Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Special Ops

Ms. Quant Girl

  • 760 GMAT (49Q/44V) on first attempt
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in math with a minor in management at a top State University of New York school
  • Work experience includes two years as an actuary in a mid-sized benefits consulting firm, working mostly with pharma clients; then did a career switch to management consulting at Accenture, where she has worked one and one-half years in the life sciences practice with big name pharma clients
  • Promoted twice, over two years ahead of schedule (hoping to have good recommendations reflecting this)
  • Extracurricular involvement as a math tutor for underprivileged kids through a non-profit in tutored statistics classes all through college to fellow students; intern mentor at both companies
  • “I wasn’t planning to apply to B-school until next year but I just took the GMAT and am hoping my high score can compensate for my younger age. Do you think I should wait until R1 next year? What other schools should I consider?”
  • Fluent in Russia
  • 26-year-old who moved to the U.S. at age five from Eastern Europe

Odds of Success:

MIT: 30%
Northwestern: 30% to 40%
Chicago: 30% to 40%
Harvard: 25% to 30%
Wharton: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: You are totally solid. I think you underestimate yourself. I have a hunch that you haven’t lived in an environment of over-achievers. The schooling is silver not gold. SUNY Stony Brook is a great place but there are a lot of people there who want to be dentists and not doctors. Not that there is anything wrong with that and I hope my dentist isn’t reading this. Anyway, it would be great if you got into a real top school that could change your whole mindset. It would be transforming for you.

And I think you can get into a great school and should apply in round two. There is nothing to be explained away in your story. And you are exactly in the sweet spot for age. You need to write about your side story, coming to the U.S., where you went to high school, what your family life was like. You have to set up a story about how you came to the U.S. at five and why you would go to SUNY in New York. My guess is you went to SUNY because you lived in New York and it was inexpensive. I’m thinking you weren’t in a college-oriented environment.

I think you would be attractive to MIT Sloan, even if the odds in round two might be slightly lower than they would be in round one. My take is that MIT eats fast and they stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Plus, they have a small stomach because the class is small. But they will like the quant stuff and they could like your proleterian story. You sound like a hard-working, salt-of-the-earth character. If you are ready and you want to go to business school next year, apply now. There is no penalty. You can always re-apply next year if it doesn’t work out for you this year.

Kellogg and Booth would just dig a profile like this. I would throw an application into HBS. With a 760 GMAT and a 3.5 in a math major, HBS would find you attractive. You add a lot of value to a Harvard class. Besides being an actuary, you also have in-depth pharma knowledge and can explain accounting and finance to your classmates. You have a lot to offer. Also try Wharton. They would go for this profile totally.

You’ve got it all. You are quanty. You have a business background. You work for a name brand company. The Accenture thing is explained by the fact that you are a side door story. You didn’t go to a feeder school. I don’t think McKinsey or BCG interview at SUNY Stony Brook. It’s about time you get to experience what it is like to be at a place that is gold, not silver.