Let me put your mind at ease a little bit.
Your grades are not that low when placed into a slightly different context. Trust me, not all GPAs are created equal. First off -- you went to a great engineering and computer science undergraduate school. a 3.1 at Berkeley is probably worth more than a 3.1 at a second-tier engineering school. It is definitely higher than some of the softer subjects -- let us say underwater basket weaving so as not to offend anyone. So you are GPA is probably about .25 to 0.5 points higher than the average bear. The admissions committee knows this.
The other thing that helps you is your very high GMAT score. I am hoping that it is equally distributed, more or less, but I am also hoping that you did very well in the quantitative section of the GMAT. this type of distribution on the GMAT tells the admissions committee that you are well-balanced, but that you have a very good grasp on quantitative concepts. Again, this is another reason not to worry about your undergraduate academic performance.
your experience leading teams is certainly very relevant to an admissions committee. Let us face it, a lot of technical types are not well-suited to manage others. We all know that computer scientists and engineers are very smart individuals -- for the most part. But the stereotype is that technical resources make poor managers. For example, a lot of the engineers I used to know when I was a mechanical engineer always thought that they were right. It could be some small detail -- but it turned into this insipid debate over who is right. The fact that you were able to herd cats -- so to speak -- will tell the admissions committee that you have a very good grasp on handling hard to manage resources. That is why your management experiences are extremely relevant.
With respect to your fiancé, I congratulate you. That is a huge win for a computer scientist -- most of whom will never talk to a girl in their lives. That was a joke by the way. lol. I feel I am qualified to say that, because of my engineering degree and the fact that I spent a lot of time on the computer.
but I digress. The way to tell if the school values your fiancé and her enrollment in their school is to look at the application for your MBA program. Do they ask if you have any relatives attending the program? Do they ask if you will be applying to the MBA program or school concurrently? I believe that USC does ask this question very specifically. I do not believe that the UCLA application asks this. Please doublecheck. The fact of the matter is that this type of information should be brought to the table in the form of the optional essay. It is okay to say that your fiancé will be attending USC and that Marshall is an excellent MBA program. Tell them,the fact that your wife will be getting her PhD in a separate part of the USC organization -- it is just that much more motivation for attending Marshall.
I hope that I had hoped you put some of your issues to rest.
Please let me know if you would like to speak over the phone for an initial consultation. I believe that I can help you especially given my expertise with UCLA and USC, two schools that I believe you will most definitely be able to get into. In fact, with either one of the schools I think that you will be able to receive a partial scholarship as well -- but I do not want to get ahead of myself here.
Now that I've taken the GMAT, I can finally join the cool crowd and put together a profile to evaluate what schools I have a reasonable chance to get into.
Work Exp 3-4 years as a software engineer at your run-of-the-mill tech company
GPA 3.1 Computer Science @ UC Berkeley
My GMATs and years of experience seems to be OK, but my GPA is definitely on the lower side. Unfortunately, I spent a little too much time working during school (practically full time in the IT dept year-round) instead of studying...but hindsight is 20/20.
The last couple years I've been working as a software engineer, serving as a technical lead on a couple projects and taking the role of a pseudo-project manager for another. I've had experience in a previous capacity leading a team of programmers and working with clients and customers to hammer out requirements and solutions. I don't know how relevant that is for traditional business school admissions, but I guess it's better than nothing.
My main concern at this point is the lowish GPA. I know with these numbers it's probably very generous to say I have an outside shot, if even that, at a top tier school (HBS, Booth, Wharton, etc). I've heard some people say it's worth taking a few extension classes to help boost that GPA a bit, but I wasn't sure if it's actually worth it at this point (or if doing so reflects poorly).
What kind of schools can I reasonably expect to have a good shot of making it into with just these scores alone? I'd certainly love to head back to my Alma mater, but Haas is a tough school to break into to even with good scores...
My fiancee is currently a PhD student at USC (I don't know if their AC cares about that at all), so part of me would rather go to Marshall or Anderson over some of the better schools out-of-state, but that's assuming I can even get in to those too...
P.S.: I'm sure this has been discussed ad naseum, but do business school admissions give any brownie points if a sibling is currently attending the same school (like some do with undergrad admissions)? I have a brother at Dartmouth and after going through the tours and orientation weekend with him, the culture and atmosphere feels like a great fit. Alas, a school like Tuck might be a pipe dream (even after doing a ton of research I honestly don't really know which schools I have a good shot at).
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