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# low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bother?

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Manager
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low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bother? [#permalink]  31 Jul 2007, 10:02
Hi Everyone,

It certainly looks like there is a lot of knowledge here so here's my situation.

I graduated undergrad in 1996 from a pretty good US university (UC Berkeley) and graduated with a degree from one of the hardest majors there (Computer Science).

I worked full time in college so I didn't go to many classes and ended up with a pretty low GPA (around 2.4 or so). I was actually pretty happy just to graduate since 3/4 of the people that I knew freshman year in my major didn't actually end up graduating from the department (of course, some would say that I kind of hung around with morons).

I took the GMAT almost 10 years ago (two years after graduating) and got a 680 (at the time 90th percentile).

I mainly took the GMAT at the time to see how I would do. I thought I did ok but didn't even bother applying to business school because of my low undergrad GPA. I also was working full time and didn't really feel like taking the financial hit of being away from work for 2 years.

Now that it's been 11 years since leaving college, I am thinking of going back for a part time MBA (part time or executive MBA). I have enough money saved up, I don't really have the time (but can make it), and getting a MBA is something that I have wanted to do. I don't necessarily need it for my work but I always want to learn something new.

My work experience has been pretty good. I have worked in big 5 consulting (KPMG / Bearing Point) for about 5 years (up to manager in the old consultant, sr. consultant, manager, sr. manager, partner track), worked as a manager for a financial software company, and work now as CTO of a mobile wireless software company. I have a lot of contacts in the consulting and mobile wireless industries and can get excellent recommendations from some of the CEOs of major corporations.

Assuming that I study hard and get a high GMAT score (95+ percentile), is it worth applying? Way back in college when I applied to graduate schools, a lot of them basically automatically rejected me because I didn't have a 3.0 (all of the UCs and even all of the Cal State schools).

My target schools are USC and UCLA EMBA since I live in Southern California. If I don't get into either of these schools, it's just not worth it for me to go.

RVD.
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Joined: 31 Jul 2006
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I think you can overcome the low GPA. The fact that it has been 11 years since you received those grades means that they will carry less weight. You must convince the schools that you are now a different person/student. You can do this in your essays, or better still, you can take some classes (in areas where you were weak that are business related like stats, accounting, finance, etc.) and get A's to show them you are capable and serious.

A high GMAT will certainly help. It will show the schools that you can handle the work. To an extent, it will also show them that you are taking your application seriously, by putting in the effort to get a good score. It will also be a much more recent indicator of your abilities than your GPA, so it could potentially carry more weight.

The part-time/executive programs are easier to get in to. With a high GMAT, excellent undergrad school (bad grades of course), and a commitment to working in California, I think you have a shot at the USC and UCLA part-time programs. I think, moreso than at the top full-time programs, a stellar GMAT will be rewarded.

Looking at your message, in addition to your GPA & GMAT, I think you really need to address why you need an MBA. Part-time MBAs are not designed for career changers, so you will really need to elucidate why you need an MBA. Simply saying "I always want to learn something new" is not going to cut it. You will need to show them exactly how an MBA will help you, what goals you hope to accomplish with it, and why now is right time to get it.

So, a low GPA can be overcome (I did it), but the other parts of your application will need to be strong and focused.
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Sounds like you have plenty of experience to offset a low GPA. Besides, I think most people can recognize that you had a hard major.
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Joined: 01 Nov 2006
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I don't know tons about the part-time and exec options, but here's the word on the street:

No one really cares about your undergrad. You're way passed that. That would be like full-time business schools asking for our high school gpa. It's been so long, it's just not relevant anymore.

Actually, I even hear that GMAT is not as important.

If you want to go, go. You've got the dough, you feel like doing it, why not? Exec programs are made for people in your position....maybe people who haven't gotten as far as you have, but who cares? You just need to convince the schools that it makes sense for you to go.

