What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

For two years, she taught fifth graders as a Teach for America teacher and now works for a small educational non-profit as a program coordinator. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.7 GPA, this 24-year-old woman hopes that an MBA would allow her to transition to a prestige consulting shop to help organizations in the social sector

He’s a first generation college grad who currently works in a business development and strategy role for a large oil and gas company. With a 3.98 grade point average and a 740 GMAT, this 27-year-old professional is hoping to use an MBA degree to transition back into real estate development, a field he worked in before the industry tanked in 2008.

This 24-year-old female CPA works for a Big Four accounting firm and expresses a passion for helping companies improve their financial reporting for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the capital markets. A first generation college grad, this Hispanic professional wants an MBA to move into the professional services arena.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s candid assessments:

Basic RGBMr. Captain


  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.03 GPA (2.5 GPA in freshman year/3.6 and 3.4 in senior year)
  • Undergraduate degree in operations research from a service academy
  • Work experience includes serving as a captain in the military with 140 “outside-the-wire” drive missions in Afghanistan escorting personnel; currently deployed to run the largest volunteer organization in Afghanistan with 500 active members who help to donate clothes, shoes and school supplies to local Afghans
  • Extracurricular involvement includes lots of community service; volunteer for Special Olympics State Games, coach for Special Olympics bowling team, led and managed school’s intramural program for 4,000 students; football player; do triathlons and ultra-marathons, a member of military service cycling team
  • 26-year-old

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 35%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 30% to 35%
MIT: 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: Captain, I like you, but let’s start with the bad news.

A 3.03 GPA and 700 GMAT is a passable combination at many business schools, especially given the upward trend in your grades (2.5’s freshman year/3.6 and 3.4 senior year) but H/S/W and MIT get lots of military apps, and they don’t quite know how to “read” a military career. You do seem to have an extraordinary number of extracurricular and leadership extracurricular engagements, including leading the school’s intramural program with ~4,000 kids, lots of work with Special Olympics, and now running “the largest volunteer organization in Afghanistan with 500 active volunteers donating clothes/shoes/school supplies to local Afghans.”

I’m impressed and a place like HBS could be too, if you get lucky. They would be the first of the H/W/S trio to bend on the low-ish stats.  Your 700 GMAT is the OK threshold (as per adcom head  HRH Dee Leopold) for “charity” cases. My guess is, and I will be happy to be corrected, service academy dudes at Stanford and Wharton have higher stats. If you got in there, you would be in the bottom 30 percent stats-wise, so you are asking your extras to do a lot.  MIT is pro-military but they are not really impressed with extracurrics, so low-ish stats could be an issue there as well.

You have an impressive set of accomplishments, and most readers, me included, will be impressed. On two occasions, you have emerged to lead large organizations (aside from being in the military to begin with). That is what those schools claim to want, but they often seem more impressed with 30 more points on an insipid GMAT exam.  Let’s see. At HBS you could benefit from some recommendations which highlight those aspects of your career.

I’m rooting for you.

  • Harvard2015

    And Female. Thanks Again.

  • Harvard2015

    Dear Sandy,

    Age: 28 (@matriculation) Chinese Canadian
    First generation immigrant
    Funded my own college education through scholarship, part-time work and internships
    Top Canadian university (think University of Toronto, McGill, Waterloo)

    GPA: 3.7 in business
    GMAT: 770 (V99%/Q95%)

    – Undergrad awards: made a business case presentation to Big 4 partners in a competition and won 1st place and an internship in 2nd year

    – Summer exchange in Tokyo, Japan
    – Fluent in Japanese and Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese)

    Work experience (5yrs@matriculation, all in Canada):
    2.5yr at Big 4 audit on financial institution clients with an assignment on a mining client in Texas; 2~yr at a credit rating agency focusing on the oil and gas pipelines and utilities industries.

    Founded my own education focused organization with a mission to help underprivileged kids in China; raised ~$20,000 and donated to a school in China (interviewed by local TV and newspapers); money was raised through tutoring sessions and 2 career conferences, each with ~400 attendees; the conferences were extremely well received by students who gained first-hand job hunting tips from working young professionals. This EC has been my passion since 2010 and all efforts have been consistent.

    Post-MBA: I’m passionate about energy and would like to work for a consulting firm. Oil pipelines have been controversial and US is on the path to energy independence. I had great exposure to all these areas (the politics, competitions, industry constraints, etc) but my scope was limited to credit rating. I’d like to further gain knowledge in the oil and gas/ midstream sectors from an investor perspective and be able to advise companies.

    Schools: H/S/W/Columbia/Booth (all round 1 for 2015 intake)

    Your advice is much appreciated!

  • AJ

    Hey Sandy,

    24 Year old Indian Male

    B.S in Biology GPA – 3.3
    GMAT – 790, 5.5 in AWA
    2 Years as a musician (Still playing on weekends)
    A year at an education start-up
    Working for a year at an internet marketing firm – I have received certifications from Google
    I’m also studying Mandarin and Spanish as it’s gonna of immense help in my current job.

    Post MBA – Want to make the jump into Management Consulting

    Any thoughts?

  • park

    Hi Sandy,

    I have read your book, and it made me more curious about my chances into H/S/W Booth, MIT.

    My overall profile is as below:

    – 27~28 (@ matriculation) Asian American
    – GMAT: 740 (Q51 V39)
    – GPA: 3.46 B.S in Electrical Engineering from Public Ivy or Top 8 engineering school.
    – GPA: 3.5 M.S in Computer Engineering from Top 5 engineering school.
    – 3~4 years of work experience in top tech company (e.g. Microsoft, Apple)
    – EC:
    1) Many Engineering projects since high school:
    a. Won national & 3rd place in international robot competition, received recognition letter from US Congress & Senate. (between Senior High & Freshman College year)
    b. Conducted in research in University research group & wrote my research paper & won grant/scholarship from IEEE, most renowned electrical engieering society.
    2) Teach students in math & science without charge in college, graduate school, even after school.
    3) Help consult foreign students in field of engineering regarding career & further education. (Created formal website & services)

    Thanks in advance,

  • Mike Tepper

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for all of these articles. Could you please review my profile? Thanks!

    -26 year old white male
    -740 GMAT
    -Undergrad GPA: 3.3 from a top-20 New England liberal arts school (majored in Economics and Philosophy)
    -2 years of work experience at a financial technology company in New York out of undergraduate consulting for hedge funds, mostly with regards to operational and technology needs. First member of entering class to be promoted, then left for a management consulting firm.
    -2 years of work experience at a boutique management consulting firm in New York working largely with Fortune-500 executives performing data analysis to increase asset utilization. Promoted within first six months. Expecting another promotion this year.
    -Extracurriculars: College hockey player (15-25 hour commitment per week), won leadership award on college hockey team, pro bono strategy consulting for a start-up specializing in community mentoring of underprivileged youth, established a national publication at my consulting firm
    -Goal: Strategy consulting for technology firms

    Applying to: Haas, Tuck, Yale, Columbia, Kellogg, Wharton

  • alex

    Hi Sandy! I could only find one Air Force profile you have done. Hopefully you will change that.

    – I’m a 29 year old white male
    – I’m a Captain in the USAF and have been in for 7 years. I am a combat systems officer (CSO) in C-130s. Rated slots (pilot, CSO, ABM, and RPA) are highly competitive. CSOs plan the missions, put bombs on target, and tell the pilot what to do. I was an ROTC cadet.

