Stanford GSB | Mr. SpaceX
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
Darden | Ms. Inclusive Management
GRE 313, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Mountaineer
GRE 327, GPA 2.96
Stanford GSB | Mr. Latin American
GMAT 770, GPA 8 of 10
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
Columbia | Mr. Oil & Gas
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Admission
GRE 329, GPA 3.99
NYU Stern | Mr. NYC Consultant
GRE 327, GPA 3.47
NYU Stern | Mr. Brolic Bro
GRE 305, GPA 3.63
Tuck | Mr. Running To The Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Kellogg | Mr. Pro Sports MGMT
GMAT GMAT Waived, GPA 3.78
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Real Estate Developer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.12
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Commercial Lawyer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Tech Impact
GMAT 730, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Data & Strategy
GMAT 710 (estimate), GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Dreaming Civil Servant
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Mr. Tech PM
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Second MBA

woman at work

Ms. Startup


  • 680 GMAT
  • 3.74 GPA (completed in 3 and a half years)
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from Southern Methodist University, in honors economics program
  • Work experience includes one and one-half years as a research analyst at an affiliate of BNY Mellon; founder and CEO of a startup in food tech for the past year
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer with an organization that fights childhood obesity (tie-in to my business)
  • Extensive travel and volunteer experience including service work in India, Australia, and Africa and visiting 26+ countries
  • Goal: To use MBA for a career in the non-profit sector
  • “I co-founded a startup last year, which makes it slightly more difficult for me to assess my chances, as I’m not sure how B-schools view this in general”
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Yale: 30%+

MIT: 20%

Georgetown: 40% to 50%

Berkeley: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: A lot depends on the size (sales, employees, venture capital investments) and other reality metrics of your start-up. Schools want to know if it’s a digital version of a lemonade stand or a real business. Does it have a powerful website (schools will look at that, if they are semi-serious about you).

You say it is in “food tech.” What does that mean? Off the top of my head, that doesn’t sound like an easy in-your-garage startup.

Beyond that, you have the problems most start-up founders/applicants have: If your business is booming, why are you leaving to go to business school? If not, well, yes it is a valuable experience but these days, almost everyone and her sister has a start-up of some kind on her resume. That is why the size, sales, and any VC funding are real important.

In your case, you quit a job to do this (that is the way I read your career summary). That can be read as bold or evidence of burn out, and your job in the application is to make it appear bold. But the way to do that is to have some results.

“Currently volunteer with an organization that fights childhood obesity (tie-in to my business) Want to use my MBA towards a career in the non-profit sector.”

Hmmmmm, we now get story three in this short account of your professional life. Saying that start up ties in with do-gooder organization is a possible plus, if you were to project a career in entrepreneurship but then adding that you want to use an MBA degree toward a career in the “non-profit sector” throws us for a loop. That leads a cynical thinker to the bad cascade of thoughts that you did not like banking, did not like your start-up, are at loose ends, and envision some salvation at a non-profit.

Just saying. If that is not the case, you need to make it real clear.

I’m not seeing this as HBS or MIT because your stats and resume prestige are both on low side for those schools.

Yale is often hard on non-profit wannabes just to prove that “non-profit” is no longer their sweet spot (as it used to be). Other schools you note, Georgetown and Berk are plausible, as might be Kellogg if you get your story straight.

I would present these facts as “I’m someone with both analysis and start-up experience who is interested in leading an innovative company in a field I am interested in [say what that is and give examples]. I am applying to B-school to build out those specialist skills and learn general management.” It is OK to say that your start-up did not fully succeed, if that is true. What you need to be very careful about is making it seem that it was real, success or not, and not just a way to justify leaving that bank job.

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.