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# Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA

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Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2008, 00:14
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I saw another thread about admission results and profile sharing here on this forum. All of the profiles have very good GMAT scores. It seems very discouraging for those who are applying to top B-schools with low GMAT scores. If you've been admitted to top B-schools with a GMAT score not higher than 650, please share your profile with us. I hope your profiles can give some encouragement to those who are beaten by the GMAT.

GMAT: 6XX (Q:XX, V:XX, AWA:X)
University attended:
Major(s):
GPA / Honours:
Nationality:
Age: (at matriculation)
Gender:
Work Experience: No. of Years / Industry / Role
Extra-curricular Activities:
Community Services:

NO DISCUSSION!!
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Schools: R2: Kellogg Class of 2012, Yale(w/$), Tuck, Darden(w/$), Olin, Owen(w/$), Kelley, McDonough(w/$)
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2010, 14:58
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Hey Guys/Gals,

I have a low undergrad GPA (2.99) and a low GMAT (650/44Q/35V/5.5AWA).

All in all, I applied to 8 schools (Kellogg, Tuck, Yale, Darden, McDonough, Kelley, Owen, Olin) and I was accepted to all of them. I also received significant scholarships (half tuition or full tuition) from 4 of them (Yale, Darden, Owen, McDonough).

My success, I believe, was a product of my research efforts and application strategy. Using my research on the GMAT Club and several other sources, I realized that I had several attributes that were appealing to admissions committees and I worked hard to highlight every one of them.

My approach:

Two and a half years ago, I realized that I wanted to attend graduate school. Specifically, I wanted to attend a competitive b-school program but I realized that my undergrad GPA was low. Therefore, I took graduate level classes within an MA in leadership and management program. I only took four classes within a year and a half period but I received a 3.75 GPA. I was able to highlight this GPA on my application to counter my undergrad GPA. Although I only took four classes, I argued that I earned good grades despite working full time as a general manager, dealing with several life changing events, and volunteering/etc...

About a year ago this month, I started researching b-schools in depth. I was addicted to the GMAT CLUB, BW Forums, the GMAC website to see GMAT statistics, books ("How to get into top B-school"), and 15 b-school websites. I also attended MBA Fairs and discovered groups like The Consortium. Basically, I was a research-a-holic last year.

Using my research, I decided to apply to the 8 schools I listed above. Given my low GPA and GMAT, I didn't know where I'd lie on the competitive ladder among b-school applicants. Therefore, I decided to apply to 1 top-5 school, 1 top-10, 2 top-15, and a couple of other programs that lied in the 15-35 range according to US News and BW rankings.

I then developed a very specific essay strategy that highlighted any and every attribute that I thought gave me a competitive advantage. My goal was to show that I was a success story, that I could succeed in any rigorous academic program, and that I would contribute to any b-school as a student and alum.

In my opinion, my positive attributes include: I'm a first generation hispanic/ I'm the first member of my family to pursue a graduate degree/ I'm in the Army and have deployed twice/ While I was at my undergrad institution- I was heavily involved in my student government as an elected officer/ I served as a tutor, Div 1 athlete, and as an elected and appointed club leader throughout my time in college / I continue to serve as a Class Officer for my undergrad alumni organization/ I earned a 3.75 GPA in graduate level courses despite losing two family members and working full time as a general manager. As a general manager, I received formal ratings that eventually placed me in the top 2% of my peer group. There were a couple of other small data points I added to my essays but you get the point.

When I was writing my essays, I tried to answer the unique questions of each b-school while inserting these attributes to develop a unique story of enduring success. After endless revisions to my b-school essays, I submitted all of my applications by Round 2 for each school. I applied to 5 schools through the Consortium and 3 schools independently.

Some other things that I believe helped me:

I visited every school to which I applied and I highlighted that fact during my interviews. I searched for "key" terms each admissions committee was likely looking for. In my opinion, some of these include: Olin: Research driven thinking/Kelley: family, community, involvement / Kellogg: collaboration, Look at their 4 pillars ie. Intellectual Depth, Diversity of thought.../ Tuck: loyalty, community, friendship, advantage of a b-school education in a rural setting (ie. less distractions, community, focus, etc.)/ Darden: Case Method, working on a team to solve cases, interactive classroom environment.