    – I have a 680 GMAT
    – I have 3.5 GPA undergrad degree in finance from the University of Memphis
    – I have 3.5 GPA undergrad degree in economics from the Penn State (online program)

    – I have about 150 hours of community service during my 7 years

    – My top Universities are Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Berkley, UCLA (I’m going to apply to a lot of schools)

    I’m very ambitious and business minded. I want to get a job at a consulting firm so I can be in the best position to one day be a CEO.

  • Ms. 1st year Indian

    Hi Sandy

    Hope you can get to my profile, thanks in advance!

    – 23-year old Indian female working in US
    – GMAT 740
    – GPA 3.5 B.S Chemical Engineering from Near-Ivy public (Michigan, Virginia, Berkeley)
    – 1 yr work ex as Product Manager at Software company. Just finished leading a big project, and will apply for MBA next year to enter in 2015 with 3 years of experience
    – Extra-curricular: strong extra-currics in college including executive positions in several organizations and part of honor societies, but none currently
    – Goal: use MBA to learn more about and find opportunities in Business Development, whether through consulting or through a startup
    – Thinking about: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Northwestern, Virginia, Chicago

    THank you very much!

  • Indian Guy

    Hi Sandy, I’ve been following your profile evals and they’ve been really helpful. I hope you find the time to evaluate my profile.
    -24 year old Indian male
    – Undergrad from VJTI, Mumbai in B.Tech Electronics
    -GPA: 8.7/10
    -Work Exp: Network Consultant with Cisco Systems. Will have 3 years of workex by fall 2014, which is when I plan to begin my MBA
    -Average Extracurriculars
    -Applying to MIT, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Kellogg

  • Mr. Positive

    Hi Sandy,

    Please advice.

    – 23 / India
    – Graduated BTech with 58% from tier 3 university.
    – Funded own tution fee by installing computer networks in new offices, worked for about 4 yrs including 2 yrs after college.
    – Studying actuaries got a job as actuarial analyst in top HR consulting, plan to work for 2 yrs. Will try to clear exams.
    – CISA(ISACA), Six Sigma Black Belt certified.
    – Associated with a NGO, helping and motivating youngsters to study. Organised its fund raising program.
    – Taught an illiterate child to read and write.
    – Organised programs at college festivals
    – Community Service including volunteering for commonwealth games Delhi, spreading awareness regarding health and education. participating in peaceful protests for helping community.
    – Sports team captain in college and high school.
    – Yet to take GMAT.

  • PK


    Please take a look below

    – 27 year old female (India)

    – MSc. Finance from LSE
    – GMAT: 730
    – BA (Hons) Economics
    – Checkered experience; pre MSc was in a Transfer Pricing role for a global company(3 yrs); now work in a boutique consulting firm in the Netherlands (2 yrs+).
    – Volunteer experience and graphic design certification.
    The schools I’m most closely considering are the top ten.

  • pickup

    -Work Exp: 8 years
    -Career Background: Equity Research, IB and in house M&A for a large international comp – PE backed
    – Emerging Market Experience
    – Strong recommendation
    -Undergraduate: Top 20
    – GPA 2.5 ( went through allot of family issues)
    = But ended up getting a fantastic career globally and proved myself regardless of the GPA
    GMAT- 710

    What are my chances of HBS, Wharton, GTown, Chicago and Kellogg?

  • International development girl

    Hi Sandy,

    I love reading these, and have yet to see any profile quite like mine so I would really appreciate your review!

    – 26 year old female
    -GMAT 710
    -GPA 3.55, from a 2nd tier school with an exceptionally strong international studies program
    -I have worked for one of the top 3 international development consulting firms since graduation (5 years total when considering internship and an early graduation). We implement multi-million dollar contracts for the U.S. government, so my experience includes contract management, budgeting and financial management, human resources, federal grant oversight, and high level technical writing. I have spent extensive time working in our project offices in Afghanistan, where I oversaw teams of 20+ and budgets in the $10 million range. My company is known as a bootcamp, where one learns a great deal and is given large amounts of responsibility early, I have been essentially mid-level since 2011. I travel internationally frequently for work and have very strong communications and intercultural skills.

    My short and long-term career goals are to work in bringing mobile technologies applications to development. I have worked in mobile banking for my company which is fascinating, and I want the technical skills in business to add value to the kinds of tech startups that are most likely to be developing these tools.

    Given my intensive travel and work schedule, I haven’t participated in extracurriculars much since leaving undergrad, but I was a member of the honor society there and was a member of a successful a cappella group.

    I am applying to Stanford, Yale, Duke, and Booth

    Thank you!

  • FR

    Hi Sandy,

    i’d really like your opinion on my chances and what I need to improve: my biggest concerns regard my employment history and current situation

    – Personal details: 29-years-old Italian male (always lived and worked in Italy)

    – Bachelor in Business Management al biggest (but not most prestigious) university in the country earned while working full time. not sure regarding gpa, but best 10% of my class (104/110)
    – Master’s degree in Marketing Management from same university. GPA 4.0 (winner of a prize as best student of the class)

    – GMAT: 740

    – Early work experience: one year as event organizer, one year as IT trainer for young unemployed in public lybraries, 6 months internship with P&G
    – Main work esperience: 4 years in strategic marketing at Enel (most important italian utility, ranking top 100 in Forbes global), with a track of promotions ahead of time and responsibilities
    – I left Enel for a M/B/B, but it went south after six months and i’m currently unemployed

    – Extracurricular include being cofounder and organizer of a series of not-for-profit associations, mainly recreational but also regarding “scientific method awareness for children”. Also Mensa member, very active in school politics during highschool, where i also was editor of the newspaper and trainer in an it class

    – MBA goal: to pursue a career in marketing/strategy in a different industry from where i worked before (tech, consumer goods, media…) and in the long term to create my own marketing consultancy company back in europe

    – Goal schools: i know my profile is not golden, but i hope i have a chance to get in at Kellog, Tuck, Virginia, Duke or Johnson (but i’m completely open to suggestion)

    do you think a couple months current unemployment is a serious issues? should i wait second round and apply after finding a new job? (i’m currently also looking at chances of volunteering for an ONG in order to live abroad for some months. do you think it could help?)

    Thanks a lot for your consideration!

  • MrMachuPicchu

    Hello Sandy,

    Please take a look and help me with my profile.

    – 25 year old Peruvian male (Latin America)
    – GMAT: 670-710 (not yet taken)
    – TOEFL: 105 (not yet taken)
    – GPA: 3.3 (3rd in class from Top University in Lima, Systems Engineering)
    – 2010 – 2012: 2.2 Years in Big4 (Finance Auditing & Technology Consulting – SAP and security information)
    – 2012 – to date: 1.5 year as Senior Analyst in Industry (Processes, finances and ERP)
    – 2012 – to date: Entrepeneurship in Real State & Agrobusiness
    – Extracurricular: Teaching MS Office to low income youth and Organizing Christmas campaigns for low-income children
    – Want to continue management consulting in the US after MBA (Pref Big 3)
    – Applying to:


  • Adj

    LOL you seem awfully smart, with your logic we could argue TOO smart to judge other people’s abilities..No, the message boards need normal people NOT (jealous) nerds.

    It is a fairly massive over-generalization that the intelligent do technical stuff. If you were to say this about a culture that is obsessed with test taking and will take the same test 10 times to get a good score (hint – IT technical workers) you are correct. However, Americans? Especially ones scoring this high on their first try with natural intelligence? Those are the people we should want running firms. In my case, have made myself highly personable and can lead. Being smart and sociable are not mutually exclusive.

