Can You Get Into An Elite MBA Program?


Mr. Hedge Fund


  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.65 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Amherst/Williams/Swarthmore
  • Work experience includes four years at a large value hedge fund in New York (will get a good recommendation from here)
 and three years running own value hedge fund (current)
  • “I 
plan to continue running the fund while at school, building the track record. My real reason for 
wanting an MBA is to build my network and attach myself to a well-known 
brand for the purposes of raising more money. For the application I 
will try to finesse this more into seeking a ‘transformational’ 
experience, becoming a better manager, broadening my knowledge of 
business, learning from a diverse group of people”
  • Extracurricular involvement as the president of a large club in college
  • 29-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

: 20%
Wharton: 30% to 40%
Columbia: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: I love it, always a bad sign. Saying you want to manage the fund while attending business school is suicide, as you seem to divine by noting that you are going to camouflage your real networking and schmoozing and branding reasons for attending business school with the usual ‘transformational’ BS.

Here is my advice, submit at HBS. Do not write an essay. There is no way an essay can do you any good. If they are intrigued enough, they will interview you to find out why you want to come. Call me before that interview and we will figure something out. If you feel the need to write an essay at HBS – and also for schools where you do have to write an essay–you seem to have basics down about explaining why. Leadership, helping portfolio companies manage themselves, managing your own firm, which is a job distinct from investing, and public service, which is where most multi-millionaires seem to drift, one way or the other. All those reasons. Wharton and Columbia might bite at this for any reason, including  just to have a rich guy around who is not going to have trouble getting a job post-grad. Plus you might, in fact hire other members of the class.

Am I being too glib? It’s easy to do in a case like this. Is there some Hail Mary idea we are overlooking? How about coming out front and saying that you will not only be managing your fund, but you will turn it into a campus club, where others interested in fund management can watch you do it, contribute ideas, etc. Work up some social media, crowd sourcing mumbo-jumbo, involve finance profs, and start two funds, the one you manage and the crowd sourced one. Sure, one can think of a million legal and practical problems, but those can be solved.  And those practical problems  only have to be solved on paper because, well, because, once you get in, you will not do it.

I personally would prefer to sit next to you at HBS (always a powerful metric, the sit-next-to metric) than some WANNA BE you (about 26% of the actual class). Say that too, I can help your kids start a fund. Hey, you’ve already made your FU money, so the risk of taking a chance with a bold idea like this is worth it.