Every school has a unique community and academic experience that they want to sustain. Figure out what that is and show how you could contribute to it.

Many of you have pointed out that, unless you are an underrepresented minority, female, or have unique work experience, you may not be able to overcome a low GPA or GMAT. Overall, that may be true. However, there are no absolutes in this world. I think everyone has positive attributes that can make them look very competitive despite poor stats. I could have easily applied to less prestigious schools and have saved a lot of time & money in dropping my Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, and Yale applications. Also, had I failed to highlight my strengths to the admissions committee, I could have experienced multiple rejections that some applicants with very high GPAs and GMATs have experienced. In the end, it never hurts to fight for your candidacy and apply to the b-school programs you love.

Furthermore, I believe that, even as a minority, I still overcame major weaknesses in my application. I am certain that over 80% of the minority applicant pool at Kellogg had better stats than I did. It is rare to have both a low GPA AND low GMAT and get into a top 5 program.

Now that my application journey is over, I hope that this post will help some of you. I feel indebted to all of you who have contributed to GMAT Club and have educated me for the last couple of years.

-Via

Last edited by Via on 21 Nov 2010, 09:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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30 Dec 2008, 22:33
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Here is a post that I came across online from a guy who had a 610 GMAT, got wait-listed at Cornell and eventually admitted.

---------------------------------------
Sakira:

Ok guys, here's what I did. Lol maybe I shouldn't have picked a username that's my FIRST NAME, since there goes all anonymity haha.

I applied to Tuck (darmouth), Columbia, Tulane, Rice, and Cornell. But please keep in mind that I applied VERY LATE--at or after the last de@d lines for all of these schools. I do not suggest you do this--almost all of the seats are filled up by this time. I waited this long because I wanted more time to prepare for my GMAT, but in the end my score didn't go up much and packaging the rest of your application is much more important. I was rejected from Columbia and Dartmouth outright--this could be because of my GMAT, or it could be because of how late I applied. In the case of Tuck, they invite everyone to come interview beforehand and I never did that, so this could have hurt my case there too.

You have to treat your application like a marketing project. How will you market yourself? What are you trying to draw attention to? Don't just do the prototypical ap and hope they'll notice your strengths--draw attention to them, cleverly. I had a 2-prong strategy with my applications: use my essays to not necessarily sell them, but at least generate enough curiosity to nab an interview. Then use the interview to sell them. In the case of Johnson, they only allow 3 essays with 400 word counts, so this was difficult. They are not looking for flowery writing--they want to see what you can do in this limited space. It's like working on a commercial during the superbowl--you have a 30 second time slot to pitch to your market. How are you going to do it?

I was kind of a troubled kid when I was younger, so I used my optional essay to paint a very dramatic picture of that, but then used it to show how far I've come. When you do things like this, DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES, and ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for anything in your past. Then show how it made you a stronger person. You have to be yourself.

What helped me was a book called "How to get into Top MBA programs". There are a million sample essays in the back. The reason this is helpful is that you can see what EVERYONE else that is successful does--and then NOT do it. If you do this, you won't stand out, and if you have a lower GMAT score, you need to stand out on something else. Avoid the wording everyone uses, cliche phrases like "to gain broader perspective" or "I want to hone my skills". Everyone says things like that. Use your essays to really show them a little bit of yourself.

Use your personal unique experiences to show why you're a different candidate. You don't have to show you're better than everyone else--just show what's different about you. MBA Admissions teams want to build diverse classes and the more unique strenghts you bring, the more forgiving they will be if you aren't up to par on the conventional ones.

Lastly, apply a little psychology. Think about this from the admissions committee's perspective. They have to read thousands of essays on people trying to sell themselves. They get bored of all of the people bragging about the same thing. If you can hit an emotional cord with them, or make them smile or best of all laugh out loud, you've instantly made yourself stand out. But don't be fake or cheesy. Just be natural. Think about if you had to read a million essays on virtually the same thing. What would you appreciate? What would entertain you? What qualities would you look for if someone didn't have the highest GMAT or GPA?

