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How to deal with a low GPA

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Amy MBA Admissions Consultant Default Avatar
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How to deal with a low GPA

Post Wed Dec 26, 2007 12:05 pm
Many candidates are concerned about a low undergrad GPA, and because it is something that is out of your control many years after you have graduated, it can be especially frustrating during the application process.

Take a look at the sticky thread where Stacy discusses what GPA and GMAT you want to aim for when applying to top tier programs to see if your GPA is especially low.

If you do have a low GPA for your target MBA program (or have failed classes, etc.), the question such a GPA raises in the mind of the admissions committee is whether you have the motivation and aptitude to handle the coursework in an MBA program.

1.) A high GMAT score can definitely help answer the aptitude question.

2.) An optional essay that discusses what happened during undergrad to result in a low GPA can help to answer the question about motivation. Avoid excuses at all costs!! What you want to communicate is that you made some mistakes in your undergrad educational experience, you regret them, and you have done x, y, and z to demonstrate how responsible and prepared you are to enter graduate school now.

3.) If you have the time before your application process, an alternate transcript can give solid evidence to show how you have changed since undergrad. If you have had issues on the quantitative section of the GMAT and do not have solid grades in calculus and other quantitative classes in undergrad, you may want to focus on your quantitative skills. Taking college level calculus, statistics and perhaps micro economics and achieving A's in these classes will build this alternate transcript for you.

Good luck!

Amy

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Post Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:04 am
Thanks for the initiative!
Amy Ulrich wrote:
Avoid excuses at all costs!! What you want to communicate is that you made some mistakes in your undergrad educational experience, ....
...Good points!

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hookemjimbo Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:22 pm
What if I only have taken one course? My undergrad GPA wasn't too low, but I took a class anyway (accounting - made an A). What impact would that one class have on an admissions decision?

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Post Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:29 pm
I can share what worked for me. My undergraduate GPA was definitely sub par with one really bad semester. A few years back when I decided I wanted to do an MBA (I was 3 years out of University at the time) I decided to take a few first and second year business courses at night and through correspondence. After 4 years I had taken 7 courses with a 3.9 GPA, I had strong references and solid performance at work (ranking in the top tier of performers), I had been selected for a leadership development program at work and was actively involved with JCI and Toastmasters. These factors combined with a solid GMAT score allowed me to show that I had a demonstrated track record and that I was in fact a very different person than I was in University.

End result I've been accepted into my program of choice (Cornell-Queen's eMBA) starting this summer.

Based on my experience, you can compensate for a low GPA, but you need to be able to demonstrate that there is something different now, that you will be able to meet the academic rigors of an MBA. Business schools want to select people who are going to be successful in their programs and you need to be able to convince them of that.

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lestervan Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun May 04, 2008 8:09 am
basically my situation is I have not graduated from a university due to some of my mistakes during the undergrad, but as I study GMAT, i believe I can get around 750. I already prepare 3 essays to say about my experiences, motivation, and why I do not finish the undergrad but wanna go straight to mba.

any chance I will be accepted to mba ? Smile

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Lisa Anderson MBA Admissions Consultant
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Post Mon May 05, 2008 5:27 am
Most established, accredited MBA programs require a bachelor's degree as part of the admission requirements. I am not aware of any programs that admit students without a bachelor's degree. So I would encourage you to complete your bachelor's degree first before thinking about business school.

Regards,
Lisa

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Ur_Sky Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon May 12, 2008 6:33 pm
Hi,
I am a bachelor in fine arts with a major in graphic design. I have seven years of working experience (beginning as an assistant and actually being a head of department). My GPA is not so high because the School of Fine Arts where I studied has the politic of giving low grades as a way to motivate a permanent artistic research (as they believe there is no perfect art, so no high score). I have an official letter signed by the dean explaining this, but I dont feel it will be enough. During the last years of study I was awarded with a prize for my creativity and I also was a member of the Student Council. I took some extra courses in marketing some years ago and I did very well. The two companies that hired me gave me, each of them, one scholarship as a bonus for my good work. What would you recommend to me?

