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


Ms. Dual Degree


  • 328 GRE (169V/159Q)
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a Top 20 university
  • Work experience includes three years as an analyst for a top consulting firm (think McKinsey/Bain/BCG) with top ratings, and two years on the strategy team of a “big name” educational tech non-profit in Silicon Valley
  • Internships in international affairs at the State Department, for international development non-profits, and work experience in more than four countries
  • Extracurricular involvement as a board member of a mid-size non-profit in California and pro-bono consultant for non-profits.
  • Fluent in five languages
  • Short-term goal: To return to employer and continue work in emerging markets and non-profit organizations
  • Long-term goal: To lead program/operations for a successful international development organization with a focus on education and literacy
  • “Applying to joint MBA/MA (Education, Int’l Affairs) and joint MBA/MPP programs; will apply Round 1 to all schools”
  • 27-year-old American female

Odds at Schools:

Harvard: 50%+

Stanford: 40%+

Wharton: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You’re a very impressive candidate.

If there is a student who could successfully present a GRE, it’s you because you’re applying for a dual degree. Your GRE score translates to a 690 GMAT and you are obviously interested in top schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton. If you are going to present a 690 GMAT, you are better off reporting it as a GRE score because it won’t hurt a school’s ranking. That is just an issue for general consumption.

You have a resume full of prestigious organizations and schools. And your story about what you’ve done and what you want to do makes sense. It is a tightly-knit story..

You’re a class act. You have such a tight narrative that the dual-degree may make sense for you. But I personally don’t recommend getting a dual-degree. I think it is a waste of a year and a waste of money. Here’s why: If you are shrewd about the way you handle the MBA, you can get the schmooze value of the dual-degree your second year. For instance, let’s say you want to go to Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School. My advice is just go to HBS and spend your second year schmooze around the Kennedy School. You can make all the contacts and you can save yourself a year of tuition and a year’s worth of income. In your second year, you could take a good number of the Kennedy school courses by cross registering there.

You have real Stanford DNA. The only boo-boo is your low GRE, but I think your chances are really good and even better at HBS. Wharton may say, ‘What is this person doing here?’ Wharton has a special person who recruits people for social enterprise, but Wharton might take a close look at this and say this gal is going to Stanford or Harvard.

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