I would check out the web sites for the schools. They should list the median GMATs, etc. You'll see how you compare.
Manager
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Granted, the part-time MBA that I'm applying to isn't quite of the caliber of USC or UCLA, but I was told during an information session that they seem to consider your undergrad GPA less and less the longer you've been out of school.

From what I've heard and read about PT and E MBAs, you should still have a shot since it's been a while since you've graduated, you did graduate from a good school in one of the hardest majors, you were working full-time while going to school (I did the same thing!), and most importantly, you've had good career succession (getting consistent promotions). I think that if you get a high enough GMAT (depending on what the schools' averages are) to show that your undergrad GPA is not indicative of your academic ability, you should be fine.

I also had a low undergrad GPA (2.63), and just to make sure that I even had a shot at the program I'd like to attend (OSU Fisher), I made an appointment with someone from their admissions office. I was told that although they generally have a 3.0 cutoff, because I had some unusual circumstances, and my GMAT score fell above their average, and I had good work experience, I still have a good chance of getting in.

Hope that helps a little!
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If I were you, I'd just apply to the Kellogg executive program. Doesn't require a GMAT score at all, and I don't believe they even ask for your undergrad transcripts. Admission is based almost entirely on your application, resume and an assessment of your interview.
Manager
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Wow, thanks for all of the great advice.

I will think a little more about expressing why I would like an MBA at this time in order to strengthen my application.

In terms of timing, next fall is a good time mainly because my company now (the CEO and I started this company from scratch and built it up to a 35 person company at this point) is hitting a pretty important transition where the next 6 months will basically make or break us. 6 months from now I expect the company to be sold and we cash out (most probable but you never really know) or folded (small chance but again...you never really know). Next fall should be a good time for me to lower my workload and go to school.

Kellogg sounds like a perfect place to apply. I won't be moving (my wife and son are here in SoCal) but if they have a part time program, I could fly in.

My dream is to get into INSEAD so I will be applying there as well and simply take a year off work to go there full time but that's another thread.

RVD.
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In my own personal experience, I can tell you that some top schools completely ignore GMAT, GPA, and work experience. If you have good extracurricular activities and write "good" essays, you have a shot at getting in anywhere.

I don't think there are any "automatic reject" factors, unless you have a criminal record or something like that. so you have nothing to lose by applying.
GMAT Club Legend
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RVD wrote:
Wow, thanks for all of the great advice.

I will think a little more about expressing why I would like an MBA at this time in order to strengthen my application.

In terms of timing, next fall is a good time mainly because my company now (the CEO and I started this company from scratch and built it up to a 35 person company at this point) is hitting a pretty important transition where the next 6 months will basically make or break us. 6 months from now I expect the company to be sold and we cash out (most probable but you never really know) or folded (small chance but again...you never really know). Next fall should be a good time for me to lower my workload and go to school.

Kellogg sounds like a perfect place to apply. I won't be moving (my wife and son are here in SoCal) but if they have a part time program, I could fly in.

My dream is to get into INSEAD so I will be applying there as well and simply take a year off work to go there full time but that's another thread.

RVD.

You founded the company? In that case, just go apply to Harvard and be done with it. Remember us "little people" during your valedictorian speech please.
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Re: low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bothe [#permalink]  31 Jul 2007, 17:07
RVD wrote:
Hi Everyone,

It certainly looks like there is a lot of knowledge here so here's my situation.

I graduated undergrad in 1996 from a pretty good US university (UC Berkeley) and graduated with a degree from one of the hardest majors there (Computer Science).

I worked full time in college so I didn't go to many classes and ended up with a pretty low GPA (around 2.4 or so). I was actually pretty happy just to graduate since 3/4 of the people that I knew freshman year in my major didn't actually end up graduating from the department (of course, some would say that I kind of hung around with morons).

I took the GMAT almost 10 years ago (two years after graduating) and got a 680 (at the time 90th percentile).

I mainly took the GMAT at the time to see how I would do. I thought I did ok but didn't even bother applying to business school because of my low undergrad GPA. I also was working full time and didn't really feel like taking the financial hit of being away from work for 2 years.

