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How to deal with a low GPA

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Lisa Anderson MBA Admissions Consultant
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Post Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:41 pm
np1989 wrote:
In terms of compensating for a low GPA, would a self study certification such as the CFA help address any concerns?
Dear np1989,

Certifications do show aptitude and the ability to master material. However, taking a class while working and earning an A shows you can also manage your time and succeed in the classroom--something you will be required to do in business school.

Regards,
Lisa

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BW3 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:18 pm
Very informative thread. Thanks for your responses Lisa.

In regards to Undergarduate GPA, I had repeated a few classes during undergrad (from community colleges - as it was less expensive)to be a better candidate for Dental school admissions as they used my average GPA. My university GPA without those classes was 2.6 and with those CC classes was 2.9. I went to to be admitted to Dental school with a competative DAT score and graduated. Two years after, I am now looking into Top 15 MBA schools in the east coast, since I have found a niche in a health care management field and am being sponsered by my company. When applying, should I use my cumlative undergraduate GPA from various schools (average GPA)? Also, I went on the graduate Dental school with a 3.1 ( although I realize that may not not matter for MBA admissions)

I recently took the GMAT and scored a 660 and have solid refrences from my managers. Would it be OK if i'm on pace to apply in the 2nd rounds of admission thsi year?

Thanks,
Brian

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Post Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:46 am
Dear Brian,

It all matters...so, showing you did well in dental school will be helpful in balancing your undergraduate GPA. If the community classes were taken after your degree was awarded, then those grades should not factor into your GPA calculation. If you took the community college classes and they counted towards your degree, then you are in a bit of a gray area as many schools will look for your reported GPA to match what is on the transcript of your degree-granting institution. However, if those credits counted towards your degree, then it is reasonable to factor those grades in.

You definitely want to apply in round 2 if possible, and I also encourage you to note you are sponsored by your company. Be sure to present a solid rationale for the MBA in relation to your past education and experience and future career goals--in other words, you need to connect the dots from dental school to current experience to MBA to future goals.

Best of luck,
Lisa

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quarterpounder Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:02 am
Lisa,
I'd like to join the other posters in thanking you for your insights.
I'm hoping I can get your thoughts as well.
Here's some background on me.

- I'm in Canada (Toronto)
- 30 years old
- Undergrad GPA - around a C+ overall. My target school (Schulich/York) asks for a B average in the last two years. my trend has been upward, but I still might fall short of that.
- Undergrad is a BA in Political Science.
- GMAT: 710 (48 Quant/40 Verbal)
- I have about 8 years of work experience in the insurance field, and in risk management.
- I've done some volunteer work, including the big brothers program. My extra curriculars are not extremely extensive otherwise.
- my undergrad has been a part time venture over the last 7-8 years, but my grades suffered earlier on really due to a lack of discipline. I've smartened up and got my academics back on track toward the end, I just hope it was not too little too late.
- I had started out pursuing my undergrad in business admin, my grades in stats were pretty weak. I'm hoping that the decent GMAT score will compensate?

Thanks in advance.

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Post Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:41 am
Dear quarterpounder,

Based on your post, I think you have a shot at Schulich. Use the entire application to your advantage--every piece helps (or can hurt). Your GMAT will help to balance your GPA, and the upward trend in your grades is a positive. You should also consider writing a brief optional essay on your rocky academic start. In essence, you want to provide solid evidence of your readiness for business school.

Best of luck,
Lisa

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bennybob Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:03 pm
Lisa thank you for the knowledge.

I'm curious as to what level of detail the admissions committee digs into your undergraduate transcript.

I graduated with a BS in electrical engineering from a large state school with a cumulative GPA of 2.89

I never had to crack a book in highschool to succeed and as a result i never developed good study habits, combine that with my immaturity and I performed very poorly my first couple years in school(~2.0 GPA). Once it finally "clicked" for me i was able to maintain a 3.65 gpa my final two years including all my upper level (more difficult) engineering courses.

I got a 750 on the GMAT.

Would it be worth it for me to build an alternate transcript or will pointing to my performance the last two years of undergrad be enough to alleviate any doubts? I assume my GMAT will help significantly as well.

Is explaining this situation in my essays something your consulting firm can help with? I've got great work experience/recommendations and if I could just overcome what looks like a poor GPA on the surface i think I'd be comepetive at some of the top schools

thanks,

ben

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Post Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:49 am
Dear Ben,

Your entire transcript is evaluated, so your rocky start will be noticed along with the upward trend in your last two years. You are correct that your 750 GMAT will help mitigate the 2.89 GPA. However, I think it is worthwhile for you to also write a brief optional essay (or additional info paragraph) on how you are more mature and focused now, so your academic performance in b-school will mirror your final 2 years. I don't know that an alternative transcript is necessary in your case unless you did less than a B in all of your quantitative coursework. Since you had a 3.65 in upper level engineering classes, I'm guessing you had mostly A/B in your quant classes.

