welcome to the forum...congrats on your decision to seek the MBA. It's truly a wise investment in your career and future. Here's an initial pass at your questions:
1: School. Currently I attend The University of Akron. It is not exactly the top business school in the country, I realize this, so how much does this hurt me?
Business schools look at two main things when it comes to academic background: grades and rigor. In your case you demonstrated a decent GPA (so performace was good), but going to an unranked university will definitely weigh in on the evaluation. Depending on where you plan to go to business school for your MBA, it could certainly contribute to a positive or negative business decision. Business school is very rigorous academically mostly due to the pace and volume of instruction and coursework. If they question your ability to keep up or feel you would be drawing more than you're contributing, they will pass on admitting you. How can you overcome these questions? A good GMAT score can help balance out any shortcomings in academic background for sure. You could also supplement with specific prep classes, such as calculus, statistics for business, accounting, etc. Finally, just make sure you take a full load and challenge yourself with difficult courses. One advantage you have is that your UG degree is in business. This means that at least you have had much of the core coursework that many do not. Remember b-school does not assume any business coursework in your background, so to the extent you can convince the admissions committees you will be helpful to your classmates, for example in getting their minds around basic accounting or finance or economics, then you could be on your way to making a case for your value.2: Transfer: I used to attend Miami University (OH) but left because I didn't belong there (too many bad decisions). My GPA there was 2.2 Cum., ever since I've come to Akron I've been consistently on the deans list, and as seen here, in the top 10% in my class. Will they see my old GPA? and will it impact my chances?
Yes they will require you to submit any and all academic transcripts when you apply. As an example, I took one course at a community college during the summer of my sophomore year and had to go back and track down that transcript to send in for evaluation. What you may want to do, is to write a short narrative in an optional essay explaining your decision to move and as you noted, your positive performance afterwards will back up your claims about why you transferred. Adcoms are generally pretty forgiving of such maneuvers particularly if you showed improvement. If anything, it demonstrates maturity on your part, with maturity being one of four key pillars of a good application (what are the other three? Leadership, Innovation and Teamwork).3: Considering I get an Internship this summer which applies to my area of study, and if next semester I can score a 700 or higher on the GMAT, is a school such as Wharton realistic? Or should I set my scopes a little lower. As much as I hate to say it, please don't candy coat this for me. I want the truth. Should I even be considering a BSchool at all or should I try to find a company after graduation and then apply for a B School after several years of experience?
Aiming for a top 5 b-school after coming out of an unranked UG program will be challenging. Your competiton at Wharton will be Princeton or Virginia or Notre Dame grads with 3.9 GPAs, and 3-5 years of professional experience, etc. Frankly even if you got in, you would not have a great experience, because you would quickly feel behind your classmates in your ability to contribute in class and on projects. Also, while a 700+ GMAT is impressive, it's still below the average for Wharton applicants. In short, it would be VERY unlikely they would even consider your application seriously without at least 2-3 years of post UG professional work experience. An internship in college will not measure up when compared to the real world experience of the average Wharton applicant. If you were committed to going to b-school immediately after graduation, you'd have to likely settle for a part time program, or a program in the third tier. There are some programs out there in the top tier for younger applicants (Yale Silver scholars and HBS 2+2 come to mind), but these programs are generally sopped up by the "best and brightest" in the world. Not to imply you are not the best and brightest, but on paper there will simply be too many other applicants with superior credentials to be competitive for these programs in my opinion.
So what's the good news? Time is on your side. Often, people think about b-school too late and must try to cobble together an application based on 4-5 years of less than impressive post UG experience. Thinking now about b-school will allow you to 1) get fully involved in your school before you graduate. You can make up for the lower tiered rank of your school by taking on leadership opportunities on campus and having an impact. Be the proverbial big fish in a small pond. 2) Seek challenging and progressively responsible professional experience preferrably in an area that will ideally prepare you for your post MBA career track. B-schools most often like to hear a story in an application that makes sense and builds upon the hard work you have done already. This makes you very employable, which is important since b-schools are evaluated and ranked themselves on how many students have a job at or just after graduation. 3) get involved in your community. Take on leadership roles, impact community organizations, preferrably in an area of genuine passion for you. Better to make a big impact in one or two areas than to be involved in 20 different things where you are just checking the box.
Lastly, I will say you should reverse-engineer your track. Think about where you want to be 10 years post MBA, 5-years post MBA and also what job you want to get immediately after your MBA. Then think about what schools will ideally prepare you for those roles, then think about what kind of early career achievements will be appealing to your future employers and your future b-school. Then think about what you need to do NOW to prepare yourself for that early career track.
I hope all this helps!
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