Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Google, Mr. Telecom, Mr. Defense Contractor, Mr. Private Equity, Mr. Humanities


Mr. Private Equity

  • 740 GMAT (50Q 41V)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Duke University with a double major in mathematics and economics
  • Work experience includes two years as an invesmtnet banking analyst at a middle-tier bulge bracket bank (Deutsche Bank/Citi/UBS/Credit Suisse); then worked for two years at a middle-tier real estate private equity fund
  • Extracurricular involvement as a mentor and tutor for underprivileged city youth for two years
  • “Conversationally proficient in Spanish (not sure what that is worth)”
  • Goal: To work at a global real estate private equity firm
  • 25-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 10%

Wharton: 30% to 40%

Columbia: 30% to 40%

Northwestern: 40%+

Chicago: 40%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, I like you and my guess is, your dreams about landing at a “global real estate private equity firm” will come true in some form, given your strong banking and PE background. But my guess is that this is not a Stanford or HBS profile, unless your “middle-tier real estate private equity fund” is known to them and has a history of sending one applicant a year or so to those schools.

This was the revelation last year when we did our Guess Who HBS Just Dinged story and analyzed a lot of dings from high performers–one strong pattern was dings from middle market PE firms. I have since refined that result to exclude middle market firms with strong connections to HBS and Stanford, of which there are several, but if yours is not one, I ain’t seeing this happen, given solid silver but no gold profile.

“Northwestern, Booth,  Wharton and Columbia?”

Sure, they all both take and ding guys like you depending on execution, recs, story and luck. I don’t usually say this, but you are on the bubble at those places.  If writing applications is not your thing, you might think about getting help.

Your outcome at those places may turn on you really sounding gung-ho  and fluent in their BS-mantras while also appearing just one level more interesting-winning-attractive than however interesting-winning-attractive  you really are.

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