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** Dilemma **

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** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 13:41
hey all, long time lurker first time poster. Hoping to contribute value to a lot of discussions in the future.

Here is my dilemma, please be gentle - any thoughts, suggestions, opinions are TRULY appreciated!

I'm currently studying for the GMAT, aiming for a Fall 2009 admission (applying to schools in the US and UK).

My problem is my atrocioiusly low GPA (1.9) due to a lot of mitigating factors (FT job, had to pay bills, a top school in Canada (one of the top 3), very challenging quantitative program). My marks picked up during the last 3 semesters, but unfortunately not enough to offset a very poor performance during the first few years. I already researched previous posts on the forum re this, but I believe my situation is unique.

Other factors:

- solid work experience (financial analyst) where I use my quantitative skills on a daily basis. I'll have 3yrs of FT experience on my current job by Sept 2009. I can get great recs from my boss/co-workers - I have been promoted 3 times over the past 2 years and now write market overviews which are used nationally.

- extra-curricular involvement, where I can argue the case that I have leadership potential

- GMAT: doing really well on practice tests right now. I think that realistically I can easily get in the 720-740 range on game day. Will try for more, but being realistic this is probably a good estimate (when you're providing suggestions please keep that GMAT score in mind)

Assuming I also write very coherent and well-put together essays, what are my chances?

It seems that the only red flag (and that is HUGE, I know) is my undergrad transcipt. I wish I went to an easier school in retrospect and did things differently, but it's too late now.

Questions:

1) What are my chances of being accepted at an elite and near elite school?

2) Are there any schools (perhaps the ones that employ case study methods of learning) that are going to put less emphasis on my academic record in their admission decision?


I truly appreciate everyone's insight. I am at a crossroads in my life right now due to personal circumstances and I really really hope to start a program next fall. I'm looking forward to everyone's thoughts.

Thanks so very much again :)
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 13:50
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If I were you, I would register for some classes at a community college and provide those grades to the adcom (or at least let the adcom know that u r registering for some classes this spring)! 1.9 is a little too low for the elites and ultra elites unless u were an Olympic gold medalist or a crusader against apartheid in S. Africa. In my opinion, iperforming well on your gmat (at least 90 percentile), along with solid work ex, and some proof of improving academic performance would certainly help your case.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 13:56
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ariel wrote:
hey all, long time lurker first time poster. Hoping to contribute value to a lot of discussions in the future.

Here is my dilemma, please be gentle - any thoughts, suggestions, opinions are TRULY appreciated!

I'm currently studying for the GMAT, aiming for a Fall 2009 admission (applying to schools in the US and UK).

My problem is my atrocioiusly low GPA (1.9) due to a lot of mitigating factors (FT job, had to pay bills, a top school in Canada (one of the top 3), very challenging quantitative program). My marks picked up during the last 3 semesters, but unfortunately not enough to offset a very poor performance during the first few years. I already researched previous posts on the forum re this, but I believe my situation is unique.

Other factors:

- solid work experience (financial analyst) where I use my quantitative skills on a daily basis. I'll have 3yrs of FT experience on my current job by Sept 2009. I can get great recs from my boss/co-workers - I have been promoted 3 times over the past 2 years and now write market overviews which are used nationally.

- extra-curricular involvement, where I can argue the case that I have leadership potential

- GMAT: doing really well on practice tests right now. I think that realistically I can easily get in the 720-740 range on game day. Will try for more, but being realistic this is probably a good estimate (when you're providing suggestions please keep that GMAT score in mind)

Assuming I also write very coherent and well-put together essays, what are my chances?

It seems that the only red flag (and that is HUGE, I know) is my undergrad transcipt. I wish I went to an easier school in retrospect and did things differently, but it's too late now.

Questions:

1) What are my chances of being accepted at an elite and near elite school?

2) Are there any schools (perhaps the ones that employ case study methods of learning) that are going to put less emphasis on my academic record in their admission decision?


I truly appreciate everyone's insight. I am at a crossroads in my life right now due to personal circumstances and I really really hope to start a program next fall. I'm looking forward to everyone's thoughts.

