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how do you explain a weak GPA?

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 05:37
So I am debating using the optional essay to explain two weak spots in my grades.

1) My first two years of college I had some B-s and Cs in courses like Econ, Accounting, and Stat. One week after I started college, 9/11 happened and it messed with my head and definately hurt my grades. I know this sound cliche but that it the reason.

2) During my study abroad in Italy I had a GPA of around 3.0 and had a C+ in my Finance class. For the credits to transfer to my school, I only needed to get Cs. With that in mind I put in little effort and decided to use my time to see Italy/Europe instead of studying.

I figure I can point to my GMAT (81st percentile math), Final Cumulative GPA of 3.55 (Magna Cum laude at graduation), 3 times on the Dean's List, an A in upper level econ class, an A in a stat class, and an A in a Finance class.

How do you guys think I should explain all this?
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 08:34
with a 3.55 GPA at graduations, it is a waste to write about GPA. It's not weak.
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 09:18
Yeah, don't bother, it will only call attention to it. The only thing I would do is prepare an answer for the interview in case they ask you about particular low grades.

Hell I have a 3.2 and I am not going to mention it
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 09:42
I echo the above statements. No need to explain a few low grades. I wouldn't consider a B a low grade that needs explanation either.
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 13:23
I want to cover all my bases with a "better safe than sorry" approach.....
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 13:37
raabenb wrote:
I want to cover all my bases with a "better safe than sorry" approach.....


The problem with that is, you're putting something front and center that probably isn't front and center in the adcom's mind when they are reading your essays.

A friend who finished his MBA last year gave me some great advice.

Only talk about your GPA if the overall average is outside of the 80% range.

You've got a 3.55 GPA, that is good enough for ANY school. Leave it alone.

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 13:49
Ok ok ok ok! Maybe Im too paranoid. But when I get dinged across the board and they all cite my B-, I will know who to blame :P
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 16:57
raabenb wrote:
Ok ok ok ok! Maybe Im too paranoid. But when I get dinged across the board and they all cite my B-, I will know who to blame :P


Think of it this way too, if you were hiring someone and they said "I'm really perfect for this job, but I just wanted to let you know that C- I got in algebra 7 years ago doesn't reflect my abilities" what would think?

A lot of people would think "Where does this guy's priorities lie? Does he have a firm grasp on what's important and what's not important?".

Seriously, you're 3.55 GPA is high enough to not be a concern at any school.

If you don't get it, it won't be because of your GPA.

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2008, 17:58
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I know, I have been trying to do something about my bad breath too. Is that optional essay material?

refurb wrote:
If you don't get it, it won't be because of your GPA.

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2008, 20:35
so if I have a 3.25.... and the 80% lower range for my target school is 3.30.
It seems like I'm facing an uphill battle, but do you recommend writing an optional essay?
Lets say I hit the average for my target's school GMAT and work exp.
Any advice would be great.
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2008, 20:58
cul3s wrote:
so if I have a 3.25.... and the 80% lower range for my target school is 3.30.
It seems like I'm facing an uphill battle, but do you recommend writing an optional essay?
Lets say I hit the average for my target's school GMAT and work exp.
Any advice would be great.


It's a crap shoot really. I'm in a similar situation as you (above average GMAT, lots of work exp, low GPA).

- if my GPA was within the 80% range, I didn't mention it (worked for Duke). However, I did write a short optional essay concerning my lack of undergraduate extra-curriculars (worked to pay for school). My hope is they could infer something about my GPA based on my need to work.
- if my GPA was below the 80% range, I wrote a short optional essay

I only have one decision back, so I can't say how well my system works.

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2008, 21:22
Thanks..let me know how it goes.
Yea, I'm leaning towards not mentioning it too.
I'm applying fall 09..so there's still plenty of time to think bout this.
congrats on your Duke admit !
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2008, 22:35
Hey guys.

I am just curious how much explaining weak GPA counts. I did fairly well in my 1st, 2nd, and 4th year (3.6 - 3.9 GPA) but my grade dropped significantly in my junior year (2.5+) for the following reasons.

1) I transfered to a more academically rigorous school in my junior year. It took me a while to adjust.
2) My family member passed away, and I wasn't able to attend the funeral due to financial reasons (I was an international studying in the US).
3) I had a shitty roommate who put me under tremendous stress throughout the year.

Despite all this, I decided not to explain the drop in my GPA. I have no way of knowing how much 2) and 3) attributed to my poor grade in my junior year. And if 1) was the main reason, which I believe it was, I should have no excuse.

Life happens, and it is just a matter of how we deal with it. So, unless I was physically incapacitated, I didn't feel right to dump everything on 2) and 3). I decided not to make excuses and live with the consequences of whatever I didn't do right in my junior year. I always expect myself to do well even in difficult circumstances.