An article that I highly suggest was written by a senior admissions rep at Virginia. Granted he doesn't work in MBA admissions, but I think this is great advice for ANY admissions essay-writing:

One last note. I didn't get right in, I was waitlisted. Along with over 170 other people. Now I had to stand out more than ever before. In the case of Johnson, they accept updates on your grades, goals, recommendations, whatever. I knew everyone would do this--but I had to do it creatively. So I made them a brochure on why they should accept me, with pictures and such. It was just something different for them. I don't suggest everyone do this--now that it's already been done. But the point is, think of something creative and personal to do that's not flamboyantly over the top.

I also got into Tulane with a scholarship. You'll find that in general some sschools appreciate creativity and unique experiences more than others. MBA programs really are about fit. Do your research and see which ones jive best with your personality. Another one I interviewed at was Rice--and honestly, that was a terrible experience for me. I had a student interviewer, and we didn't connect at all. The interview was awkward and uncomfortable, while my interviews at Tulane and Johnson were conversational and full of laughs. The program at Rice seemed Rigid, the students seemed conservative, and most of their candidates work in the oil industry. That's the antithesis of me: a little entrepreneur, an environmentalist, and a huge liberal. How well you connect with other students is important, and this comes across in your interview.

On a side note, the Rice application process was generally a miserable experience. They don't respond to emails, they're rude on the phone, and they're disorganized. When you go to their info sessions the adcom says feel free to call but if you do you'll never get past the front desk. They didn't even give me a decision until over a week after the date they were supposed to. Johnson, on the other hand, was amazingly responsive, very efficient, and extremely warm and approachable. Tulane was a great experience too. I highly recommend you tailor the schools you're applying to in light of what your strengths and goals are and not just look at names and rankings. This will give you much more to say in your essays and interviews.

This whole MBA process has been a HUGE learning experience for me. I didn't even tell my parents I applied at first because my dad was so convinced I didn't have a chance. But I wanted to take a chance, and along the road I found so many people that supported and believed in me. I've never felt more confident about a decision I've made in life. I really feel like the adcom at Johnson got to know me personally and accepted me for that, and that's a great feeling. It shouldn't have to be about them taking you because of some frosted image you put on. I encourage all of you to think about what's uniquely positive about you, and then sell it. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you have.

Good luck everybody!!

-------------------------------------------------------------
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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15 Jan 2009, 12:45
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spiridon wrote:
Can u post that link, I doubt that GMAC would have such a thing

The question was not addressed to me - but here is the link:

http://www.gmac.com/nr/rdonlyres/f3b73942-8a93-4fc2-bb8d-1e8735158b80/0/profileofgmatcandidates0408.pdf

You can see the stats by gender, race, age etc. Data from earlier years is also available.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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23 Dec 2008, 02:35
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pelihu wrote:
I've said it many times, and received negative comments many many times, but I'll say it again. People admitted with GMAT scores more than 20-30 points below the median for a given school are either underrepresented minorities or have some other easily identifiable unique factors that support their candidacy. People without such factors and not from such underrepresented groups can rely on little more than pure luck if their scores are more than 30 points below the average.

Pelihu,

Although I don't like the bitter truth stated in your posts, you are usualy right (or should I say "almost always"). Ryguy904 defined a simple formula couple of months ago:

R2 + GMAT<700 = Ding

"We are using the GMAT as an indicator of an academic performance in the first year of study". Probably true, but is that everything? The awfull truth is that adcoms are using lower GMAT as a negative counterweight to all accomplisments stated in resume. Red flag will be raised next to virtually every endevour of an applicant.

"Led various teams on significant projects..." - Yeah, but why can't you score 650 on GMAT then?
"Improved that, initiated this..." - Yeah, but why can't you score 650 on GMAT then?
"Willing to learn, hard working, intelligent..." - (especially here) Yeah, but why can't you score 650 on GMAT then?
"Team player, natural born leader, best in the class, best of the best..." - Yeah, but why can't you score 650 on GMAT then?
"Work under pressure, meeting tight deadlines..." - Yeah, but you can't handle the pressure of the exam and score 650 on GMAT...

