Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

After a two-year stint with one of the three big global consulting firms, this 27-year-old Asian woman has been working at a big tech firm as a senior analyst in search marketing. With a 3.67 grade point average from an Ivy League college and a 730 GMAT, she now wants to go to business school.

In the past year, she’s been working for the chief operating officer of an education technology company, a job she landed after spending two years with Deloitte Consulting. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA from the University of Virginia, she hopes to create her own financial education company for young adults and women.

He is both French and Moroccan and has spent four years in Europe with PwC as a financial auditor and three years as the financial controller of a big sovereign fund in the Middle East. This 29-year-old professional now wants to pursue an MBA to advance his career and gain a senior 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.)

Ms. Search Marketing


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.67 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from an Ivy League university in economics
  • Work experience includes two years with MBB and a senior analyst in search marketing in a big tech firm
  • Extracurricular involvement includes doing alumni interviews for alma mater, member of women’s leadership group at work; chair of a volunteer group for mentoring adopted children in college
  • Learning Mandarin and wants to work in China
  • “I’m thinking about changing jobs to a brand management marketing consulting firm”
  • 27-year-old Asian female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 35% to 45%
Stanford: 25%
Wharton: 50%
Northwestern: 50%+
MIT: 50%
Chicago: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: I’m impressed. What we have here is Ivy, 3.7, 730 GMAT, and Bain. Where you are now becomes important. If it’s a big brand name in tech, that’s fine. If that’s the case you have a classic case of two great jobs. You are rock solid.

Let’s deal with the hard question: Can you get into Stanford? I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. What I don’t see here is the X factor for Stanford. For Stanford, the X factor is having impact beyond yourself. If you are part of the non-victim majority group, impact beyond yourself is important. Your numbers at Stanford are only average for Stanford.

People like you get into HBS and get dinged by HBS depending on execution of the application, luck, solid recommendations and not blowing the interview. HBS takes people like you day in and day out. I think you are a strong candidate at HBS.

You are a strong candidate at all your other schools. She says she is thinking about changing jobs to a brand management marketing firm. In a bloodless analysis of whether changing jobs will make you a better candidate, I don’t think that is going to help. You are as developed in terms of your qualifications as you will ever be.

A 750 GMAT will do you more good than changing jobs. It pains me to say it but it is true.