Can You Get Into An Elite MBA Program?

skydiver man

Mr. Analyst

 

  • 750 GMAT (44V, 49Q)
  • 3.49 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from a nationally recognized state school
  • Work experience includes one year as an investment advisor and three years as an analyst at one of the top endowment/investment consulting firms in the world (promoted 3 times and potential for a leadership position before applying)
  • Extracurricular involvement as a current member of the Program Board of a charity focused on educating unemployed and underemployed people with skills to succeed in today’s job market (i.e. Resume writing, cover letter writing, MS Office tutoring, etc.)
  • 
Goal: To transition to a private equity associate
  • 26-year-old, white male

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 40%+
Columbia: 50%
Virginia: 50%+
Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Northwestern: 40% to 50%
London: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This is pretty solid for your target schools and a 750 GMAT makes everyone happy, especially Wharton and Columbia.  A lot will turn on what those schools think of what appears to be your only full-time job: “one year as an investment advisor and three years as an analyst at one of the top endowment/investment consulting firms in the world.”  Some university endowments, such as Harvard and Yale, have separate organizations to manage their endowments, viz. Harvard Management Corporation, and jobs at those places  are considered good feeder jobs for HBS and Stanford (often the analysts at those in-house school shops  are kids who went to that school).

One question that could benchmark your story very quickly is what the outcomes have been for other analysts in your company applying to business school. You seem to be successful at your company, and that, plus a 750 GMAT, and what appear to be solid extras (Program Board of a charity focused on educating unemployed and underemployed  . . .) make you a solid candidate.

You state your goal as “private equity associate . .  . .” Hmmmm, nothing wrong with that in general but you run the risk of making it seem that you are attending business school ‘merely’ to upgrade your workplace from endowment consulting to P.E.  If there were other elements in your application that were ‘suspicious’ like that, including your tone, word choice, etc., it could rub some adcoms the wrong way.

One suggestion is to think about saying that your goals are to become a leader in endowment consulting and do a whole song and dance about where you see the future trends in endowment investing and investing for  non-profits in general.

You could present yourself as an endowment thought  leader who also gives advice on issues like sustainable investing (I just made that up, but it probably exists someplace, or find the correct jargon). Below are some popular articles on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website. A trip there will get you into the right buzzwords and ideas.

  1. Nonprofits Fight Overhaul of Government’s Charity Drive
  2. GuideStar’s Leader on Social Change
  3. Biggest Cause-Marketing Drives Raised $358-Million Last Year
  4. Warren and Doris Buffett Offer Giving Advice Online

Also see, Hildy Gottlieb’s book The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing ‘Nonprofit Organizations’ to Create the Future of Our World (no, I never heard of it until I did a Google search but it would give you more idea fodder).  All these resources can give you ideas and concepts about how endowment advisors can have a role in, ahem,  drum roll please, ‘changing the world.’  That approach then leaves you more running room to discuss why you need an MBA, viz. , to be a leader, change agent, and effective beggar in a $10, 000 dollar bespoke suit — all skills you can learn in business school.

That ‘help non-profits-change-the-world’  jive could make the difference for you at schools like Wharton and Columbia, where you are solid in terms of stats but competing with real IB and PE types.  If you currently only work with universities, say you want to expand your skills to include working with non-profit endowments, especially those in emerging countries, focused on underserved needs.  Calling the  Gates and Clinton foundation crowd!!!