 3.7

    GMAT: 720 (projected)

    I just finished sophomore year and I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Physics at a Big 10 University (not Michigan or Northwestern)

    I spent last summer working as a researcher in a physics lab doing work in lasers and nuclear fusion

    I will spend this summer doing research in data mining and parallel processing at a prestigious university in Germany on a scholarship.

    I consult for nonprofits as a member of a student group.

    I was invited to be an alternative energy spokesperson for the Obama campaign at a (small) press conference.

    I have a hearing loss in both ears, however I am fully mainstreamed. In fact, most people do not notice my hearing loss when I first meet them.

    I founded a computer science outreach camp for middle school girls.

    I have interest from a large, reputable tech firm (Google/Microsoft/Amazon/Apple) as a software engineering internship next summer and I am strongly considering taking a semester off to get more work experience. (Taking a semester off would give me two more internships before I apply: the semester and another summer. However, this would delay my application one year)

    Prior to getting my MBA, I want to work in software engineering for several years. After getting my MBA, I want to become a product manager and eventually become an executive with a large tech firm. I aspire to a Sheryl Sandberg-like position, where I am an executive at a major firm while also actively working to alleviate a significant problem in society (most likely women in CS or access to CS education for American students, hopefully those won’t still be issues by then!)

    Any info for HBS 2+2 and Stanford GSB deferred.would be greatly appreciated. I am also curious about Booth, Kellogg, Dartmouth, Haas, MIT and H/S/W regular admission assuming that I got that software engineering job at a major company for several years.

    Also, should I take the semester off?

  • Saevo

    Hi Sandy,

    Huge fan, love your articles! If you could send some thoughts on my profile it would be much appreciated!

    Age: 25

    Mixed race Korean/Scotch Irish… first to graduate college in my family

    GMAT: 710 (2nd attempt… first was 670)

    GPA: 3.69 B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineer at public university

    WE: I’m a graduate from a very very large international engineering firm’s two year leadership program in technical marketing. (four 6 month rotations in different business units, different roles, different geographic locations), was promoted “off program” into a marketing consultant role, where I got a unique opportunity to develop and execute strategies for an emerging vertical market. I have been promoted in this current role 1.5 years after being off program. Currently management would like me to apply the strategic framework I’ve developed against five other vertical markets. It’s strategic marketing with a splash of business development and sales reporting. With my new promotion I now have a small marketing budget ($30k) to manage.

    I also have a high chance at an international assignment for 3 years in Europe summer of 2014. I really want to do business school, but feel this may be a good back up if I can’t get into any schools the first time around. I lucked out and got the ear of the U.S. CEO, and I’m being prepared for a “leadership experience” where I’ll be given team resources to manage a project for BU management, to be executed hopefully by September/October.

    EC: I founded an Asian Employee Resource Group where I work about 3 years ago, and grew it from 6 members to 430 across 5 locations in Georgia, California, Tennessee, and Texas. We now have a $30k budget and are sector-wide. I’ve also played trombone in my church’s orchestra for a few years, and have done two mission trips to help Kenyan orphans… last year as a music ministry team lead (I brought my trombone :)), and this year as a team co-lead. I’m an avid runner, weightlifter, and won a regional table topics contest at Toastmasters if that counts for anything.

    Purpose: Although I’ve been blessed with a fast moving career, I want to continue to accelerate faster. Through my rotation program, experiences, and current role I’ve been fascinated by business strategy and it almost teases me to want to see and understand an even larger picture of how companies work. I love the strategy side and would like to get an MBA so I can pursue strategy consulting for a few years, with the long term goal of moving into management at a technology firm, so I can do my engineering degree some justice ;-).

    School list:


    Thank you Sandy!


  • LogisticsEngineer


    I’d also like a profile evaluation as well. I actually applied this year but had no success, thought this would be a great time to get one of these done as it can help me as I apply again this fall.

    Age: I turn 25 in the fall.
    2nd-generation Asian-American male

    GMAT: have yet to take, aiming for 700.
    (Also, I have a GRE score: 160Q/161V/5.5AW. I used this to apply last year, I wonder if this played a factor)

    GPA: 3.4 from UC San Diego,B.S. in Engineering

    WE: Will be 3 years (if I matriculate ’14) working as an engineer at a small biotech company. I’ve had incredible opportunities to show leadership and initiative at this job, from setting up processes, establishing teamwork, and improving the culture. I’m banking that this will help me as I work at a very unique company.
    (Also have a few internships/contractor roles post-undergrad before my currrent role, one at a small product design consultancy firm and one at a well-known semiconductor company)

    ECs: This is my weak spot. I don’t have any social impact as of now- I plan on starting something this summer, perhaps volunteering in a local basketball youth league. I know it may seem like I’m doing it for the application, but I’m thinking this is better than nothing. I do want to do it to better myself (I guess I will have to address this in essays?)
    I play basketball a lot; that is my main outside-of-work activity and I had used that in my essays to mention my teamwork. From my apps this year, it didn’t work out so well.
    Also played piano back in high school and was fairly accomplished. I didn’t continue it through college and haven’t continued it so I assume it’s not worth bringing up.

