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.