    Also, politicians? That’s worse than technicians. Wish I’d seen this nonsense sooner.

  • Mr. Korea

    Hi Sandy
    I would be very grateful if you reviewed my profile.

    I am a 26 year-old white American male. I am married with two young daughters. I graduated from BYU in Spring 2012 with a 3.46 GPA. I majored in Korean and minored in Economics. I scored a 770 on the GMAT (44 V, 50 Q, 8 IR, 5 AWA).

    I served an LDS mission in Seoul, South Korea from 2006-2008. I worked during my undergrad as a Korean language instructor at the LDS Missionary Training center for two years. I worked for another year before graduating teaching a course for BYU on Chinese characters. I also completed an internship in Gimhae, South Korea, doing research and translation for a university library.

    One year before graduating, I started an English-immersion education business. By the time I graduated, I built the clientele enough for the business to earn enough profits for me to run it full time. The business’ clientele are Korean universities. They send us groups of students who received university school credit from their university by participating in our program here in Provo, UT. The business has grown consistently, but it is still pretty small. Yearly revenues are roughly $100,000.

    I currently volunteer for the Special Olympics as a competition and finance coordinator, and I started a fundraising “Rescue Team” for a non-profit that rescues North Korean refugees form China.

    I am fluent in Korean, and I have extensive experience working in Korea and with Koreans. My goal is to work in consulting with a regional specialization in East Asia, helping both U.S. and East Asian companies with foreign market entry and business optimization. I am targeting HBS, Stanford, Columbia, Kellogg, and MIT.

    I appreciate your help.

  • Canadian Tech Consultant

    Great series, Sandy.

    I’m in no rush for a review on this one, but any help you could provide would be great.

    – 730 GMAT
    – 2.5 Major GPA (3.7 final year)
    – Undergraduate degree in computer engineering at University of Toronto
    – Minor degree in engineering business from the University of Toronto
    – Four years as a technology consultant for Hewlett Packard
    – Extracurriculars include leader of my campus alumni network, leader of HP Canada’s Youth Employee Network, chairman of the Young Leaders Council for the local chapter of the United Way
    – Half-Swiss, half-Chinese 27-year-old male
    – Goal: to be an innovative, culture-focused leader for a large technology firm. A lot of the tech people I work with seriously undervalue business acumen, and I’d like to change that. With the ever-continuing march or integration between business and technology, having technology and business people respected the others’ field of work will become ever more important.

  • SAB

    This is such an interesting resource, would love to get analyzed!

    § 690GMAT (But dismally low quant – Q63%ile and V93%ile) But an A+
    from a UCLA extension course focusing on mathematic in business settings (differential calc)
    § 3.45 GPA (Double Majored in Political Science and Sociology) from University of Michigan
    § Very involved in multiple leadership positions in college
    § 3.5 years work experience, 4.5 at matriculation
    § Work experience: I work as a general manager in a family business
    in property development that operates in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Take
    care of the A-Z of Property development (financing, developing, leasing and managing),
    with assets totaling $55 million. Also manage two art galleries (family passion project), one in each country. My role is extremely entrepreneurial and very holistic: advertising, marketing, contract negotiations, property valuations etc. Managed these businesses through the Arab Spring in Bahrain (great essay material), and manage 24 employees
    § Native fluency in English and Arabic, basic elementary in French. Dual citizen – Saudi – American
    § Extracurricular involvement includes lots of community service in
    Animal protection society, I am an alumni recruiter for the Bahrain and Saudi
    region for Michigan, and Harley member
    § 25-year-old

  • Mark Daniels

    Sandy, here’s my profile. Thank you!

    -25 year old white male
    -GMAT: 730
    -GPA: 3.67, in honors program.
    -Undergraduate degree in Leadership & Change Management at Saint Louis University (SLU)
    -3 years work experience at Edward Jones headquarters. First year was Rotational Development Program, which is highly selective. Work in Service Division, which is responsible for branch and client relationships. Focus on creating solutions for clients of our financial advisers and department efficiency. Became a team leader responsible for 5 individuals. Series 66 & 7 licensed. Founded internal Alumni group for my school. Edward Jones is Fortune 500 and #8 in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for.
    -Extracurriculars: SLU Business School Alumni Board, St. Louis Sports Commission Young Associates Vice President, United Way GenNext steering committee, and Junior Achievement (teaching financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and economics to grade school and high school students)
    -Recommendation from Harvard MBA alumni at my firm who has been mentor for 2 years.
    -Goal: I want to use my MBA to pursue a senior executive role (general partner) at Edward Jones and become the first choice in the financial services industry. Edward Jones has had personal, long term relationships with management greats like Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, Michael Porter and I would like to contribute to that relationship as well.
    -Worries: I think my goal seems weak. I just like my firm and I can see myself staying here. I’m also considering going into consulting, which is probably a stronger line, but I’m not sure of what I would be interested in within consulting per se. Not sure how I should improve my chances at Harvard. Will be applying within the next 2 years, so I have time.

  • Mr Aviation

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for providing valuable insights. I hope you get the chance to evaluate my profile
    – 28 years old black male, raised by a single mother with a two-year degree
    – I was raised in Africa, immigrated with my family to France when I was 11, and immigrated to the US about 6 years ago. I am now a permanent resident. I believe this qualifies me as an URM
    – GMAT 710 (48Q, 40V)
    – GPA: evaluated to 3.53 by WES
    – Dual Master in aeronautical engineering from top tier French School in aviation and in Airport development and management, from Florida Institute of Technology

    – I have been providing airport planning and design expertise on airport nation-wide and worldwide, focusing primarily on passenger terminal facilities. In other words I analyze the projected activity at the airport and provide solutions to handle the forecasted activity and the best course of action to the preferred solution.

    – Extra curricular In college: I was the manager of the sponsors division of a student-run non profit association that organizes an annual airshow. The airshow is free and is the biggest of the southwest of france with about 20,000 people. that year, my team of 11 volunteers broke the records in donation.
    – I am currently a Junior Achievement volunteer teacher and a member the Leadership council of a local chapter of non-profit organization that raises money to build school in developing countries.

    – I am a club member of Toastmasters International

    – I am Fluent in French

    – I would like to leverage my engineering background and my experience in airport management and development to transition to the airline industry with a post-MBA position in revenue management or network planning. Long term, after several general management positions within the company, I would like to be a senior executive for an airline.

    – I am primarily targeting schools that I have strong ties with aviation or transportation industry: HBS, MIT, Chicago, Kellogg, Cornell, Texas, and Michigan

    Thank you

  • HBSHopeful

    Hi Sandy,

    I would greatly appreciate your taking the time to evaluate my

    – 20 year old rising junior at Penn/Stanford/Columbia
    Engineering School
    – Major in Operations Research, Minor in Economics
    – GPA: 3.94 (after first two years, hoping to maintain Junior
    and Senior years)
    – GMAT: 770 (Q 50 V 46)
    – Heavily involved in Performing arts on campus (I hold two
    leadership positions in on-campus arts groups)
    – Preprofessional Ballet student in high
    school. Received an offer to join a professional ballet company,
    which I declined to attend school
    – Interned at a BB in Operations doing project management work
    and will return to the same bank next summer to intern in the Investment
    Banking Division
    – White Male. Gay (don’t know if this helps)
    – Short Term Goal (post B-School): M/B/B
    – Long Term Goal: apply business knowledge to performing arts
    organizations and make a shift from a donation driven model to a revenue/profit
    driven model

    Will be applying to HBS 2+2 and Stanford deferred admissions.
    Assuming I don’t get either of these, I will work for two years and reapply to
    HBS, Stanford, CBS, Booth, MIT, and Wharton.


