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What are my MBA admission chances? Calculating your odds of success

Calculating MBA admission chances

An applicant wants to know –

What are my MBA admission chances for Harvard [or Oxford, Columbia, ISB, MIT, IIM]?

Finds a free online MBA admission chances calculator that spits out a seemingly random answer with no justification.
The applicant trusts this data blindly, uses it to select b-schools and lives happily ever after.

If things were that simple, why does every single serious (and successful) applicant take the more difficult path of researching programs, building their profiles, evaluating strengths/weaknesses, working on how to write strong essays, polishing their interviewing skills?

That’s because automated MBA admission chances calculators just don’t work!

Well, at least not in the manner that applicants expect them to. Sure, you’ll get a number or a categorization (Ambitious, Stretch, Practical etc). But in most cases, the way admission chances are calculated by such automated free tools is simplistic, mechanical and flawed.

If there really was a fantastic MBA admission chances calculator out there, it would’ve put all admission consultants out of business.

Ironically, you’ll find many of these university admit chances calculators on admission consultant websites. You can’t deny that it’s a great marketing freebie to attract candidates.

It’s human tendency to look for easy solutions – even when it comes to complex things such as MBA admissions. In fact, if someone can compress all the complexity into a simple number, we think that would be even better. But this over-simplistic thinking can backfire.

First the bad/good news, depending on how you take it. If you’ve been looking for a free online MBA admission chances calculator, you won’t get it here. But read on anyway. We’re going to cover some facts and some uncomfortable truths in this article that should help you look at MBA admission chances in a more realistic manner.

Let’s start off with the basics.
 

Focus on the program ‘fit’ as opposed to getting obsessed with the admission chances

There are subjective factors that determine how well an top MBA program helps in building the professional character of an individual.

Whether it is cultivating leadership capacities, honing management skills, tapping into communication skills or team working abilities. And there are the more measurable factors such as hard skills in the form of data and business analytical training, quantitative skills, finance knowledge, and such.

What makes an MBA program special to a particular candidate is ultimately determined by what that candidate desires to gain from it and how well the program is able to transform those skills into a successful career.

Each candidate is unique, with some who need the MBA program to build hard core business know-how whereas others who need it to build a solid network, gaining expertise through interacting with peers from different backgrounds.

There could be multiple valid and good reasons why one particular MBA program works as the best fit for a candidate over others, and vice versa.

Having said that, though, most elite business schools tend to show past and present MBA cohorts who belong to the upper echelons of qualifications.

Top schools boast class profiles with stellar and tangible stats that have the following characteristics:

  • GMAT / GRE scores in the 95 plus percentile
  • GPA scores north of grade A or equivalent
  • Diverse range of industries, roles and geographies

There are also some intangible factors that got those students in. But you won’t see them openly on any bschool site. These include:

  • Clear MBA goals and roadmap to get there
  • Strong foundation of skills and strengths
  • Strength of the application: Essays, resume, interviews
  • The elusive X factor that differentiates them and makes them more desirable than the others.

In a nutshell, those are the most important factors that can be used to understand, if not accurately calculate, your admission odds.

The tangible factors can be covered to some extent by online MBA admission calculators, but the intangibles ones require experienced human evaluators.

All well and good when your profile has those qualities readily available. But what about the more common scenario – when you lack one or all of the “seemingly best” qualities in a typical MBA applicant profile?

An automated chances calculator would knock out many good programs from the list, since it cannot look beyond obvious (or perceived) flaws in the profile data.
 

Why are admission chances difficult to calculate?

 
Many business schools hardly ever declare cut-offs (minimum scores, work experience, or grades) lest they discourage real talent from slipping through the cracks for lack of being “on trend” with their historical averages.

For instance, even though the average age at typical US MBA programs is 28 years, ranging from 26 to 32, schools can definitely make an exception for an undergraduate with a brilliant academic record and perhaps even noteworthy entrepreneurial accomplishments. Why would any top MBA program throw such an application away for the candidate’s age?

The chances of getting an admit for any particular candidate, in that sense, is an adcom dependent subjective assessment. The claim is that each applicant is reviewed holistically, making strengths and weaknesses part of a cumulative assessment criteria.

It can thus get quite puzzling for applicants who feel they are lacking a strong profile. Should they apply or not?

