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I am living in the SF Bay Area and would like to stay in the area for graduate school. My chances are low to none to get into Haas or Stanford because I have a low undergrad GPA from Berkeley (2.7 overall, 3.1 upper division), so that makes my situation difficult and I'm trying to be creative with my career path here. I have been working in the commercial banking industry as an analyst for 2.5 years, and my recommendations from my work I would say should be outstanding. My expected GMAT (Dec 2010) score is 680-700.. Here is what I have been thinking about -
1. I'm considering doing the MS Financial Analysis at University of San Francisco. Is this even worth doing? I know I can do well in this program (since I just messed around during undergrad), and then afterwards, possibly apply to a top tier MBA program with an "improved GPA". Is this a recommended route? Or is a degree in MSFA from USF good enough to last for a while?
2. Try to get into UC-Davis, Santa Clara Univeristy MBA program - "cheaper", faster route. Again, are these programs even worth considering (if I am planning on staying in the Bay Area)?
3. If it comes down to it, apply to different MSF / MBA programs across the nation...
I'm 50/50 on options 1 and 2. I'm aware that you can't get 2 MBAs, so would possibly a different master's program be a "stepping stone" in trying to get into a better MBA school instead of opting for a tier2/3 school to begin with?
You don't need to complete an entire graduate degree to show them an "improved" GPA, but sure it'll help. At a minimum, take a few classes.
If you do a "filler" program, are you intent on staying in SF even then? Because I don't believe you can get into the Stanford or Haas MBA program with or without additional coursework alone. Another "top" MBA program....... maybe, depends on your definition of top.
2.7 GPA, 680-700 GMAT, and 2.5 years as a commercial bank analyst are all working against you. It's all below-average or average.
Focus on what you can change. 1) Kill the GMAT, now, while you can. Spend every available moment studying for it. Do not settle for 680-700. 2) Take your additional coursework and ace it. 3) Find some non-profit or other ECs (maybe school clubs) to get involved with in a leadership capacity. 4) See if you can take on some leadership role at your work. Lead a project, come up with some innovative ideas and ask if you can try implementing them, you need a leadership "gold star" from work.
2.7 GPA, 750 GMAT, President/Organizer/Founder of Clothes for Kids, 4.0 in 18 hours of recent graduate-level, quantitative coursework, and you successfully lead and implemented a few new programs at work. Now you seem very marketable for a top MBA program.
EDIT: Forgot that Berkeley offers Evening and Weekend MBA programs. I don't know the stats, but PT programs are usually less selective than their FT counterparts. I would take a Berkeley PT MBA over any of the other programs you've mentioned.
I think when I mean top.. maybe like a top 25 program.. mostly thinking like USC, UT-Austin, UofMinn. I haven't considered much of the schools on east coast.
Anyway, I think by the time I apply, I'll have 3.5 years of working experience (and 1.5 years of part time during undergrad years)... I know this is almost the bare minimum but I feel like I'm stuck in my career without getting a further degree.
I feel like from what you described, it's a good idea to at least take the classes at USF and possibly acquire the Masters Degree, and then apply for the PT @ Haas.