Thanks so very much again :)


You had a 1.9 GPA on a 4.0 scale? Did you graduate?

I agree with other posters, you need to show academic aptitude , take classes, get a masters
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 13:57
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Hi ariel-

Just curious...how old are you?

I gather that GPAs tend to matter a lot more for younger applicants(say < 26) than for older ones. If you are on the young side, want an MBA from a top school, and don't want to wait 3-4 more years, follow what nadtrans said, maybe try getting a masters degree in something else first, just to show that you have changed your ways and can handle classwork. And be sure to get REALLY good grades, not just ok ones. A 3.5 or above will redeem you a LOT more than a 3.0 will.

Finally when writing your 'why my GPA was low' optional essay, be sure to be very specific about how the factors that contributed to your low undergrad GPA will not re-surface at B school. The fact that your grades improved as you went along in school will definitely help your cause.

Just my 2 cents. My undergrad GPA is pretty low considering the schools I am applying to as well, so I know how you feel.

Last edited by bostonsparky on 12 Nov 2008, 14:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 13:59
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Well that is a very sore spot to overcome, but I think there are steps you can take to offset the concerns the admissions committee will have.

First, ACE the GMAT so that there is little question of your intellectual ability.

Second, build a fairly extensive alternate transcript by taking some courses in Calculus, Statistics, Accounting, etc. from a reputable institution, and get A's across the board.

Third, get several years (5-6) of work experience under your belt. Based on what I have read and the conversations that I have had, I don't think that 3 years is sufficient to overcome the GPA issue unless you were an absolute rock star in your field. As I understand it, the more you distance yourself from your college experience, the less weight it carries in the admissions decision.

Finally, get involved in some impressive extra-curriculars outside work (it seems you have done this to a certain extent).

In short, make every other aspect of your application rock solid, and I think the issue of the GPA can be overcome. Of course so much depends on what you consider an "elite" or "near elite" school. I think if you solidified those other areas you could stand a strong chance at some schools in the top 20, particularly if you have a unique background, work experience, and/or post-MBA goals. Of course I am just a lowly 2009 applicant myself, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I am just rehashing the info that I have heard time and time again from admissions consultants, and directly from the adcom members themselves.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:05
@nadtrans: thanks so much, I will definitely look into taking classes at a local school.

I have also passed CFA Level 1 (with all except the 2 smallest areas with the highest marks possible (including Quant, portfolio management, equity analysis, fixed income, etc)
Do you think this might be worth a mention? Would it help strenghten my case?

@terp26: yes, I graduated with an Hon. B. Sc from the University of Toronto.

@bostonsparky: I am turning 28 next month, but I graduated only 3 years ago. Getting a masters degree has crossed my mind, but I am not sure how far this is going to set me back in terms of time and money, and if it's going to be fully worth it. Also, I probably won't get into a good master's program with my GPA, so is it even worth persuing if it's from a really mediocre school? Not sure how the adcoms are going to feel about it.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:05
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ariel wrote:
My problem is my atrocioiusly low GPA (1.9) due to a lot of mitigating factors (FT job, had to pay bills, a top school in Canada (one of the top 3), very challenging quantitative program). My marks picked up during the last 3 semesters, but unfortunately not enough to offset a very poor performance during the first few years. I already researched previous posts on the forum re this, but I believe my situation is unique.




Really not all the unique of a profile. It is actually very similiar to most of ours. I am 2.1 So I will give you my opinion. There is a thread on Businessweek that has shown all the success stories, but it is hard. with your GPA, you may need to give it time to wash away, taking classes would really help, but with only being out of school for a short time. GPA is gonna be a big impact since it is very recent.


Here are my suggestions:
Take classes - Go for classes you can get an A but definitely still looks challenging, Accounting/Finance/Math
Do well on your GMAT's, you really want 750+
you might have to wait it out, or be prepare to reapply, the longer out of school, the less it matters.
A little more non-generic (my opinion only), apply to schools that you have a better shot at. HBS/STANFORD is basicly out of your league, GPA friends. Don't apply UCLA, or other GPA heavy schools.
Try Tuck/Kellogg where you know you'll get an interview. The more other componants you can bring the the table the better.
Ross has better odds for a high ranking school.

