Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500

What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

woman proMs. Politics


  • GMAT unknown
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in political science from a West Coast public Ivy
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Master’s degree in political science from a top private university in Washington, D.C.
  • Work experience includes eight years in government and politics at the federal level, including political work on two Presidential campaigns, and three years in a  non-profit;
  • “I planned events for the VP during one, led online fundraising division/direct marketing for the other), Presidential Inaugural Committee, U.S. Department of Education (Political Appointee), and helped build a political consulting firm. Also worth noting, I’m a Republican (I’m told this may have an effect on way AdComm views my application)”
  • Extracurricular involvement as a mentor for a non-partisan non-profit helping young women to run for public office, lecturer and trainer for political fundraising, member of an advisory board for a sorority (mentoring college women), volunteer at local women’s shelter through the Junior League
  • Short-term goal: To work for a large foundation (Rockefeller) or corporate engagement office of a large company (Goldman Sachs’ 10K Women initiative)
  • Long-term goal: To create a social enterprise with the goal of increasing female representation at the highest levels of business, government, and nonprofit sectors
  • “Prefer to attend full time vs. Executive MBA to take advantage of social impact/social entrepreneurship resources”
  • 33-year-old white female, first woman in family to attend and graduate from college

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Wharton: 20%

Columbia: 20% to 30%

Yale: 25%

Duke: 35%

Sandy’s Analysis: Your chances at Harvard, if you focused on Cambridge, are WAY better at the Kennedy School, where all your past makes sense and they may blink at the low undergraduate GPA because it was a long time ago, and your grad GPA is fine. HBS cares WAY more about undergraduate GPA because it is a better test of your ability to sit still, eat s**t, and spit it back, which is basically what you do there, with some interruptions when being called on.  Anyone can ace courses they like, is the theory. Also, many Kennedy School graduates get jobs just like the ones you are seeking, so just keep that in mind.

Being a moderate Republican can help you at the K school (and a bit at HBS) since they are looking for balance. But don’t stress that beyond, of course, identifying the candidates whom you worked for–I assume they were GOP.

Given the many jobs, which are impressive and short term-ish, ad hoc, and “operative-flakey” at the same time, your GMAT could be important (also important because your GPA is low!). If you are not scoring well on practice exams there, try the GRE, which has the added advantage of being easier for some people plus it allows the school to keep a low-ish score off their GMAT average report, if they really like you but are worried about bringing down their GMAT average. Despite the math in such a calculation (e.g. how much does one, say 640 GMAT,  bring down a reported school total average with 500 to 1000 other scores), adcoms don’t think that way.

And you are likable, given your non-profit work and government work.

Oddly, with a solid GMAT/GRE and some powerful recs from big feet, if that is an option, your chances at HBS are almost as good as at Wharton and Columbia, who don’t go for this profile, are not expanding their non-profit programs so much, and are more fixated on raw numbers. I could be wrong, but this is not a Wharton profile.

Yale used to focus on non-profit management but then did some turnaround and started focusing on U.S. News rankings. So while they may admit you for old time’s sake, hmmmm, don’t count on it. Might be helpful with all those schools to use your many contacts to schmooze, assuming you have your act together.

Duke runs older and is OK choice, as would be Darden.

Your best chance of getting in via DNA and a Charm Offensive is Kellogg, so start figuring out who you know there.

Hmmmm, be sure to explain your application why you are not interested in an EMBA program. That is the first question these schools will have.

All that said, really take a close look at Master’s in Public Policy programs, e.g. Kennedy School and others. That is where you belong and many grads from, e.g. Harvard Kennedy School, go into private/non–profit work.

This is from their website, and the PDF of where K schools grads got jobs for class of 2013 is pretty interesting.

For specific information about where Harvard Kennedy School graduates go, check out our current Class Employment Overview (link to pdf) and our Admissions blog, which includes stories about our Alumni.

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.