Harvard | Mr. Fraternity Philanthropy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Columbia | Ms. New York
GMAT 710, GPA 3.25
Harvard | Ms. Chemical Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 3.53
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring Social Investor
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. Global Graduate Scheme
GMAT 750, GPA 7.2/10
Stanford GSB | Ms. Startup Poet
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Transformation
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
INSEAD | Mr. Sailor in Suit
GMAT 740, GPA 3.6
Tuck | Mr. Global Corp Comms
GRE 325, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Aero Software ENG
GRE 312, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Lucky Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Honduras IE
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
HEC Paris | Mr. iOS App Developer
GMAT 610, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2

Handicapping Your Elite B-School Odds

engineerMr. Mexican Engineer


  • 720 GMAT (49Q/39V)
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from a top engineering school in Mexico
  • “GPA: 3.0 / 3.1ish (on a 100 scale it is an 83/100 – I know I shouldn’t convert my grades and I won’t, this is just a reference. Work experience includes stint in a boutique strategy and operations consulting firm (“big” 
in my city and Mexico City, some minor projects in South and Central 
  • Extracurricular involvement as a coordinator in a community project building homes and designing economic activities for the underprivileged
  • Goal: To join a top-tier management consulting firm
  • “Took GMAT three times (first 2 attempts were 2 years ago, got 680 on both before the most recent 720!)
. Also took graduate level Corporate Finance from a top-tier graduate school in Mexico and received an A for the course
  • 25-year-old Mexican male

Odds of Success:

MIT: 35% to 40%

Chicago: 40%+

Duke: 40% to 50%

Columbia: 30% to 40%

Virginia: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This is real solid. Couple of quick things: Schools are looking for applicants from Mexico just because it is an important developing country and, duh, close by. HBS takes about six kids a year from Mexico versus 10 from Brazil, seven from Argentina and one from Venezuela (a number that surprises me, but V. is a small country). Also, three from Peru, two to three from Chile, zero to one from Colombia and Ecuador and currently zero from Bolivia. If any Latin American guru can make sense of that, please do so in the comments. Three kids from Peru and zero from Colombia?  Am I missing something?   Heading North, HBS takes about 30 kids a year from Canada. A number I totally understand and actually find a bit low.  OK, you asked, 42 or so per year from India and 18 from China.

My guess is, Latin American numbers at other top B-schools follow the same proportions. Schools are looking for Latin admits, but kids from Mexico are not considered minorities. You need to be a U.S. citizen and have a Hispanic Surname for that. One out of two might work, but the one is US Citizen (and  being Latin without the surname somehow.) I am not sure if an undocumented alien living in the U.S. is considered a minority, but that guy will get plenty of consideration from the adcoms, if his story is legit, along with my favorite national origin category, “Stateless.”

Another technical issue: You said, “GPA: 3.0 / 3.1ish (on a 100 scale it is an 83/100 – I know I shouldn’t convert my grades and I won’t, this is just a reference). Undergraduate from top engineering school in my country, major in Mechanical Engineering . . . .” Hmmm, let me underscore that, my guess is, if you went to the top engineering school in the country, and got an 83/100, it will convert to more than a 3.0/3.1. Do you have any idea of your class standing? That can be real useful in cases like this.  Also see what some of the official ‘GPA’ conversion outfits like the World Educational Services does with your transcript. If anyone has an independent opinion about WES based on experience, please add that in the comments.

You got a 720 GMAT. Schools don’t care how many times you take it, and you work for what you report is “a boutique strategy and operations consulting firm (‘big’ in my city and Mexico City . . .).” That is usually considered a real solid job. There might be an issue if your target schools have never heard of it. As is usually the case, the best test of that is what is the track record of kids applying from your firm to those schools? If there is no record, you really need to go out of your way to establish the firm’s bona fides on your resume and application. Include a squib, sorta like, AB&C Consulting, a boutique management consulting firm specializing in ___ and ___ with offices in __ and ___, etc. and add any metrics as to clients, size, etc. which signal that the firm is important and respected.

You should be an acceptable risk (low-ish GPA and non-elite employment) at your target schools–Sloan-Booth-Duke-Columbia-Darden–because they are all looking for solid applicants from Latin America and especially Mexico. Your goals are also clear and frictionless:  also are already in a boutique consulting company and want to use the MBA experience to fly up to a major like M/B/B,  something which happens all the time, so you will be employable, especially if you signal that you want to return to Mexico.

To add to that, and just to repeat this from former profiles: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG (M/B/B) ask for GMAT scores and they  like to see applicants with 720+. There are excpetions but your 720 will be a real plus. Adcoms know this, and all that will support your admission.

If your undergraduate GPA turns out to be near 3.5 or so, think about HBS. They go for profiles like this. You also took a graduate level Corporate Finance course at a top school Mexico and got 93/100, which is also a plus, if schools cannot get past your low-ish GPA.

The only thing that may possibly give you trouble is if your GPA does, in fact, translate into a ~3.0. It is hard to predict how that card will play out, but you have a solid GMAT, an alternative transcript and a good job. Schools should get past that, but you can never tell.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.