Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Army Intelligence

sales guyMr. Consultant


  • 750 GMAT
  • 3.75 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics and philosophy from an Ivy League university (Columbia/Brown/UPenn)
  • Work experience as a consultant for top-three firm (Bain or BCG)
  • Extracurricular involvement as a researcher of a sanitation-focused NGO in rural Kenya; co-founded an economics discussion forum during the financial crisis; led 30-person workshops on social justice, race and identity
  • Goal: To gain leadership ability to direct strategy at a major tech company or to create disruptive business models in developing countries using technology
  • “How would this be impacted if I applied for a MBA/JD? I have a 170 LSAT, but that was sort of taken on a whim and could be improved”
  • Mexican with U.S. citizenship

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% to 50%

Stanford: 30% to 40+%

Wharton: 50+%

Chicago: 60+%

Northwestern: 60+%

MIT: 50+%

Berkeley: 50+%

Yale: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Dunno, we got a 3.75 GPA at an Ivy School, a 750 GMAT, work at either Bain or BCG, possible Latino (are you a U.S. citizen and do you have a Spanish surname, or otherwise evidence that you identify Latino?). Did I miss this someplace, you never did come out and say what gender you were.

Well, never mind, although just to speculate, the number of Latino men with 750 GMATs is pretty darn small, so if you are a guy, which somehow from the vibe of your report, I don’t think, that would be better. You also have solid and interesting and global extra-currics in college, which as you note, include, “researcher of a sanitation-focused NGO in rural Kenya, spending several months in-country. Co-founding an economics discussion forum during the financial crisis and leading a 20-30 person workshops on social justice, race, and identity.”

And, as you add, “not much since then.” Assuming you can get solid recommendations from your consulting firm, you have a solid chance at both H and S. Stanford is very partial to M/B/B, all their phony “pseudo-equality” jive aside (“we want to know you as person . . .” yes, they do, a person who works for M/B/B), they really take lotsa, lotsa kids from those firms, and you have the PC college extras, the Latino thing, and super solid stats to boot. HBS, while it takes fewer M/B/B as a percent, still takes a lot.

The fact you have firm support is also significant. (Meaning, for those who don’t know, that the firm will pay your tuition, usually in the form of an interest-free loan which is forgiven by 20% or 25% every year you return, so you can work it all off in four or five years. Many folks who make that deal, don’t do the whole 4-5 years, and some just punt for a tech start-up, but, whatever, it is a strong vote of confidence on the part of the firm in you, which is what counts to adcoms).

The fact that you do not have much current extracurrics will not be a big factor in my opinion. There is just too much really strong basic material here.

As to your stated goals, either of the two you list are fine (1. “Gain the leadership capabilities to direct strategy at major tech company . . . 2. Disrupt business models in developing countries (Mexico/Kenya) using technology, e.g., car-sharing business in Mexico City to reduce traffic . . ). Schools don’t care about goals for someone like you as long as they are not insane. Just make sure you can link goals up to things you have done, and cite role models of people doing that, so it does not seem totally nuts.

You asked about getting a joint JD/MBA, and for the 134th time, allow me to say, I OPPOSE ANYONE DOING A JD-MBA JOINT-DEGREE (MD/MBA IS A DIFFERENT MATTER) because it is a waste of time and money. I still am open to readers who want to defend this boondoggle (at H and S, there is no real joint-degree program, you just get permission to cross-register. It is not like there are seminars about the synergy between law and business. You are totally on your own. The program is administered, in fact, by the Registrar and welcomed by the Bursar, with everyone else scratching their heads). If someone could write in and give me an example of anyone who might gain from a joint-degree, please do so. Arguably, someone interested in managing an IB firm or being a general counsel to a Fortune 500 company. But at any rate, that ain’t you babe (or dude).

Needless to say, your chances at Wharton are strong for all of the above and at Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Haas, and Yale are very strong, if you can convince them you actually want to come.

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