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Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

This 26-year-old professional has spent the past five years in ever increasing roles of responsibilty at General Motors in sales and marketing IT. With a computer science degree from Northwestern, she also has felt strongly about promoting the idea of women in tech fields. Her ultimate post-MBA goal: To lead the way for gender parity in industry. “In a perfect world I’d shake up someplace like Google on this issue,” she says.

He’s a 33-year-old Korean entrepreneur who has worked two years in venture capital and spent two years in his country’s military. With a 3.97 GPA from UC-Berkeley and a GMAT score of between 730 and 760 on practice tests, he’s hoping to leverage an MBA into a job with a major VC firm in the U.S.

This 27-year-old Asian American professional will have spent five years in the insurance industry, most recently as a product mangement analyst. He likes the industry and plans to return to it once he earns his MBA, with the ultimate goal of becoming a CEO of a Top Ten property & casualty player in the industry.

Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sandy is back again 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. It’s the first time ever, in fact, that Kreisberg, who has never been shy to tell it like it is, has called out one candidate, an associate at a hedge fund, for being a “hipster asshole savant.” The guy has a 790 GMAT but a 3.2 GPA boosted by online courses because by his own admission he “fucked around in 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.)

And if you just have a short question, he is happy to answer that, too. So just post it in the comment section below.

Ms. GM Geek (& More) Wants To Sell Stuff To Real People — Tons To Like Except For GPA & GRE (Well, There Is Always Something)

  • 330 GRE, 165Q 165V 5AWA.
  • 3.2 GPA
  • (Was not prepared for the engineering curriculum, but received a 3.52 the last 2 years)
    Undergraduate degree in computer science from Northwestern University
  • Work experience includes five years at General Motors in sales, marketing IT; started as a developer, promoted to requirements analyst and then systems analyst
  • “I’m the ‘face’ of our dev team to business stakeholders, constantly translating biz-to-tech and tech-to-biz. I’ve worked with teams in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, and the UK. Lots of soft skill work getting the ‘suits’ and the engineers to play nice. Youngest person in this role by 10+ years, often the youngest person in the room by 20+ years”
  • Extracurricular involvment in club ice hockey in college, plus swimming for two years of post-graduate work; ran own college admissions counseling business on the side; guest speaker with girls-in-STEM advocacy groups
  • Short-Term Goal: To pivot to product marketing management at a FAANG-level firm, continuing my woman-in-tech representation work, hopefully with company support. “I want to sell apps to real people, not just fellow geeks.”
  • Long-Term Goal: To become a CMO at a FAANG-level firm and “continue to lead the way for gender parity in the industry. In a perfect world I’d shake up someplace like Google on this issue.”
  • White 26-year-old American female

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 30% to 40%
Yale SOM: 30% to 40%
Berkeley: 30% to 40%+
Michigan: 50%+
Virginia: 50%+
UCLA: 50%+
Duke: 50%+
Cornell: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Wow!

This is one of the most informative, clear, and well-written write-ups I’ve come across. Super lots to like including long (5 years), rising gigs at General Motors in Sales Marketing/IT (“developer, requirements analyst and then systems analyst”).

“I’m the ‘face’ of our dev team to business stakeholders, constantly translating biz-to-tech and tech-to-biz . . . . Lots of soft skill work getting the ‘suits’ and the engineers to play nice. Youngest person in this role by 10+ years, often the youngest person in the room by 20+ years.”

Great way to put it. Not sure I fully understand your technical role, but neither will most adcoms, and you can explain it more in other parts of the application.

General Motors, that boring rust belt company, still gets B-school attention for many obvious reasons, and there is probably  a ‘Manufacturing Rust Belt Caucus’ at most B-schools which appreciates the legacy value and quant things those companies do — like aactually make stuff and sell it—and I mean make and sell stuff that is bigger than a phone.

You’ve also got another very positive stream in your story–woman in STEM:  “I’ve done guest speaking stints with girls-in-STEM advocacy groups and served as an admissions interviewer for female STEM applicants for my alma mater [Northwestern]. I’m one of the few female GM reps at a local flagship university hackathon we help sponsor every year.”

Adcoms dig that for several reasons.  Most adcoms are women-NOT-in STEM and they appreciate the rarity and salute your efforts to lend a helping hand.  They also can visualize you as one of those class members who could  help the Liberal Arts dunderheads get through any of the more demanding, quanty, STEM-Y parts of the first-year curriculum.

Well, good, good, good but this wouldn’t be fun if there also were not two boo-boos in your profile. In this case two concerning BOO-boos (one bigger than the other), viz.:

“330 GRE, 165Q 165V  . . .[THAT IS SORTA A 710-720 GMAT],
3.2 in computer science from Northwestern. (Was not prepared for the engineering curriculum. 3.52 the last 2 years.)”

With that calling card, you  are interested in attending:

Wharton (3.6, 730)
Yale SOM 3.6, 725)
Haas (3.6, 717)
Ross (3.4, 708)
Anderson (3.5, 715)
Darden (3.5, 712)
Fuqua (3.4, 695)
Johnson (3.3, 700)

Let’s just make that all simple.  The work experience and extras and nice person parts of your story are A+.

The stats part, in simple terms, is that your ~710 GMAT (transliterated from your GRE scores) and 3.2 GPA are middling on the GMAT front for most schools you target while the GPA (3.2) IS BELOW THE REPORTED GPA OF ALL SCHOOLS YOU TARGET.

How much does your sterling career at General Motors and Women-in-STEM positives outweigh a rather modest GMAT/GPA?

I would say a good deal, largely because your GMAT/GPA is “swallowable” for most adcoms because it is pretty close to school averages. And the rest of your story is super. And there is no doubt of your ability to do the work at any school, so swallowing in this case is just swallowing whatever quantum hit they will take in the magazine rankings.

Let’s take Wharton.  Like every school they will love your story. Will they “swallow” your 3.2/710? I think they might. For one thing, they got a huge class, so any reputational hit, small to begin with, will be even smaller. And as noted, there is no question you could do the work, even the quant work (such as it is over there).

Yale will do the same analysis, and to the extent that Yale has become one of the most GMAT concerned schools of the CE, they will chuckle over the fact that in your case, it is actually a GRE score, soooooooo, they do not have to report that in the all-important GMAT column.

The other schools on your list will be doing the same analysis. I think for them, it is just a matter of proving to them that you want to come. You’d be a strong applicant.