Predicting Your Chances Of Admission


  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree with a triple major in international relations, political science and Spanish from a top non-Ivy University (think Georgetown/Tufts/Johns Hopkins)
  • Work experience includes one and one-half years in consulting at a small company and one year as a project coordinator for a prominent NGO. Have lived in four developing countries to work on these projects.
  • Extracurricular involvement starting a technology commercialization company at my university to evaluate university-developed technologies; also taught SAT prep to underprivileged high school students and taught English to recent Latin American immigrants
  • Goal: To commercialize technologies and improve business performance in developing countries. “I’m not sure whether to come at this from a Private Equity/Venture Capital angle or from a social enterprise angle.”
  • 24-year-old Caucasian male

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 20%

Harvard: 30%

Berkeley: 40% to 50%

Chicago: 40% to 50%

Columbia: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Dunnno, all the pieces are here, including a solid GPA and GMAT, as well as your current gig at what seems like some “prominent” NGO to quote you. Guys like you get into Harvard and Stanford depending on execution, luck, and sometimes having someone pull a string. String pulling is not strictly necessary with this story, although it often develops naturally, e.g. someone at a Ivy-connected NGO knows someone at H or S. Sorta legit, when you think about it.

The only small glitch is odd-ish first job, so it’s crucial to do a good job not quite ‘explaining’ that, but describing what you did there as important and elite (in a non-obnoxious way).

Solid extra currics and starting some kind tech-commercialization company at your university has the potential to be a real plus if you can explain what the hell that means? Was it a for-profit company? Or done within the university? Make that clear!

Ditto as to goals. Maybe it’s me, but it just sounds like pre-molded buzz words and not totally in-line with what you have been doing, although it does build out what you claim to have done in college, which I don’t understand, either. Problem could be me, or could be just the shorthand we use in these back and forths. But make it clear, and no BS.

My problem is, specifically, don’t most “top universities” already have well-established tech transfer programs, and YOU are claiming to have started one?  Anyway, solve that problem, with either clarity or honesty, and if rest of application lines up clearly, you got a solid shot at S and H.

You should get into Berkeley, Chicago, and Columbia if you convince them you want to go, and going there makes sense.

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