Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

For the past three years, he’s been working in strategy and operations consulting for Deloitte Consulting. With a 690 GMAt and a 3.7 grade point average from a ‘Little Ivy,’ this 25-year-old white male wants an MBA to enhance his career at Deloitte so he can help to build the firm’s emerging markets practice.

This 32-year-old Canadian has guts. An analyst at the second largest investment management firm in Canada, he invited Sandy “to tear me to shreds.” With a 720 GMAT and a 3.69 GPA in finance from a Top 10 Canadian university, his post-MBA goal is to pursue a financial services startup that “empowers consumers to manage their investments for a fraction of the cost while still receiving first class investment.”

In his five years at a major consumer packaged goods company, this 26-year-old Mexican American has been promoted three times. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA in economics from a top Midwestern university, this first-generation college professional hopes to go to business school to help him transition out of sales and into a brand management role.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Mr. Deloitte

  • 690 GMAT (plan to retake)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a ‘Little Ivy’ (Think Amherst, Williams or Wesleyan
  • Work experience includes three years in strategy and operations consulting for Deloitte Consulting (top ratings and promotion after two years; MBA sponsorship likely)
  • Internships in asset management (Dodge & Cox) and economic consulting (Brattle Group)
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of a pro-bono consulting group during undergrad; general manager of a 100+ student sub-division of the IT department, led multiple studies in the psychology research lab; currently volunteer with Junior Achievement of New York, co-founder of social impact initiative at Deloitte; Deloitte co-networking lead for New York office
  • Short-term goal: To rejoin Deloitte to focus on market entry/growth strategy and build the emerging market practice
  • Long-term goal: To return to Poland to help renewable energy and smart grid technology penetrate the Eastern European market
  • Bilingual dual-citizen who is U.S.-born and raised in Poland (16 years)
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40% (If you get the 720)
Wharton: 40% to 50%
Columbia: 40% to 50%
Dartmouth: 40% to 50%
Northwestern: 50%+
Berkeley: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: You present an interesting case: If you are a white male, how do you get into Harvard Business School from the Big Four? As I have said frequently, if you work for the Big Four in Europe that is considered a little more prestigious. If you for the Big Four in the U.S., it’s very hard to break out of there and go to Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.

Even though you were born in the U.S., you may classify as a European because you were brought up in Poland. You went to a classy school, a Little Ivy, with a good GPA. Even though you are short on the GMAT with a 690, you are shooting for a 720. From the way I read this, you seem to be a star at Deloitte.

And then this is interesting: He said that when he was in college he interned at Dodge & Cox, a famous asset management firm, and at the Brattle Group, a boutique economic consulting group. After that, how come you wound up at Deloitte? For whatever reason, you seem to really fit into Deloitte, you want to go back there, and you will probably be a sponsored student. That’s powerful.

Your pro-bono consulting in undergrad isn’t going to cut much mustard. And neither is volunteering with Junior Achievement. That’s nice but it doesn’t move the needle for you, though please continue to do it. Pro bono volunteer trip to Panama isn’t going to do much, unless you can show dramatic and sustained impact.

You co-founded a social impact group/initiative at Deloitte .That is a good slug on your recommendations. At a certain point, it begins to build. Even though there is no standout extracurricular, there is a pattern here of being involved and that is very positive.

You are very comfortable at Deloitte, very well thought of, and innovative, and happy enough to generate the energy to do all this stuff. We are getting the vibe that you were very successful at your Little Ivy and are very successful at Deloitte.

Your long-term goal to help renewable energy and smart grid technology penetrate the Eastern European market is an acceptable aspiration. That statement signals that you are hip to what is out there and you’re connected to the macro-aspirational, good guy liberal thinking. Adcoms will say you are our type of guy.

My tough love for you: Get a higher GMAT score. I said it before and I will say it again. The GMAT really counts, particularly for white males. Get a 720 GMAT even if it requires taking the exam three times. I know how punishing that is but that is your biggest bang for the buck.