To be fair, even those candidates who have it all going for them can be at a risk for perhaps being from an overrepresented pool that b-schools are desperate to differentiate from.

We come across several candidates who seem strong on paper, but are destined to fail in the competitive admissions process. This could be due to some intangible & non-negotiable criterion that isn’t immediately obvious – such as poor communication skills or a badly planned career goal or some other reason.

In such situations, asking “what are my admission chances at the top MBA programs”, needs detailed analysis and a fair understanding of the admission process and related statistics.

Read What do Admissions Officers at top MBA programs want?
 

Alternatives to the automated MBA admission chances calculators

The alternative to relying on machines driven by algorithms is to get help from tried and tested humans!

The evaluation of admission odds can come through intensive research that requires involving peers, alumni, or others with experience with the MBA admission process.

Or it can come from an objective evaluation from reliable and well-established MBA admission consultants who have used their years of experience gathered through working with numerous potential applicants applying to various top b-schools.

One such option that MBA Crystal Ball offers is the MBA Mock Application Process (MBA MAP). It helps potential applicants gain clarity before going for the real deal.

It is a carefully organized methodology, driven by highly credible admission consultants, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an MBA aspirant.

The mini-application process is managed by an experienced mentor from our team. It is designed to create a personalized report to rate the applicant profile, categorise schools based on their admission chances (a-ha!), and an analysis to understand the applicant strengths and weaknesses, among many other crucial details.

To put it in other words, the MBA MAP is a human-driven MBA admissions chances calculator that covers much more than just the odds of getting an admit.

Click here for details
MBA MAP

However, for those who don’t want to pay for a formal service, we also provide another alternative – free MBA profile evaluation.

Our free profile evaluation threads are among the most popular ones on popular MBA forums like GMAT Club and Beat the GMAT. But the personal details that candidates share on such forums is unstructured, which limits our understanding of their capabilities.

So we started offering free MBA profile evaluations on our website. We provide guidelines for candidates to a more standardised set of data that makes it better for us to get a quick overview.

We ask for data on multiple areas of the candidate profile, and some of these inputs go beyond the obvious (e.g. GMAT score sufficiency etc.) We also ask for a specific set of queries that we can help with, so our responses can be objective and practical.
 

We can’t tell you about your MBA admission chances, but…

 
Our team of experts offer this free evaluation service to review your profile based on the specific information that you provide to us.

We encourage specific questions aimed at our team that are poignant and relevant…and not easily available on Google.

Our consultants then review your data to give a quick analysis of what may and may not be obviously apparent to you, but might matter to the admission committees reviewing your future MBA application.

The free profile analysis is not as detailed as our in-depth MBA MAP evaluation process, so we cannot talk about chances.

But it can help you get an expert and objective eye on your standing as an applicant.

So, what do we expect from applicants for a free MBA profile evaluation? Consequently, what should applicants expect from our side?

  • We expect queries to be structured, to the point, and follow the template that is provided. This helps our consulting team from batting away the noise that is associated with vague queries.
  • Being a free service, this is limited in its scope. So, if you come in with the right expectation, you will not feel let down. Our objective is to provide you with the tools and the starting point for your forthcoming decision-making process. Any detailed introspection of your profile readiness and application plan – including essays, b-school list, interview prep, etc. – will need a more comprehensive engagement which is understandably not free.
  • It is not our job to dissuade or even assure a candidate. We will give our views but ultimately it is your position and decision that determines the future outcome. We will certainly give our opinion that may include suggestions to improve your profile – such as wait for 2 years to build a solid work experience, or seek more professional or academic initiatives, or even involve in extra-curricular activities to shine above and beyond others. Similarly, we will never make promises as well. As unethical as that practice may be, it is still often employed by unreliable education consultancies. That leads to not only clients losing money on expensive applications but also facing overwhelming rejections for being unreasonably ambitious and unprepared.

Click here for details
Free profile evaluation

 

Don’t be disappointed with our evaluation. We tend to err on the conservative side

Determining whether a profile has all the ingredients for MBA success is not straightforward, barring a few typical markers like test scores and academic background.

But even then, not one factor ever makes or breaks a case and all applications are generally viewed holistically. Therefore, your real chances at MBA admission can be only be determined by actually applying.

But that doesn’t mean you cannot have help and guidance to make your application better.

