Handicapping: Mr. Minister, Ms. Nigeria 2+2, Mr. Ivy League Sergeant, Mr. Insurance, Ms. Fashion Startup, Mr. Strategy

Ms. Nigeria 2+2

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.42 GPA
  • Currently in an undergraduate program at a private university in the U.S.
  • Work experience includes an internship with a Big Four firm in Nigeria as well as a mid-tier CPA firm; will move back to Nigeria in May to begin work at McKinsey & Co.
  • Extracurricular involvement on the executive board of an organization teaching business across cutlures, a pioneer of the website She’s The First, a well-known oorganization that empowers women from disadvantaged backgrounds; has also held workshops in Africa for a bridge program; founder of a website that helps African entrepreneurs (plans to work on this website after graduating from college)
  • “What should I write about in my essays?”
  • 19-year-old Nigerian woman

Odds of Success:

Harvard 2+2: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: You’re an exciting candidate. But 2+2 stats are nosebleed stats and yours are a little low. Of course, some candidates have to be below the averages and I can very easily see you as one of them. A female from Nigeria who is not a U.S. citizen is obvioulsy African but not an African-American. So you are not legally an under-representd minority by admission standards. That doesn’t mean you aren’t someone that business schools would be very interested in. It may mean, however, that you won’t be judged with other under-represented minorities.

Still, a lot of the best business schools have been targeting the African countries in recent years, partly because they envision massive economic growth from the region over the next 10 or 20 years. Stanford is especailly ga-ga over Africa. The fact that you are from Nigeria and going back there and into a job with McKinsey is a big plus.

You asked what you should write in your essays. In your case, I would start the essay by saying your goals are to be an impactful leader in Nigeria, particularly a leader and role model for Nigerian women. Let me tell you about some experiences that have influenced this goal. You could then write about things that the mentors you’ve had or what you’ve learned from your extras. That gives you a great outline to present your strong points. I bet you have powerful stories.

If you’re a 2+2 applicant, it’s very helpful to say, if you can, why the flexibility of the 2+2 program is an advantage to you. You have to make a case like that. Dee Leopold (director of the 2+2 program) has told Poets&Quants she is looking for that in the applications (see TK.)

So if you can say the program offers you the flexibility of leaving McKinsey after two years and/or working on your websiteor working with some kind of McKinsey initiative.

Your odds depend on execution. The post you sent us was a little sketchy and unclear. You need to execute very clearly. If you can convince Dee Leopold that you are going to be a big hit in Africa, your chances are pretty good.

The question is, who is in the bottom half of the 2+2 class, staistics-wise? If some white guy from Bain had a 3.4 GPA with a 710 GMAT and asked what are my chances? I would say those stats are too low for 2+2. And he might say, ‘Well, they have to take someone below the average.’ And I would tell him, ‘Yeah, they would take a 19-year-old woman from Nigeria over you! That’s who they take with those stats.’

I also would certainly apply to Stanford for deferred admission, if you are going to apply to HBS 2+2. There’s not a lot of extra work to apply to two schools versus one. And Stanford’s stated mission to increase the number of Africans in its MBA program swings the odds slightly in your favor.

And if you don’t get into 2+2, you should be able to get into Harvard later, by the way, if your story unfolds the way I imagine it will: You’ll go work for McKinsey in Nigeria, do your website, and then apply after two to three years of work. You would still have a good shot at HBS.

But you have to execute serviceably. If Harvard likes what they see, they will meet you half way., but you have to get to that half way point with your application.

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