Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

 

His raw numbers are awfully impressive: A 750 GMAT that puts him in the 98% percentile of all test takers, and a equally stunning 4.0 grade point average at a private university in Chicago. For the past four years, this 28-year-old professional has been working for a Big Four accounting firm and wants to use the MBA as a way to transition into a consulting gig with one of the Big Three, McKinsey, Bain, or BCG.

He’s a 28-year-old European who graduated from an Ivy League university with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in engineering. After working for a Fortune 500 pharmaceuticals company for four years with two promotions, he now wants to use an MBA to jump from commercial strategy and operations to business development and move up the ladder in Big Pharma. And he certainly has the stats to do it: A 780 GMAT and a 3.98 GPA on his master’s degree.

He’s a former U.S. Marine Captain who has been working for a nonprofit lobbying firm to improve veteran’s healthcare and reform the Veterans Administration. With a 690 GMAT and a 3.5 GPA in political science from a Southern pubic university, this now 28-year-old white male is hoping to use business school to transition into healthcare management.

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. Now that the round one and round two deadlines are over, Sandy will be appearing more regularly. (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.)

accountant

Mr. Big Four To Big Three

 

  • 750 GMAT
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from a private university in Chicago, graduated as the top business student
  • Work experience includes four years at a Big Four accounting firm, two years in international taxation and two years in M&A advisory
  • Extracurricular involvement as the chairman of a junior board of directors at a large charity in Chicago, spearheaded the creation of that board and also have had experienced working with youngsters on Chicago’s south and west side
  • Goal: To transition to McKinsey, Bain or BCG
  • 28-year-old male in Chicago

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%
Stanford: 20%
Wharton: 50%
Columbia: 50%
Chicago: 60%+
Northwestern: 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: Let’s put aside the fact that he is a 28-year-old white male. It’s very hard to get extra points for being a male these days. But things get better with your 4.0 in accounting from what you are describing is a private university in Chicago. And then you went to work for a Big Four.

I need to point this out again for many of our readers: As a feeder to the elite business schools, the Big Four is silver not gold if you are a U.S. white male. The Big Four is usually a feeder for underrepresented minorities, Europeans and Asians. If you get a job at PwC and you start out at international tax which sounds serious and move to M&A advsory which sounds like fun, you are a smart, successful guy. And you figured out how the game works: You want to go from the Big Four to the Big Three, McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

If you worked in Europe or Asia, that is gold because it is a harder job to get. For underrepresented minorities, it’s a job from whcih you can transiton from a traditionall black college to a Big Four to Stanford or Harvard. It sets you up. But you are not one of these candidates. You’ve got a great career, a 4.0 at a good school, a 750 and the right career goals, to use the MBA to transition into a global consulting firm.

Bottom line: You are a solid guy with a high GMAT. Chicago Booth will buy the numbers. It’s hard to say no to an American guy with a 4.0, a 750 GMAT and clear cut career goals to become a consultant. This is a case where everyone can be happy. You will be happy. The school that admits you will be happy. McKinsey, Bain and BCG will be happy. For them, you’re a pre-tested product. The only thing that could keep you out of Booth or Kellogg is bad luck or mismanaging the process somehow.

Wharton is just tougher. Columbia and Wharton will salivate over your numbers. You are the real deal. You are smart and you know accounting which these days is meaningful.
Let me suggest something a little kooky: You should apply to consulting firms now. You could save yourself two years and a quarter of a million dollars. Friend, consdier just smoozing with McKinsey, Bain and BCG. They are always looking for smart consultants.

I don’t think you are getting into Stanford unless your firm has a back door there, meaning someone who is FOD (Friends of Derrick), Bolton that is, the head of MBA admissions at Stanford. At HBS, your charitable work would be significant. But here’s a dirty little secret. To have impact with extracurriculars for an MBA admissions application, you’ve got to have a distinctive leadership role. If you’re a foot soldier in any one of the leading charities, it doesn’t get you enough. That’s just a fact of life in MBA admissions.

Bottom line: You are a solid guy with a high GMAT. Booth, Wharton and Columbia will buy the numbers. It’s hard to say no to an American guy with a 4.0, a 750 GMAT and clear cut career goals to become a consultant. This is a case where everyone can be happy. You will be happy. The school that admits you will be happy. McKinsey, Bain and BCG will be happy. For them, you’re a pre-tested product. The only thing that could keep you out of Booth or Kellogg is bad luck or mismanaging the process somehow.

Columbia and Wharton also will salivate over your numbers. You are the real deal. You are smart and you know accounting which these days is meaningful.

Let me suggest something a little kooky: You should apply to consulting firms now. You could save yourself two years and a quarter of a million dollars. Friend, consider just schmoozing with McKinsey, Bain and BCG. They are always looking for smart consultants.