From our experience, and the experience of other applicants whose stories you will find below, expert consultation can help you get the necessary feedback.

Whether you avail our free cursory services or paid thorough profile evaluations, our recommendations are likely to be on the conservative side.

This is because, as consultants we rely on the 80 percentile data to share our views. Candidates in the remaining 20 percentile may still overcome their weak areas and achieve exceptional success (we cover several such cases in the final section). But we don’t consider that as the norm during profile evaluations.

The final decision still rests on you. It is ultimately your decision whether you are willing to apply to MBA, given the time and money investment involved, and understand that it is still a probability and not a certainty.

With consultation, you can improve your odds of selection.

With that in mind, take a look at some of the success stories of applicants that we have worked with, both weak and strong profiles in all, and decide for yourself.

For a comprehensive list of MBA success stories, follow this link and unlock your inspiration.
 

These applicants supposedly had low admission chances

Low GPA Success stories

– HEC Paris admit shares how he compensated for his lack of a stellar GPA, international work experience or even extra-curricular activities with the strong points in his profile (high GMAT) and a worthwhile essay to get multiple interview calls and his dream admit. Read: HEC Paris admit with low GPA

– Here are some more stories of applicants who overcame their lack of academic or seemingly competitive credentials with an extra edge like extracurricular, GMAT score, or ample research into business schools to find the right fit for better odds at selection. Read low GPA success stories
 
Low GMAT Success stories

– Motherhood, career break, and a second MBA, clubbed in with a low GMAT score failed to stop multiple admits to MBA programs with scholarship for this applicant. Read her story: MBA admission Chances with below 700 GMAT score.

– Another candidate with a low GMAT score from a competitive applicant pool made it into HEC Paris with a scholarship and a Forte Fellowship as icing on the cake. Read her
low GMAT score success story

– This applicant attempted GMAT twice to only improve his score from 570 to 670. Read his story to find out how the right guidance for his MBA essay got him admits from Spain’s ESADE and Switzerland’s St Gallen. Read MBA in Europe with low GMAT score
 
Too much or too little work experience

– This story highlights how careful research and guidance in b-school selection garnered this applicant admits from the prestigious Stanford GSB and Columbia Business School despite an average GMAT score and little experience. Read How I got into Standford and Columbia with low experience

– At the other end of the spectrum these two stories show how a 35 year old secured an admit in Canada and another MBA admit with 9 years of work experience managed multiple American MBA admits, both with scholarships.
 
Profile Building, Reapplications and Multiple Attempts

– This Indian engineer perfected his profile with 5 attempts at GMAT to improve his score from a 540 to 740 before managing a dream admit at ISB. Read how many times should one take the GMAT.

– This IIT graduate with international work experience had already tasted failure with his MS applications without expert guidance. For his MBA applications, he chose to seek expert help and made it into INSEAD. He shares his journey and his motivation to make his application stand apart on the face of competition. Read My experience working with an MBA consultant who got into Harvard and Stanford

– What makes a profile strong is beyond high test scores. This ISB admit made it in after 3 attempts despite a high GMAT. Here’s what he had to do to win over competition and past failure. How I got into ISB with scholarship

– A great MBA profile can sometimes be pushed back due to personal and professional commitments. Here’s the story of a mother who decided to step into the MBA journey at Queen’s University in Canada. Read MBA abroad for mom with kids
 
We have helped in the success journey of many applicants whose stories are all gathered in our “Success Stories” archive linked before. We encourage you to read them to find your flavour of inspiration.

In the end, as we have emphasized before, the road to a successful MBA admit and subsequent flourishing career is determined by your determination and motivation. We are here only to guide you from taking a wrong turn.

So, what are your chances to make it into a top MBA program? Your profile, your motivation, your future goals, hard work, self-realization, and your willingness to face surprise outcomes, will ultimately be the factors summing up your MBA application.

If you are willing to evaluate and accept the risks objectively, we’d be happy to work together to increase the strength of the application, and in turn your chances of success.

Our email ID: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Read more about aspects that can impact your admission chances:
How NOT to select business schools
Does small company or startup experience affect my MBA admission chances?
Will too much or too little work experience hurt your MBA admission chances?
Are MBA admission chances in Round 2 deadlines lesser than in Round 1?


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