    Back in undergrad I participated in a few community service-based engineering projects (think Engineers without Borders).

    Purpose: My goal is to eventually work as a product manager for a blue-chip firm in Silicon Valley. If not that, perhaps a supply chain/operations role.

    I’ve discovered in my work experience as an engineer that I feel that my calling is in operations/logistics. I want to be able to use my background and use my MBA to allow myself to be involved in the logistics behind developing tomorrow’s greatest products.

    School list:



    Kellogg MMM

    Michigan (Tauber)


    Carnegie Mellon



    (I should note, I applied to 3 of the schools on the list here. WL at one, dinged at two others. Still WL as of writing this but after reflection I feel I’m better off going through the process again)


  • ns0319

    Forgot to mention GMAT: 730 (Q47, V42)

  • hbsguru

    As we have often noted, B schools LOVE any job connected to media and Hollywood companies. For some under-the-hood reasons this may be so, take a look at

    Why B Schools Love Hollywood, extended analysis by the great David Carr in Today’s New York Times.
    Carr is an informed, insightful and no-BS kind of guy, among his apercus:

    For Media Moguls, Paydays That Stand Out

    What’s the difference between a media mogul and a chief executive
    elsewhere in the business world? About $10 million in compensation, give
    or take.

    Consider: the top 20 companies in the United States ranked by market
    capitalization include no media companies. But according to figures
    assembled for The New York Times by Equilar, which compiles data on executive compensation, media companies employ seven of the top 20 highest paid chief executives.

    The names are familiar and the numbers are large: Leslie Moonves of CBS
    ($60,253,647), David M. Zaslav of Discovery Communications
    ($49,932,867), Robert A. Iger of Walt Disney ($37,103,208), Philippe P.
    Dauman of Viacom ($33,396,104), Jeffrey L. Bewkes of Time Warner
    ($25,670,263), Brian L. Roberts of Comcast ($25,087,379), and Rupert
    Murdoch of News Corporation ($22,418,292).

    A few important caveats. The margins in the media business can be
    spectacular when things are going well — operating income at CBS for
    2012 was $2.98 billion — which explains in part why the chief executive
    at Kraft, which is about the same size as CBS and had net earnings of
    $1.64 billion, makes $6.8 million, not $60 million like Mr. Moonves.

    Making cheese is fine, but running a media outfit that sells cheese
    through commercials is where the money is.

    The entire article is worth a look,if you are interested in executive comp, Hollywood, and business divas.

  • CorpFin

    Hi Sandy,

    Glad you’re still doing this! Please help; I can’t find anything relating to the value MBAs place on my work experience area. Thanks in advance! Any extra thoughts on the corporate finance in general are also appreciated.

    -GMAT 750 (haven’t taken yet but fairly confident – always score
    95th-98th percentile on first try – SAT/ACT, CFA Level 1 first try with
    15% of the recommended studying, other graduate school tests taken as
    backup to placate parents when Wall St melted down)

    -GPA 3.47, call it 3.5. had 3.8 in upper-level, major Finance/Econ,
    Good Midwestern Private lib arts school. Went to this school because I
    received its best scholarship, but it has held me back constantly in
    finance by not being known in NYC, and I need to get a Brand name to

    -Work Exp – 2 years as of now, would be 3 at matriculation. Corporate
    Finance @ F100 company – this is what I’m curious about…it’s not
    banking, although I deal with Bankers every day. CorpFin actually has
    higher-level exposure than corresponding workers on my level at
    IBDs…for example MDs come in to pitch my company (no Analysts or even
    MBA Associates get to make the meeting) but I go to every pitch along
    w/my boss and a few of our higher ups. I analyze and recommend Debt
    issuances, stock buybacks and basically every other thing dealing with
    Financials or markets for my firm. For a company with 10s of thousands
    of employees, my team is very small, so I’m thinking this is a small
    field and that’s why you haven’t done any CorpFin people yet in this
    series. It’s basically an in house DCM/ECM IB team with strategic input as well.