I know I will be exposed to the flood of negative reactions for what I've said overhere, but that's the way it goes.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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10 Mar 2010, 22:06
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In the craziness of the last couple of days, I haven't had time to post. But I am taking time from my vacation in Boston so that I can post my experience with application with a GPA. My hopes is that this gives people with Low GPA some hope, since I think hope was really what the strength to do this not once, but twice.

First off I will first say, I have a 2.109 GPA. So anyone with above that probably is in ALOT Better shape than I was. Another thing is that I have no trend up or down. It peaked my 3rd year to a wowing 2.4 and I have 2 more A's than F. I'm being very candid because whoever is looking at this post, I want you to know that if someone can get Waitlist at a top 3 school and accepted at a top tier school (Ross) than you can too.

Background of what I did to mitigate, I took my GMAT's seriously and scored a balanced 760. Then I made sure I moved up in my career, I took opportunity in leadership such as taking on side projects. Took classes, (I actually did a MS however I would not recommend it because it's more intense than I feel needed to prove academic proficiency). And lastly I made sure my essays reflected who I was.

I think the most important thing I did was that I didn't give up and that I made sure I aimed for schools I wanted to go to. Basicly I took that attitude as, They are gonna like me for everything else, or reject me because they couldn't get over my grades. Either way I was not gonna be the person holding myself back. I think for all the low GPA and low GMAT people that is the most important thing. Don't limit yourself, be realistic yet shoot for the stars.

As for Results:

First year: With 3 classes toward my masters
Ding w/o INT: Chicago, Columbia (Columbia was my first school, and I realized I just submit crap since one of my reason for attending columbia is I liked the cohort system, Lame)
Ding After INT: Ross (bad Interview)
Waitlist + Summer Waitlist: Kellogg

Second Attempt:
Ding: Kellogg (mistake interviewing with Adcom, did bad, worst part was that it was optional)
Admit: Ross (Pretty decent Phone Interview, No Visit, pretty sure it was good enough for a Yes vote)
Waiting: UCLA PT, INSEAD JAN 2011

PS another word of advice, don't apply your favorite school first. Each one of my essays was better than the last. Also reading the essay topics before you apply is good, since Kellogg and ross's essay topics were also better places for my stories since Ross as a "time you struggled in life" and Kellogg as like 3 essays about "why you are special"

BTW, I HATE WRITING, so hopefully this post gives some people hope. ARIEL, You're NEXT to POST!!
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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14 Jan 2009, 18:16
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Hey guys, another clubber suggested that I post my story to this thread. I was accepted by Ross this week with a 650. My stats:

28 year-old white US male. 3.7 undergrad from Wisconsin with a double major in business and English. 4.5 years WE for two small businesses, transitioning from sales into a marketing/brand leadership role. Boss was a Kellogg alum (owned both businesses). Launched a company with my father in Spring '07 that has consumed the bulk of my free time since. Lots of club level activities in college, few since graduating outside of recreational athletics. Heading down a brand/sports marketing path.

I was waitlisted at Kellogg last year in round 2 and eventually dinged over the summer.
This year I applied to Ross, Kellogg, Duke and Wisconsin. In at Ross, dinged at Kellogg, on the waitlist at Duke and will hear back from Wisconsin later.

My GMAT story:

10/07 - 650 (36Q/42V 5.5 AWA)
12/07 - 650 (45Q/35V 5.5 AWA)
4/08 - 650 (42Q/38V 6 AWA)
8/08 - 630 (41Q/35V 6 AWA)

Obviously not the trajectory I was hoping for!

