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.