Handicapping: Ms. Advertising Age, Mr. Real Estate, Mr. Social Media, Ms. Finance, Mr. Unilever, Mr. Consulting, Mr. Samsung, Ms. I-Banker


Mr. Unilever in Turkey


  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.1 GPA (“Overall my scores were great, but there was a big fluctuation in 5th semester, where my dad went bankrupt and I had to work to take care of my family.” )
  • Undergraduate degree in business from a top school in Turkey
  • Work experience includes two years as a management trainee in sales for Unilever Turkey.In first year, managed a field team of 100 people and gained a promotion; now manage a $2 million operation; have also interned with British American Tobacco and Unilever
  • Goal: To use the MBA to go into consulting or social entrepreneurship
  • Extracurricular involvement includes volunteer work as a radio newscaster with my own show; providing free Turkish diction and communication training to refugees and other disadvantaged people
  • Also worked in an American government-related program for two summers to help Fulbright Scholars learn Turkish culture
  • 25-year-old Turkish male in Turkey

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 15%

Berkeley: 30%

Northwestern: 30%

Dartmouth: 20% to 30%

Duke: 30%+

Yale: 20% to 25%

UCLA: 30%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Your profile has many solid elements, including working for Unilever (MNC are good) and an OK GMAT score.

Also applicants from Turkey are a plus, my guess, because I don’t see that many.

If it is true that your GPA, with the exception of one semester, is solid, that could also help, and needs to be explained. My suggestion is to say you want to be a consultant, cite firms operating in Turkey as possible post-MBA employers, and capture the part of your Unilever experience which sounds like consulting and say you enjoyed doing that, and want to do more.

I don’t think there is enough gold here in terms of GPA, GMAT and other things for HBS or Stanfod (they would be glad to admit kids from Unilever, and my guess, already do, often non-trad Eurozone kids like you but with better stats and some X factor). I think with solid execution other schools are doable, especially if you can explain your low GPA and convince them your bad grades are limited. Radio work and communication training to others are pluses as is working with Fulbright Scholars–lots to like, for real.

FYI, when I say there’s not enough “gold” in this story, I mean that for H and S, kids from Turkey come from 1. solid colleges and have high GPAs; 2. often work in elite banking and consulting firms; 3. often have 730+ GMATs. You are off that as to GPA and a bit off as to other issues.

It is both close and a bit subtle, but on every key score, you are either far off, or a bit off, so why would they take you vs. some guy with aces in each category?

As to your chances at Tuck and Haas, they both look for the same thing, basically, your chances there will be determined by school selectivity, and a good proxy of that is the U.S. News ranking, with No. 1 Stanford being the most selective and the least likely to take you.

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