  • Mr.Emerging Markets

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you so much for helping judge our odds; its truly a fact-based approach that really helps us make a fair evaluation of our chances. I hope you get a chance to review my profile:

    -Targeting HBS, Stanford, MIT
    -GMAT 720; (41V, 48Q)
    -26 year old Indian-Malaysian, spent my early years growing up in India and Malaysia,
    – Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Management from the National University of Singapore, 3.75 CAP (out of a 5.0 scale-similar to MIT)
    -Very strong business and technology skills: built a UAV mission planning software platform at college, and am currently working at a top 10 strategy consulting firm

    University experience:
    -spent 1 year interning at a Swedish advanced materials start-up in Stockholm where I wrote a business strategy paper for them to enter the ballistics protection market,
    -6 months internship at an Israeli start-up in Tel Aviv, where I helped them break into the Indonesian computer-aided machining software market
    – 12 months at a Singapore Public Policy think-tank, where I helped set up a water-policy research collaboration between water research institutes in the Great Lakes region in the US and the Public Utility Board in Singapore
    -Extra curricular-wise: founded a TEDx organization at university, ran a sustainable living conference program with an NGO in Singapore.

    Post-University experience:
    – hired straight out of college by a top 10 consulting firm in their Bangkok office (L.E.K. Consulting), where I’ve done some private equity due diligence and supply chain strategy cases in Indonesia, a Malaysian pension fund acquisition due diligence case, and a Thai aviation strategy case. Been here for about 7 months, and am planning to stick it out for at least another 18 months before MBA
    -Extra-curricular: Currently thinking about doing pro-bono consulting work for social enterprises/NGOs in Thailand
    -Post-MBA: Planning on either joining the strategy or leadership team at a growth-stage startup in the US, or an Asia/emerging markets-focused PE firm in the US.

    I applied to HBS’ 2+2 program just before graduating but got dinged. Hoping my post-University experience at a consulting firm and pan-Southeast Asia strategy consulting experience might strengthen my profile. I’m very strongly committed to getting into HBS.

  • Mr Hardworking

    Hi Sandy,
    Enjoy reading the articles! It has served as a source of motivation for me. I would really appreciate it if you would review my profile. Unlike others who are evaluating their chances of getting in currently, I am looking to see if I am on the right path and what I should work on before I apply in 3 years. Thanks in advance!

    24 year old Indian male- Will apply when I am 27 for my MBA
    -TOEFL- 114

    -Undergraduate degree in Production Engineering from a top 10 school in India (but not IIT) with a converted GPA of 3.7
    -Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from top tier engineering school from Texas with a GPA of 3.6 (ranks in top 10 for my field consistently)
    -APICS CPIM certified, Lean Bronze Certified, Green belt in Six Sigma, 1.5 years of internship experience in manufacturing
    – WIll be taking a summer class from Berklee College of Music as I am an avid guitar player
    – Will be working for 3 years in a manufacturing industry before applying

    Applying to Harvard, Stanford, Upenn, MIT, Northwestern, Cornell and Yale

  • Shawn T

    Hey Sandy, thank you for the insights, the straight talk and the hilarious writing.

  • Emeralds

    Good evening,

    I plan on applying for Fall 2015 admissions with the following:

    27 year old male
    GMAT ~730 (based off practice tests and prior standardized scores)

    – Tier 2 state school BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology (3.28 Major, 3.06 Overall)
    – Engineer in Training Certification
    – School Cycling team (3rd ranked in SEC)
    – Founding member of fraternity that won top 10 chapter for the 4 years I was there
    – Bio-diesel engine tribology analysis and research for 2 years
    – ultra-capacitor dielectric research for 1 year
    – part-time as school intramural soccer official/official trainer
    – Internship at small technology process improvement consulting group
    – Internship at stable entrepreneurial Mac/iOS development venture

    My first position out of college was as an analyst for a 40-50 sized maintenance and engineering consulting firm for airlines. While working there, in addition to my normal duties, I automated the tasks of my co-workers to improve efficiency. after one year I was recruited into a top 4 consulting firm and in my first year review I received top ~15% rating. I have been given more experienced level work, but because I was hired outside of the normal rotation I was not slated for promotion. outside of client deliverables I am a lead developer of an internal mobile initiative focused for the iOS platform, as well as a separate cloud computing initiative. Outside of consulting I run marathons for charity as well as am a founding member, and current event chair, of a nonprofit young professional group that is an extension of a national nonprofit. I also have a side entrepreneurial venture developing mobile solutions.

    Building on my mobile and cloud technology background I would like to leverage an MBA to get into a McKenzie type consulting firm to solidify the education from my MBA, then after ~2 years move to either start my own technology venture or work in technology venture capital.

    Target schools:
    Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg, INSEAD, Columbia, Sloan

  • Oiltrotter


    Please take a look and let me know what you think.

    – 26 year old male from the rural midwest
    – Small well regarded public university in the midwest
    – GMAT: 720
    – GPA: 3.3 (Deans lists in Junior and Senior Year)
    – BS in Chemical Engineering
    – Last 5 years for a Fortune 100 company in the Oil/Petrochemical Industry.
    – Role is a full-time traveling cosultant. I’ve worked in various roles ranging from project management to in depth engineering and analysis in 10+ countries. I’ve worked in China (~1 year), Saudi Arabia (~6 months), Qatar (~6 months), Various Eastern European countries, Russia (~9 months), as well as several others. While working on projects I’m fully integrated into the everyday lifestyle of these cultures, and the business culture and practices. I’ve picked up serviceable Mandarin and Russian language skills that I’m constantly trying to improve upon. I often serve as the lone, or senior representative for our company on-site, and am responsible for achieving key project milestones and assuring customer satisfaction.

    The schools I’m most closely considering are:


    I hope to hear something from you.

  • Mr. Digital Journalism

    Sorry for the ill-placed “now” in the Goals section- made some quick changes and forgot to remove it. I won’t make similar careless mistakes on my essays.

  • Mr. Digital Journalism


    These profiles are greatly appreciated. I am curious if you would be kind enough to review my profile – as a younger applicant it is difficult to get a sense of where I stand. I am a 23 year-old male applying during the current admissions cycle – I will be 24 when I begin the program.

    I am applying to Cornell, Michigan, University of North Carolina, University of Texas and possibly Virginia. I also intend to apply for a dual journalism/business administration degree at UNC and UT. The applications will be submitted in the first round.

    I earned a 3.78 from a public ivy (3.92 upper-division coursework) – graduated with distinction. I majored in journalism and political science and took additional coursework in business. My GRE scores are 164 quantitative (93rd percentile) and 162 verbal (84th percentile).

    Professional Experience
    My largest concern is the lack of work experience, which is also outside my intended career. As you might imagine, jobs within journalism startups are few and far between – especially for individuals who lack a technical or business background. When I begin the program, I will have two years of work experience as a project assistant at a prestigious DC law firm. Although I don’t manage any employees and my salary isn’t tremendously impressive, I redesigned a considerable number of procedures associated with the position.