    -Extracurriculars – can’t compete with most MBAs but decent. Some
    volunteering through company, did more in undergrad. Outside of work
    I’m very musical (play a few instruments) and am a novice with a few
    years experience in combat (train in jiu jitsu and boxing)

    HWS, Booth, NYU, CBS. Outside of these schools and the few others in
    the top tier, I would honestly not bother matriculating. I understand
    MBA can help many through the teaching, but for me it mainly provides
    value in getting a recognizable prestigious name and meeting other
    intelligent driven people. StanfordGSB would uniquely help me think
    about entrepreneurship and might hasten my movement to that area, but
    generally coming from a HF direction (see below).

    Purpose – move to Hedge Fund. Overall, my longer-term and legacy
    goal is to focus on US competitiveness I’ve always wanted to start a business to bring some manufacturing back to my hometown, which has been decimated by
    offshoring. For now I would like to focus on getting a lucrative enough
    job that I can save up to fund this. I’ve learned quite a bit about
    investing and have a good analytical framework but CorpFin isn’t
    recruited to work at Hedge Funds and networking through the CFA (my goal
    in taking it) hasn’t yielded anything yet, so I’m looking at an MBA to
    rebrand and use Pre-and Summer-internships to move into this space.

    25yo white male

  • yepuknowit

    Hi Sandy – big fan of your column – I’m glad you’re back! Please
    consider evaluating my profile – I’m specifically interested in your
    thoughts on schools that would be a good fit. My background is kind of
    all over the place.

    – 27 year old Japanese-American female

    – 690 GMAT [i know, i’ll retake it], 1490 GRE

    – 3.4 GPA (BA in Political Science) from a Harvard/Yale/Princeton

    – 3.9 GPA (part-time Associates in Fashion Design) from a fashion school in NYC

    – Masters degree in Art History from a top UK university (Oxford/Cambridge)

    – internships in college include the derivatives desk at a top investment bank, but I realized I hated it. I’ve been working in merchandising analysis and strategy for the past 5
    years at 3 upscale dept stores and vertical retailers with roles of increasing responsibility.

    – Extracurriculars include: (in college) part of an elite music group that toured the US and Europe; (post-college) volunteer in the arts (non-leadership roles, 4 years) and Volunteer Supervisor for an afterschool program that deals with underserved youth (2 years).

    – intermediate-to-advanced Japanese proficiency

    – Goal: to work in luxury retail strategy and eventually start my own luxury label

    – my post-MBA job destinations would be NYC, London, Paris, Milan, so I’m aiming for Columbia, LBS, INSEAD, and maybe HEC Paris. Should I try for HBS / Stanford based on their strengths in entrepreneurship? (sidenote: my older brother went to Stanford GSB and still keeps in touch with the faculty and program directors – not sure if that counts for anything however) Or IMD in Switzerland?

  • ns0319

    Sandy – I’m going to be applying to a couple programs round 1 or 2 this fall and would appreciate your thoughts.

    24 year old, Indian (born in US)

    Current: 1.5 years (will have ~2 years by the time I apply) as a manager in the corporate strategy group at a well-respected (in the healthcare provider industry) publicly-traded healthcare analytics and research firm. Led the diligence of $15M acquisition (13-person diligence team). Wrote and presented content at for 3 Board of Directors meetings. Promoted after only 10 months. Leading market testing (led conversations with 50+ hospital executives to get market feedback) and sales for a soon to be launched product. Outside chance of being promoted to Associate Principal by 10/13.
    Current extras: tutoring low income 2nd and 3rd graders in reading comprehension, technology and marketing adviser (put together strategic plan and helped negotiate contract) to a national healthcare non-profit group that connects low income individuals with basic health resources.

    1.5 years as a healthcare management consultant (<300 consultant firm). First non-partner to join the healthcare provider practice (directly out of undergrad). Due to small team (very entrepreneurial role), had a lot of great exposure to leadership and was able to lead 8-10 significant engagements (and was promoted early).
    Extras: pro bono consulting engagement advising the board of directors of a local free clinic regarding the selection of its electronic medical record software

    Undergraduate – Ohio State Fisher College of Business (Honors program)
    BS – Healthcare Strategy and Technology (created independent major)
    Minors – Entrepreneurship, Life Sciences (pre-med)
    GPA: 3.56 (3.7 business GPA)
    Admitted to medical school (2 MD programs), but chose not to attend
    Graduated in 3 years
    Extras: chairman of American Red Cross club, pre-med honors society officer, worked for the Red Cross setting up 250+ blood drives during 2-year span (10+ hours a week), club rugby player
    Internships: biz dev and strategy for a health-tech start-up, and research at a large academic medical center (published paper in a medical journal)

    Graduate – Johns Hopkins University (currently enrolled part-time)
    MS – Applied Economics
    Specializing in health informatics and statistics

    GPA – probably will be ~3.6 (graduating in 8/13)

    Post MBA goals – Join an early stage (fewer than 10 employees) health tech start-up in either product management or business development.

