Handicapping Your Elite B-School Odds

bankerMr. Goldman Sachs


  • 710 GMAT (47Q/40V)
  • 3.43 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in Japanese from Brigham Young University
  • Work experience includes more than one year at Goldman Sachs as an operations analyst (have been promoted once and expect another promotion to associate in January); also spent two and one-half years at an HR consulting firm/corporate milestone and recognition award manufacturer and distributor, working in international operations managing client and vendor relations in Japan, China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia
  • “I moved back to the US when I was 10 years old and didn’t speak Japanese again until I was 19. I decided to major in Japanese to deepen my understanding of the language and the culture that was such a large part of my heritage”
  • Extracurricular involvement as founder of a non-profit organization to help increase community awareness of childhood sexual abuse, and to provide financial assistance to underprivileged victims in need of one-on-one counseling; also mentor for Junior Achievement; awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteer Recognition Award in 2011 for work in the community; Ambassador for the Trevor Project and regularly respond to LGBT teen’s questions regarding struggle they are facing in every day life
  • “I served a two-year mission for the LDS church in Japan. For one of those years I was a regional leader and oversaw the work and well-being of 20 to 30 other missionaries”
  • Short-term goal: To transition from operations in the financial industry into an operations leadership role in the consumer products industry (Ideally a place like Nike)
  • Long-term goal: To become the COO of a global consumer products company and use the business knowledge and experience I have gained to become an influential leader within the community especially with youth-related organizations
  • 28-year-old male, half Japanese (born in Japan, but grew up primarily in California)

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 35%
Northwestern: 40% to 50%
MIT: 25%
Yale: 40%
Virginia: 40%+
UCLA: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a long and winding road but one you have made it appear to be headed in a clear line. Bravo. Let me summarize—28-year-old, gay, Japanese born US citizen, LDS, 3.43 GPA from Brigham Young, solid 710 GMAT, and currently working in the operations department of Goldman Sachs after a 30-month gig at an “HR Consulting firm/corporate milestone and recognition award manufacturer and distributor” whatever that is (beyond the obvious trophy maker?)—but we don’t care all that much because you used that job to get a job at Goldman.

For our new and non-brand obsessed readers (are there any?) let me note that all Goldman, Sachs jobs for 20 year-olds are not created equal from a B-school’s perspective (and from Goldman’s too). The cream of the GS jobs are the hotshot investment banking analysts selected from mostly Ivy-type colleges, under the cream are the special types huddled there in Private Wealth Management, which are kids from Ivy and near-Ivy schools who often have dotted line familiarity with wealth management. How the world judges Goldman “operations” types is an interesting issue and one I am not certain about.

At bottom it is an issue of how ‘selective’ a school thinks that job is—my guess is, pretty selective if you are an operations type. You note that “I have been promoted once and expect to be promoted to an associate in January. At matriculation, I will have 2 and one-half years at Goldman.” Sounds solid to me, although only a solid perch in the middle of Mt. Goldman, and not a tent on the summit.

I am also impressed by your goals:  “to transition from operations in the financial industry into an operations leadership role in the consumer products industry (Ideally a place like Nike).” And from there, long-term, “to become of the COO of a global consumer products company . . . .”

You also have real solid extras, many of them ongoing, and an interesting story about growing up in Japan and the U.S.

I think you are wise not to try to sell this to H/S/W (although Wharton might bite), there is just not enough stardust in terms of employment and stats to break through there . . .and those schools get real high performers and GPA’s from BYU as well.  Most BYU resumes which cross my desk have near 4.0 GPAs.

The schools you have targeted, “Tuck, Haas, Kellogg, Sloan, Yale SOM, Darden, and Anderson” are all—with the exception of Sloan—open to this kind of super nice-guy, “mixed record-but you can-tell he is smart,” lots of  current extra-currics profile.

Sloan does not care about extras so much and they may cough over your GPA. On the other hand, Sloan is operations-centric, and if you can convince them, by dint a super GS recommendation, that you are the real deal, they may change their tune.

I’d say your chances at the other schools are real solid, you will need solid execution and support from GS (that will be real important). I am not sure  of the schools on your list outside of Sloan which are more ‘operations’ focused. Of all the schools you mention, U.S. News only lists Kellogg (as well as Sloan) as being in its top 10 for “Production/Operations” (MIT, CMU, Wharton, Stanford, Michigan, Kellogg, Purdue, Columbia, HBS, Indiana, UT). You seem Kellogg’s type, as well.

In all your apps try to explain a bit about how come your GPA is on the low side (was it a language issue) and what exactly your first job entailed and why you went there. You called yourself a re-applicant in your original title, what happened the first time? And when was that?