PM me if you want some of my experience.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:17
I'm overwhelmed by all the great and very specific suggestions. Thanks, guys! It means a lot!

@atlmba2009: thanks so much for your thoughts. I was hoping to avoid the 5-6 years work experience :-p but I completely understand the reasons behind it. I've been thinking about ways 'to distance myself from college education'

@GoBruins: thank you for sharing your experience and the specific school suggestions. This is exactly the type of information I was hoping for! I'll PM you. Thanks so much again.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:21
ariel wrote:

@bostonsparky: I am turning 28 next month, but I graduated only 3 years ago. Getting a masters degree has crossed my mind, but I am not sure how far this is going to set me back in terms of time and money, and if it's going to be fully worth it. Also, I probably won't get into a good master's program with my GPA, so is it even worth persuing if it's from a really mediocre school? Not sure how the adcoms are going to feel about it.


Other masters programs generally have much higher acceptance rates than MBA programs do, but I understand. If you really have your heart set on getting an MBA this year, you still might be able to get into a 20-30 ranked school with a kickass GMAT score. As much as all of us are bending over backwards for the elites, a lot of schools with near 50% rates (UNC, Notre Dame to name some in the US as well as many internationals) are still getting some great placements.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:36
ariel wrote:
@nadtrans:

I have also passed CFA Level 1 (with all except the 2 smallest areas with the highest marks possible (including Quant, portfolio management, equity analysis, fixed income, etc)
Do you think this might be worth a mention? Would it help strenghten my case?


Trust me, I'm a CFA homer (i.e. I drink the cool-aid). I can tell you that a lot of schools don't even know what the CFA is. And, Level I is not a HUGE accomplishment (congats, by the way). Level II will earn you some credit with someone that is familiar with the program--keep in mind that telling somone that you scored in the >70% range doesn't mean much and you're not supposed to disclose it anyway.

Like others have said, you should probably enroll in some courses and get good grades. Make sure the courses are relevant to your career goals. You need to kill the GMAT if you're aiming at elite schools. I agree with the 750+ but if you're in the 720 range, you should have a shot.

Did your undergrad take a long time?
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 14:57
GoBruins wrote:
?
A little more non-generic (my opinion only), apply to schools that you have a better shot at. HBS/STANFORD is basicly out of your league, GPA friends. Don't apply UCLA, or other GPA heavy schools.


Um GoBruins didn't u apply to UCLA as well with a 2.1 GPA? Btw, this is coming from someone who also applied to UCLA R1 with a sub 3.0 GPA.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 15:44
nutty2010 wrote:
GoBruins wrote:
?
A little more non-generic (my opinion only), apply to schools that you have a better shot at. HBS/STANFORD is basicly out of your league, GPA friends. Don't apply UCLA, or other GPA heavy schools.


Um GoBruins didn't u apply to UCLA as well with a 2.1 GPA? Btw, this is coming from someone who also applied to UCLA R1 with a sub 3.0 GPA.


Nope, I wanted to apply UCLA, and I actually have several of the essays done, but I basicly decided that they are too GPA heavy for their ranking. Pretty much every school around them have a lower GPA. It was a hard decision for me, I may still switch. But I think if I was to give a school a shot, michigan is a better fit/better odds/better acceptance rate.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 16:09
Are you female? I know some ladies who have been admitted with very low gpas and so-so GMATs. We all know that schools love to get their hands on some females because of the under-representation.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 16:21
ariel wrote:

Also, I probably won't get into a good master's program with my GPA, so is it even worth persuing if it's from a really mediocre school?


Masters programs aren't that hard to get into. Definitely now as hard as MBA and a lot of masters programs allow you to take a couple classes before applying and generally if you can get A in the first 3 classes you're in.

How'd you think I got into a master program ;)
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 16:41
raabenb wrote:
We all know that schools love to get their hands on some females because of the under-representation.


...

