Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Ms. Chemical Engineer, Mr. Ultimate Frisbee, Ms. Non Profit, Mr. Google HR, Ms. MD

After a two year stint at a large bank, this 24-year-old Hispanic professional went to work for a small nonprofit. She has a 730 GMAT, a 3.65 grade point average from Harvard College where she was a varsity athlete. This former psych major now hopes to go to business school to become a consultant to nonprofits or to assume a management role in one.

After spending two years as a consultant at Deloitte, this 26-year-old Asian-American male has racked up two years at Google. He boasts a stellar 760 GMAT and a 3.16 GPA on a degree in business from Emory University. He has a definite creative bent, enjoying ballet dance, playing the violin and piano, and sailing. He wants an MBA to move from an HR role at Google to a product management job.

She’s a chemical engineer, working for a Fortune 500 multinational in quality assurance. With a 760 GMAT and a 3.58 GPA from a top 15 engineering university, this 28-year-old white woman wants to attend business school to transition into a consulting job for the oil and gas industry.

All three of three of these candidates and several more want to get through the door of a highly selective MBA program at one of the world’s very best business schools. Do they have a chance?

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. Sandy is back to his witty and irrelevant self, sternly advising one candidate to put on her “game face on and be specific, smart, engaged, and impassioned.” At another turn, he makes the often-true observation that “B-school adcoms tilt toward applicants who work in profit centers–not because the job is any harder or more taxing or more valued per se (er, it might be) but because, to the reptilian diode brain of the admission officer, the job is more selective.”

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.)

female engineer

Ms. Chemical Engineer


  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.58 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from a Top 15 engineering university
  • Work experiences includes six years at two Fortune 500 companies, with half the time at a consumer products company and the last three years at a multinational chemical corporation, in quality assurance, process engineering and product management roles
  • Extracurricular involvement in the LGBT community, including a leadership role in LGBT at employer
  • Goal: To transition into a consulting role for the oil and gas industry
  • 28-year-old white woman

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 20% to 30%

Harvard: 30% to 45%

Wharton: 50%+

Berkeley: 50%+

Chicago: 50%+

UCLA: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: She says she wants to be a consultant to the oil and gas industry “to leverage her technical skills and provide unique insight into the industry.” What you want to do is stop being an engineer and leverage your engineering skills.

Let’s take Stanford which is a good way to do an X-ray on your profile. Stanford would like the 760 GMAT and the classy jobs. If you are a leader in the LGBT community, that is something that Stanford would take note of. It also helps that you are a STEM woman.

I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again: For Stanford, you really need the X factor which often is a victim story or a helping victim story, if you are not so fortunate to be a victim. For Stanford—and only for Stanford—your engineering degree might be a hair across there whatever.

Instead of a 3.58 from a top 15 school, they might be looking for someone that really shines like a magna from MIT or Cal Tech. Your resume is gold, but not 24-carat gold. Not all Fortune 500 companies are created equal, not in the eyes of admission officiers.

Your story is really solid and consistent, though. A white STEM woman with a 760 is a filter that not a lot of people get through. You didn’t list Harvard as a target but I would urge you to apply there. They obviously accept a lot more people than Stanford so your chances there are good.

My question is, do you need an MBA? My guess is you could get hired by a consulting company right now. They are looking for people like you. For McKinsey, all you need is a 760 GMAT. As far as they are concerned, that replaces an MBA. It’s not like you are more valuable to them if you have the two years of an MBA experience.

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