    I am not now interested in becoming a reporter. Instead, I hope to launch an entrepreneurial venture that supports journalism in the digital age. Although it may sound idealistic, which it is, the concepts underlying the plan are rooted in considerable research. I worry that I currently lack the resources and business savvy to create
    a startup. I am also worried that the window to enact substantive changes in the industry will close in the next few years, which is why I am eager to begin the MBA as soon as possible.

    I pursued other relevant opportunities, such as constantly reading books and current academic research associated with the industry. I also volunteer regularly at a journalism-related nonprofit.

    The plan is to apply to at least one more business school – preferably a school more inclined to accept younger applicants with a good entrepreneurial program. I am currently split between Babson and the University of Arizona and the University of Iowa. Any thoughts you had on a fifth school would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much for your time and publishing these profiles. They are fantastic.

  • Mr. Artillery


    I know you get a lot of requests, but here’s to hoping I win the lottery! Thank you for your consideration.

    -27 year old male
    -Graduated from West Point and commissioned as a Field Artillery officer
    -3.14 GPA, systems engineering major
    -720 GMAT
    -Work Experience
    -fire support officer in charge of a 15 person team
    -platoon leader–highest ranking member of a 50 person element, in charge of all daily operations
    -battery executive officer–2nd highest ranking soldier in a 130 person battery
    -Avid volunteer. Annual volunteer at the Special Olympics along with various volunteer efforts through the Knights of Columbus. Spent a month in Africa working in an HIV clinic and teaching in a school.
    -Conversational in French and Korean

    My goal is to transition into the investment banking industry and live out the American dream.

    I’ve read nearly all of your “Handicapping Your B-School Odds” posts and time after time I see that GPA and GMAT scores are the best indicators of a serviceman (or woman)’s odds due to generic/hard to distinguish military careers. Therefore, I realize my low GPA puts me out of reach of H/S/W, but I have high hopes of getting into a top 10 school. My target list is as follows:


    I know you’re a busy man, but if you could find the time to handicap my odds I’d greatly appreciate it!

  • Mr. Actuary

    Hi Sandy,

    I haven’t seen any profiles similar to mine (maybe because I’m barking up the wrong tree) and I hoped you’d take a shot at it. I’m early in my investigation into the B-School idea but some insight would help.

    -760 GMAT (on practice tests)
    -3.5 GPA at Tufts, math major, econ minor
    -MS in math at Louisiana State (3.85 GPA)
    -Work experience (at time of application): 2 years as reserving actuary at top 3 personal auto insurer, then 2 years as P/C actuary at a leading global professional services firm (starting as analyst and moving up to consultant.)
    -Fellow of the Casualty Actuary Society (FCAS). FCAS is the highest designation for property & casualty actuaries.
    -Extracurricular: board of directors of local organization that offers free tutoring to children with dyslexia. Taught Business Calc. at LSU while in grad school.

    -Goal: to bring actuarial/insurance background into a high level Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) role (think traditional risk management plus capitalizing on speculative risk), possibly in energy education or technology, by adding skills in finance and operations. Eventually would like to develop (or take over) an ERM program at a large organization as Chief Risk Officer.

    -28 (at time of application) white male originally from Oklahoma, currently in Boston.

    Interested in Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, MIT, Texas etc.


  • AGP

    Hey Sandy/John,

    Looking at HBS or Wharton to geographically match my
    wife’s applications to Med School programs, but would consider others. Could
    use your input:

    Age: Mid-twenties (Male)
    Undergraduate: West Point, Economics Major
    GPA: 4.0 (First in class)
    GMAT: 700
    Work Experience: Military Intelligence Officer
    -Direct leadership of 100+ soldiers
    -Manage large private contracts
    -Roughly a dozen professional cyber network
    Extracurriculars: Team Captain of National Champion
    Fencing Team while at school. Big Brothers Big Sisters, tutoring autistic
    children, Special Olympics.
    Goal: looking to guide the new Army Cyber organization
    through its expansion over the next 20 years. MBA seems like a logical choice.

    I heard that admissions panels emphasize different things when looking at active duty applications. What can I do to maximize my chances? Thanks in advance.

  • Yankee ME Techie

    Hi Sandy,

    Hope you get a chance to take a look. Thanks!

    -25 Year Old American Male, (Late Summer Birthday, Graduated from college) in May 2011
    – GMAT: 730
    – GPA 3.88, ‘Second Tier’ Ivy League University (Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn). Concentration in: International Relations, Honors Program and Honors Thesis. Focus on Middle East Politics and Economy
    – Internships in college at Council on Foreign Relations, United Nations Peacekeeping, and Summer Course in Beirut, Lebanon.
    – 2011-2012 in Cairo, at Endeavor Egypt for 11 months. Time cut short by security situation and Visa problems
    -One month Break between unexpected end in Cairo and next step.
    – 3 month Stint at Deutsche Bank Research in Berlin writing and publishing a report on Middle East Economy post Arab Spring.
    – 1 Year (so Far) at high-growth Tech Start-up In Berlin, Business Development, Strategy, Finance
    – Speaks Arabic, German, and Bit of French
    -Short Term Goal: Transition to Consulting or Larger Tech Firm In US
    – Long Term Goal: Start International VC Firm

    Applying to: Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Stanford
    Considering applying to Dual Degrees in MPP at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

    My big question (besides whether I can get into my preferred schools) is whether I need more work experience before I should apply.

    Thanks in advance! These posts are so helpful.

  • Guest

    Hi Sandy,

    Hope you get a chance to take a look. Thanks!

    -25 Year Old American Male
    – GMAT: 730
    – GPA 3.88, ‘Second Tier’ Ivy League University (Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn). Concentration in: International Relations, Honors Program and Honors Thesis. Focus on Middle East Politics and Economy
    – Internships in college at Council on Foreign Relations, United Nations Peacekeeping, and Summer Course in Beirut, Lebanon.
    – 2011-2012 in Cairo, at Endeavor Egypt for 11 months. Time cut short by security situation and Visa problems
    -One month Break between unexpected end in Cairo and next step.
    – 3 month Stint at Deutsche Bank Research in Berlin writing and publishing a report on Middle East Economy post Arab Spring.
    – 1 Year (so Far) at high-growth Tech Start-up In Berlin, Business Development, Strategy, Finance
    – Speaks Arabic, German, and Bit of French
    -Short Term Goal: Transition to Consulting or Larger Tech Firm In US
    – Long Term Goal: Start International VC Firm

    Applying to: Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Stanford
    Considering applying to Dual Degrees in MPP at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

    Thanks in advance! These posts are so helpful.

  • Turkish Consultant

    Hi Sandy,

    I hope you get a chance to review my profile. Thanks in advance!

    -26 year old Turkish male
    -GMAT: 770
    -TOEFL: 117
    -GPA: 3.16 (3.85 senior year) Top university in Turkey, Electrical & Electronics Engineering Major
    -Last 2.5 years work experience in boutique European management consulting firm (company has 10 offices around the world), fast promotion
    -Early 1.5 years work experience in Turkish commercial bank, credit risk management
    -Extracurricular involvement in Alumni Association mentoring freshmen & soccer
    -Want to continue management consulting in the US after MBA
    -Applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, Kellogg

  • Mr. Music

    Hi Sandy,

    I would love your thoughts on my nontraditional profile. I am looking to change careers
    from music to finance. Here goes…

    Background: professional musician
    Undergrad in music at the top ranked program in my field (though not
    prestigious at all academically); full scholarship
    GPA: 3.8/4.0

    GMAT: 740 – 50 Q, 41 V

    Work Experience:
    -Manager of a large community music school for 4 years
    -Sole proprietor: I have run my own music teaching studio for several years
    -Educator: I have taught at several community music schools and public/private
    high schools
    -Performer: I have performed around the country with recognizable names in music

    EC: numerous charitable concerts; participation in a
    volunteer music education program that is sponsored by a prominent music corporation

    I am 31 years old (white male) and have become jaded with the music business and the entertainment field in general where there is little connection between hard work and success. I have always had a passion for investing, and about a year ago the wheels began turning in my head to pursue a career change. I decided to enroll in the CFA program, and I passed level 1 last December and level 2 this past June. I am currently a level 3 candidate enrolled for the June 2014 exam. I have also taken over 10 MOOCs (massive open online classes) in finance, statistics, economics, and business in the last year and received certificates for all those classes. I am interested in asset management and equity research, but I have no professional finance experience whatsoever.

