Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Consulting Hopeful
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Google Tech
GMAT 770, GPA 2.2
Wharton | Mr. Senior Analyst
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Stanford GSB | Ms. Access To Opportunities
GRE 318, GPA 2.9
Tuck | Mr. Product Marketer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
London Business School | Mr. Midwest Engineer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.69

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Brand Manager


Mr. Startup


  • 327/340 GRE (Q165, V162)
  • 8.7 out of 10.0 GPA
  • 118/120 Toefl
  • Undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from a top 20 engineering college in India, graduating in the top 5% of the class
  • 3.77 GPA (current)
  • Currently pursuing a STEM master’s degree from Columbia University’s management science and engineering school
  • “I take half my courses in operations research, math and analytics and the other half in Columbia Business School’s Decision, Risk and Operations courses”
  • Work experience includes two internships in manufacturing firms in roles similar to internal consultant; also a year as a part-time consultnat for Booz Allen Hamilton
  • “My family has a manufacturing business that employs mostly unskilled workers. It involves heavy manufacturing but it has a lot of trade and other aspects to it as well. I know I have to go back and management the family business. It’s my social responsibility. But before I go back, I wanted to try something for myself. I have a great startup idea, but I don’t want to risk getting kickedout of the U.S. in one year if my startup doesn’t take off. I have spoken to multiple VCs and they love my idea”
  • Extracurricular involvement in the NCC (similar to the ROTC in the U.S.) while in school, part of the Indian Red Cross for two years
  • Goal: To possibly work in consulting for two years to recoup the costs of an MBA
  • Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard 2+2: 1%

Stanford (deferred admissions): 1%

Yale Silver Scholar: 0%

Sandy’s Analysis: Your GRE scores translate into a 700 GMAT. You have a good TOEFL score. You are in the top 5% of your class in industrial engineering at a top 20 engineering college in India. The way that is interpreted by 2+2 programs is not good. It’s pretty difficult to get into Harvard, Stanford or Yale from that kind of school unless you have followed it up with a gold-plated company.

Instead, you are in a master’s program and already taking half your courses at the Columbia Business School. You also state that you want to do a startup in the U.S. but have a visa problem because you are not an American citizen. What you want to do is get admitted to a 2+2 program so it allows you a safe harbor to start your company. God bless you. But let me tell you something: Don’t tell that to Chad Losee at Harvard Business School or anyone else.

You have to be a college senior to apply to the Yale program so you are out right there. If you read the Stanford qualifications closely, you either barely make it or don’t make it. You aren’t going to get admitted there. You qualify for the Harvard 2+2 program but you are not what they are looking for as a typical 2+2 candidate for that program.

Doctors don’t like complicated cases and you are a complicated case. In 2+2, Harvard isn’t looking for complicated cases. They may be a little more open in the general MBA admit pool, but not that much.

2+2 was started at a period when business schools were actually losing people to law schools. The idea was to admit you to business school and then you go to work for two years before you come back to campus for the MBA. This was an attempt to stem the migrant flow to law schools. That founding principle is no longer applicable.

These are not easy programs to get into. You have to pass a beauty contest to get a ticket to this lottery.

First, you have to go to a prestige undergraduate school that is either tier one or a known school in tier two.

Secondly, you need nosebleed stats in terms of both the GMAT and your GPA. For Harvard’s 2+2 program, the median GMAT is 730, a range of 610 on the low side and 780 on the high side, and an average GPA of 3.67.

Third, you are facing very tough odds as an international applicant. For the Class of 2020, HBS admitted only 11% of the 1,121 applicants. Only 21% of the 106 who committed to the program were international. So you are attempting to be one of the 21 out of a total applicant pool of 1,121. I don’t know how many of those applicants are international, but I have a feeling there are quite a lot.

You are not getting in. Your chances at Yale are zero because you don’t quality. At Stanford, it’s probably 1%. At Harvard, it’s not much better. This is not a statement on you. It’s that your profile doesn’t match up with what Harvard is looking for in its 2+2 program. They are looking for very specific things. I don’t think you are going to win Miss India, either. It’s not that you are not a nice guy, but to win Miss India you have to be female.

What you should really do is get a job at McKinsey, Bain or BCG either in the U.S. or internationally and apply again in three years. It might be helpful for you to get to know the admissions team at Columbia Business School since you are spending half the time there. That might help you get admitted later on.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.