Last edited by ko on 14 Dec 2010, 11:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 16:46
Oh o, i dont like the direction this conversation is headed! :)

Lets not get into underrepresentation stuff now. been there, done that, and the results are not pretty! U dont wanna make Praetorian angry.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 17:05
when you get to be 50 years old and you look back at your life, you will realize that the reason you didnt get into UCLA was not because of your GPA but because you didnt apply..tsk tsk

I want you to go online and submit that darn freakin essay and get the ball rolling..on UCLA

if you were in the army I would have made you do a 100 sit-ups and run a 2 mile dash under 14 mins...LOL just joking..

GoBruins wrote:
ariel wrote:

Also, I probably won't get into a good master's program with my GPA, so is it even worth persuing if it's from a really mediocre school?


Masters programs aren't that hard to get into. Definitely now as hard as MBA and a lot of masters programs allow you to take a couple classes before applying and generally if you can get A in the first 3 classes you're in.

How'd you think I got into a master program ;)
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2008, 17:23
fresinha12 wrote:
when you get to be 50 years old and you look back at your life, you will realize that the reason you didnt get into UCLA was not because of your GPA but because you didnt apply..tsk tsk

I want you to go online and submit that darn freakin essay and get the ball rolling..on UCLA

if you were in the army I would have made you do a 100 sit-ups and run a 2 mile dash under 14 mins...LOL just joking..

GoBruins wrote:
ariel wrote:

Also, I probably won't get into a good master's program with my GPA, so is it even worth persuing if it's from a really mediocre school?


Masters programs aren't that hard to get into. Definitely now as hard as MBA and a lot of masters programs allow you to take a couple classes before applying and generally if you can get A in the first 3 classes you're in.

How'd you think I got into a master program ;)


Wow, were you a drill sargent? Anyways, you're looking at it as apply to UCLA or not. that's the not the case, it's apply to which schools. I have a UCLA BS/MS but it's just not as good of a fit for me as say Michigan Ross.

I'm not easily beaten down, my list now is Ross, Chicago, Kellogg, Maybe Wharton (Dinged by Columbia). I will still say that's an aggressive list. UCLA is just not a strong management consulting school, McKinsey isn't a top recruiter there, and is not even noted. Ross is a strong upper teir school with strong ties to the big3.

If I can apply to all the top15 schools with one application and one set of letter of recommendation and only pay 200 bucks, then hey my application is already in the mail.


There are too many good school, and unfortunately I can't freeze time to get everything accomplished (although if I did have a superpower, i would pick mind control, so I can tell the adcoms to accept me)
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2011, 01:18
I don't know whether adding to this thread two and a half years after the last post was submitted will produce any replies, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask.

I'm currently an undergraduate at UCLA and expect to graduate with a GPA in the range of 2.8-3.0. I also have a documented learning disability.

For which schools is GPA a primary consideration? I know UCLA is one from speaking to an Anderson professor and from this thread. Other than that, I haven't the slightest idea. I felt that the fact that this website only had a category for GMAT signaled that GPA was a less important aspect of all MBA applications.
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Re: ** Dilemma ** [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2011, 01:38
atlmba2009 wrote:
Finally, get involved in some impressive extra-curriculars outside work (it seems you have done this to a certain extent).


What would adcoms consider "impressive" extra-curriculars? I haven't yet graduated or secured a job, so of course I can't be certain, but I plan to get involved with a number of the things I wished I'd done in college. I hope to do some combination of: playing baseball, learning martial arts, playing drums, taking dance lessons, taking cooking classes. I understand that these don't offer the opportunity to display management skills as they are mostly personal, but would they impress an adcom?

I know for certain that I will be involved with philanthropy. It's very important to me as a religious/socially conscious person to do so. In this sense, I can show initiative and perhaps manage people to an extent. Are certain philanthropies viewed more favorably, or is it more important to show involvement, initiative, and leadership?

Would this increase my chance at admission to a Catholic university like Georgetown or Notre Dame?
Re: ** Dilemma **   [#permalink] 05 Jun 2011, 01:38
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