My firm can help you with your overall strategy and/or essay reviews. For detail on our services and pricing, please visit our website at www.stacyblackman.com. Be sure to note you found us on BeattheGMAT.com!

Thanks for your interest in our services and best of luck,
Lisa

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simorangkir Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:36 am
Dear Lisa, here's my profile

Cum GPA : 2.94
last 2 years GPA : 3.4
working experience : 6 years (bank)
educational background : aeronautics engineering from top engineering institute in Indonesia
exposures : I was deployed in several high level projects in my company, got promoted 3 times during 6 years of service.
GMAT taken : 2 times ( 1st : 610, 2nd : 640 )

My B-School targets
1. Michigan : Ross
2. UT-Austin : Mccombs
3. U Southern California : Marshall
4. Emory : Goizueta
5. Indiana : Kelley

What do you think about my targets? Are they too optimistic?
What can I do with my current profile? (Retake GMAT? Concentrating on aplication and essays?)

Thank you.

Best regards,
Ronald

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Post Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:07 am
Dear Ronald,

Based on this cursory overview of your profile, I would say your target schools are a bit optimistic. Your GMAT and GPA are below average for all of them, putting you in a position to have other factors that are so outstanding they will mitigate both. That is a tough hurdle to get over, in my opinion. While I think you can apply to some or all of these schools, I also think you need to target some schools that are more reasonable for your profile. Regardless of the program, your essays and other application pieces must be compelling and strong. To be more competitive for your current list, you need to retake the GMAT and increase your score to the 680+ range.

Good luck,
Lisa

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cloudedthought Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:21 am
Hi Lisa,

Could you please advise me on the following?

I want to be able to effectively translate my CGPA to the 4.0 scale and hence understand my chances for the MIM programs in Tier 1 schools such as LBS , Duke MMS , HEC Paris etc (or if this does not work out due to low gpa- mba a few yrs down the line in top20-30 programs). I have studied in India at BITS- Pilani as a Bachelors in Engineering and Masters in Science(Perhaps you have heard of IIT or Indian Institutes of Technology - BITS Pilani ranks just after a few IIT's and is quite well known in Universities in the US).

My CGPA on 10 is 6.95. This is a direct result of 2-3 terrible semesters in my third year. The grading system is as follows:
A grade ( granted to approx top 10% of the class)
B Grade ( granted to next 20-25% of the class)
C Grade ( granted to next 40% of the class)
D Grade ( granted to next 15-20% of the class) - I have several of these in my 3rd and 4th year!
(My grades are terrible in theoretical maths courses - completely theory based - theorums and axioms - no quant hence very dry)
E Grade (granted to the bottom 5-10% of the class)

I am quite confused as I believe American universities have 2.5 as the minimum GPA to graduate - which would make it equivalent to 4.5/10 in our system. Does that mean my GPA would convert to approx 3 in the US system? Is y=(x-2)/2 a more effective method to convert gpa out of 10 (x) to 4.0 scale (y) /
What will be my GPA equivalent as determined by American B Schools (such as the University of Fuqua)

The thing is I have extraordinary Extra curriculars
1.( part of the reason my GPA dipped - founded a Finance club, led a Literary and Debating Club, led the fund raising and marketing efforts for the college national festival, represented India at an international business case study competition -14 out of 2500 teams from 14 countries and a research paper in portfolio optimization at a national conference)
2. GMAT score of 720 (q 49, v 39)
3. internship in a non profit and a company

Lastly, based on how my GPA is interpreted by the ad com I will consider not applying for the MIM program and plan for applying for an MBA a few yrs down the line. In that case I would need to build an alternative transcript, right?

Thank you for your time.

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Post Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:48 pm
Dear cloudedthought,

While I understand your concern around your GPA, please know it is not the only (or the most important) part of your application. I would estimate your 6.95 is probably around a 3.0, but the most accurate conversion would be from a credentialing service. As for your D's, these will raise a concern, so use an optional essay or additional info paragraph to address your academic performance in college. If you do not have other quant coursework with high marks (A or B), then an alternative transcript might be a good idea to show you can do well in a quant course.

Depending on how the rest of your application presents, you could be competitive for the MiM now or MBA later. Which avenue is really more a question of which degree makes the most sense for you in relation to your long-term career goals. Your GMAT score is strong and demonstrates your aptitude for the rigor of either program. How you have done professionally and the type of work you do can also demonstrate your ability to excel in either program. Thus at this point, I think you need to decide if the MiM now or an MBA later is the right path for you.

Good luck,
Lisa

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wch87 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:42 pm
Hi Lisa,

Thank you so much for your participation in this incredible thread. My stats are as follows:
-750 GMAT (48Q, 44V)
-3.35 cum GPA from Texas A&M, Finance major (but ~3.0 GPA in quant courses)
-Currently 2.5 years WE for small, local commercial lenders, nothing sexy (will have 3 years upon matriculation)
-Average extra curriculars
-Thus far, most of my recommendations have admittedly been provided by peers from internships or summer work, instead of recommendations from supervisors at full time jobs

So far I have not be accepted anywhere-
I have been dinged without interview at Yale and Harvard
I have been dinged without waitlist at Duke, Dartmouth, and UNC (self-initiated interviews)
I have been dinged without waitlist at UT McCombs (invited to interview)

Are these dings unusual considering my profile? Or is there a glaring weakness?

