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Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories

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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 08:56
Pretty sure I take the cake w/ low GPA. However, I'm going to an Ivy MBA next year so anything is possible! Below are my stats and story;

GPA: 2.5 Horrible, was just unfocused during college but matured a ton in 4 years. Also, I went to a school you've probably never heard of unless you live in the midwest.

GMAT: 670 Passable but not exactly killing it.

W/E: 4 years at a fortune 50 company

Recs: Very strong from my managers

Matriculating to an Ivy (not Harvard or Yale) :wink:

My advice:
-You won't get in to a top tier with grades/scores like mine without a great story and good work experience. (I was lucky to land a great job through a fraternity brother. I grinded it out there, reaping a lot of accolades and responsibility in the process) If you don't get as lucky, do your best to take on as much responsibility at work and move up in the process. Its worth waiting a year till you get promoted or go to a better company than just rushing into the mix when you're 4 years out b/c your friends are.

-Know exactly why you want an MBA and prove that you are taking steps to mitigate that bad mark on your transcript (take finance and stats classes to prove you'll hit the ground running). Write good essays and make sure your recs know that you've proven yourself during your tenure at work.

-Don't be intimidated by the boards when you see people with 770 GMATs and 3.5 GPAs freaking out, take comfort in a strong profile. Make sure your optional essay tackles the bad grades head on and tells a persuasive story about your transformation into a student they would want. To be honest, I wasn't mature enough to tackle another round of school after graduating (as if my grades don't prove that) however, I grew up a lot and that was reflected in my essays and work experience.

-Most importantly, pick your schools wisely; don't waste time applying to Stanford or Harvard. Plan for AT LEAST 2 safety schools, if nothing else maybe you can get some $.

Good luck! Work hard, spend time on the essays and good things will happen...don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 09:41
Vegeta wrote:
-Most importantly, pick your schools wisely; don't waste time applying to Stanford or Harvard.


I wouldn't say this. If Stanford or Harvard is your absolute dream school,...APPLY. The worst they can do is reject you,...and there is definitely a chance you may be accepted with a low GPA if your overall narrative is compelling enough. There is only one thing thats for certain,..you won't get in if you don't apply.

Although I didn't have the stats for it I applied to Wharton. I got rejected but I don't have the "what if" notion. I gave it my best shot and I'm satisfied (it helps that I got into a Top 10 program). But you don't want to have the lingering question of whether you could have gotten in.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2012, 11:40
I would like to add to this thread. To all those considering what schools to apply to and are freaked out because of your undergrad GPA, don't be!!

Major: Electrical Engineering
GPA: 2.45
W/E: 3.5 years in a top high-tech company as an engineer and product manager
1.5 years with a media/publishing company as a product manager
Have some achievements/awards at my previous jobs
GMAT: 690 (49q, 35V)
Extracurricular: A lot of leadership examples in several non-profits where I have been active.

I will be matriculating at Kellogg (my top choice). I applied to a few other top/great schools, withdrew from a couple, waitlisted at some, dinged at others etc. Basically, I did as well in this application process as anyone possibly can who wants to go to a top school.

My advice mimics some of the above. If you don't have a quant background, then I would suggest taking some courses on the side that can help you demonstrate your ability to handle a rigorous quantitative course. If you do have a quant background and have a low gpa, don't worry about taking courses. Focus on the gmat and do as well as you can. Get as much leadership experience as you possibly can in your workplace so that you can have great recommendations and also to show that you have a history of success. Finally, kill the essays!!! Understand the schools you are applying to, visit them, and show that through your essays. You essentially want to demonstrate fit, leadership, and clarity on your post-MBA goals. Have people who don't know you read your essays. It is really important to get the entire package on point so that the adcomm has a reason to overlook your gpa.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2012, 14:37
Congrats on the admit!

armymba2012 wrote:
I definitely qualify as a low GPA and low GMAT success story.

GPA 2.5 from a military academy
GMAT 640 46Q, 31V

I was accepted at Cornell (matriculating) Darden, Emory (with full scholarship), Georgetown, GA Tech, and wait listed at Yale (withdrew after receiving a full scholarship to Cornell).

