Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Pol In MBA Clothing

  • 700 GMAT (Q42/V44/IR8) -(Could do better on Quant, 45-48 range probably – unsure if worth retaking)
  • 2.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in political science from a Midwestern state university
  • “Note about GPA: Was in a subjective program (Architecture) that frankly was a terrible fit. As such, my grades and whole academic experience suffered. But there is a definite upward trend after changing majors, having made honor roll my final two semesters in the highest-level classes I took)
  • Work experience includes running a retail store for slightly over a year after undergrad; then transitioned into politics, including an internship in a U.S. Senator’s office. Now a staffer to a U.S. Representative for more than six years, working as part of the reelection campaign. Run the entire operation, including raising $3 million every two years, overseeing a staff of three to ten people for more than two years.
  • Expect a very personal letter of recommendation from the U.S. Representative
  • Extracurricular involvement as a member of an undergrad fraternity; various undergraduate and post graduate volunteerism, member of Young ssociates Board of a nationally renowned hospital, and a board
  • member of my Home Owners Association
  • Short-Term Goal: Transition to management consulting, preferably at MBB
  • Long-Term Goal: Start my own tech politics company
  • 32-year-old caucasian male

Odds of Success:

Northwestern: 40% to 50%
MIT: 20% to 30%
Berkeley: 20% to 30%
Michigan: 50%
UCLA: 30% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: OK, we got some, ahem, challenging numbers. To wit:

–32 years old

–2.8 GPA (got better after he changed majors but   . . .)

–700 GMAT

We also got some challenging facts:

Your only job, after one year of “running” a retail store is six years working in the U.S. Congress, first as an aide to a Senator and then for most of those past six years, as what seems like a major aide to a Congressman, to wit, “running the entire operation ($3m raised and spent every 2 years, oversee staff of 3-10 depending on the timing in the 2 year cycle) for more than 2 years.”

We also got some very familiar goals, well, at first:

–Short Term Goal: Transition to management consulting, preferably at MBB

But then we got this:

–Long Term Goal: Start my own tech politics company

NOTE: I do know what a politics (consulting) company is and I am guessing that a “tech politics company” means you want to do that using technology. Hmmmmmm, these days, my guess is, that most political consultants use technology, although I can imagine some ‘tech-centric’ firm that REALLY uses technology for

polling, fund-raising, issue identification and maybe crucially, turnout.

and

-Board member of my Home Owners Association:

I just wanted to get that in, you don’t see that in this neck of the woods much, and it’s charming.

Targets: Kellogg, Sloan, Haas, Ross, Anderson

QUESTION: are any of those schools in the same district or state as your boss, the congressman???

This could be real important, see below.

As to taking the 700 GMAT over, that is actually a tough one. The 700 tells us all we need to know about your 2.8, that we can forget about it IF WE WANT TO, you are not stupid, just young at the time (a long time ago) and your later career certainly shows us you can sit still and lead people.  (Well, schools mostly care about the “sit still” part but we assume that is true). I am not sure a 730 is going to flip this outcome, although you never know. As often noted, a GMAT score is a beauty contest past some point (and 700 is past that point), and your ‘beauty’ to target schools turns on your very solid political accomplishments and what appears to be an impactful future in politics and consulting, especially in the Mid-West, where I am guessing your Congressman is from.

If that is so, the Midwestern  schools on your list — Kellogg and Ross — might give this a close look over. Note sure what the next highest-rated Midwestern schools are but you might think about them, too.

The better reason to take the GMAT over is if you are serious about working for MBB after MBA. Those places look hard at GMATs but I got a feeling, they will blink in your case, if they otherwise see your value. After all, they like a 720 but 700 is not asking for much and a seasoned pol with a 700 can be way more valuable than some smarty-pants man-child with a 720, e.g. most entering consultants at MBB.

I sure hope you are not above having your Congressman actually lobby, e.g. make phone calls and twist arms, on your behalf, in addtion to what you say he will do, “writing me a very personal LoR.”  Friend, we need more than a very personal letter. We need some charming folderol and threats and potential gifts whispered right into the ear of the dean of those schools. And I am sure you do not need me to tell you how that works. Dean being the Dean, not the dean of admissions, although sure, that could work if it is way easier, etc. But this is a deal that gets done at real Dean level in most cases.

At the Midwestern schools you target, I think that would make you a serious applicant, along with serviceable execution of your app and essay that answers  all the obvious issues your story raises.

I’m not sure, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think Sloan, Haas, or Anderson would be as easy to logroll. They may have their own favorite sons to look after (political, financial, alum, etc.) and they are small.

Obvious question, why not e.g. Kennedy School at Harvard or any other MPA program? I think you’d be a real strong applicant at those places and while it is hard to transition from there to MBB, I could see you doing it. If not, you could certainly get a job at the sort of political consulting firm you want to start some day and save yourself a lot of time and money in the process if it works out.

Once you are in the belly of the beast, all you need is the Harvard badge, and K school works fine for that.

Am I missing something? Isn’t Kennedy School for one year a better option for you than your target MBA schools for two??? In almost every way: Cost, time, networking, and prestige.

I sure hope you are not laboring under the delusion that you will, ahem, LEARN anything valuable in any MBA program?