Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. Wind & Fire

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in goosciences
  • Work experience includes two years as an oil and gas consultant and now for a wind and solar company for the past three years, managing teams of installers and engineers
  • Extracurricular involvement installing free solar panels in low-income housing
  • Goal: To start a distributed renewal energy company to focus on solar and residential energy storage
  • 26-year-old male

Odds At Target Schools:

MIT: 25%
Dartmouth: 30
Yale: 30
Georgetown: 35% to 40%
Virginia: 35% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: In sending us your profile, you wrote “ouch” on your GPA. You’re right. Your 3.0 is the boo-boo or the soft spot on the apple. Started out at an oil and gas consulting company out of college and then for a wind and solar company. Your goal is to start a renewable energy company involving solar and residential energy.

But I guess about 30% of people applying to business school, if you shake them, it comes down to making better batteries. But I don’t think it’s a smart idea to say you want to start a company out of business school. Only 5% of MBA students actually start companies on campus so a lot of people may go into an MBA program thinking they want to do this but actually go out with a job that pays in six-figures.

You have a background in the field so it makes a little bit of sense for you to start a company right out of school but you need to be specific. You might say your plan is to get a bit more experience with a major renewable energy company and then want to start a company.

You mention you are interested in taking Harvard’s online fundamentals to offset the 3.0. Let me just say outright: It’s not your ticket into Harvard Business School. Harvard is like a lot of places: they hate their own. With your low GPA, I would take some real courses where you show up, sit next to a human being and take a final exam, quite frankly. That is not HBX core. That is for dreamers.

At MIT, there is good news and bad news. They would love the solar part. They would hate the 720 and the 3.0. Given its MIT and the school is very selective, you are going to have a hard time getting in. Yale might be a little bit more willing to swallow your stats so that is going to be difficult for you as well. Tuck might be really interested in solar wind stuff so your odds start ticking up at Tuck. There’s a lot of wind in those mountains in New Hampshire. You’re an inline applicant at Georgetown and UVA with odds of about 35% to 40%.

Do something to offset the 3.0, and make it sound like you really know the industry. Your plan is to stay in the industry and start a company but tell the schools you want to get more experience before starting your company. And talk about your extracurricular experience. That is a double do-gooder whammy.

And if you want some tough love, a 720 GMAT is okay. But if you had a 740 or 750, it would help you at every school you apply to. I hate to be the nag on this but the one topic that all schools lie about is that the GMAT isn’t important. It is.