Honestly and in my opinion, I think compelling and honest stories with well thoughtout goals will help get you an invite to interview. Once you're invited to interview, your personality and being able to articulate your goals will get you accepted.

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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 30 Apr 2012, 10:25
I have an undergrad gpa of 8.3 ( out of ten ) , what does that convert to on a 4 pt scale ?

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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 21 May 2012, 15:18
Just want to add that reading these success stories has been very inspiring. As a low UGPA applicant myself, I hope to return here next year with the same great news :-D
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 23 May 2012, 03:16
Same as the prior poster. This thread has been extremely inspiring. 2.64 downward sloping GPA here so hoping to add to this amazing discussion. Will apply to several top 30 schools this year so will update as soon as I can.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 26 May 2012, 19:01
shorttheworld wrote:
2.71 Economics from public 'ivy' although not one as regarded as Umich or Berk, earned a 3.76 on 10 classes at NYU SCPS - two certificates
700 GMAT 48Q 38V
5 years in trading
lots of ECs

Accepted: Yale, Cornell, UT
Interviewed: Columbia(supposedly very numbers focused school? Interviewer loved me and stays in touch as a mentor, higher up at MBB firm) , Tuck (mucked my interview bad)
Dinged : MIT, NYU (didnt work too much on essays for these two, wasnt a fan too much), Chicago
Matriculating: Fuqua

if you have a life story to pitch for why your gpa was low then by all means pitch it


Hey shorttheworld,

Thanks for your response! Our profiles are very, very similar. I will also be shooting for Cornell, Texas, and NYU (in that order) with Texas A&M and Rice as other programs I'll go for. Hearing about your post is really inspiring and hope that your journey the next couple of years goes well.

Currently, I'm taking some Finance and Calculus classes at Texas to build an alternative transcript. I won't be applying until the end of next year for 2014 enrollment. Would you suggest using a Consultant?
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 27 May 2012, 17:26
i was on my own since i was 17 and neither of my parents graduated HS since they dropped out to have me -- more background info. are u looking at doing energy or what? it depends on the consultant -- alex chu is really good from what i hear and ive interacted with him and trust him... and how much info on your own self you can dig up and shape your story.. so obviously a very subjective story
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 27 May 2012, 20:07
shorttheworld wrote:
i was on my own since i was 17 and neither of my parents graduated HS since they dropped out to have me -- more background info. are u looking at doing energy or what? it depends on the consultant -- alex chu is really good from what i hear and ive interacted with him and trust him... and how much info on your own self you can dig up and shape your story.. so obviously a very subjective story


Wow, very similar story indeed (left home when I was that age, family dropped out in the 3rd grade or something to work on the farms in Vietnam)! Regarding my goals, I'm looking to get into Equity Research or Portfolio Management. Looking to pair my love for the markets and interpersonal/sales skills to take Finance and do something special with it. The McCombs program would be my dream program although many of the top 25 programs look good to me.

Thanks for engaging my questions. I appreciate it and will certainly do my thorough research with all the consulting firms out there including Alex.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 09:02
Since I just got in off the WL I have now moved from 'Failure' to 'Success' and will add my 2c.

I had a 2.7 from Williams with a Pol Sci major and only quant coursework was Multivariable Calc and Intro Stats.

Was dinged everywhere except Johnson, where I was WL'ed and then accepted.

I had a bunch of other hurdles but this was def a major one for me. I think the most important thing someone can do is ace the GMAT. That will go a long way towards easing their concerns. I really feel that the GMAT is more important than a lot of AdComs feel comfortable admitting, especially if you come from an over subscribed background or profession. This is all obviously just my speculation, so take it with a grain of salt, but there is a school of thought that if you get over 700, then it doesn't matter (i.e. 710=750) and they move on to evaluating the rest of your profile. If you work for one of the best companies in your field (GS/MS, MBB, FB/Goog so on and so forth) and have an acceptable GPA (3.2+ imo) then I think that adage probably holds true. When you have a poor GPA or come from a nontraditional background I think it becomes more important to overachieve on the GMAT and that there is a real difference between 750 and a 710 (even if it was just 2 or 3 points higher on the V side for me).

