Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

After earning her undergraduate degree from Stanford University in product design, this 26-year-old female professional has racked up nearly four years of work experience at two unicorn CPG companies. With a 690 GMAT and a 3.2 grade point average, she is hoping to get into a top MBA program to pursue a brand management job at a CPG startup.

He’s a college senior, majoring in economics and English literature at one of the best universities in the U.S. His career goal is to combine his background and interests in entertainment and finance to become a growth/strategic finance leader at an innovative entertainment tech company. With a solid 760 GMAT score on his third try and a 3.7 GPA, he is applying to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program and other tp business schools with deferred admission options.

After nearly three years in audit for a Big Four accounting firm, this 28-year-old Asian female from Singapore landed a job as a finance manager for a boutique consulting firm. She expects to get a 740 on the GMAT, a score that should put her into a good place to get into a top business school so she can transition into management consultant at an MBB firm.

Get Sandy Kriesberg's advice to make handicapping your odds of getting in possible

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What all three of these candidates and more share in common is the desire to gain an MBA experience at one of the very best business schools in the world. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com and a leading MBA admissions consultant, 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. And he is at his usual tell-it-like-it-is self, exhorting one applicant who sounds so-so about his job as a federal government civilian at a repair facility “to start talking like Trump and not some honest guy.” Kreisberg tells him: “Your work experience has been wonderful because you are making America great. Got it?”

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.)

If you just have a short question, he is happy to answer that, too. So just post it in the comment section below. And if you would like to be considered for a one-on-one Fridays With Sandy video analysis, apply here.

Ms. Lucky Charm

  • 690 GMAT
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in product design from Stanford University (major is a mix of Mechanical Engineering and Art from Stanford’s d.school)
  • Work experience includes 3.5 years at two unicorn consumer product goods startups, including two-plus

    years in business development & sales at a baby product company and one year in sales and innovation

    at a best-selling ice cream company

  • Extracurricular involvement include training for a private pilot license and learning how to cook. Also a member of Forté MBALaunch.
  • Goal: To build stronger financial modeling skills to either (a) pursue a brand manager role at CPG startup, (b) start her own CPG brand for a product that has yet to be millenialized (c) manage portfolio at CPG-focused VC firm or incubator (reach I know). Definitely want to stay in CPG industry
  • 26-year-iold white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard:20% to 25%

UCLA: 40%

Berkeley: 35%

Northwestern: 35%

Duke: 35% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: A 3.2 is a low GPA. Product design is a hip major. But it’s going to take some explaining. Schools view the GPA as a proxy for whether you can sit still, swallow stuff and spit it back. So you’re going to have to tell them that even though I couldn’t sit still, swallow stuff and spit it back when I was younger, that is something I’ve learned how to do.

On the other hand, you’re something of a lucky charm. The last two startups you’ve worked for have become unicorns, companies with a valuation of a billion dollars or more. That has to count for something.

My gut tells me that Harvard is going to be a super reach. They just won’t swallow a 690 GMAT and a 3.2. The CPG is a good thing to say over there. They need people from CPG companies, but people from those companies often run female so I think Harvard could fill their CPG quota with other female applicants who have higher GPAs and GMAT scores.

Duke, Kellogg, Berkeley and UCLA are good choices for you. Those are the more holistic schools. UCLA would like someone like you, and they would likely wink at the numbers. They are not number crazy. So I think your chances at UCLA are high. That is where you belong. At HBS, it’s 20% to 25%. If you got in, they would have fallen in love with your Stanford degree in product design.

What you should do is to cure the 3.2 with an alternative transcript. Take courses in statistics, calculus and math. Your best bet is to take statistics at Stanford in the summer with a lot of  pre-meds who are deciding late to go into medicine and get an A. But that is hard to do so you might take a few night courses at UCLA or somewhere like that. I think an alternative transcript is better for you than taking the GMAT over again and getting a 710. That is the tough love here.

You are going to have to execute well and present yourself as passionate, smart and very businesslike. I would bet you can do that.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder of C-Change Media, a global digital media company of higher education content. C-Change now has five websites, including Poets&Quants, and the author or co-author of more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers, and is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, and editor-in-chief of Fast Company. He also is the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools.