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

male banker

Mr. Lawyer


  • 720 GMAT (45Q, 45V)
  • 2.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from a good but not elite public university (think Penn St, SUNY, Va Tech, Ohio St, Maryland, Rutgers)
  • 2.9 GPA Law School
  • Law degree from a school ranked between 50 and 100 by U.S. News
  • Work experience includes 10 years of experieince as a patent attorney, in patent law boutiques, in-house, and two stints as a solo practioner
  • “My work experience has included some very high profile clients and matters, but not with major law firms. My career as ventured more towards working with emerging software companies, and I am interested in moving towards operations and finance as opposed to the legal aspects of these entities”
  • Recommendations will be written by two partners at former law firm employers, including the CEO of a regional startup accelerator
  • Extracurricular involvement in college as a member of student government and fraternity president, as well as various other activities; also very active in bar associations and local civic groups
  • Goals: Technology entreprenuership and venture Investing
  • 36-year-old Caucasian male

Odds of Success:

Georgetown: 40% to 50%

Carnegie Mellon: 30% to 40%

Cornell: 30%

Virginia: 40%

Texas: 40% to 50%

UCLA: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is classic part time or EMBA territory. My guess is, you know that, but I just need to get that down here. There is a tricky dynamic going on in this story: The more you make a case for going to a full-time program because you want to do something different and switch careers, the more it makes your legal career look as if it is something you are fleeing. But a legal career, especially in patents and tech, are one of the strengths of your profile. Anyway, you know what the real score is, but I’d try to make this move look like something that builds out on your experience and is not a 180 degree turn. That is why I also question your goal of working in either entrepreneurship or venture investing. Those are kinda dreamy jobs.

Well, you’d add a lot to any class you would join, given your experience and expertise in patents, electrical engineering, and just being around. I would cast myself as someone interested in working in business development for tech companies or even some expanded role in start-ups (meaning in your case, big, established start-ups that sometimes have lawyers wear more than one hat).

“Technology Entreprenuership and Venture Investing?” I’d stay away from entreprenuership as an idea. It could signal that you are going out on your own again, something B-schools do not favor vs. working for an established outfit.

Your school choices are realistic, although I don’t have a real feel for this because I don’t deal with hundreds of applications from those schools.

One stat worth noting, as you cast down list of schools in the P&Q ranking is the admit rate at schools you target:







Not sure why GT is so high, anyone?

Also note that the Duke admit rate is 23% but the enrollment of its full-time MBA students is a real plus at 894, which is big once you filter out schools in four digits: HBS, Chi, Penn, Kellogg, and Columbia (you might try Kellogg on that list, they are more likely to admit an outlier in terms of age, etc than the others).

The GMAT in your case is something of a life saver, since it is at or above average scores at most of your target places. On the more safe side, but still not “safe”, you might look at Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.

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