Wharton | Ms. Project Mananger
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
NYU Stern | Mr. Washed-Up Athlete
GRE 325, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. NFL Team Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
London Business School | Mr. Consulting To IB
GMAT 700, GPA 2.4
Kellogg | Mr. Big Beer
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Indian Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 7.54/10
Darden | Mr. Corporate Dev
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.8
Duke Fuqua | Mr. CPA To Finance
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. Big 4
GMAT 770, GPA 8/10
Wharton | Ms. General Motors
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Venture Lawyer
GRE 330, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Digital Health
GMAT 720, GPA 3.48
Yale | Mr. Philanthropy Chair
GMAT Awaiting Scores (expect 700-720), GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Foster School of Business | Mr. Construction Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.77
Ross | Mr. Stockbroker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Harvard Hopeful
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. LGBTQ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.58
Kellogg | Mr. Risky Business
GMAT 780, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. CPA To MBA
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.2
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Southern California
GMAT 710, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. World Explorer
GMAT 710 (aiming for 750), GPA 4.33/5
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
Kellogg | Ms. MBA For Social Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Kellogg | Mr. White Finance
GMAT Not Taken, GPA 3.97
Stanford GSB | Ms. Russland Native
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Chemical Engineer


Mr. Ultimate Frisbee


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in international relations from St. Andrews in Scotland, ranked number 1 in the U.K.
  • Master’s degree in international development from Cambridge
  • Work experience includes four years with a Big Four firm in tech consultingin London focusing on the financial services industry (“Only one promotion because it was a three-year graduate training program—have learned to code mainly to understand software development cycles”)
  • Extracurricular involvement running Model UN for low income high school students in Scotland to help encourage applying to university and to help gain exposure to political science; member of a nationally competitive ultimate frisbee team at university and currently play on an internationally competitive club team; volunteer at the refugee camp in Calais, France
  • Goal: To transition back to the US and preferably SF and transition either into M/B/B strategy consulting or corporate strategy at a tech firm such as Google or Amazon.
  • 28-year-old American white male

Odds of Success:

Berkeley: 30% to 40%

Wharton: 40%

Stanford: 20%

Harvard: 20% to 30%

Columbia: 40%

MIT: 30%

Northwestern: 40% to 45%

Sandy’s Analysis: After you explain what an American is doing getting an undergrad and masters degree at St. Andrews (nice place but you need to do some explaining), a lot of your outcome is going to be driven by what adcoms think of current, and what looks like, your ONLY job. Having one job is OK, although most applicants have two, and how well you managed to “play your hand” in getting second job is often a large part of what schools think of you.

In your case, we got a 3.8 and a 730, a very good base. As to your job, you state,

“Worked four years for Big Four Tech Consulting in London focusing on the financial services industry, only one promotion because it was a three-year graduate training program, have learned to code mainly to understand software development cycles.”

That is pretty solid and we are getting a picture of you as an American-in-Europe frisbee type (as you note, you have strong engagments with ultimate frisbee) who can code as a pick-up skill and who is stolid enough to prosper in a Big Four setting. Your volunteer/extra activities seem better than average (“ran Model UN for low income high school students in Scotland . . . captained nationally competitive ultimate frisbee team  and currently play on an internationally competitive club team, volunteer at the refugee camp in Calais, France”).

So the envelope please!

A 3.8/730 and gig at a Big Four and extras are solid, but especially odd for a U.S. kid, even though working in Europe. The extras do not add up, IMHO, to pushing you into Stanford. Unless you pivot and turn that volunteering in Calais into a super big deal where you teach immigrants to code, fight with xenophobic Frog locals for immigrant rights, and get funding from the UN to upgrade the medical facilities. You have lots of silvery stuff (730, Big 4, extras) and maybe silver mixed with gold, but Stanford has too many applicants with more clear pictures and more compelling X factors.

Goals: “transition back to the US and preferably SF and transition either into MBB strategy consulting or corporate strategy at a tech firm such as Google or Amazon.” Well stated and correct for guy like you, but not going to tilt outcome at Stanford.

HBS will probably consider you in the competitive consulting cohort and your frisbee charm (unless you are a frisbee nerd, it is a fine line!!! One question, do you also do hackeysack?), unusual schooling and elevated volunteering might spin you into competition with the could-go-either-way M/B/B cohort.

That means, the bottom 75% of the standard schmucks applying from M/B/B (many of whom get in), one of whom you might be able to knock out, as it were. Application execution, and in some cases, very subtle parts of application execution which let us hear your voice and story, can make a difference in cases like yours. There is a good and bad version of guys like you, and while that is true of most everyone, in your case, because you are a bit odd, small things about how you present can have a large impact.

You also asked about:






Haas and Kellogg should go for this story because stats are in their wheelhouse and you are a more interesting version of a Big Four candidate.

Sloan could depend on what side of the bed they wake up on. Stats are OK for them, and if they thought you were a serious financial engineering guy, well, that is a backdoor that pretty much only Sloan has. But you are not. They go for M/B/B kids just to normalize their class but that is not per se you. They go for well-rounded types who wobble towards tech and that could be you.

Columbia’s decision process for guys like you is not all that different than Sloan, except apply early. Solid stats always welcome there.

Wharton might admit you in their “HBS sloppy-seconds” cohort, i.e., looking for the same thing HBS is looking for, only the door is a bit wider.

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.