Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Cello-Playing Healthcare Consultant

Mr. Air Force Captain

      • 720 GMAT
      • 3.56 GPA
      • Undergraduate degree in economics and business from UC-Berkeley
      • Work experience includes four years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, currently a captain working as an intelligence officer.
      • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of a consulting group focused on the healthcare space; Completed case studies with an AIDs clinic and healthcare start-up; Was an RA for two years and organized some somewhat significantly sized student events; AFROTC on scholarship; Had internship at the national geospatial intelligence agency and at the council for foreign relations.
      • Speaks three languages: English; Spanish; Farsi
      • Goal: To transition into consulting and then eventually become a CEO
      • “GRE: Haven’t taken. Will it help?”
      • “If it’s relevant, I’m legacy at Stanford and Michigan, just not at their business schools”
      • 28-year-old White Latino Male, ethnically Latino

Odds of Success:

UC-Berkeley: 40%+
Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20%+
MIT: 30%+
Michigan: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Dunno, Cap’n, this is real solid without the Latino angle, and with that, it becomes solid-er, but we need to know exactly what “White Male, ethnically latino” means, see below.

As we often note, Adcoms have a hard time unpacking the secret markers of a military career. The only two things they “get” are pilots and combat. You get some instant bonus points for those. Some schools have vets on the adcom, and that has been the case “off and on” at HBS and Stanford, though I am not sure if the current adcoms there are “off” or “on” at the moment. If any reader does know, please share in a comment.

To be honest, even at times where vets have been on the adcom, my sense was that military application outcomes could be predicted very well based on some college pecking order, GPA/GMAT and URM formula. If you were non-URM, your college and GPA/GMAT really predicted a good deal in some fuzzy but clear way that consultants like me developed a feel for.

What happened after you entered the military, in terms of what you did, where you were sent, whether you got gigs that to an insider were selective or not,  was kind of a wash in most cases (as noted, pilots and combat experience were noted and also thrown into the mix).

In your case, we got a “White Male, ethnically latino.”  To start at the beginning, you will be considered an under-represented minority at B-schools if you are in a group called “Hispanic surname.” That term itself is open to some adjustments, viz, if your mom is Latino, and your dad is Jack White, and your name is Richard White and your Latino mom raised you as a single mom in an Hispanic culture and area, and many of your friends and the surrounding culture were Hispanic, well, you just might be considered URM although it might help to use your mom’s surname as your middle name.

I am not sure what “White Male, ethnically latino” means in that context, but if both your parents are white, and you really dig Latino culture, and speak Spanish, that is not URM. If you have an Hispanic surname and look really, really white, that is URM. Maybe you can tell us more in a comment to this story.

Anyway, if you qualify as URM, this is a strong military profile, given that UC-Berkley is a tie-one school in adcom’s mind. So your 3.56 GPA overall with an honors in Econ (Econ GPA was 3.7) is OK-ish in adcom’s mind, and military GPAs are often 10 “basis points” (if that is correct term in this context, e.g. if average GPA is 3.60, military average GPA could be 3.50). You are a Captain, which is about the highest rank I know for B-school applicants (someone let me know if that is not the case).

You also add: “Extracurriculars: Founded a consulting group focused on the healthcare space. Completed case studies with an aids clinic and healthcare start-up.”

Lots of potential here but on your actual app, this will need to be unpacked more and it better remain credible. As stated, a reader is wondering how some full-time military Captain has time to “found” a consulting group, and what does that mean in this context? An AIDs clinic is always a plus, but we need more. Ditto “healthcare start-up.” These are valuable undertakings, and even if you did not “found” them, I would err on the side of credibility and be very specific about what these organizations did and what you did. If there is enough of that, it is almost as good as being a “founder.”

” Was an RA for two years and organized some somewhat significantly sized student events.”

Not sure RA has much impact in general although, sure, it could be a role that has lessons for you, but we need to hear that. As to organizing events, again, it has potential as an extracurric. But you need to be specific about working with others, what your leadership style was, and what the events were about.

“Had internship at the national geospatial intelligence agency and at the council for foreign relations.”

Not sure what geospatial outfit does but sure, these are nice stops on the future consultant highway.

“I want to get an MBA so I can transition into consulting and then eventually become a CEO.”

Ahem, consulting is real solid career choice for vets, the usual way this is stated is sorta interested in both strategic consulting and implementing guidance as a way to transition into an executive role in business like A, B, or C which interests me because blah, blah. Not a big deal but try to identify a business you would like be a leader in, and better still, role models in military guys who are now business leaders (better still, if those guys have MBA).

“I am considering going back to Haas at Berkeley, HBS, Stanford, MIT Sloan, and Michigan Ross.  . . . If its relevant, I’m legacy at Stanford and Michigan just not at their business schools.”

You got a real chance at HBS, especially if you are URM, and if not, a solid chance based on stats. You may need to make goals, influences, and your military career more “integrated,” although that does not have to be in some follow-the-dots way,  just a smart, reflective and honest way. There may not be enough magic here for Stanford, although it will depend a bit on your military competition. If you are not URM, Stanford is going to be real hard. I think this will be solid at Berk and Mich. Sloan may really like the 3.7 at Berk in Econ, especially if the Q part of your GMAT is high. They are always looking for Quanty URMs, and if you are not URM, you got a shot anyhow in just beating out the other military guys.

I am not sure about the value of being a legacy at Stanford. They may hold it against you unless you have a parent who is a huge donor. Their inchoate self-hatred and contorted view of privilege in all its variants knows no bounds and is hard to predict. I don’t see much upside, to be frank, and I certainly would not attempt to make much out of it.

The folks at Michigan take a more clear and Mid-Western view of this, in case of a tie, they may give you the base.