If I had to comment on my candidacy (not in order of imporance):
1. My undergraduate grades were solid, especially in the quant areas. Nothing below a B in micro and macro econ, stats, calc, finance, real estate finance, managerial and financial accounting. I have to think this mitigated the quant side of my GMATs. I did not waste my time explaining my GMAT in any optional essay. What's there to say?
2. Despite coming from a well represented demogrpahic, my work history is different. Both small businesses had a great deal of responsibility/scope/involvement. I was able to write about a wide variety of experiences, especially with the company we founded.
3. I spent a large part of my summer researching schools and wittling down my list to four schools that I REALLY wanted to go and that would be able to launch me after graduation. This meant spending a lot of time talking to current students, mostly over the phone and via email. This was done by contacting the clubs I was interested in and asking the right questions.
4. Probably most important - I was sincere in my interest and in my essays. As per #3, I picked schools that I really wanted to attend. The marginal difference between them is extremely small, in my opinion. Writing my essays was a relatively easy process because I had a pretty deep list of genuine reasons.
5. Specifically to Ross - "fit" can be a pretty esoteric thing. There are tons of programs that people can "fit" into. For me, it was as simple being at ease with the alums and current students and feeling like I had something to offer them as a peer and teammate. I drove to Ann Arbor for my interview (without visiting prior) and met up with an MBA2 that I'd chatted with before. We met for happy hour and I had a great time meeting him and the other Rossers. My interview the next day was very natural and I think my enthusiasm for the program came through. I could easily see myself there for two years.

I hope this is of some help to those in similar situations. As important as the GMAT is, it truly is only one component. Be honest with yourself in what you want to do and the type of program you need to do it. Be sincere. Be genuine. Don't let rankings determine your path for you. Pick places that will make you happy for two years and beyond.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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26 Jan 2010, 19:51
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Had a chat with a staff member at Wharton recently and discussed my 50 percentile quant score. Before I could jump into my standard explanation, she looked at my resume and said......"your work experience and undergrad econ major are all the examples I need of your quant ability, don't worry about it."

Guys - Don't let these +700'ers psych you out if you have other components of your background which can speak to ability.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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25 Jun 2010, 13:58
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I'm another case of low GPA and low GMAT. I want to share a little of my story to show that there is no formula for you to get a good school and it really depends on how you present your case, what is it that you bring to the table.
33 years old/International/Gmat:560/GPA 3.2
Tuck :waitlist
DUKE: admit no $UNC: admit$

My undergrad is in IT from a unknown college in my home country but I decided over 5 years ago that I wanted to work at the World Bank doing consulting in International Development, so I started building a story with every job that I took. Also my volunteer work and community engagement showed my commitment to my new goals.
My essays were solid and showed how clear I was on my goals and how an MBA would help me get what I want (I researched those 3 schools and I figure out what I could bring to enrich the student body).
Interviews went very well, (I'm an experienced public speaker), in my case I felt that age helped me in these 3 schools because I presented myself as mature with clear ideas of what I want.
Even though my GMAT is really low for any top-50 school, my story was clear and I showed adcom that I would add valuable experience to the student body.
I hope this helps other people realize that with research and clear goals you can get into a decent (if not top) program. DO NOT listen to the people who tell you that if you don't have a 700 in the GMAT you are done. Also H/S/W are not the only schools to apply. I would recommend people with lower GMAT not to look into rankings too much and focus on which school will help you shine the most and which school could benefit from your skills.
Take time and do your research, find out what is it that the school is looking for on a student and make sure they fit your interest and skills. Given that I consider myself a good public speaker, I looked for schools that encouraged team work and were more community oriented, my weakness is writing skills so by all means I dropped from the search the schools that are more academic writing oriented instead I went for the ones that are more case based.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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21 Mar 2013, 19:25
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Thought I'd add my profile to this for some encouragement. While I do think that many people’s opinion of a “low GMAT” is heavily skewed (I’m sick of reading the “750 GMAT – should I retake?” threads), I was so discouraged after my 680 score and don’t want others to feel the same way. Hopefully after reading this you realize that GMAT is only a small piece of your application and that many people get in with these “low” scores.

The bottom line: I got a 680 GMAT (97% verbal, 50% quant) and was admitted to Kellogg today. I’m still waiting on Wharton’s decision, but I was interviewed there as well so clearly my GMAT was just a blip on the screen for the AdComs.

3/26 Update: Was admitted to Wharton today as well! It happens to those with lower than average quant scores!