The other thing, which I didn't realize last year, and what I think made the difference in getting me off of the WL is just take a class or two likely in a quant field (econ, stats, acctg, calc) that you didn't study in college and get a good grade. I don't think you need to take 10 classes, but just the gesture of taking one class, the prolonged commitment and expense of time and money I think garners a lot of goodwill with admissions.

For most everyone that falls in this bucket and is dealing with a <3.0 it's likely going to be very-hard-to-impossible to get into H/S/W but that a lot of really good schools in the 10-20 range will be understanding of a low GPA as long as it is addressed. I wish I had known this and found this website last year but I am really thrilled that I finally got into school and wish the best of luck to everyone else who had less than stellar performance in undergrad.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 09:39
Very inspiring to all. I am in the same boat and thanks for the posts.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 11:51
As a fellow low GPA-er, this post has been incredibly inspiring! Hopefully, after I submit applications this fall/winter, I will have a success story to contribute. :)

Since so many of you are total success stories, I was wondering if you could give me some advice so I can look more appealing to the admissions committees when I apply.

I am a 31 year old female. I took the GMAT last month and scored a dismal 620 (V34 Q41 AWA6.0). I am currently in the process of studying my butt off so I can retest and hopefully break the 700 mark. :) I went to a UC, majored in Art History, and my overall undergrad GPA was 2.91. I struggled immensely my first two years of undergrad, but kicked things into gear the last two years and got a GPA of 3.76 (Dean's Honor list several times, GPA ranging from 3.49 to 4.0). I'm hoping that the adcoms will look at the overall improving trend in my GPA and put less emphasis on my overall GPA (which I will most definitely explain in an extra essay).

I would love to go to Fuqua or CBS, but I feel that those two schools are out of my league. Even Tepper would be a dream come true. However, I have my sights set on Marshall - USC since it is local to me, and I don't feel that going to school out of state is appropriate for me at this moment given personal circumstances. (Without going too much into detail, my father passed away suddenly 3 months ago, and I don't feel comfortable leaving my mother--who is still very depressed--by herself just yet).

I know that having an alternative transcript will help to boast my application and possibly put less emphasis on my undergraduate GPA. Online programs would be preferable, and I heard both Berkeley Extension and Thunderbird offer good courses to supplement my application. I'm thinking that taking a course or two this summer online could help for when I apply this fall/winter. What online programs and courses would be the most advisable to take? Keep in mind that I am an Art History major. :) I did take Calculus and Statistics and did well, but have no real educational experience in subjects like, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, etc (I can write a mean essay, though!) :P

Thank you so much for your help :)
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 13:11
cheetarah spot on as usual.

my totally non-expert opinion is that you should focus on gmatmgmatgmatmgmagtmgmat until you get a suitable score. especially given the really solid trajectory of your gpa, i think if you get the score you need on gmat you will be competitive at those schools. it's also going to be a lot easier to take, for example, financial accounting, online while applying to schools than it is to be studying for the gmat and applying to schools. so if i were you i would focus on the gmat this summer, apply to all the schools you want, and you can always take a class in the fall, and update the adcoms, or incorporate it into r2/r3 apps as well.

i was told by a consultant that harvard extension and ucla extension were both reputable online programs. berkeley online i am sure is fine too. i would stay away from tbird probably given the other options that are out there.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 18:38
Hi guys. I am yet to apply to B-school but I would need advice on how best to package my application. A summary of my profile is below:

UGPA of 2.8-3.0 on a 4 point scale (My actual is 3.48 on a 5.0 scale)
Undergrad Major: Chemical Engineering
GMAT 700-780 (Yet to take the test but I should be able to ace it easily)
TOEFL iBT: 104
WE:1.5 yrs in Project Management at a Construction firm
1 yr as a high school teacher (mandatory national service)
7 months as an Account Executive (Strategic Planning & Implementation) at a Media company
Now 2 months at a Fortune 100 FMCG as a Field Sales Manager
EC: A whole lot of leadership and volunteer activities pre and post graduation, a prestigious undergrad scholarship (Exxon to be precise)
Ethnic status: Under-represented Minority

