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Explaining undergrad course failures?

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Explaining undergrad course failures? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 17:32
I'm guessing this question in some form gets asked often, so that'd be great if you also just direct me to a resource/blog/post if there's already a great answer. :)

How would you recommend an explanation of low GPA or course failures in undergrad? (if recommended at all)

I'm almost 10 years out of school, will be applying to PT/EMBA programs and wondering how much attention should be paid to my weak spot in undergrad. I attended one of the top engineering programs at the top engineering school in Canada, yet unfortunately had some unfortunate grades in freshman/sophomore year, and my GPA overall was just average. I ended up failing one of my calculus courses, although I cleared it almost immediately with an exam retake. The bright side is I went to a top tier school and program, but the downside is I struggled especially in my early years.

Since I knew this would be a weak point in my application, I made sure to score well on the GMAT, and just scored a 720. Given I've got 10 years of work/extracurricular experience to leverage, a decent GMAT score, and I'm not applying to FT programs, I'm thinking I my undergrad performance becomes less relevant.

I'm leaning towards addressing it in an essay, but perhaps not dedicating the whole optional essay to it. I have a history of successes and accomplishments, and my opinion those are great to prove my performance overall, so no need to make a big deal out of grades from 10 years ago.

Opinions?
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Re: Explaining undergrad course failures? [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 07:14
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Well, you certainly have done a good job of making up for it with that superb GMAT score! As to whether or not you should address it, it would depend on
1. How bad the scores are
2. What other things you could potentially write about in your optional essay
3. How good your reasons are.

Whatever the case, if you decide it's right for you the key is to: be brief, make no excuses, and show how you CAN succeed academically (GMAt, other coursework etc.)
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Re: Explaining undergrad course failures? [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 09:13
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I don't think B-schools are looking for mistake- free candidates. Instead, they are looking for candidates who learn from their mistakes and bounce back with greater energy. This is what exactly you have done.

You have come a long way after your poor grades and course failures in your undergrad. You have already demonstrated your academic capacity by your 720 GMAT score. The AD Com will not ignore all of your positive points and penalize you ONLY for your undergrad course failures which you passed without losing any time.

You have consistently shown your drive for growth and excellence in your professional career, so you are good. You may want to mention your course failures in your optional essay, but briefly.

I agree with your statement , "I have a history of successes and accomplishments, and in my opinion , those are great to prove my performance overall, so no need to make a big deal out of grades from 10 years ago.”

So go ahead and showcase your professional accomplishments in your application essays .The brighter aspects of your profile would definitely offset your course failures that happened 10 years ago.

Good luck with your application.
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Re: Explaining undergrad course failures? [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 09:43
Excellent, thank you so much for the perspectives.

My current plan is to include a small paragraph in my career goals essay outlining my choices in college which led me to the low grades (combination of unfamiliarity with college life/working hard and disinterest in my major), and how it taught me I had to be passionate about what I do and thus steered me to a career in business rather than engineering.

From there, I've laid out clear goals for my career, have a solid resume, and have used my personal essay to highlight major and difficult accomplishments in life (eg. becoming a professional DJ while in college, running a marathon). The idea is show strategic thinking and execution via my track record.

I think would demonstrate a lot of the right qualities. Would be curious if anybody has other comments on this approach?
Re: Explaining undergrad course failures?   [#permalink] 01 Feb 2013, 09:43
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