Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1

Handicapping Your Shot At An Elite MBA: Mr. Indian-Engineer-Turned-Strategy Analyst

Mr. Inner City IT Consultant


  • 650 GMAT
  • 3.3 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from a small liberal arts college
  • 3.6 GPA (master’s)
  • Master’s in Information Management from an Ivy League university
  • Work experience includes five years at a bulge bracket investment bank (think Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or J.P. Morgan) and two years as an IT consultant for a well-known consulting firm (think Deloitte, Booz or Oliver Wyman)
  • Extracurricular involvement as a leader in local and national programs in civic equality and education, currently working for a well-known nonprofit focused on minority youth education
  • Goal: To use the MBA to transition to McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group
  • African-American, first generation college student from the a poor inner city family
  • 29-year-old

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 15%

Wharton: 25% to 30%

MIT: 30% to 40%

UC-Berkeley: 40% to 50%

Columbia: 30%

Yale: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: There’s a lot to like about this guy. He’s an up-from-the-boot straps African-American. He wanted to be a scientist and discovered that IT was more to his liking. What he wants to do is wind up at McKinsey, Bain or BCG. Here’s the problem: There is too much noise in the story. The 650 GMAT is a little bit of noise. So is his undergraduate GPA at 3.3. He also has had seven years of work experience, going from a bulge bracket bank to an IT consultant. That is more noise to be explained.

As I have said many times, schools will wink once if they like you. They will sometimes wink twice if they really like you. They do not wink three times. This guy has the 650, the low GPA and the unusual career. That is asking for two-and-one-half to three winks. That is why he is not getting into Harvard or Stanford and probably not Wharton.

Schools like when you don’t change careers because you are likely to be employed. He needs to shape his story. If he can do that he should. If not, he should hire a qualified consultant. Kellogg is a good school for you to think about. They are big and they go for stories like this. It’s also a school that would be open to the IT consulting angle. What he wants to do is join McKinsey and work in their IT practice. He could easily do that with a Kellogg MBA.

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.