Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. World Bank

Ms. Healthcare Tech

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from New England Small College Athletic Conference school (not Williams, Amherst & Middlebury)
  • Work experience includes two years with Teach for America and one and one-half years with a healthcare tech firm that sends quite a few candidates to Top 10 schools
  • Extracurricular involvement with local education organizations and a local food bank
  • Short-term goal: Non-profit consulting
  • Long-term goal: Education technology
  • “I believe my recommendations are very strong! Strong essays as well”
  • 25-year-old Asian-American woman based in New York

Odds of Success:

Berkeley: 25%
Dartmouth: 20% to 30%
Columbia: 20%
New York: 30% to 35%
Duke: 30% to 35%
Virginia: 30% to 35%

Sandy’s Analysis: In a nutshell, your profile is what I call silver and not gold, every aspect of it. The GMAT is 700. That’s okay but it’s not great. The GPA is 3.6 which is good, but not gold. The schoolings is good but it’s not Amherst or Williams which would be considered near Ivy. So for better or worse, every aspect of this profile is silver, not gold.

Then, you did two years at Teach for America which is a gold substitute. And then you switched over to a healthcare tech firm that sends candidates to Top ten schools. I wish I knew the name of the firm and its size. I suspect the firm is silver, too, and you seem to understand that in the school’s on your target list which has only one M7 MBA program, Columbia Business School. Healthcare tech is a booming field but it could mean a lot of things.

Your long-term goal is educational technology which is a good goal. So you were at TFA, a goody-goody gig which means you put up with it and you got added value of it by staying two years. Then, you went to healthcare and learned about the intersection of a good thing in technology and health. Switching to education tech makes sense. But your short-term goal of non-profit consulting doesn’t line up. Your short-term goal should be to work for an edtech company. Or, if you want a consulting perspective, you should say you want to work for an education consulting company.

That lines up more cleanly for business school admissions. Instead of the golden road to your goal, you’ve created the silver road once again. It’s a small thing but you could sharpen this up by saying you want to work for an educational consulting company, particularly one that helps schools adapt leading technology, with a long-term goal of becoming a leader in the educational consulting business or for a edtech company and then you should cite a few examples. It just makes you sound serious, given your background.

Let me just take a slight detour here and point out that one of the greatest research tools for applying to business school is Google. People think they are beyond it. If you went to Google and searched for leading edtech companies the first page would list a lot of companies. If you just read about those companies for an hour, you would educate yourself with the lingo and what is going on in the industry.

One of the things adcoms are concerned about is whether they can get you a job. That’s why your goals are an important part of your application story. Schools don’t want unemployed people hanging around. It looks bad on their rankings. The number of people employed after three months is a key stat on the rankings.

Your school choice is quite good. Let’s start with the preppy archipelago. As a NESCAC person who did TFA and now healthcare tech, that’s a vision. Tuck, Fuqua and Darden are perfect schools for you. I think you are their type. The feeder schools to Tuck are dominated by small elite liberal arts schools in New England.

Columbia might just reject you on the GMAT. If they are going to take a hit on a 700 GMAT, they just might take someone else. Your odds at Berkeley are low because you’re not from there and I don’t see it as a match. If you really want to go there, you need to go out there and lobby them. Stern is in New York and you work in New York, plus NYU has a big ed school so it could be a good choice and your chances there could be 30% to 35%.

Let me give you some tough love: Get a 720 GMAT, even if you have to take the test two more times. It could really make a difference in this profile. Otherwise, you are solid silver. If you had anything that is a hybrid of gold and silver like a 730 GMAT that will help you. This has nothing to do with you; it has to do with the state of business school admissions. You are in a vast sea of people with 3.6 and 700 GMATs and pleasant lives and nice families. And the business schools like Berkeley, Columbia and even Tuck are influenced by this.

You know the saying: “It’s just as easy to marry someone who is rich as it is to marry someone who is poor.” In MBA admissions, it’s just as easy to admit someone with a 730 as it is to admit someone with a 700. It’s a terrible state of affairs.