Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Tuck | Mr. Army To MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 2.97
Columbia | Mr. Forbes 30 Under 30
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Ms. Product Strategist
GMAT 700, GPA 7.3/10
Columbia | Mr. MBB Consultant
GRE 339, GPA 8.28
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Avocado Farmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.08
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. International Development Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.9

Assessing Your Odds Of Getting In

Call him Mr. Silver. He didn’t go to an Ivy League School. He has worked for a Big Four accounting firm and a mid-market private equity shop. And he has a 710 GMAT. But this 24-year-old professional has gold ambitions: To get into Harvard, Chicago Booth or Northwestern Kellogg.

This young professional at Accenture describes herself as a “human capital consultant girl who wants to go to business school to gain some hard skills.” With a 720 GMAT and a 3.8 grade point average from a top liberal arts school, this 23-year-old has a long-term goal of becoming the chief HR officer at a Fortune 500 company.

This 28-year-old Indian-American male already has an enviable job: He works for a prominent Bay Area unicorn in market strategy and operations. With an impressive 760 GMAT and a 3.63 GPA at a top 40 private university, he hopes to get into business school to transition into a large tech company such as Google, Facebook or Amazon and lead a strategy and analytics team.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these three MBA candidates and more share in common is the desire to get through the door of a highly selective MBA program at one of the world’s very best business schools. Do they have a chance?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds, and career goals with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Mr. Silver

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in accounting from a top ten public undergraduate business school in the U.S.
  • Completed CPA exam
  • Work experience includes two years at a Big Four firm in transaction advisory services; currently with a mid-market private equity firm
  • Fluent in three languages
  • Goal: To enter the venture capital specializing in Israeli tech businesses
  • 24-year-old male Israeli, Belgian and U.S. citizen

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 25%

Chicago: 30%

Northwestern: 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: You are pure silver. Everything about you rings silver, and this is what I mean by that. Silver means not gold.

If you didn’t go to an Ivy League school, but you went to a good school, that is silver. If you work for a middle-market firm and not an elite firm, that is silver. And if you have a 710 GMAT, that is silver. That is what I mean.

A lot of people who are silver look for alchemy. They want to turn themselves into gold. That’s hard to do, if not impossible.

Your Big Four experience for a white male is silver. I think transaction advisory services means number crunching in a cubicle. That is also known as silver. And you’re now at another silver job in a mid-market PE shop. Yet, your goal is to enter a gold field in venture capital.

Silver plus silver plus silver plus silver equals not gold. But all your target business schools are in the gold category. I don’t see Harvard from your background. It’s no dis on your story and your life. The problem is that every part of your MBA application is silver when many other applicants will be presenting gold. Someone with a 740 GMAT and a 3.8 with a CPA went to an Ivy school and instead of working at a Big Four could be working at McKinsey or Bain and then went to a gold PE firm. That describes a lot of people that Harvard Business will take and they won’t even take everyone of them. We don’t know how these people are viewed in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of Adcom those people are viewed as being ahead in the line.

How do you get into Kellogg and break out of the pack? Kellogg is open to looking at the whole story more than most business schools. So then the question becomes, “Are you the Kellogg type?” I don’t think so. You didn’t cite any extracurricular involvement. You want to demonstrate that you have been a successful team member and collaborator. It’s possible you left out examples of your teamwork and extras like working with puppies and lost kittens. There is no evidence here that you have value add for Kellogg.

Booth seems to be more focused on the GMAT so I think that’s a long-shot, too. I have two main pieces of advice for you: Expand your list of schools and look at INSEAD, Duke, NYU, Darden, Cornell, Michigan, UNC, Indiana, and USC. Given your silver application, these are all more realistic options for you at this point.

Here’s some tough love, Mr. Silver. Take the GMAT again. Years ago, no one would ever retake a 710. But a 730 for you could really make a difference. I don’t mean to support the arms race among schools on GMAT scores but improving your GMAT school is the easiest and most powerful thing you can do to improve your chances. It would increase your odds at your target schools.

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