My story: I took the GMAT once, got the 680 score. I walked out of the test so discouraged; I was working tons and didn’t have much time, energy, or drive to study more. I knew I had to take the test again, but due to aforementioned factors my score went DOWN to a 660 (same quant, lower verbal). I was so depressed about the score and was positive that I wouldn’t get into any of the top tier schools. I procrastinated my applications, thinking it was a lost cause, and with three weeks to go in the cycle decided to suck it up, apply to the two schools that I would be PSYCHED to get into, and braced myself for denial.

Looking back, it’s kind of silly that I focused so much on the score. I have great work experience (consulting at a very well-known firm with tons of leadership and hefty promotions), extracurriculars I am supremely passionate about (Special Olympics for almost a decade, pro-bono consulting for diversity-owned businesses), and recommenders that had faith in me, even when I didn’t. My essays were passionate because I only applied to schools I REALLY wanted to go to. I’m a people person so I ended my interviews getting wine with my interviewer. Yet, where did my focus lie? On the quantifiable aspect of my application – the GMAT.

What I learned: Your GMAT score is a number. It doesn’t define who you are, but rather serves as a small bullet point that has a tenuous link to your ability to prepare for and take a test. Don’t sweat it as long as you’re close to your school’s average range. Take all that negative energy and channel it into the other aspects of your application and then go have a beer, get off of the forums, and take those extra hours you would have spent fretting and enjoy your life or improve the life of someone else. Everything will work out in the end. Trust me, today’s call from Kellogg proved it!

Last edited by panama5565 on 26 Mar 2013, 08:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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09 Feb 2010, 11:25
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Hey everyone ! I've had my eye on this thread for a while now, but was waiting to post until I was actually admitted somewhere. Well, now that that dream has come true, here we go:

GMAT: 680
GPA: Not too sure. Went to a Canadian university that didn't use the GPA system, but if I were to go by what some of the online calculators tell me, its somewhere between a 2.0 and 3.0
Education: B.Eng from a top Canadian university
Current age: 28
Work Experience: 1 year in a Bus. Analyst role at a major bank, 4 years as an engineer/strategist at a major telecoms company

I was dumbstruck when I was my GMAT score. I spent many weeks agonizing and debating over whether to retake it or not. I never ended up doing it though, because the majority of advice I got indicated that I should spend more time focusing on my essays. And boy, did I ever focus. Putting modesty aside for a second, I never though that I could be capable of producing such good written work ! So if you take anything away from this post, let it be: FOCUS ON YOUR ESSAYS !

I applied to three schools in R1: Kellogg, London Business School, and Darden. I didn't get in at the first two, but did get in to Darden, which Im very happy with. I was selected for an interview at LBS, but felt that the interview was actually my downfall. I dont think I spent enough time knowing my story, and it didnt help that the interview was the week I got back from a 3 week Spanish vacation .... but those are the breaks !

About a year ago, I was a nervous wreck because I thought I didnt have a chance without a 700+/3.5 to back me up. Im happy to report otherwise, and would love to answer any questions.

Cheers, and good luck !
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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06 Jun 2010, 11:41
3
KUDOS
I did earn scholarships with low GPA
GMAT: 700 (Q:45, V:40, AWA:5.5)
University attended: Top university in western Europe (BS and MS)
Major(s): Finance
GPA / Honours: 2.7 (67/100)
Age: 28
Gender: Female
Work Experience: 6 years, investment management
Extra-curricular Activities: Mentoring
Community Services: None

Business Schools (Applied but Dinged): CBS

I think I managed to convey my story on the essays and interviews. I made very clear the -why MBA, why now, why this school question. I did a lot of research on all the universities and reached out to current students and alumni. I took my time in writing the essays and made sure that all my research was apparent.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools with Low GMAT Score [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2008, 12:09
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can we have one with low GPA also? Soni would be the success story.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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20 Jan 2010, 08:30
2
KUDOS
Definitely a great thread. I don't dispute the point made earlier that being an URM doesn't play a role in admitting individuals from the lower end of a school's 80% GMAT/GPA range. But I think the diversity at the lower end of this range is not just limited to ethnicity or gender but also career background, career goals, and life stories, etc.