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Post Tue May 13, 2008 7:29 am
Dear Ur_Sky,

Your situation does pose a predicament, but I think you have already come to the best solution. You need to explain the grading policy of your school in the optional essay and include a copy of the letter from the Dean. Beyond that, you will have to let your strong essays, letters of recommendation, and professional work experience speak to your abilities. Likewise, a good GMAT score is more critical in your case to demonstrate your academic aptitude for business school.

Good luck,
Lisa

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jkris Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue May 13, 2008 12:54 pm
Hi,
I have a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering (was decently good with a First class + distinction). After that, I finished my Master's in Electrical Engineering from a 2nd tier US university. Unfortunately, I didn't perform well in my MS. My cumulative GPA was 3.0 (the minimum required to graduate). I had as many C's as A's. Reasons included wrong planning and some bothering health issue. I some how managed to get over the depression, worked hard, got some certifications in my field and got into a Good tech company in California. I now have 4+yrs work experience with very strong work performance and quick promotions.

I am serious about doing an MBA and am looking at Part-time programs in reputed universities in California.. but my performance is MS always bothers me and I'd like to know how seriously the admissions committee consider the performance beyond undergraduate study. I haven't given my GMAT yet, but would I still have a good chance even with a good GMAT score? Would I need to provide all the transcripts beyond my undergraduation? Can I skip mentioning about my Masters?

Appreciate any responses.

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Post Wed May 14, 2008 8:10 am
Dear jkris,

You do need to disclose you have a master's degree and submit your transcript as part of your application. While the undergraduate transcript is scrutinized more, I think it might be a good idea to explain the wide range of grades in your masters program in the optional essay. As long as there is a rational explanation for the disparity, and you score well on the GMAT, then the transcript for your graduate work will probably not hurt your application.

Good luck,
Lisa

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jsub Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu May 22, 2008 5:39 pm
...



Last edited by jsub on Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Fri May 23, 2008 6:00 am
Dear jsub,

It is always good to provide an alternative transcript (your night courses) as evidence of your academic aptitude when you feel your GPA from undergraduate coursework is low. You do have a difficult major from a good school, so I don't think your 3.2 is all that low. Just spend some time putting together the strongest application possible, and you will be in good shape.

Best of luck,
Lisa

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tjstaley Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed May 28, 2008 9:29 am
Thanks in advance for taking the time to look this over Stacy.

I graduated in 2006 with a BA in Graphic Design; however, I've been working full time since 2005. I transferred from junior college to University of San Francisco and from USF to a Cal State University. I averaged a 3.1 from the Cal State, but given my poor performance prior to that, my GPA works out to a 2.85. My goal all along has been to score in the 700s on the GMAT; however, due to my poor GPA, I'm not sure that will be enough to gain admission to USC, UCLA, or UC Irvine. Should I enroll in some night classes to bring my GPA up?

Am I fooling myself? Please, don't pull any punches.

Thanks again!

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Post Thu May 29, 2008 5:48 am
Dear tjstaley,

Taking some classes might be beneficial in your case, especially if you do not have many quantitative courses on your transcript. While these new grades will not affect your GPA, they will demonstrate your academic aptitude to succeed in the MBA program. I suggest taking finite math, algebra, and calculus as these math skills will better prepare you than taking a basic accounting, finance or economics class.

Since I do not know anything about your profile beyond a 2.85 GPA, it is hard to gauge your chances for those programs. However, I do think if you score at least a 670 on the GMAT and have other strong application components, then you might have a competitive application.

Good luck,
Lisa

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HCH Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:04 pm
Hello Lisa,

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this. I just graduated in May 2008, with a relativly low GPA (2.67 Cool from The College of New Jersey. I got my BS in Finance. I have 1 year experience at a government auditing firm, and 1 year experience at a local township's finance department. I am trying to get into Seton Hall's Sports Management MBA program and their min. requirements are 3.0 GPA and 500 on the GMAT. My question is with my GPA, and my experience, what should I be shooting for on the GMATs to get into this program?

Thanks again!

HCH

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