Now that it's been 11 years since leaving college, I am thinking of going back for a part time MBA (part time or executive MBA). I have enough money saved up, I don't really have the time (but can make it), and getting a MBA is something that I have wanted to do. I don't necessarily need it for my work but I always want to learn something new.

My work experience has been pretty good. I have worked in big 5 consulting (KPMG / Bearing Point) for about 5 years (up to manager in the old consultant, sr. consultant, manager, sr. manager, partner track), worked as a manager for a financial software company, and work now as CTO of a mobile wireless software company. I have a lot of contacts in the consulting and mobile wireless industries and can get excellent recommendations from some of the CEOs of major corporations.

Assuming that I study hard and get a high GMAT score (95+ percentile), is it worth applying? Way back in college when I applied to graduate schools, a lot of them basically automatically rejected me because I didn't have a 3.0 (all of the UCs and even all of the Cal State schools).

My target schools are USC and UCLA EMBA since I live in Southern California. If I don't get into either of these schools, it's just not worth it for me to go.

RVD.

APPPLY!

- Just do it.
Manager
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i founded a company but it's not google or anything. it's a small mobile wireless software company in LA. we are funded by a VC and institutional investors (Qualcomm being one of them...even met Paul Jacobs a few times before he gave us some cash). we do have a lot of larger companies interested in what we're doing some with some good luck and more hard work, hopefully we'll be sold next year....just in time for me to head back to school part time.

anyway, thanks for the encouraging words. i hope i get into one of the local EMBA programs.

regarding the why...in all honestly, my wife told me a few weeks..."you know my savings that i had before we got married...well, i've been saving a little bit to that account every month for the past few years and it hit $100k. i think you should use it to pay for a 2 year EMBA program at ucla." RVD. Senior Manager Joined: 10 Jun 2007 Posts: 346 Location: Newport, RI Followers: 1 Kudos [?]: 34 [0], given: 0 [#permalink] 31 Jul 2007, 18:16 I wouldn't let your GPA dissuade you from applying to top programs-either PT, Exec or even Full time. Bring up that GMAT and shoot from there. 11 years is a long, long time ago. Schools will see that. If you go the Exec. route or even part time, it will mean even less. I think a lot of people with extraordinary backgrounds but low GPAs tend to self-select. As one poster (I think it was Rhyme) said, apply to the big boys. It only takes one to accept you. If you want to go to INSEAD, give it a shot. What does it cost to apply...25 hours of application, GMAT study(which you will do anyway), and$200 or so bucks. Not a bad price to pay for a well respected MBA. Good luck in whatever you do.

If you want a top MBA, don't let the GPA prevent you from getting it. All you really need to do is get one adcom on your side.
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RVD wrote:
i founded a company but it's not google or anything. it's a small mobile wireless software company in LA. we are funded by a VC and institutional investors (Qualcomm being one of them...even met Paul Jacobs a few times before he gave us some cash). we do have a lot of larger companies interested in what we're doing some with some good luck and more hard work, hopefully we'll be sold next year....just in time for me to head back to school part time.

anyway, thanks for the encouraging words. i hope i get into one of the local EMBA programs.

regarding the why...in all honestly, my wife told me a few weeks..."you know my savings that i had before we got married...well, i've been saving a little bit to that account every month for the past few years and it hit \$100k. i think you should use it to pay for a 2 year EMBA program at ucla."

RVD.

Dont downplay the significance of founding a company, obtaining VC, working in a telecom field and successfully building a 35 person firm.

.. My advice is to polish your story, don't downplay the significance of your achievements and aim high when you apply. I'd be willing to bet your background will play nicely to most any executive program.
Manager
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i'll take a shot at some of the top programs as well and see if any of them bite.

