Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Big Four To Big Three

sales guy

Mr. Litigation Support


  • 710 GMAT (45Q/43V) (“Little disappointed in my quant (screwed up my timing) so I’m going to try improve that”)
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate and master’s degree in accounting from a top three accounting program
  • Work experience includes three years at a relatively new consulting firm specializing in litigation support, such as economic analysis for damage calculations, patent infringement, lost profits, and compensation analysis; Promoted after one year (typically promotion is at 2.5 years)
  • Extracurricular involvement for two years servicing an LDS mission, in several leadership positions, developed one-on-one training for 20+ missionaries; also involved in Beta Alpha Psi in college and a volunteer for VITA on income tax preparation
  • Goal: To work in venture capital implementing information systems “to help the VC firm make good decisions about the company and the company to make good decisions themselves”
  • “I have a lot of interest in technology/data from my current job working on big data sets.
    Long-term goal: To start my own business either in VC or information system consulting
  • 27-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 20%
Northwestern: 25% to 30%
Duke: 25% to 30%
UNC: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: There is good news and bad news here. You are at least fishing in the right pond. Kellogg, Duke and Kenan-Flager is where you should be looking. This is not a Harvard or Stanford application. The GMAT is acceptable but a little low for a white guy. Three years at a newer consulting firm specializing in litigation support is not a gold plated job. It is an established backwater like economic analysis. It is not considered a selective job. That is the only thing you are concerned about when you apply to an elite business school: how hard was it to get the job you have.

It’s considered an okay job, a professional job but it depends on how you spin it. Damage models are a world onto themselves. You are not dealing with people. You are just creating spreadsheets. It’s all about, ‘Ok you infringed my patent. How much money would I have made if you hadn’t done that.

You are a likeable guy. The LDS mission is always a plus. You say you were in a leadership position and developed one-on-one training for missionaries. The question I have is did you serve in an overseas mission? That is considered a very powerful mission by business schools. If you were stateside just developing leadership programs—even though that sounds good—it may not help you.

Your goals are nuts. You say you want to work in venture capital implementing information systems to help VC firms make good decisions. What you think you can do is create intelligent systems for VC firms, but you have no background in that so it’s a wacky goal. What you should say is you want to become a consultant at Deloitte. Get your goals straight. This is a case where people try to be distincitive. With goals, you should do no harm. You should say I have an accounting degree and my goal is to be a consultant with an accounting firm. Everybody will be happy and the bells will be ringing.

For you, Tuck and Kellogg are a reach. Duke Fuqua is in line and Kenan-Flagler is where I think you can get in. Tuck would like your personality but it has an admit rate of 20% so it’s tough. The average GMAT is 717 and you are a little low on that. Kellogg is similar and may be an eyelash easier to get into becuase they admit a larger class. Fuqua is just one notch down where the GMAT is 690 and it’s not as competitive as Kellogg even though the admit rate is a little lower by four basis points. Kenan-Flagler is the school that is in a different league in terms of selectivity. They admit 42.6% with a 692 average GMAT. You are totally solid and you should get in there.