Duke Fuqua | Mr. Musician To Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 1.6
Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Techie Teacher
GMAT 760, GPA 3.80
Ross | Mr. NCAA to MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Ross | Mr. Operational Finance
GMAT 710, taking again, GPA 3
Stanford GSB | Ms. S & H
GMAT 750, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Indian O&G EPC
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Wharton | Mr. Investment Banking
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Columbia | Ms. Cybersecurity
GRE 322, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Multinational Strategy
GRE 305, GPA 3.80
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Contractor
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Duke Fuqua | Mr. O&G Geoscientist
GRE 327, GPA 2.9
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Big Pharma
GRE 318, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. US Army Veteran
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
INSEAD | Mr. Jumbo GMAT
GMAT 770, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Mr. 911 System
GMAT 690, GPA 3.02
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Agribusiness
GRE 308, GPA 3.04
Stanford GSB | Mr. 750
GMAT 750, GPA 3.43
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Bioinformatics
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. International Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Consulting Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 7.7/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Yale | Mr. Fencer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.48

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Deferred Admissions

  • 760 (49Q/44V)
  • “Took it two previous times: 730 (46Q/44V), then 730 (47Q/44V), before arriving at the 760.”
  • 3.69 GPA in economics and English literature, with a minor in business, from a top non-Ivy (i.e. Duke/Northwestern/University of Chicago)
  • Work experience includes three internships: A sophomore summer at a nonprofit doing financial innovation work; Junior fall at a no-name boutique M&A advisory firm, working with some Fortune 500 companies; Junior summer at a Fortune 100 financial services company doing business analytics. Have accepted an offer to start full-time at a Tier 2 consulting firm (OW/LEK/ATK). One of my on-campus jobs is doing research at our affiliated top-fifteen business school.
  • Extracurricular involvement includes being an executive board member for the largest student organization (funded $500k per year to put on large-scale entertainment events); currently teaching an autistic child the guitar; also a campus tour guide; did a long stint on student government’s finance committee, and have completed your typical case competitions/nonprofit consulting work. Also a rap and R&B musician.
  • Goal: To combine background and interests in entertainment and finance to become a growth/strategic finance leader at an innovative entertainment tech company (think Spotify, Netflix, etc.).
  • “My biggest concerns are my GPA/quant profile. I started out in a very rigorous theoretical math program and have some poor freshman year grades in quantitative subjects (2.6 GPA during my first term, 3.0 GPA during my second term, 3.7+ GPA for every subsequent term). Since my first year, I have received B or higher in every quantitative class, with As or A minuses in data science, macroeconomics, accounting, corporate finance, public finance, and entrepreneurial finance. Will this, plus a 49Q on the GMAT, alleviate adcom concerns about the two Cs in theoretical math and C+ in accelerated economics that I received during my first year?”
  • Asian-American college senior and adopted male

Odds of Success:

HBS 2+2: 20%

Stanford GSB (deferred): 10%

Sloan (deferred): 20%

Columbia (deferred): 20%

Chicago (deferred): 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: You got a lot of gold and lot of silver in this story. The stats are OK, 3.7 GPA and 760 GMAT (we don’t care so much how many times that took).

The silver is whatever schools make this employment history:

Work experience: Three internships. Sophomore summer at a nonprofit doing financial innovation work. Junior fall at a no-name boutique M&A advisory firm, working with some F500s. Junior summer at a F100 financial services company doing business analytics. Have accepted an offer to start full-time at a Tier 2 consulting firm.

Friend, those are jobs to be proud of, and good for you for hustling to get them. The problem is that 2+2 is really, really snobby, and they are not looking to admit works in progress or potential stars. They are kinda looking to admit, judged by their peer group, established performers and stars, period.

At HBS and Stanford, they sometimes ask themselves, “How will granting this candidate the insurance of an admit in two years allow him or her to take risks and do great things?” While that almost never happens in fact, almost 100% of 2+2 admits just go onto elite IB, MBB or corportate gigs before entering B-school, adcoms like to sit back in their chairs, look at the ceiling, and engage in the delusion it COULD happen. Viz, that the kid from an Ivy school, who is taking a selective gig for the next two years, COULD somehow use the 2+2 admit to join Brothers to the Rescue and spend two years saving migrants on the high seas.

I don’t see your work history and job at a Tier 2 consulting company adding up to the kind of springboard “centerfold” adcoms will get jiggly about in the privacy of their own cubicles.

And, as you did say that “some tough love would be greatly appreciated,” let me add, that as a non-URM male, you are going to have a stretch time getting into HBS and Stanford as a regular applicant. Those schools admit kids from Tier 2 consulting firms, but usually URMs and women. Not sure what being adopted will add up to, but if it was a significant part of your background, well, that could be interesting, if you have it figured out.

If not, the application is NOT the place to present your unresolved issues.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.