    Schools I am looking at include H/S/W, Booth, Columbia, and Tuck

    Would love to get your feedback – thanks!

  • Bud

    Is an Air Force pilot considered an “exotic” specialty?

  • MrInternational

    Hi Sandy,

    Great work as always! I thought I would give it a shot as I am thinking about MBA but am really unsure about my profile. I’m aiming for HBS/Wharton/Stanford/INSEAD Here it goes:

    * 26 year-old Male, French – but without being truly French: Born and raised in Paris,France – from a middle eastern background and went to an International school from 6 to 18

    * 720 GMAT / 116 TOEFL

    * Did my undergrad in France (graduated in top 5% of my class in a selective school – not sure how it translates in GPA) and did a Masters in Management at London Business School when 23 (which is the big issue with my profile: why an MBA when I’ve already been to B-School. Quick answer: career change / classes in Masters degree weren’t specific enough – no electives etc.

    * Internship in portfolio management/private banking, created a commercial brokerage company, worked with startups (freelance consulting) and ended up working at P&G for 2 years in a finance/marketing/strategy role in the Global HQ of a 1+ billion dollar brand.

    * Extra curricular activities include : charity work (soup kitchen type in Churches) / Founding and running an investment club in undergraduate university / Part of the Executive Committee of LBS club (usually only available to MBAs but I secured a position even as a Masters student) / Playing guitar in a band / sports (non competitive level)

    * Fluent in 3 languages; intermediate in 2 / Lived in 4 countries during lifetime – hope to get that number to 6 before settling in somewhere.

    * Reason for MBA : career change. I want to go into management consultancy and in the longer term work for/start a venture capital firm. I am passionate about Technology.

    Hope this was compelling enough to get picked!

    Thanks again for your great articles!


    Mr. International

  • Mr Quant with bad grades

    Hi Sandy

    It’s such a great section you have here. I Never thought that I would consider H/W/S, but after reading your full series, I felt that I should atleat try to find out if I do have a chance of not. Any comment would be greatly appreciated.

    Here’s a snapshot of my profile.

    Male: 27 years

    Education: B.Tech (ECE), IIT, GPA: 3.0 (yes, screwed up big time there, but rising trend , and all As in a particular set of subjects (around 10% of complete curriculum) I was very interested in)
    Born and brought up in a very small, almost rural, town in India; first gen college student in my family.
    GMAT: 740
    Work Exp: Quant at a small investment management shop -> Quant Consultant for a top 5 IB (European) -> Quant at a Top 3 IB (American)…… (total 4 years of work exp as of now)
    CFA: All three levels (all in first attempt, >70% marks in nearly all the subjects in all three levels, if that matters even marginally)
    Academic research internship in Europe (during college).

    1) Been part of bands during college time and after college too (including many awards for winning performances), little bit of experience as session artist; though rock bands are not known for professionalism but I learned a lot about team
    work in that experience, and I do have stories to write about that.

    2) Teaching underprivileged kids, 2-3 of hours a week, for a reputed international NGO, with some leadership role regarding community involvement. It’s been less than a year, so I don’t know how much value it will add.

    3) Involvement in all sorts of activities in college; event management, music societies, theater, robotics.


    Been involved in all sorts of amateurish start-ups since college (one of the factor in screwing up my GPA). Currently, Co-founder of a startup (alongside my day job), providing software consulting service (to improve productivity in operations) to couple of
    largest (internationally) consumer goods companies as a preferred vendor for that service; expanding slowly, mostly bootstrapped.

    Goals: Strategy/Consulting (Technology, Media, and Entertainment) -> starting up.

    Target schools:

    Anderson, Haas, NYU, Fuqua (Primary Focus)

    Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Wharton (Shot in the dark)


  • Mr. Inner City

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for all of the handicapping that you do.

    I was wondering if you could give me any tips or pointers on my profile

    -26 Year old Nepali male(American Citizen)
    -680 GMAT (40Q 43V)
    -Attended non service academy military college-Biology Major(3.1 GPA, with an increase in GPA each semester, from 2.6/2.8 freshman year to 3.4/3.9 last two semesters)
    -TFA Alum(Taught for 3 years, Chemistry Team Lead, Increased scores in my department by 30% in 3 years and had 100% passing on state test, Mentor Teacher to incoming first year teacher)
    -Currently working at a mid-sized charter school network in Chicago as a recruitment coordinator for human capital.Increased Pool of quality applicants by 40%
    -Extra Curriculars: Volunteering with an Education non-profit mentoring a inner city student, Elected to College Board of Directors as a voice for 200+ members of my company)

    Short Term Goals- Work for Management/Human Capital consulting firm (Deliotte, McKinsey, Bain) specifically in the social based for-profit sector to increase the efficiency hiring and products.

    Long Term Goals- Start or lead a company with a focus on the increased development of social based for-profit businesses in downtrodden urban areas (Detroit,MI, Flint, MI, Youngstown, OH, Gary, IN)

    Looking to Apply to Michigan, Northwestern, Berkely, UT-Austin, Georgetown

  • Maximus


    Would be appreciated if you could evaluate a Scandinavian profile:

    1) 680 – 720 GMAT (not yet taken), TOEFL iBT 110.
    2) BBA (Grade: C) w/1 year exchange in France (Grade: 14/20 = Honors). MSc in Political Economy (Grade: B) from at a top 65 Europe Business School. Master thesis on Microfinance. According to LSE a “B” equals a 3,5 GPA.
    3) Got experience from financial markets, development finance and a start up.
    3.1) Intern – the American Chamber of Commerce, 1 year in a major public Development Financial Institution, 1,5 year as a financial reporter in a news bureau (competitor of Bloomberg/Reuters) and 1 year as a Co-Founder/CFO in an international start-up. Currently working as an investment trainee in a private equity firm operating towards agribusiness in East Africa.
    3.2) As a reporter I represented the news bureau as an expert commentator to the norwegian financial news (comparable to those visiting BBC during the morning sessions). Also awarded $1000 for winning a national championship in stock trading.
    3.3) As a Co-Founder we received funding from the EU and a french investor, established a French registered company with office in Nice and was nominated “the best start up in the Nordics 2012” by Startup awards. Currently trying to complete an exit of this venture
    4) Lived 2 years in France, several months in a non-English speaking family in Peru and had 3 study trips on the African continent. Speaks 4 languages (Norwegian, English, French and Spanish) more or less fluently and understand Italian spoken and Portugese written.
    5) Signed up for the CFA Level 1. Ambition to complete this during the next 2-4 years.

    Future ambitions: Work in an investment firm (most likely private equity) operating towards emerging/frontier markets with a sustainability focus. May also consider working in financial services or consulting with a “sustainability approach”. Location: Open minded.

