McCombs School of Business | Mr. Military 2.0
GRE 310, GPA 2.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Agribusiness
GRE 308, GPA 3.04
Wharton | Ms. Healthcare Visionary
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
IESE | Mr. Future Brand Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. PMP To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.72
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare VC
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. British Tech 2+2
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Government Consultant
GMAT 600, GPA 3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
Wharton | Ms. Future CEO
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Unicorn Strategy
GMAT 740 (estimated), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Columbia | Mr. MD
GMAT 630, GPA 3.24
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
London Business School | Mr. Green Energy
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Civil Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.9/10
Harvard | Mr. Colombian Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.96
Tuck | Mr. Winning Team
GMAT 760, GPA 7.95 out of 10
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Finance Real Estate

man stars

Mr. Specialty Retail


  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.47 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from Ohio State University, graduating in three and one-half years
  • Work experience includes more than four years in specialty retailing at two major companies (Think Abercrombie, Express, Limited Brands, DSW), first in planning and allocation and currently in financial planning an analysis
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer with a local youth hockey program targeted at giving mentally or physically disabled children the ability to play the sport
  • Goal: To switch into investment banking
  • “This has long been a goal of mine. However, I graduated when firms were not hiring (especially kids from non-targets) due to the financial crisis”
  • 24-year-old American male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%

Wharton: 15%

Chicago: 30%

Columbia: 30%

New York: 40%

Northwestern: 30% to 40%

Dartmouth: 30%

Yale: 20% to 30%

Duke: 40%+

Virginia: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Keep dreaming about IB but don’t say you want to go into banking on your application. It sounds uninformed and wet-dreamy.

Schools got talented bankers and wannabes out the door. They got a LOT of them. What they don’t have is retail tigers like you with 54 months of merchandise experience split between planning and finance. If you want to think big on your app, think RETAIL CONSULTING! And here is another thing, consulting firms have offices in Ohio, and many other tier-two and tier-three places where a white bread dude like you could pretend with a straight face you want to end up. You already have an Ohio driver’s license.

So the admission officer reads that you want to be a consultant, and the admission officer cooks up a little fantasy of you being interviewed by Joe the Visiting Consultant, and you telling Joe that SURE, I’M CRAZY ABOUT CLEVELAND, and whaddya know, another MBA has a job and everyone is happy.

Say that, get in, sure, work your butt off to get an IB job, and who knows, could happen. But present yourself as a consultant.

Harvard (NO), Wharton (NO), Booth (PROB NOT), Columbia (PROB NOT).

Stats and age and gender and lack of any WOW factor are just impossible to overcome at those places.

NYU, Kellogg, Dartmouth, Yale, Fuqua, Darden–good way to spread your seed, although I am not seeing Yale. NYU and Kellogg in particular may be impressed with the retail and consulting angle.

The other schools are possible and you just need to get lucky once.

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.