Your Odds Of Getting In To A “Top Ten” Business School

What does your MBA profile look like, and how will MBA adcom really see your MBA or EMBA application?

That is always the question. For starters, know that your MBA profile is composed of a variety of things:  Your GMAT score, your work experience, your application essays (demonstrating your leadership and management skills), and your admissions interview (if you get that far in the MBA application process).

So, given the above, what are things that can help you hit a home run with some of the most elite business school programs around like HBS, Wharton, or Stanford? In other words, THE top business schools.

First, your GMAT score is going to be the most important thing, in my professional opinion.  A high score, and by high I mean 730+, can get an applicant in to one of the top MBA programs, who perhaps didn’t have as stellar work experience as the applicant standing next to him (or her). A high GMAT score, in other words, makes everything possible.

Second: work experience.  The adcoms at the most competitive schools tend to value experience at “known-name” companies over lesser known ones:  a.k.a. companies that are leaders in their industry and/or Fortune 500 firms.

Working at one of these firms will help you get attention in the admissions office, as it is a competitive game and working at a top firm not only means you had what it takes to get there and gain some footing in your career at an ambitions level, but more importantly, that you made it through these firms highly selective screening process.

In other words, they vetted you first so the adcom basically highly weighs that silent and unspoken recommendation.

On this same line of thought, working “for-profit” organizations will skew higher on the adcom’s radar than those applicants who might work in the non-profit sector.  I’m not saying one can’t in from the non-profit side, because that isn’t true at all, I am just saying that as these elite MBA programs value drive and ambition at the highest level, they are attracted to applicants who are already demonstrating they can play on the field.

The area of the country you work in also matters.  An MBA applicant who works for Morgan Stanley or Deloitte in NYC, and has a 730 GMAT and can demonstrate both strong leadership and management ability through the examples they choose to speak about in their essays, is going to have an easier time than the guy (or woman) sitting in Indiana who’s working for a unknown firm.

Location matters, because again, the adcom sees this as an example of DRIVE, as they perhaps not even consciously believe that if you can success in a large city (whether it be New York or Houston) and compete in such a competitive marketplace for your job, it lends just a little more weight.

So, what are your odds of getting in?  Check back next time when I’ll profile three actual MBA applicants, so you can clearly see what is required to gain acceptance to the top MBA business schools around!

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard grad, and currently run the MBA & EMBA admissions firm Check out my website and request a free evaluation today!]