Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. & Mrs. MBA

Male teacher

Mr. Philanthropic Consulting

 

  • 322 GRE (164V / 158Q)
  • (I was originally thinking of MA’s or MS’s but really have come to the conclusion that an MBA would be where I would learn the most and best serve me.)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in music from Northwestern University
  • Work experience includes two years in dvelopment for a large and respected social services agency in the Chicago area; now work for a boutique philanthropic consulting firm as a team member for our two largest foundation clients project managing their total operations and grant cycles (would be there two years at the time of matriculation)
  • “After figuring out that the performance track was better suited to a passion than a career, I had about a year and a half of intern/full time contract work in the development departments of a top, highly respected regional Chicago theater and nationally respected music festival”
  • Extracurricular involvement includes member of LGBT Employee Alliance while working at the social services agency. “Immediately after leaving the agency I took a leadership role as co-chair of the auxiliary board. I also serve on a philanthropic board of a project of a large community foundation in Chicago that provides seed grants to small, local nonprofits. Additionally, I still gig frequently in the area and am a professional, unionized classical musician”
  • Goal: To build analytical, leadership and business skills to better understand our UHNW and corporate clients and how to innovate the use of philanthropic and corporate resources to make the most social impact. “Post MBA I would like to return to philanthropic consulting, or possibly a program/strategy job within a large private or corporate foundation if I could swing it. Long term goals of running a large private or corporate foundation or a philanthropic consulting firm”
  • 28-year-old, gay white maleOdds of Success:Stanford: 5%NYU: 30%

    Northwestern: 30%

    Columbia: 20%

    Yale: 20%

    UC-Berkeley: 20%

    Michigan: 30% to 40%

    Wisconsin-Madison: 50%

    Sandy’s Analysis: This is a consistent, do-gooder, non-profit profile which covers all the bells and whistles, including a line of solid gigs in this space, including, as you note 18 months “in the development departments of a top, highly respected regional Chicago theater and a nationally respected music festival, two years in development for a large and respected social services agency . . . [then two years at matriculation for a] boutique philanthropic consulting firm as a team member for our two largest foundation clients  . . . .”

    You got a respectable 3.7 at Northwestern, a solid school, in music, a major adcoms want to like and often actually do, if you make it easy for them.

    You have made it semi-easy by doing work in artsy/non-profit consulting in a progression that makes it appear –and this may actually be true–that you are moving from the fringe of artsy stuff (development for regional theater) to the core (philanthropic consulting).  At any rate, that should be your story.

    The only bummer in this story is the GRE –322 (164V / 158Q)–which translates into a 640 GMAT. Here is my frequently given tough love: Keep taking that test, if possible, until you get it to near 700. That is the single best thing by far you can do between now and applying.

    Your extracurrics– LGBT Employee Alliance, leadership role as co-chair of the auxiliary board, serving on a philanthropic board, and even doing frequent gigs in the area and being a professional, unionized classical musician –are impressive, confirmatory, and interesting. Actually, being a union member has got to be a plus. You might be one of the very few in your class.

    Your wish-list of schools –Stanford, NYU, Northwestern, Columbia, Yale

    Berkeley, Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison—are nearly all the usual suspects for non-profit management MBAs.

    For the record, the U.S. News’ list of top non-profit MBA programs is: Yale, HBS, Stanford, Haas, Kellogg, Fuqua, Columbia, Ross, Fordham (Gabelli), Anderson and Notre Dame (Mendoza).

    Yale was once the place everyone knew about for non-profit MBAs, and it is still ranked #1 by U.S. News in that sub-category, but Yale, ahem,  “pivoted” a few years ago into general management, high GMAT scores, and full U.S. News whoredom (in tight and elbow-jabbing company with many, many other schools). My guess is they still have a soft spot for non-profit management types but a strong GMAT/GRE there is really a super plus. Get a higher score, execute perfectly on the app, and you could get lucky.

    You are not getting into Stanford. There’s just not enough blue-chip full-time gigs here (at say Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or McKinsey non-profit division, if they have one, but you get the idea) and your current GRE score is a stumbling block. That GRE would only get winked at if you were an exotic international or the offspring of plutocrats.

    Kellogg is your best bet among the M-7. They genuinely would be open to your basic story and goals. Berkeley, with a higher GRE score, could be a near reach, especially since you seem employable and not doing this as a charade with a secret plan to go Wall Street.

    Wisconsin-Madison is a solid regional school, and it appears to be your region.

    I think you could get in. I would do some diligence about how their placement office works and who hires, or how hard it is to hustle a job in Chicago.

    NYU is a good call on your part since New York City is the hive of thousands of places you could get an internship, make contacts and network. I think you got a near reach chance of getting in, and yes, chances would be dramatically better with a higher GRE.

    Columbia is NYU, only harder to get into, and in your case, possibly not as central to NYC cultural life.

    Your goals, as stated below, are what they should be but this statement needs to be thinned out and humanized. Also try to give local examples of places you could work when applying to regional schools, and that includes those in New York and California.

    “I want an MBA to build my analytical, leadership and business skills to better understand our UHNW and corporate clients and how to innovate the use of philanthropic and corporate resources to make the most social impact. Immediately post MBA I would like to return to philanthropic consulting, or possibly a program/strategy job within a large private or corporate foundation if I could swing it. Long-term goals of running a large private or corporate foundation or a philanthropic consulting firm.”

    Phew: UHNW means “Ultra High Net Worth.” I try to learn something new every day, and it looks like today I learned that in the nick of time (things were getting dicey, it’s now 6 p.m. and often learning slows down as I keep re-reading the fancy label on the bottle in front of me). All that said, never use that term in a business school app. Even if working for UHNW’s is what you want to do.

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.