What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

dreammanMr. Energy


  • 740 GMAT (47Q, 44V)
  • 3.98 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in international business and entrepreneurship from the University of Oklahoma, with minor in Mandarin (4.0 GPA and top student award)
  • Work experience includes two and one-half years as a project manager for a real estate development firm focused on urban infill and greenfield development of walkable neighborhoods; currently two and one-half years in a business development/strategy role for a large oil and gas company
  • Promoted twice in two years to a management position and work on a small team that has struck partnerships with 3M, GE, Whirlpool & BASF
  • “My first employer fell victim to the real estate downturn in 2008-2011 as our projects dried up”
  • Extracurricular involvement in church as well as in a local movement called “Better Block” that focuses urban development; have completed several triathlons including a half iron-man; was vice president of a 200-member college fraternity and led a student ambassador group that hosted such visiting dignitaries as Bill Clinton, Colin Powell and Al Gore
  • Goal: To move back into real estate development with a large real estate group (Hines, Related Companies, Boston Properties, etc
  • First generation college graduate
  • 27-year-old white male from the Midwest/South Central U.S.

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%
Wharton: 30% to 50%
Texas: 50%+
Stanford: 20%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmm, 3.9 from the University of Oklahoma, a 740 GMAT, and solid work history, to wit:  1. “project manager for a real estate development firm focused on urban infill and greenfield development of walkable neighborhoods (whatever that means!!!!, but it sounds urban and green)” and 2. (currently) work for a large US-based oil and gas exploration and production company in a business development/strategy role.”

Stop right there. Those stats and solid work history would get you into most schools, with only maybes at H/S/W. Your extracurrics are also OK,  “church as well as a local movement called “Better Block” which tries to get local funding for blighted areas.

You say, a bit surprisingly, that you want to get back into real estate, “to pursue a project management role with a large real estate group (Hines, Related Companies, Boston Properties, etc).”

Phew, Wharton might go for that since they have become GMAT-focused when it comes to white males like you, and the rest of your story is real solid. You can tell them, as you did in your write up, that working for a company which fell victim to the real estate bust of 2008 is something you want to share with your cluster as part of your academic contribution, along with stories about guiding Bill Clinton and Al Gore around campus. 😉

As for HBS and Stanford, my hunch is,  progressive oil and gas exploration in a business development/strategy role is better than returning to real estate, especially returning to big, bad real estate developers after you first gig there with some green companies. Your current job is: “I work on a small team focused on increasing demand for natural gas in unconventional sectors – specifically transportation (vehicles, locomotives, maritime).” Wow, that is sexy (within this context)  and you can also make that sound a lot sexier than that, and global.

And whatever your semi-hipster first job was, you don’t want to do that anymore anyway, but instead want to work for the big, bad boys like “Hines, Related Companies, Boston Properties, etc.” who do not bring to mind visions of  “walkable neighborhoods” so much as “walkable gated communities.”

And if you go with global energy  you can say you want to use your  college “minor in Mandarin Chinese (4.0 and top student award)” as well, which, by the way, impresses me.

Your  trajectory of going from do-gooder real estate to oil and gas and then back to real estate, except now non-do-gooder real estate, makes it sound like oil and gas taught you how to be evil and then you also figured out your prefer to be evil in real estate. That is not the kind of personal growth story they nominally like in Palo Alto.

Let me make it clear for real estate types who have been in real estate all their careers: real estate is fine and can be made to appear progressive, yadda, yadda, which I recommend. It just is harder to swallow with the current profile. Besides that, man, you’re from Oklahoma. I see oil wells. I do not see walkable neighborhoods over landfills. Sure, what do I know? I’ve never been to Oklahoma, but neither have most adcoms. Well, it probably won’t be crucial but just saying.  Sometimes admission to HBS turns on some very subtle things which become highlighted amid the murk of the entire app. If you stick with real  estate, have a real good rap about your trajectory for the interview.

I think HBS could go for this. They like first-gen white guys with strong stats and one anchor job (the outcome there could turn, more than you think, about what they think of your current gas company). Stanford less so, just too confusing to them, and no PC reason from their POV to bother getting unconfused.