    B-School under consideration:


    Thank you!

  • hbsguru

    At HBS, diff between 740 GMAT and 780 prob. not going to move the needle, at Wharton and MIT, ultra GMATs are recognized and rewarded altho hard to quantify.

    Diff between a 640 and 680 GMAT can be critical at many places, esp. if rest of your profile is likeable, with a 680 you are meeting them half-way, a 640 you are asking for a big favor.

    Rockstar rec fr. CEO is not much diff than rockstar or even American Has Talent level rec fr. any senior C-level dude 1. CEO is household name, 2. He is willing to invest any personal capital in you, e.g. make a call, write a note, pull a chain, etc.

  • Ms.European

    Another European profile – I woud love thoughts on this:

    Female, will be 29 in Fall 2014, German citizenship
    GMAT, 760 (99%) (Q:49, V:44, IR: 7, AWA: 6.0)
    TOEFL: 118/120 iBT

    Work experience:

    1 year boutique consulting (healthcare & pharma),
    promoted to consultant, 7 direct reports, office based in Switzerland (2 years by Fall 2014)

    3 years major conglomerate, working in Germany, first 2
    years as part of fast-track program with 8 months rotation in Brazil, functions
    in product management, engineering, sales; published in industry publication

    University degree: B.Sc. and M.Sc. in electrical engineering
    from top German university, grade 1.8 in German system (3.6-4.0 GPA depending
    on conversion used), 1 year abroad in Spain (engineering courses, taught in
    Spanish), visiting scholar for 3 months in the US,
    internships in the UK (3 months) and Lebanon (total 5 months), published a research paper at a tier 1 conference

    High school degree obtained in France

    Summary international exposure: lived in 8 countries, speak
    5 languages (French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese; have worked in all
    of them at some point)

    Post-MBA short term target: big name consulting, in Europe,
    ideally maintaining focus on healthcare

    Long-term target: strategy in healthcare / pharma group

    Extracurriculars: mentoring students, traveler and blogger
    (public), video director (hobby, not published), volunteer at arts events /

    Schools: R1: HBS, LBS, Insead

    R2: MIT, Wharton, IESE

    Thank you

  • Derek

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for doing this column, very helpful.

    My profile is all over the place and I would really appreciate feedback for putting it all together into a cohesive story, as well as get your thoughts on my chances of getting in at top MBA programs.

    – 25 year old Asian male
    – 760 GMAT (hope this proves that I am hardworking and willing to put in effort, something that my GPA doesn’t show)
    – 3.04 GPA from UCLA undergrad Economics major (I really screwed up here and didn’t try nearly as much as I should have)
    – First generation immigrant from China who learned English at the age 10 and went on to do state level speech and debate competitions (CA)
    – Top leadership roles in undergrad for hip-hop teams and other student organizations, and really in all organizations that I’ve been involved in
    – Proven professional growth and upward movement in all corporations I’ve been with
    – Semi consistent volunteering but not as of late

    Worked 1 year in business to business telecom/tech sales, spent 1 year doing a start up business in organizational communication (think Yammer but for smaller organizations) as an analyst/consultant, and 1.5 years (presently) in an advertising agency as a senior marketing analyst.

    I want to leverage the network and skills I could gain at a top business school to change the way people look at advertising, and improve the way brands interact with consumers. Specifically, I want to lead large ad agencies and widely recognizable brands to stop being afraid to be early adopters of technologies and innovations that could change the world, especially now that mobile and tablet (not to mention social TV/gaming systems) are already such a big part of holistic marketing strategies.

    I also have strong aspirations to do tech entrepreneurship but I don’t think this spells as much of a complete story as the one above, given my background. Open to your thoughts.

    My choices for schools include:

    Please let me know what you think my chances are and how I can best position my experiences and mitigate the low GPA from my foolish college years. Thank you very much


  • Ms. RenewableEnergy

    AND! Sorry, one more thing: Got offered the job after the rotational programme as a product manager (most did not)

  • Ms. RenewableEnergy

    To add:

    I would like to do an MBA to expand my own consultancy business or otherwise get hired into sustainability consulting for a MBB-firm.

  • Ms.RenewableEnergy

    Hi Sandy,

    Thank you for all the help always with handicapping profiles – I’ve read all, and they are tremendously helpful.
    I was wondering what you thought of my profile for HBS, Stanford, CBS, Wharton, Booth, INSEAD and LBS, thinking about joint degrees with public policy programs.

    25-year old female from a small western European country.
    740 GMAT/maximum GRE.
    3.1 at a top 5 LAC on the east coast (notorious for its grade deflation…), did terribly sophomore year, but scored 3.8-4.0s the last three semesters. Economics and government double major.
    Involved in lots of extracurriculars in college, including presidencies of prestigious club, club founder and organized a large, city-wide fundraiser that involved the administration and trustees, won two (national) awards. Internships at famous start up and think tanks.
    After graduating I finished a STEM masters program at a top London university (top 2), graduated with equivalent of highest honors, with best thesis award.

    After-college experience:
    – management trainee at sustainability division of very famous company in oil or food services (think Shell/Unilever/P&G) , active in renewable energy etc. (2 years) in UK.
    – was simultaneously active in starting an innovation consultancy with several others, did work for city governments and companies (including lufthansa etc.), but still relatively small scale.
    – did volunteer work and very active in local politics of my home country.
    – Language and computer skills (can program, and speak 5 languages fluently).
    – published (on environment/tech topics etc.) in famous publications (think Wired, Guardian).

    Do you think I could stand a chance despite the very low GPA (I have one D on my transcript…)?

    Thank you!

  • hbsguru

    Hey, no fairs, I said I was rooting for the guy! I was just noting, in my Nate Silver mode, that his GPA and GMAT were both on low-ish side for Service Acad. grads, something confirmed in comment by vet below who is at HSW and notes stats of vets at those schools run pretty similar to school averages for general population, e.g most military admits at HSW have much higher stats. The issue is whether Captain’s leadership and voluntneer work can push the needle. Remember, the military guys he is competing against are no wallflowers either. We all like military applicants but once you get into the short hairs of this guy vs. that guy, it gets muddled.

    Here is another fact I wish I were certain about: Percent of military admits at HSW (from all military who apply)? Same percent (e.g. ~10 at HBS) as general population or higher? My guess, more close to general pool percent than you might think, altho higher. But even if 30 or 40 percent of all military applicants to HSW get in (for the sake of argument), who does not get in??? Ahem, guys w. low GMAT/GPA.

    In fact, not to get too quanty here, but my hunch is, GMAT/GPA is better predictor of admission for service academy grads than Ivy grads (non military). How come? Ivy grads have one more marker on their resume, work ex. Military work ex, as I have opined, is, TO ADCOMS and many others, generic. No offense to anyone. But adcoms can smell the difference between a job at Gold Investment Bank vs. Silver Investment Bank, they cannot do that with military. [With possible exception of Special Forces and SEALS — those guys should be real happy, Bin Laden may have helped them get into HSW 🙂 ].

  • OppaFAM

    Mr.Captain, I’m pretty sure you will get in into HBS, just apply. Sandy seems to be like university professor never satisfied even if you get nobel in quantum physics, he will still ask you to get another nobel for chemistry!!

  • Harmony500

    folks with +750 gmat should not given any leadership position, they will simply blow up the firm. they are excellent in doing technical stuff but interacting with people or doing business development, No, the firm need politicians for leadership NOT nerds.