I intend applying for Spring 2014 session and I've started my preparations. I'm looking at Smith, Goizuetta, Ross and Kellog and I'm hoping I get a scholarship. I'm thinking of taking an online professional certificate course in Strategic Management (made up of five courses) at Havard Extension for two reasons. The first is to expand my knowledge base in the field and secondly to serve as a boost to my application.

My questions are below:
1. Do you advise I go ahead with the HES course or are there other programs that will give me a better deal?
2. What impact do you think this would have on my B-school application?
3. Do I apply in R1, R2 or R3? I'm considering R2.
4. How do you rate my profile? What other schools do you think I should consider?

Your thoughts are highly welcomed.

Last edited by sirdessydee on 12 Jun 2012, 19:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 18:41
sirdessydee wrote:
Hi guys. I am yet to apply to B-school but I would need advice on how best to package my application. A summary of my profile is below:

UGPA of 2.8-3.0 on a 4 point scale (My actual is 3.48 on a 5.0 scale)
Undergrad Major: Chemical Engineering
GMAT 700-780 (Yet to take the test but I should be able to ace it easily)
TOEFL iBT: 104
WE:1.5 yrs in Project Management at a Construction firm
1 yr as a high school teacher (mandatory national service)
7 months as an Account Executive (Strategic Planning & Implementation) at a Media company
Now 2 months at a Fortune 100 FMCG as a Field Sales Manager
EC: A whole lot of leadership and volunteer activities pre and post graduation, a prestigious undergrad scholarship (Exxon to be precise)
Ethnic status: Under-represented Minority

I intend applying for Spring 2014 session and I've started my preparations. I'm looking at Smith, Goizuetta, Ross and Kellog and I'm hoping I get a scholarship. I'm thinking of taking a professional certificate course in Strategic Management (made up of five courses) at Havard Extension for two reasons. The first is to expand my knowledge base in the field and secondly to serve as a boost to my application.

My questions are below:
1. Do you advise I go ahead with the HES course or are there other programs that will give me a better deal?
2. What impact do you think this would have on my B-school application?
3. Do I apply in R1, R2 or R3? I'm considering R2.
4. How do you rate my profile? What other schools do you think I should consider?

Your thoughts are highly welcomed.


Are you applying to PT programs? Most full-time programs do not have spring intake, just fall. So do you plan to apply for class of 2015 or 2016? I'm a bit confused.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 18:50
cheetarah1980 wrote:
sirdessydee wrote:
Hi guys. I am yet to apply to B-school but I would need advice on how best to package my application. A summary of my profile is below:

UGPA of 2.8-3.0 on a 4 point scale (My actual is 3.48 on a 5.0 scale)
Undergrad Major: Chemical Engineering
GMAT 700-780 (Yet to take the test but I should be able to ace it easily)
TOEFL iBT: 104
WE:1.5 yrs in Project Management at a Construction firm
1 yr as a high school teacher (mandatory national service)
7 months as an Account Executive (Strategic Planning & Implementation) at a Media company
Now 2 months at a Fortune 100 FMCG as a Field Sales Manager
EC: A whole lot of leadership and volunteer activities pre and post graduation, a prestigious undergrad scholarship (Exxon to be precise)
Ethnic status: Under-represented Minority

I intend applying for Spring 2014 session and I've started my preparations. I'm looking at Smith, Goizuetta, Ross and Kellog and I'm hoping I get a scholarship. I'm thinking of taking a professional certificate course in Strategic Management (made up of five courses) at Havard Extension for two reasons. The first is to expand my knowledge base in the field and secondly to serve as a boost to my application.

My questions are below:
1. Do you advise I go ahead with the HES course or are there other programs that will give me a better deal?
2. What impact do you think this would have on my B-school application?
3. Do I apply in R1, R2 or R3? I'm considering R2.
4. How do you rate my profile? What other schools do you think I should consider?

