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

soldier military

Mr. Former Marine Captain


  • 690 GMAT (46Q, 38V, 6 IR, 6.0 AWA)
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in political science from a Southern State School (Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee), with a minor in Russian
  • Work experience includes two years doing analytical work at a political consulting firm after college (data/stats analysis); then joined the Marine Corps for five years, reaching the rank of Captain; consistent top 5% performer and was hand selected for a unique leadership role outside his job; after the military joined a nonprofit consulting/lobbying firm, spending the last year and one-half working to improve veteran’s healthcare and reform the VA
  • Have helped to author legislation, lobbied over 60+ members of the House and Senate, and gone on the road holding events about veterans healthcare reform
  • Extracurricular involvement is heavy as a volunteer with numerous veterans nonprofits and charities; co-founder of an organization that focuses on ending veteran suicide and also work with lots of PTSD victims and exploratory treatments
  • Fluent in English and Spanish, having spent one year on a study abroad program in Spain; also intermediate in Portuguese, Italian, and Russian
  • Goal: Healthcare management
  • 28-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%+

Chicago: 40%+

Northwestern: 40%+

Dartmouth: 40%+

Virginia: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, there’s lots to like about your military career and jobs around it. In fact, this is beginning to smell like a run for office. You might look into Harvard’s Kennedy School as well, you’d be IN there in a flash.

HBS may go for this. Your stats are admissible and you have a solid leadership story. Healthcare management is a good goal for you. That puts it all together, and you can start with two years at McKinsey post-MBA or some specialist healthcare consulting group.

You could write the essay about how your extracurricular involvement and x y z in service gave you a 360-degree perspective about how to approach complex problems, something you’d like to do post-grad as a consultant and a leader of an organization with many demands on it–business, technology, prima donna docs and human element in some basic way, like HC.

Other schools including, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck and Darden are also good calls, They tilt towards guys like you, and I can see you as a real happy camper at Tuck if HBS does not work out. You are their kind of reconstituted “cracker”—a good ol’ Southern boy who gets Northern, with a secular religion but who still has charm and manners.

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