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5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question

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5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 13:16
Hi All,

I have a question about how the GPA is calculated for an MBA program. Right out of HS (will be 10 years ago by the time that I apply), I enrolled in an undergrad program. Due to a myriad of personal reasons (which may or may not prove compelling to the adcomms), I didn't do well at all. I believe the GPA for that coursework would be about 2.8/2.9.

After taking a few years off to get my personal affairs in order, I returned to school in 2009. I changed schools and majors. I have been working in the aviation field in positions of increasing responsibility for almost five years now. In my new program, I have a 3.98 and will be graduating with honors.

Does the MBA admissions program have something similar to the LSAC that requires that all UG coursework be combined to yield your combined GPA? I have read in various places that more emphasis is placed on the junior and senior years as well as WE. I would really like to go to law school but it seems that my past GPA issues would not be looked as favorably upon as they may be for an MBA program. This would make the difference in a top tier MBA program and a likely second tier law program.

While it's certainly understood that one must pay for their mistakes, I would like to create the best opportunity possible for my graduate work. I have learned a great deal from those issues and would like to move forward.

Can anyone offer any advice?

Thanks!
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 14:53
Generally speaking, b-schools are more forgiving of GPAs than law schools.

Part of the reason is self-selection historically: those with the strong GPAs tended to be the kinds of people who gunned for the top law and med school programs (and their prime motivation was to get the strongest grades possible). Also, law and medicine is far more numbers oriented: it's essentially a combo of your GPA and LSAT/MCAT.

B-school admissions is much more subjective and encompasses a wider range of criteria: namely the "quality" of your work experience to date (which is subjective), your narrative as conveyed in your essays and interview (which is subjective), your colleagues' assessment of you through the rec letters (which is subjective), branding/pedigree of your education and employers (which again is subjective), and your GPA and GMAT.

GPAs are not irrelevant, but in the overall scheme of things for b-school admissions, they are usually the least important. Even between the GMAT and GPA, the GMAT tends to be looked at more closely. In other words, a lower-than-average GMAT is a bigger handicap (and sometimes an insurmountable one) compared to a lower-than-average GPA.

This also reflects the needs of the post-grad recruiters. In law and medicine, the career paths are very structured, so it's less about "prior experience" and so the primary metric is your grad school academics (your grades and pedigree of your law/med school). In law, you work for a law firm as an associate until you're eligible for partner - it's very much an apprenticeship that is similar in nature across many firms and practices. In medicine, you intern, specialize and move up the ranks in a very structured and predetermined way (relatively speaking compared to business). That's one of the main reasons why law and med schools look almost exclusively at academics, because that's how their grads are being judged initially when they graduate and get placed in their first "apprenticeship".

In business, whether its corporate or startup land, the post-MBA positions are far more ambiguous. There is no such thing as a "standard post-MBA" job like there is in accredited professions such as law, medicine or architecture, and the level of responsibility and nature of your duties and knowledge/skill required varies a lot by industry. There is no standard or structured career path for MBAs. As such, recruiters tend to evaluate your potential hiring within a larger context (i.e. your overall body of work as a whole - your prior experience, your schooling, your connections/network, your interests, your "fit" with the firm -- all of which tend to be much more important than hiring new JDs or MDs). Also, it's because a JD and MD are specialist degrees, whereas an MBA is a generalist degree - in business it's less about the *hard skills* you learn directly from b-school, and more about how the MBA coupled with your prior experience and career ambitions as a whole fits into what you can provide for the company. That's why b-school adcoms tend to look at a broader range of things that are often more subjective - also because the post-MBA recruiting process is also so subjective.

In your case, your most recent grades certainly can balance out your grades from 8-10 years ago, but in the big picture it's not really going to matter as much as your overall resume (and how well you execute the essays and interviews obviously).
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 14:59
Excellent. Thank you very much! I'm looking at a MBA/JD program. I'm hoping that may be the way to go rather than straight JD. I don't think I have the grades to go where I want to go JD-wise, but it's looking promising through MBA.
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2011, 15:03
As far as I know, virtually all the JD/MBA programs require you to get accepted by *both* schools separately. The only exception may be Kellogg's JD/MBA. Just know however that if you don't intend to practice law after you graduate (i.e. pass the bar and work as a practicing attorney), doing a JD is generally a waste of time and money.
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2011, 07:20
Kellogg is where I am looking to go, I think. Do you know if Penn requires admissions to both or just admission to Wharton? I didn't see a straight answer on the website. Ideally, I'd like to be in-house council for an airline. Since those positions are few and far between, I think that having a strong foundation in management theory would be quite a boon to my resume. I'm primarily interested in Employment and labor relations management/ business immigration law. That would pretty much sum up all work/education experience that I have so far.

I have current experience working with union employees and past experience with immigration law as well as French/Spanish language skills.

I realize that this is all very highly specialized and I'll probably want to do something entirely different by the time I finish grad school. Given my goals, do you think that the JD/MBA road would be a wise move for me?

Thanks!
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2011, 10:34
memphisbelle wrote:
Kellogg is where I am looking to go, I think. Do you know if Penn requires admissions to both or just admission to Wharton? I didn't see a straight answer on the website. Ideally, I'd like to be in-house council for an airline. Since those positions are few and far between, I think that having a strong foundation in management theory would be quite a boon to my resume. I'm primarily interested in Employment and labor relations management/ business immigration law. That would pretty much sum up all work/education experience that I have so far.

I have current experience working with union employees and past experience with immigration law as well as French/Spanish language skills.

I realize that this is all very highly specialized and I'll probably want to do something entirely different by the time I finish grad school. Given my goals, do you think that the JD/MBA road would be a wise move for me?

Thanks!


JD/MBA at Penn-Wharton: as far as I know, you have to apply to both schools separately. Kellogg is really the only school where the program is truly integrated (i.e. it's administered by Kellogg, and not NW's law school). With schools like Penn, Harvard, Stanford, etc and other schools that offer the JD/MBA, it really feels like two separate degrees from two separate schools. Keep in mind that the schools/faculties within a university are notoriously territorial (to the point where at least in the past, schools like Harvard wouldn't make any accomodations for JD/MBA folks in terms of scheduling classes, so that you may have back-to-back classes at the different schools where you literally won't ever make it to class on time).

As for what you want to do, I think it makes perfect sense.

The weird thing is -- the conventional advice you'll get from the law crowd is that you have to pay your dues as an associate at a law firm before transitioning into internal counsel. The reasoning goes that you develop the discipline and specialized knowledge as an associate working on many cases and clients, giving you a broad foundation to build upon. However, aside from becoming law partner, being in-house counsel is coveted because the lifestyle is often better than the grind at a law firm, and the work is known to be more interesting because you're dealing more with business issues (and in some industries, in-house counsel is known as "business affairs").

So if you can snag an in-house counsel job post-JD/MBA, go for it.

As for immigration law, I admire you -- you must have an infinite amount of patience and level-headedness if you were able to deal with the USCIS, and wanting to continue handling that after law school :)
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Re: 5+ years WE, JD/MBA Candidate, GPA Question   [#permalink] 29 Apr 2011, 10:34
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