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 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.

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