Wharton | Mr. Top Salesman
GMAT 610, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
MIT Sloan | Mr. Latino Insurance
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5 / 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Triathlete
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
MIT Sloan | Mr. MBB Transformation
GMAT 760, GPA 3.46
Wharton | Mr. Swing Big
GRE N/A, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Supply Chain Data Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 80% (top 10% of class)
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Indonesia
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. LGBT Social Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.79
Stanford GSB | Mr. Oilfield Trekker
GMAT 720, GPA 7.99/10
Kellogg | Mr. Big 4 Financial Consultant
GMAT 740, GPA 3.94
Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52

Handicapping Your MBA Odds

sales guy

Mr. Clean Tech


  • 670 GMAT (high verbal, low quant)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in international studies and Chinese from at top 20 public university
  • Have also taken online courses in accounting and statistics within the past year
  • Work experience will include four years in the clean tech/energy and environmental NGO sectors in San Francisco and Beijing, with lots of market and policy research; have also co-founded a company in the energy efficiency/software sector (“Worth mentioning?)
  • “I want to move away from the inefficiency of the NGO space, and focus on developing my business skills leveraging technology to mitigate our impact on the environment.”
  • Extracurricular involvement in professional organizations focused on sustainability issues in China and the U.S.
  • Goal: To move into consulting in the energy/utility/technology sectors. Longer term, to either work at a startup or PE/VC in this space.
  • 25-year-old white/hispanic male

Odds of Success:


Berkeley: 30% to 40%

MIT: 10% to 20%

IE: 50%

Michigan: 30%+

ESADE: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis:

Lots to like here, amid your obvious boo-boos like so-so GPA and low Q on the GMAT, but don’t make things harder for yourself by

1. dissing NGO’s.

2. saying you want to go into PE/VC, since that is just a common wet dream,  and in your case, it would confirm a skeptic’s view of this narrative, to wit,  that you are some confused  kid just riding whatever fashionable buzz thermals happen to be heating up this year or that. The picture of an applicant  who claims,  “I want to move away from the inefficiency of the NGO space” into “developing my business skills leveraging technology to mitigate our impact on the environment . . . ” and beyond that,  to someone who then wants to be in “PE/VC,”  is not a pretty one.

I would stick with a very tried-and-true path here and just say you want to be a consultant,  which 1. might happen, 2. is a good place to figure out what you actually want to do, including maybe, be a consultant.  Also a good way to start a business,if that idea still appeals to you,  because you gain credibility, learn basics, and make contacts. But for application purposes, just say CONSULTANT.  You cannot go wrong. (Although thousands think you need to be, ahem, more ‘original.’)

As to your question about whether it worth mentioning that you  have  “co-founded a small company in the energy efficiency/software as a service space that is in extremely early development”? My answer is: Dunno.  If it amounts to anything with metrics including funding, customers, VC interest in dollars, or even clicks (assuming lots and lots), maybe. If not, well one drawback to your profile is that is scattered, and full of starts and stops (well it seems that way, even if not, because of your confusing spin on each link in your chain) and projected starts and stops –so getting one start, which may not even be a start, out of the picture might be worth it. Make this story as clear and narrow as you can.

We are also baffled a bit about what a clean-tech and Hispanic guy is doing in China, not, to quote Jerry Seinfeld, that there is anything wrong with that, it just does not make for simple clarity. I personally am impressed with anyone who can learn Chinese, I am actually impressed with people who can speak Chinese as a first language, but in your case, whatever kudos you get for learning Chinese are balanced by the head scratches about what your story adds up to, who you are, what is driving you, especially in light of your long-term goals  in PE/VC. So again, just say you want to be a consultant. Maybe at the crossroads of energy and developing countries.

Taking courses in Accounting and Stats was a good move. If you want to really help yourself, retake the GMAT (if you have not, or even if you have).

Another issue is if  you a “legal” minority for adcom purposes, e.g. a U.S. citizen with a Hispanic surname and/or  someone who can realistically ID as Hispanic? That is important.

As to your target schools (respectively): INSEAD, Haas, Sloan, IE, Ross, and  ESADE.

Hmmmm, don’t think you are getting into Sloan unless you can boost GMAT and convince them YOU ARE REALLY HISPANIC, and even then.  They got a lot of guys in clean tech blah, blah with much more strong engineering and Quant cred. They will hold that low-Q GMAT score against you. Haas and Ross? Maybe, with a cleaned-up story, with good grades in those Quant courses, and with being a “legal” URM for application purposes, e.g. whatever they consider to be “Hispanic.”

Your chances are better at Ross, which is less selective by a real chunk, in terms of GPA/GMAT etc. Ross  also may have a way harder time getting smart-ish Hispanics than Berkeley. As to the Euro schools: INSEAD, IE, ESADE–those could work for you since major consulting firms recruit there and you seem to like foreign languages and non-US places. I think with a tight, correct-attitude story your odds at all of them would be 40-60 percent.

Here is some tough love: retake the GMAT, as many times as you can.  The difference between your 670 and even a 690 is often the biggets pop you ever get for 20 GMAT points. E.g. diff between 710 and 730 is not that great.  A 670 is actually concerning to some adcoms, 690 is just an OK person who is very plain-looking but not odd-looking in the GMAT beauty contest. That’s a huge difference.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.