Also, for my Round 2 applications, I am planning on applying to
-USC
-UCLA
-Vanderbilt
-Georgetown
-Indiana

Are these out of my league too?

Thank you so much for your advice!!

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Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:27 pm
Dear wch87,

I'm sorry to hear your decisions are not what you expect or want. It is hard to say why you might not be hearing a positive decision without reviewing your application in its entirety. Based on your post though, I would say not having a recommendation from a current/former supervisor is a problem. Schools like a third party perspective on you as a professional, preferably a supervisor who has worked with you for at least a year. If you have only had peers, then that might be interpreted as you are afraid to ask a supervisor as s/he might not have good things to say about you.

Other potential problems could be your resume and your essays. I don't think your GMAT and GPA are particularly concerning, as both show your capability to handle the work. If your resume is not reflecting your skills and accomplishments well, or if your essays are not effectively conveying your rationale for an MBA in relation to your goals, then those are significant issues.

On the surface, I would not say the schools you are targeting are necessarily out of your league, but you need to really assess your application packages and rethink your recommenders. You are also only applying to top 25 programs, so it might be worthwhile to revise your list to include 1-2 safety options outside the top 25.

Good luck,
Lisa

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ChargerxCats Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:02 pm
Hi Lisa,

I too am faced with the situation of having a low GPA. I started in 1994 as a freshman at a Cal State school and majored in biology. Due to a combination of factors (immaturity, not having a knack for the science and difficult math courses, lack of focus, involved in sports, working), I wound up with D's and F's in some of my classes. A couple of years later, I finally switched to a different major (Radio/TV/Film), which I enjoyed. Once I switched majors, my GPA started to improve towards the end--I got A's and B's in my major courses. Unfortunately too much damage was done from staying in the biology major, and I wound up graduating Dec. 2000 with a 2.57 Cumulative GPA.

I decided to pursue a second Bachelor's degree at the same university- this time in Art with a concentration in Graphic Design. I started school Fall 2001, and since I had already met the general education requirements, my curriculum was mostly comprised of art and graphic design related courses. Unfortunately I went through a couple of devastating events during this time--my grandmother's death, and the breakup of a serious relationship in which I had been with the person for 7 years. I had to do a withdrawal from classes for Fall 2002. I came back to school for Spring 2003, but got C's and U's (which count as F's) since I was not emotionally ready. Fall 2003, I was back on track and got A's and B's. I graduated December 2003 with a GPA of 2.61.

My profile is as follows:
-Bachelors TV/Film/Multimedia 2.57
-Bachelors Art/Graphic Design 2.61
-Have been working 8 years full-time as a designer, and have been at the same company for the last 6 1/2 years. My current role is designing the interior and covers for books, but also designing advertising and promotions for the marketing team. There has been no advancement since I started working there; the company I work for doesn't have much room for growth, and the job market for designers has been pretty tough the last few years.
-In the past, I've done pro-bono work for a few non-profits (-animal rescues who are unfortunately no longer around). I recently reached out to a few non-profits (a couple of animal rescues, plus a non-profit org that helps at-risk youth) to see if I can help them with their design and marketing. I enjoy working with non-profits since it gives me a chance to lead and utilize my design and marketing skills.
-Interesting tidbit about me: I'm a woman who's been playing competitive hockey in a men's league since 1997.

In pursuing an MBA, I'd specifically like a concentration in marketing or international business. My goal is to one day be a Creative Director or Product Marketing Manager. Ideally, I'd like to work in media, sports, or for a non-profit organization that helps animals and the environment.

What are my chances of getting into a top-25 part-time/fully-employed program, such as those offered at USC or UCLA? I have not taken the GMAT yet, but am preparing to take it June 2012 and hope to score as close as possible to 700 with the help of a prep course. I plan to apply for Round 1 2012. If I do apply, would it be beneficial to include a few pieces from my design portfolio, especially since I'd like a concentration in marketing? I can write strong admission essays as well and will write the "optional" essay, but I'm a bit discouraged that I have no chance with these schools with my low GPA. I'm actually taking a statistics course at the university this winter session which will hopefully help a bit.

Any advice would be great!

Thanks Lisa!

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Post Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:34 pm
Dear ChargerxCats,

While you are right to be concerned about your GPA, there are many success stories of folks with low GPAs who have gone on to graduate from great MBA programs. So, the key is to mitigate the GPA with an above average GMAT, A's in additional quant coursework (like your stat class), and evidence of high motivation. I think if you can score at or above the average for the part-time programs at your target schools, plus do well in your extra courses, you will be in a position to mitigate your GPA. Of course, you will also want to use an optional essay to make your compelling case.

Best of luck!
Lisa

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