As far as admission process goes, this probably wasn't a smart move, but it was a very personal choice, I guess. On a positive note, my grades imroved significantly each semester in the last 2 years.
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 07:23
krispy wrote:
I decided not to make excuses and live with the consequences of whatever I didn't do right in my junior year. I always expect myself to do well even in difficult circumstances.



I think that's the smart move in most cases. Unless you have a very valid reason for poor performance, don't try and explain it away, you'll probably just do more damage.

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 01 Jan 2009, 08:34
I ended up with a 2.8 GPA and wrote in the optional essay for my schools about it. I took full responsibility for it and laid out my circumstances: after transferring to a much more academically rigorous program, I had to retake the courses I had already taken. At the same time, I was working to pay for school, so I needed to finish as quickly as possible. This means I finished in 2.5 years instead of four, taking five or six classes each semester and summers while other students took three or four.

I was able to discuss this in my interview with UNC and I thought the conversation helped. We will see how the results fall, though
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2009, 00:32
Hi guys ..

I have typical case wrt GPA.. I have done my CA and CMA in frist attempt.. the minimum percetage required to pass the exam is 50 and a maximum any one can get is 60. I scored 52% in CA and 55% in CMA. i am sure if its seen as numbers they are very very less.. do u guys think the Adcoms would be aware of this situation?

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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2009, 09:49
Hi everyone,

I'm pulling this thread out to ask for some opinions on GPA.

My situation: A GPA of 2.7 on a German scale, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst, with 4 being the lowest passing grade. According to WES, that is in the upper range of a B (everything down to 2.5 is an A, 2.6 to 3.5 is a B). It's not terrible, but is not considered very good in Germany. To give you an idea, in order to be accepted into a PhD program without any tests etc., a 2.5 is expected at most unis.

I did go to the #1 German business school (it's #1 in every ranking, and has been in years), and have plenty of "valid excuses" (a major with a 50% failure rate, and finishing two semesters early while working 25-40 hours per week because I had to support myself). I graduated in 2008, so this is quite recent. I got a 2.0 in my thesis, which was a 6 months project in the end, so that would be my last semester average.

I wonder though, if it makes sense to mention it at all, as I feel it's taking away valuable essay space I could be using for more interesting stuff. Do adcoms care much about GPA with international candidates?
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2009, 16:16
GPAs don't convert especially well, so I wouldn't stress too much about it personally. However, if you DO write an essay, I'd suggest something better than your "valid" excuses - a 50% failure rate is high, sure, but, if you really stop to think about it, then your argument basically boils down to "Look most people don't do well, and I didn't either". Plus, graduate school isn't easy either (or at least adcoms like to think it isn't), so it's not exactly the greatest argument from that perspective either. As to your other "valid excuse", thats a bit better, but again, there are people who do exactly that *AND* do well. Moreover, graduate school is pretty much a 20-hour a week outside-of-class commitment (campus groups, recruiting, etc). Just something to consider as you explain...
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2009, 12:56
Thanks folks.

Last edited by tdave on 27 Mar 2010, 14:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: how do you explain a weak GPA? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2009, 04:36
Interesting dilemma. Admittedly C's and D's are a far cry from a 3.86 (which is basically nothing but A's with a few A-'s accidentally sprinkled in). You nevertheless gradumagated cum laude, honors society as well, and I imagine you were on the honor roll plenty of times. That oddball quarter will probably get noticed, but I don't imagine it will be much of an issue - it clearly stands out as anomalous (even without you explaining anything). So, on balance, unless that quarter was heavy in quant classes (AND your other quarters were not -- e.g. they might misinterpret it as a math weakness) I probably would leave it alone.

If it absolutely eats you up though, there's nothing wrong with saying something about it. I'd just keep it REALLY short and really sweet though. For two reasons - 1) I always say that because otherwise people tend to say a bit too much and be a bit too honest anyway 2) It's already obvious that it isn't representative of your skills, so you don't have to worry about explaining it much, simply answering the "Gee, wonder what happened in that quarter" is more than sufficient.

I'd say something like "personal challenges that distracted me from my studies", or you can say you came out and say something like "the difficulties that come with that kind of disclosure, particularly among individuals I had considered friends, presented formidable challenges that regrettably impacted my academic performance. Nevertheless...bla bla". I'd shy away from talking too much about how people treated you, death threats, going into a depression, etc. I'm not trying too belittle your challenges, simply suggesting that sometimes less is better. (I recognize some people might suggest to pull out the depression card, i'd personally avoid it as I think its a bit too personal)
Re: how do you explain a weak GPA?   [#permalink] 14 Sep 2009, 04:36
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