    Longer term – I'm most interested in the applications of genetic testing and personalized therapies for complex diseases (this is a relatively hot field that a number of VCs are targeting) so hoping to start a company that brings this technology to the masses.

    Target schools: Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Kellogg

    Thanks for the help,

  • BD

    Hi Sandy, I’d love it if you would review my profile and let me know what you think. I’m aplying in R1 this fall.

    White, Male, 25 years old
    Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Michigan, GPA 3.1
    GMAT 760 (Q48 V48)

    I have worked for 3.5 years at a manufacturing company in the midwest. I started in a 2 year rotational program and was promoted to an Engineer position after the program. On top of day to day tasks, which involve a good amount of data analysis, I have worked on a number of projects in the company geared toward saving money/profitability.

    Extracurriculars: I volunteer for the local chapter (non profit) of a society made up primarily of engineers. I started on the executive board then served as Secretary for a year. I am currently serving as Vice Chair and will be promoted to Chair next month. We hold monthly meetings, which involve dinner and a technical speaker from the area. We organize events for local students to get them interested and engaged in engineering. We also organize day long seminars available to professionals throughout the society. I have organized many of these events and meetings and by all accounts have excelled at improving the chapter.

    I have also participated in smaller events such as Habitat for Humanity and worked with a local organization that alters toys for disabled children.

    My MBA focus is Marketing/General Management. I am kind of enamored with CPG companies, but am not opposed to technology or industrial (Microsoft, Amazon, John Deere, Whirlpool, etc.) companies.

    The schools on my list are Tepper, Ross, Fuqua, Kellogg, and Booth. Do you think the adcoms at these schools will be scared off by an engineer that wants to switch to marketing?

    Thanks a lot.

  • Mr. Sponsorship

    Sandy – Would greatly appreciate an assessment of the profile below. Thanks for your time.

    – 760 GMAT (85Q/99V)
    – 3.60 GPA (3.80 within Economics major) at a small liberal arts college in 20-30 national ranking range (among liberal arts schools)
    – 3 years experience at a major sports league front office (NFL/NBA/MLB) in NYC
    – Current responsibilities include managing sponsorship research projects and building partner marketing proposals; started career through rotational program at same league
    – Leadership positions in college as director of a volunteer elementary school tutoring organization and a student-managed equity investment fund
    – College summer internships at an oil trading firm in Singapore, a boutique economic development agency in Hawaii, and a food conglomorate (in a contract manufacturing/purchasing function) in the Midwest
    – Goal is to transition to a strategy/analytics role in sports or at a media company, or work in a sports/media practice at a consulting firm
    – 24, first-generation Asian-American male
    – Schools of interest: H/S/W, Sloan, Kellogg, Tuck

    Thank you again!

  • insuranceguy

    Dear Sandy,

    It would be much appreciated if you could evaluate my chances:

    26 year old male

    Born in Hong Kong but grew up in UK (British Citizen)

    710 GMAT (Q50, V36) – I am planning on retaking to hit 750-760

    Undergrad: Top 5 Uni in UK non-Oxbridge
    Degree: Mathematics
    GPA: 2.1 – I believe this equates to 3.2-3.3 GPA

    Work experience:
    4 years in insurance. I have been promoted twice during this time. I am one the youngest in my profession at a comparable role by 2-3 years. I typically underwrite financial institutions across the world. Due to a flat company structure I have no direct reports but
    I was the only person selected to lead a new product development project in a rapidly growing niche. I was also responsible for formulating the budget and forecasts for a team of ~20.

    Accomplished musician. I represented the University in American Football which is a little bit unusual in the UK. I have continued to play after University for an amateur team and won a National Championship. I was the captain of a small sports team in University. After University, I occasionally volunteer at sports events for underprivileged children (but no leadership role).

    Short term goal: To move into strategy consulting specialising in financial services.

    Long term goal: To start a JV with a multi-national insurance company in China providing niche insurance products. Due to the high barriers of entry and low penetration in that market, it is an area that can provide a multi-national insurance company with significant growth.

    Harvard (long shot)
    Chicago Booth
    Northwestern Kellogg
    Dartmouth Tuck
    Duke Fuqua

    Many thanks in advance