RVD.
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btw, after this initial thread, i started studying for the GMAT. i just took the GMAT this past weekend (9/15) and my score was:

730 (96 percentile)
Q48 (85)
V42 (95)
AWA 6.0

i'm working on my UCLA EMBA app right now. i'm gonna apply to ucla and hope i get in. if i do, i'm also going to apply to wharton west (feb 1). if i don't, i'm gonna apply to usc (deadline feb 1).

RVD.
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RVD wrote:
btw, after this initial thread, i started studying for the GMAT. i just took the GMAT this past weekend (9/15) and my score was:

730 (96 percentile)
Q48 (85)
V42 (95)
AWA 6.0

i'm working on my UCLA EMBA app right now. i'm gonna apply to ucla and hope i get in. if i do, i'm also going to apply to wharton west (feb 1). if i don't, i'm gonna apply to usc (deadline feb 1).

RVD.

Rock on with your bad self! Thanks for the update. That's a great score and well within the usually-unstated-but-generally-desirable 80% + range. Woohoo!

Bang out some solid essays. I'd let you in.
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aaudetat wrote:
RVD wrote:
btw, after this initial thread, i started studying for the GMAT. i just took the GMAT this past weekend (9/15) and my score was:

730 (96 percentile)
Q48 (85)
V42 (95)
AWA 6.0

i'm working on my UCLA EMBA app right now. i'm gonna apply to ucla and hope i get in. if i do, i'm also going to apply to wharton west (feb 1). if i don't, i'm gonna apply to usc (deadline feb 1).

RVD.

Rock on with your bad self! Thanks for the update. That's a great score and well within the usually-unstated-but-generally-desirable 80% + range. Woohoo!

Bang out some solid essays. I'd let you in.

thanks for the advice. i'm working on my essays now.

i'm applying to ucla EMBA, wharton west, and berkeley/columbia emba. the USC app if i don't get into ucla is still there (app to UCLA is on 12/1 and i should know by the 2/1 deadline for USC).

RVD.
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RVD wrote:
aaudetat wrote:
RVD wrote:
btw, after this initial thread, i started studying for the GMAT. i just took the GMAT this past weekend (9/15) and my score was:

730 (96 percentile)
Q48 (85)
V42 (95)
AWA 6.0

i'm working on my UCLA EMBA app right now. i'm gonna apply to ucla and hope i get in. if i do, i'm also going to apply to wharton west (feb 1). if i don't, i'm gonna apply to usc (deadline feb 1).

RVD.

Rock on with your bad self! Thanks for the update. That's a great score and well within the usually-unstated-but-generally-desirable 80% + range. Woohoo!

Bang out some solid essays. I'd let you in.

thanks for the advice. i'm working on my essays now.

i'm applying to ucla EMBA, wharton west, and berkeley/columbia emba. the USC app if i don't get into ucla is still there (app to UCLA is on 12/1 and i should know by the 2/1 deadline for USC).

RVD.

If you have your own firm and a 730 GMAT, then just polish your essays and prepare to talk business for an hour or so with a human resources consultant (aka- adcom).

Given all that you have accomplished, the low GPA is definately a non-factor. I salute you for building your own enterprise from scratch, rather than inheriting the family business. Honestly, it's people like yourself who tend to benefit the most from an MBA. Other than the SoCal schools you have in mind, I'd recommend taking a shot at one of the big three as well.
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Re: low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bother? [#permalink]  19 Jan 2008, 01:22
i'm in at UCLA EMBA. i applied to berkeley/columbia EMBA and have an interview there next week. i'm going to apply to wharton EMBA on 2/1 as my top choice.

RVD.
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Re: low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bother? [#permalink]  25 Jan 2008, 11:17
I think you have a great shot at Wharton West, and it may be the best program out of the ones you listed. I am applying to W-east EMBA, and during my campus visit I met a current student who also founded his own wireless company with a friend in the Philly area. I'm pretty sure with your credentials and GMAT you will have a great shot. Good luck!
Re: low undergrad gpa, high GMAT, good work - should i bother?   [#permalink] 25 Jan 2008, 11:17

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