Top B-School: What schools should I be focusing on, and do I have a chance at top-tier?

smp5000's picture
Rank: Monkey | 32

Hello everyone,

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but sound advice from experienced people is invaluable!

I Just began the process of b-school planning,searching, preparation, and decisions. Currently preparing for the GMATs (plan to take in a few months). Planning on scoring well over 700. Here are some background statistics:

  • Age/Race: 26, male, white
  • Degree: Civil Engineering from Top 15 Public University for Engineering, Graduated in 2008
  • Licenses: Fundamentals of Engineering License (precursor to becoming a Professional Engineer); Certified Fraud Examiner.
  • GPA: 3.1 Cumulative/3.6 In-Major (I didn't prioritize my life until 1.5 years into college. Big regret, yet learning experience. My final 5 semesters i averaged a 3.8 GPA and received honors.)
  • Was Vice President of College Fraternity, Fraternity Chairman for Large University Charity.
  • Work Experience (at time of application):
    A) 3.5 yrs in small start-up construction companies (3 companies total @ <50 people each), working in the Project Management area. Promoted to Lead Project Manager in 2 years.
    B) 2 years in Real Estate & Construction Consulting at a Big 4 Accounting firm. Promotion to Senior after 1 year. Have done work in Australia and all over the US.
    • Extracurricular Activity: I am currently a volunteer coach for a foundation that provides golf lessons and ultimately life mentoring to troubled inner city children (I grew up in a rough inner-city neighborhood, and golf is a passion of mine). I do not have a leadership role and am unsure if I will be able to attain prior to application time.

I'm interested in applying to top B-schools due to my interest in finances, management, and consulting. Looking back, i believe i chose the wrong focus to study (I enjoy economics, finance, mgmt); but i do believe my engineering has made me stronger in many areas. I do not want to work for a Big 4 for the rest of my life. Hoping to graduate b-school and work for either a bank or top mgmt consulting firm (MBB); leading eventually to the start of my own company or working for a start-up/venture capitalist.

I'm concerned about my GPA, work experience, and EAs. My GPA does not reflect who i am today and how I've grown. My work experience seems erratic and non-defined, but I had some bad luck with the recessions (companies closing, etc...). I'm currently involved in some outside associations, but do not have any leadership roles.

I'm aiming high and focusing on schools like Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg. I would appreicate any help in answering the following questions:

  • What do you think the odds are? What is your overall assessment of my statistics to date? Do you think they are a good foundation for a top b-school?
  • Where do i need to be focusing my efforts over the next year prior to applying? f you were in my shoes, what things would you be doing over the next year prior to application? And at application time, what approach would you take to the application? What would be the strengths, weaknesses, etc...?
  • Do you think I need to take part in additional EAs or start something of my own? I am suffering from the dreaded average-itis (male, white, so-so GPA from so-so school). How am i to STAND OUT on my applications? Do i need to get more involved or is my volunteer involvement sufficient to support in my essays?
    • The b-schools I listed are, no doubt, top-notch. Am I shooting too high? Or, with some work, would i be able to attain a Top 10 or preferably M7 school? In my opinion, I personally know that I am mentally capable of this rigorous programs, and I feel that i would be a great asset to these programs. My challenge is to prove that to the adcoms. I have high standards for myself!!!

Many thanks for the help, and look forward to the response. Any blunt criticisms of my past, and candid tips for the future are greatly appreciated.