Your thoughts are highly welcomed.


Are you applying to PT programs? Most full-time programs do not have spring intake, just fall. So do you plan to apply for class of 2015 or 2016? I'm a bit confused.


Sorry, fall of 2014 and full-time.
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 08:45
Wow, thanks for the advice. I didn't go to MIT but some top university here in Africa. As for my UGPA, it's an upward trend. For Fortune 100 FMCG, we're talking Unilever so I guess that will help. I have looked up Johnson and Duke & IMO, Johnson should be a right fit. As for strong recommendations, that shouldn't be a problem. I'm looking forward to turning in my applications. I just hope I get it right the first time. Thanks...
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 20:38
I posted about a year ago and thought I would return with an update to my situation and a follow up question. I enjoy reading the success everyone has had, and while I'm still not a success story, I'm hoping that I'll get there.

To reiterate briefly, I applied in round three during the 2010-2011 application season. I applied to Ross, Anderson, McCombs, and Marshall. I interviewed at McCombs but was ultimately denied at all four schools. I decided to hold off on reapplying during the 2011-2012 season so I could work on strengthening my application package and apply again in round 1 and 2 of the 2012-2013 season.

With round 1 approaching, here is where I stand:

GPA: 2.71 from a US News Top 75 Liberal Arts College
GMAT: 700
Age: 30
Work Experience: In 2011, when I applied to the above schools, I had 5.5 years of experience in commercial banking / lending. After I was dinged, I relocated for personal reasons. I soon found employment and have since worked for another .5 years in real estate short sales, and 1 year (upon matriculation) in credit / risk analysis for a mortgage lender. As you can see, I'm an older applicant with almost 7 years of average work experience, without much leadership.

To address my low GPA, I've now taken 6 courses post college. A Spanish course (the same course I took and failed as an undergraduate,) and 5 quantitative courses in finance, accounting, business statistics, economics, and a mathematics for management course which briefly touched on calculus.

I was severely lacking in the extracurricular department the first time I applied, so I made a point to get involved in some activities outside of work and start volunteering. I am currently the coach of a 3rd grade boys lacrosse team (I played in college,) and I have taken a leadership position volunteering for a local modern art museum (a passion of mine.)

Overall, although I still have some weaknesses, I think I am a much stronger applicant this go around and posses more experiences / achievements that I can now write about in my essays.

I was thinking of taking an additional course this summer, but I'm hesitant because I have also developed supplemental course fatigue. I've gotten A's in all of the classes I've taken in the subject areas that most people mention when the supplemental course topic comes up. The only thing that gnaws at me is the above mathematics for management course. Since I had never taken calculus before, I figured this course would be a great addition since calculus was going to be a focus of the class, based on the course description.

However, I'd say 80-85% of the class consisted of fundamental business math, mainly linear and matrix algebra, with the remainder featuring differential calculus. Long story short, it wasn't that challenging, (the GMAT quant section was much more difficult) since it barely touched on calculus. There is a full blown calculus course being offered through UCLA Extension (where I've taken all these courses) this summer. Although I have a 700 GMAT score, my quant score was lower (72%,) so I figure another class highlighting my quantitative skills wouldn't hurt.

This is probably my last chance at taking another course before round 1 arrives. At this point, would this calculus course really make a difference? Would I be better off taking the summer to be introspective and really fine tune my essays?
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Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories [#permalink] New post 29 Jun 2012, 13:43
when i knew my gpa was 3.3 (1.6 for the first semester)...i thought that was low enough to be shame about...

for the love of daoism...i have no anticipation to see many people working the situation out with under-3 gpa...very encourage!!!!

to be honest, i had my first gmat try ending up with 550...only 1 week preparation. now i study trying to get an over 700 score.

I have a three years part time in an accounting office as an assistant doing ap type things and a little tax. May the universe bless all.
Re: Low Undergrad GPA Success Stories   [#permalink] 29 Jun 2012, 13:43
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