Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. World Bank

Mr. Military Banker

  • 740 GMAT
  • 2.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from the U.S. Naval Academy
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Master’s degree in human resource management from a small private school in Dallas
  • Work experience includes a stint in active duty Special Forces as a logistics officer; recently came back from combat deployment in the Middle East and will be transitioning as a Navy Lieutenant; after an initial active duty tour, he worked for JP Morgan in global asset wealth management for three years and then voluntarily left to join the special Forces for a combat tour overseas
  • “I was released from my initial military commitment due to the Navy downsizing and as I was a pilot they raised military requirements for aviation. I was over the threshold of having one to many concussions from playing football at the naval academy. So I got out and went to work for JP. I did extremely well at JP, making far more money at JP but I honestly felt that I did not finish my commitment to the military as I got out after only a year and half. So I decided to finish what I felt as my civic duty in the military”
  • 30-year-old Pacific Islander American Male

Odds of Success:

Northwestern: 40% to 50%

Duke: 50%+

Georgetown: 50%+

Vanderbilt: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Doing Naval Academy and service followed by three years of private wealth experience at JPM and then re-joining the military NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED. Saying you wanted combat and Special Forces experience is fine at first blush but girly adcoms may be seeing this as an odd trajectory. You are supposed to get the military experience out of the way and closed the first time.

As a Pacific Islander, I believe you quality as a minority candidate for U.S. government counting, so that is a plus, as is the 740 GMAT. They will wink at your low-ish Naval Academy GPA because of the 740 GMAT. Plus, it was long ago, and your 4.0 GPA in masters program helps to offset it.

Your combat tour and Special Forces experience is also a plus as part of a military resume, as we often note here. “Private wealth management’ at JPM is kind of a silver gig at a gold-plated bank because that gig is not thought to be as competitive as investment banking. Nonetheless, you were able to dress up, go to work on regular basis, eat crap and give it back in some mild way for three years — all traits that B-schools admire as the most desirable in the whole wide world.

Military career is good proxy for that, but you never know. The crap you need to eat there is a bit different, and some successful military types just gag in the private sector.

Your decision after three years of banking to return to military might be a head scratcher. Seriously. That’s why you need to really explain that and convince them you are now ready to settle down.

The schools you are focusing on–Vanderbilt, Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern either full- time or part-time MBA–are not ultra selective and usually veteran friendly. Just get your story real clear. What do you want to do post MBA? That is a critical part of this story and you need an answer that binds all this up.

The 740 GMAT is deeply comforting to schools in this context of unusual career moves and unclear goals. My guess is, you can walk into any part-time program with that 740 and a tuition check, and I think your chances are real solid at target schools if you can clarify this story.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

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.