Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Chemical Engineer

Business woman

Ms. Hispanic HBX Core


  • 730 GMAT (Q48, V41)
  • 3.65 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Harvard in psychology
  • Work experience includes one year at a large bank in a rotational program that included four months abroad doing project management in the risk and regulatory areas with exposure to senior management; promoted after one year to work on developing and implementing a large regulatory initiative; then transitioned to a small non-profit through a leadership development fellowship
  • Extracurricular involvement as a varsity athlete in college as well a year plus in an officer role on the young leaders council of a local nonprofit; six months as a career coach for first generation college students
  • Goal: To transition to non-profit consulting or a management role in a nonprofit
  • Completed HBX Core and passed with high honrs
  • 24-year-old Hispanic female

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 30%
Yale: 40%
Dartmouth: 40% to 50%
Duke: 50%
Harvard: 40%
Berkeley: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hispanic females with a 3.65 from Harvard College (while being a varsity athlete) and a 730 GMAT are an elite cohort. That may be enough to get you in the running at all your target schools with just serviceable execution and recs.

Not to mention, “Extra Quant: Took HBX Core and passed with High Honors.” And that is in addition to a not-all-that bad 48 on the Q part of the GMAT.

Your work history is also solid, and sellable:

You summarized that work history as:

“1 year in a rotational program at large bank (not JP, MS, etc.), including 4 months abroad. Mainly doing project management in the risk and regulatory spaces.”

That sounds like boring, kinda backroom stuff at large but not solid gold bank.

“Promoted after 1 year to work on developing and implementing a large regulatory initiative.”

Oh boy, be still my beating heart, although schools may give you credit for having the brains and sitzfleisch (a Yiddish and German word worth knowing) to get through that.

Finally, we got,

“. . . transitioned to the nonprofit industry through a leadership development fellowship at a small organization.”

Not sure I fully understand that, it is not a job per se, but a fellowship? The fellowship is paying you or the organization is? Or the fellowship is paying the organization, which is paying you. Not sure which is better, to be honest. It might be more selective  if you won some fellowship which placed you at this organization rather than applied to the organization which had the fellowship on tap, so to speak. Not a super big deal but this is the job from which you are applying to business school and that always counts. You need to make this seem like a planned step toward your goals.

Hence, the mission of the organization may count a bit as well. Ideally, it would link up to some area of social enterprise that you are interested in but that is not strictly necessary.

“Goals: Nonprofit consulting or management role.”

Sure, but try and make that more refined and connected to things you have done. And I don’t mean to over-stress this in some obvious and blowhard way, but don’t think that you want to avoid Hispanic issues because that is what all Hispanics say they want to do. You want to be different.

OK, I realize you may have been a bit casual when posting on PQ, but when applying for real, you really need to get your game face on and be specific, smart, engaged, and impassioned.

Let’s say you can do that. If so, you got a chance of getting in at all schools just by dint of the basics we have gone over: Harvard athlete, strong GPA and GMAT, OK silver jobs, etc.

As often noted here, Stanford often takes URM women (well, one a year)  from the Big Four, and your story, on stats and work history alone, is stronger than that. “All” (ahem)  you need there is some What Matters Most Essay that is an engaged and personal variant of the Stanford biographical template which mixes identity politics and personal setbacks with lessons.

Example: ”I was reluctant to fully engage with Hispanic issues and causes my first year on the Harvard campus because I felt more comfortable with my identity as a varsity athlete. Over time, and especially after meeting Mentor One and Two, I saw that I was really insecure in both roles, and just unsure about how to fit in.” Yadda, yadda. I changed that thanks to blah, blah.” Finding ways to inhabit new roles with some clear sense of who I am matters to me because my goal is to help people and organizations do similar things”. . . barf, barf.

Done correctly and with personal details, that kind of story — and your good GPA and GMAT — is often a door opener at Stanford.

You could then normalize (i.e.,  “de-Stanfordize”) that same bio-resume jive for the HBS essay. They also like Hispanic Harvard varsity women with 700+ GMATs and a 3.6.

You also targeted Yale and Tuck (Consortium). Tuck goes for this obviously, if you otherwise fit in (and sounds like you do). Yale could be the one place where they might say, “We don’t open up for this like all the other schools (and we doubt you are coming here anyway).”

You did say, “Potentially Harvard and Haas if time permits.”

Dunno about Haas but as to HBS, make time permit. You got a solid chance there.