  • T Hogge

    Hi Sandy,

    Hoping to get featured. Here are the “stats”
    -27 White Male
    -3.7 GPA from a small school, Southern Utah University
    -GMAT not taken yet, 29 on ACT
    -4 years experience at rapidly-expanding SaaS technology firm
    -managed the sales team of 10 people
    -opened the UK sales office
    -CFA level III candidate
    -Extra Curricular: Scholarship baseball player at SUU and team captain, LDS full-time service volunteer for 2 years in Cleveland, Junior Achievement volunteer teacher

    Goal is to found a tech startup in the software industry and then to become a private equity investor.

  • JohnAByrne

    I’m eager to see how Sandy would answer your questions. My sense is that too many people think that if they get a certain GMAT score, they are golden. That’s just not the case. Schools don’t pick candidates on GMAT and GPAs alone, as important as they are, because the applicant pool at any elite school is so spectacular that high GMAT scores and GPAs are the NORM. And a high GMAT score only means one thing and one thing barely: that you will be able to do the coursework in the core curriculum without difficulty. That’s it. It does not correlate to career success, to your value to the community, to your leadership potential. So it’s hard to isolate one piece of an application–whether it’s a rec letter from a famous CEO or an uber GMAT score–without viewing the entire profile.

  • Mdnght Rmblr

    How bad is failing one class at a different school than the one that granted your degree?? Do you have to report it? Know someone that failed a class not due to trying but randomness of not knowing location of school the casually enrolled in, and came back to bite them in Law School apps. Do B-schools care? Or can you get away with just submitting transcripts for schools you legitimately attended

  • Adj Bureau

    How should we be motivated/demotivated by updates to your odds? For a top school, if one’s expected GMAT was X and they ended up getting, say, X+20, does that add half of the shift in % points, or what? Example: Expect 740, got 760. Understand probably doesn’t matter at lower levels (600s) but what about that at already elite levels? Or Expect 760 got 780? And you said H – 20%, W 45%, does that move up 20% or 10% or none…just wondering!
    Great column. In the same vein, what does getting a rockstar rec from CEO add if he actually knows you and really goes to bat? I’m guessing no change but some Part Time Adcoms at an MBA Tour recently confused on this topic, not sure they’re sure of how Full Time things go down.

  • hbsguru

    THANKS, real helpful. That is what I imagined, and have experienced, and it is nice to see it confirmed.

  • Mr. Energy

    Hey Sandy – Mr. Energy here. I am not much help on your questions anove, but I just wanted to say thanks for doing a profile eval on my behalf. I really appreciate it and will take your advice into account as I apply to HBS and Wharton. Enjoyed reading your take immenseley!

  • Anne

    Hi Sandy,

    Hoping to get selected for the next feature…

    -23 year old Asian American female
    -3.45 GPA in Economics at a top Liberal Arts college in the East Coast
    -770 GMAT Q50 V45

    -2.5 years work experience

    Schools applying to:

    Work experience:
    -Paid internships all throughout college. Last internship (3 months) was at a Vault 50 Consulting firm focusing on competitive price strategies. I developed the business case for an internal company project and performed competitive benchmarking analysis on product prices for a Fortune 500 company.
    -Part time job (5 months) during college for a specialized consulting firm, working directly under the President (who is very well known in the industry). I led a research team in revising his book and contributed in the writing of various published articles. I am given credit in both the book and articles.
    -Hired full time after college as an Analyst at a boutique Economic consulting firm (similar to the work of Cornerstone, Analysis Group, etc.). I was given responsibility of large projects with high-profile clients (Fortune 500, large government agencies). I performed complex economic analyses and prepared trial documents/exhibits. Promoted to a Senior Analyst after 2 years with the firm. In addition to performing economic analysis, I mentor first-years and manage resources for the completion of mid-range project goals. Proficient in Stata and SAS.

    -Active leadership role at an organization that aims to develop the potential of women and build better communities through voluntarism.
    -On the electoral board of my college’s Asian cultural club for four years.
    -Intramural basketball including one year abroad during college and continued league basketball post-graduation.
    -poker, hiking, scuba diving (certified), rafting

    Goal/Why MBA:
    -Further growth in my industry would require a PhD in Economics and I’m not interested.
    -Looking to shift my analytic and quantitative skills to a finance focus. Hoping to move into private equity and work for a large PE firm post-MBA. Long term goal to break into a VC.
    -Side note: high preference for a job in California post-MBA.

    Thanks Sandy!

  • Johnny boats.


    I am an Annapolis grad and attend H/S/W. In my class, the far majority of military students attended West Point or Annapolis and a few USAFA. The remainder attended an Ivy or near Ivy. (Simply bc most officers are products of an academy vice Ivy schools) Almost all of us have 3.6+ and 700+ (military GPA and GMAT generally align with the class average) The one military demographic that seems to receive the benefit of the doubt are the more exotic specialties (SEAL, SF, etc). However, even so, this sub-demographic generally has solid stats as well, but I’ve seen a few exceptions (believe me, these guys more than make up for it in their general “presentation”)

    I have seen many academy grads with solid numbers also get dinged as a result of poor networking and execution—my program has really begun relying on the vet club to screen military candidates.

    Hope this helps. As to specific GPA and GMAT averages, I’m not privy to that.

  • hbsguru

    Hi Folks, Sandy here. This week’s analysis poses to limited questions I was hoping our readers could shed some light on.

    1. What is the average GPA of service academy admits at H/S/W –this wld help out the Captani profile above: I warned him that his low-ish GPA despite rising over the years, could really hurt at HSW. Does anyone have any data on that. I still believe it.

    2. What are typical “2nd Jobs” for Teach For America admits to HSW? Assuming you start in TFA, and then do X, and then go to HSW, what is typically Job 2–I also welcome any stories revealing profiles of TFA admits to HSW, as would our readers,



  • StratCon

    To clarify, that’s 1 year at start up, 1.5 years at ACN.


  • StratCon

    Hi Sandy,

    I love these breakdowns, I hope you’ll give me some insight into my chances at a top school with my current profile —

    Post MBA career goal: I want to analyze global forces and trends working in MBB strategy practice

    24 year old, white, male
    3.23 GPA in Economics @ UT
    700 GMAT Q43, V42 (retake in a few weeks to up the quant, hopefully)
    W.E. – 2.5 years

    Schools Applying to:
    Columbia (thinking ED, so these other schools are in consideration only if CBS dings me)

    Extra Curriculars:
    YMCA Youth Soccer Coach
    Communications Officer – Professional Club
    Finance Pillar Co-Lead – Professional Club
    Volleyball Team – Professional Club
    Soccer Team – Professional Club
    Kickball Team – Professional Club
    Traditional and indoor climbing, soccer, camping, travelling, food

    Work Experience:
    Interned at start-up medical device company senior year of college, hired on full time as Business Operations Manager. Team grew from 7 to 15 full time employees by the time I left a year later. Improved shipping and inventory tracking processes, helped develop QA system and procedures, managed 4 interns, managed inventory audits, handled international shipping and receiving logistics, managed vendor communications and procurement.

    Worked in Accenture’s rotational Management Consulting Development Program, worked with IT and Oil & Gas clients in change management and project management roles. I lead strategic communications, stakeholder engagement analysis, risks/issues management, project performance improvements, deliverables tracking, client relationship management, reporting, financial forecasting and budgeting on >$15MM projects and teams >40 resources spread across North America, Europe and Asia.