Stanford GSB | Mr. Fill In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
INSEAD | Mr. Behavioral Changes
GRE 336, GPA 2.28
Darden | Mr. Military Communications Officer
GRE Not taken yet, GPA 3.4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Texas Recruiter
GMAT 770, GPA 3.04
USC Marshall | Mr. Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Qualcomm Quality
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
HEC Paris | Mr. Introverted Dancer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Kellogg | Ms. Retail To Technology
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Entertainment Agency
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Ross | Mr. Top 25 Hopeful
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Gay Social Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 2.75 undergrad, 3.8 in MS
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Low Undergrad GPA
GMAT 760, GPA 65/100 (1.0)
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring FinTech Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Second MBA

The woman working at the computer. Office theme. Work with electronic documents and social networks

Ms. Woman In Tech


  • 700 GMAT (not taken but “shooting for cracking 700†)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in humanities from a public ivy (thinking of taking 3-4 econ classes this summer/fall)
  • Work experience includes four years in tech where I am currently a programmer at a VC- and major studio-backed entertainment startup; also one year in Americorps
  • Goal: To transition to product and business development in the digital media/entertainment space
  • “I am thinking of taking another year to work on GMAT (‘big test’ math is not my strong point), solidifying ECs (hackathons, women in tech, etc), and Econ classes, but worried I would be pushing 30 on graduation and that is not ideal? Just hear everything about how round two is so competitive and I wouldn’t have my application ready until then since I am trying to shore up my bonafides”
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Stanford: 20%

Wharton: 30%

Berkeley: 40%+

UCLA: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like and lots to be concerned about.

Woman in tech, as you advertise yourself, is a good beginning, but since you are a humanities major who seems to have picked up tech along the way, a lot will depend on how you describe your jobs, how recommenders describe you and your jobs, and what B-schools think of the companies you work for and what you do.

You say, “four years in tech, currently programmer at VC/major studio-backed entertainment startups.” That is both glam sounding (well in the world of business school admissions) and concerning.

When you say ‘currently’ what do you mean, have you had a series of pick-up jobs at tech start-ups and small companies? You need to make that seem NOT THE CASE as much as possible. I’d really stress your current job in resume, recs, and as a platform for what you want to do.

You say your goals are “product and business development in digital media/entertainment space . . . .” That is a pretty good wrap up of your sorta dog’s breakfast of a resume. To the extent you can already describe what you are doing as part of that, versus straight programming, do that. I’m pretty sure your bosses over there in the digital, entertainment, start-up world are not stingy with job titles. Cook-up something credible and non-annoying.

You seem to be aware that the GMAT is a big deal, especially given some sketchiness in the rest of your story (small companies, many jobs). If going to business school is important to you, plan to take the GMAT as many times as possible to get near 700-720.

As to your other proposals and worries:

First, you desire to “solidify ECs (hackathons, women in tech, etc).” That is a secondary concern compared to GMAT. It is too late to make a real difference in the EC realm, it is over-rated to begin with (dirty little secret), but sure, women in tech is a serviceable concept and you seem to come by it honestly. I am not sure how “hackathons” get scored or credited by adcoms, and my guess is, neither do many adcoms.

Second, your concern to build out liberal arts background by taking “Econ classes.” My hunch here is that no adcom is going to care. If you get a low Q score on GMAT after two, three or four tries, well take statistics or if that is going to be hard, Intro Econ, to show that you are not number phobic, but this is a secondary issue to a good, basic, combined GMAT score.

Third, you are “worried [about] pushing 30 on graduation and that is not ideal?”It’s not ideal but it’s no big deal either. But if you can apply this upcoming year and feel ready, do so. The only reason you should put off applying ASAP is the GMAT.

Stanford is going to be a real reach given lack of seeming employment glitter and zig-zag career; Wharton does not respond to your kinds of confusion; HBS is always open for a moon shot; Berk and UCLA with your 700+ GMAT could happen.

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.