Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

After a two-year stint with a middle-tier bulge bracket bank, this 25-year-old professional works for a private equity fund in the real estate space. With an impressive 740 GMAT and a double major from Duke University, he now hopes to go back to school for an MBA to enhance his career prospects.

He wants to break out of a technical job for a large defense contractor on the West Coast and move into a strategy role. With a 750 GMAT and both undergraduate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering with 3.6+ GPAs, this 28-year-old white male expects to use the MBA to land a job with McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

You would be hard pressed to find a more non-traditional candidate. With a humanities degree from one of the top-tier Ivies, he’s now in graduate school pursuing a PhD in humanities. Besides English, he knows five languages and has won several distinctions in his field, including study abroad scholarships to China and Western Europe. But now this young would-be academic wants to learn the basics of finance and marketing to have a shot at a dream job: Working for Disney.

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.)

Mr. Google

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.3 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a Little Ivy (think Williams/Amherst/Wesleyan)
  • Work experience includes two years in an analytics and data reporting role at Google Adwords and two years at Teach for America before Google
  • Extracurricular involvement on both the baseball and golf teams in college
  • Goal: To transition into a global consulting firm as a consultant

Odds of Success:

MIT: 50%+

Northwestern: 50%+

Chicago: 50%+

Michigan: 60%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Let’s start with the very ltitle bad news. A 3.3 GPA and a 710 GMAT. The real question this guy should be asking is whether he can get into Harvard or Stanford with those statistics?

I think you can, if you work at Google Adwords. These schools have become so influenced and dominated by the Google or Apple effect, whatever you want to call it. This guy has a technial job at the filet mignon part of Google, and if you have a serious job like that at Google or Apple, you are a contender. You are in the belly of the beast at Google in Adwords analytics and you have Teach for America on your resume and you even play golf.

Bottom line: Your target school list makes me think you are aiming too low. They are all great schools but you should shoot higher. Your odds at Harvard are between 40% and 50%. Stanford may cough at the low stats, but I don’t think so. Stanford takes a lot of people from Google and Apple and they take them from HR just to gain access. With just a serviceable Stanford presentation, you’ll get a really close look from the school, particulary if you have friends at Google who could write recommendations for you. We would call that FOD, Friends of Derrick.

You’re going to get in all the places you targeted. All you need is servicable execution.

Fella, apply to Harvard and Stanford, grow a pair of two new schools to apply to!

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.