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What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school

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What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2012, 21:12
Hello,

I have a 3.8 from a top-20 undergrad, and a relatively unusual profile: Teach For America for 2 years, then a J.D. from an OK-but-not-great law school (decent law school GPA, if it matters). Work experience during law school includes a gig as a research assistant, summer with a corporate firm, and a year of work as a judicial clerk following law school. Not sure who could write me letters at this point, but I don't imagine it would be too tough for me to rustle up some decent ones.

Given that I could get a decent law job, it only makes financial sense to me to go to B school if I can go to a really good one, so I'm wondering what GMAT score I would need for Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley especially. Thanks for your help.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2012, 11:52
Perhaps others will chime in, but, respectfully, your profile just doesn't sound like HBS or Stanford to me. You're up against ivy league, MBB, Apple/Google, VC/PE, military types, and various world savers.

TFA to Law School to MBA sounds like you're spinning in circles with no real business work experience to bring to the table. If you're interested in a high salary, I'm assuming your career goals are not socially oriented, and you have no prior finance experience which leaves consulting, marketing, and maybe general management for your essay goals?

If your Law School experience was public interest, you could have stacked that on top of TFA and sold social sector goals, but right now what are you really after?

I say these things because the GMAT won't be the hurdle you need to clear. Your 3.8 and law school performance indicate your academic ability, which is what the GMAT also indicates. It's your story, goals, and lack of relevant experience that are concerning to me given the range of schools you're mentioning.

I think you have a lot of pluses, and T10 definitely sounds plausible, but H/S seems near impossible to me.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2012, 12:59
I totally disagree with Method.

You have a good GPA from a good school. You have a JD. If you get a good GMAT score, particularly in quant, there is nothing stopping you from HBS or Stanford. Who cares if you're up against Google/MMB/VC/LMNOP?

With your grades and a good GMAT, you just have to craft a compelling story. I'm sure that TFA gave you great leadership experience. Perhaps your JD will combine with an MBA for you to work in M&A, which would leave you with a fantastic salary in an exciting field. I've known a few guys who have done just that, albeit via a joint JD/MBA.

Make it work for you, the only thing holding you back from those schools are well-articulated goals.

Good luck!
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2012, 11:38
Though the previous posters disagree about your chances (frankly H/S is a crapshoot for ANYONE) they agree on a key point: the GMAT is just a get-you-to-the-table metric. Its your story about goals, experiences, and contribution that gets you in to top schools.

Would you mind sharing your goals/interests? I think it would help others to give you more valuable advice.

In any case, I would say you'd want to be above the median, so 720-730+
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2012, 13:45
I’m going to say I completely agree with Method on this one. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do your very best on the GMAT and still apply to HBS and the like as stretches. But realistically anybody can do TFA and then enroll in an average JD program. If I were the Adcom I’d be looking for one helluva good answer from you regarding the “why MBA” question, because your profile doesn’t sound like success after success, it sounds like “I don’t know what to do next” or “degree chaser.” I think with a 700+ you’d be a good candidate at schools 11-20. At the top few I think it’s going to be really tough but still worth a shot if that’s your new-found dream.

To answer your question directly, I'd say 730 to give yourself as good a chance as possible at HBS, Stanford, and Haas.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2012, 18:39
Mixedin86 makes a good point, and I'm starting to understand where he/she and Method are coming from. You certainly don't want to look like a flip-flopper, so you need to write extremely compelling essays that make it clear why you've done what you've done.

However, despite the fact that just about anyone can join TFA or the Peace Corps or whatever other organization, those experiences are still interesting and valuable. I think you have material for good essays if you can figure out how to connect the dots.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2012, 10:28
GPA is good from what sounds like a good school. Two questions to ask yourself would be why do you want an MBA, and what makes sense to tell an admissions committee that fits in with your overall goal. It doesn't have to be a completely linear progression from TFA -> JD -> Law Firm -> MBA, but each transition needs to make sense, and if possible you need to work in skills you picked up at each place along the way to make your story well-rounded and unique.

I hope everyone here doesn't sound like a bunch of downers, but I will say that those that said "you don't want to look like a degree chaser" are giving prescient advice. I do agree with Method that H/S are likely out of your reach, mainly due to the factors he mentioned and also these two:
- You mentioned yourself that you went to an "OK" law school. At H/S you'll be up against people that went to primo law schools (top10) and smoked it. They probably do have spots for people with your profile, but they will be limited so they need some sort of 'wow' factor since you haven't been in the 'real world' enough to have saved it.
- Based on your experience, it sounds like you will be 30-31 at matriculation. Both H/S like to have younger classes. Not a huge factor, but yet another thing working against you.

All that said, it's not impossible if you can show that this step makes sense and build it in (maybe research the M Ed. / MBA program that Stanford offers) to your overall story.

To answer your original question, I would say 750+ for H/S, 720 for any other school (look also into Kellogg, they have a soft spot for non-traditional/meandering candidates). Pay close attention to the quant portion of your GMAT as well, since you are coming in as a 'poet,' you need a 48 or above on that section.

Last edited by thugly921 on 22 Jan 2012, 20:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2012, 13:49
thugly921 wrote:
I hope everyone here doesn't sound like a bunch of downers...


Yes, that's a great point, thugly. It's not my intention to ever rain on someone's parade, the poster here is CLEARLY very talented. I just wanted to offer a candid peer review. No matter what anyone says, there's nothing stopping the poster from applying to H/S or being accepted to H/S. There also shouldn't be any hint of insult from not getting a favorable review for H/S or not getting accepted to H/S.
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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2012, 16:05
Your JD degree is valuable and unique to your MBA class-mates, especially the entrepreneurs. Adcomm will add a lot of value to that.
However, you need to have strong application essays to make it to your target schools. Get a GMAT score of 720+. I am a student at Haas-Berkeley – ping me for any questions.

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Re: What GMAT would be required for a top-5-or-10 school   [#permalink] 09 Mar 2012, 16:05
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