I spent most of my life until now refusing to "check the box" because I would rather know that I got somewhere in my life because I was great at what I do not because of my heritage. I was OK with my grades, OK with my test scores my entire life but always was the leader of everything I did and received several awards all through HS and Undergrad.

I only check the box now because I had a conversation with an AdCom member from a top 10 B-school who articulated to me that they don't see the URM status as being more lenient but they want and need a diverse program. Whether I check the box or not, they're going to maintain a diverse program either way and I may fit into one of the other "boxes" that they're looking for (career background, career goals, and life stories, etc.) given my solid marketing/advertising background and desire to go into a non-traditional career in Media and Entertainment. The big thing I might be passing on by not checking the URM box is scholarship money. Which, given the prospect of paying for everything myself with no help, is a BIG reason for me to check the box.

I apologize for the long commentary but I say all of this to say, the numbers don't say everything and because I can check that box does not mean it's the only reason why they're going to admit me. I still need to be able to succeed in B-school and even more importantly, I need to get a job and be an advocate for the school when I'm done and give them lots of money . If I wanted to go into I-Banking or Consulting at a top firm with my GMAT, they would probably laugh at me because the odds of me getting a job with my GMAT is slim to none.

My profile and link below have my full background.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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31 Jan 2010, 20:48
2
KUDOS
[quote="JoeKaneForHeisman"]How did you initiate this conversation and what is your standard explanation? Looks like you and I are in similar situations.

Thanks![/quote]

I was on campus and made an appointment to discuss my application.

As for the explanation, is pretty simple...I took the GMAT a bunch of times and was not able to crack it. Everyone has weaknesses and GMAT math happens to be one of mine. With that said, I have a pretty quant heavy job, such as projects x, y, z and am confident I can meet the quant rigors of the program...but if there is any additional classes/tests that the admin committee would like me to take, I am happy to do so.

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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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09 Mar 2010, 13:51
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I just got admitted to Ross with an UG GPA of 3.01, an academic probation and a couple of F's on my transcript. Not your typically strong UG candidate. My GMAT was a 710 so that helped me prove my academic ability.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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15 Mar 2010, 08:35
2
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GoBruins wrote:
ARIEL, You're NEXT to POST!!

Sorry guys, been MIA lately. Just came back to civilization from Vermont. Ok, here's my story: 1.9 GPA here (yeap you got that right) and just got into Ross, waiting to hear from UNC and Cornell next week and INSEAD in May. Will report back when I do. Already interviewed at UNC and expecting good news there. Cornell is a big wild card at this point.

What I think made a difference in my case:

- I went to a well-known and rigorous program in Canada (GPAs from non-US schools have no bearing on their GPA averages and therefore rankings - so if you're in a similar situation, you just have to prove to them that you can handle the course work and are interesting enough to contribute meaningfully to the community. If you went to school in the US, there's still plenty of things you can do to strengthen your candidacy)

- I took quant and accounting courses at well-known universities last summer and got A-s in all of them

- I have a very fast career progression and my job is such that it leaves little doubt about my quantitative abilities

- I have good reasons for my sub-par performance in UG and explained those in the optional essay. That story also meshed well with the rest of my application and the qualities that came through in all the stories in the rest of my essays

- I was able to present a coherent application and build a brand, which jived with everything they saw on paper: course work, career progression, international experience, etc. I cannot emphasize this enough - imagine you're trying to introduce yourself to somebody and they don't know anything about you besides a few data points that can be construed in various ways. Come up with 3-4 strengths that you believe define you (ideally those will be aligned with the school's philosophy and you have some tangible experience to lend cred). In ALL your essays, make sure you pick stories that send that consistent message. At the same time, take care to present yourself as a versatile individual through varied experiences (which again, show that you possess those qualities you're trying to communicate to them, albeit in different environments)

- my interview went really well

- demographics - sadly, I believe this played a major role. I'm a Caucasian female, originally from Eastern Europe, have lived in different counties and have varied experiences. I possess a fairly unique work experience and post-MBA goals (yes IB post-grad is not the most popular choice among women). So I think all that contributed a lot as well.

I remember starting a thread on this very same topic a while back before I even started working on apps and I've come a long way since. It hasn't been easy but I, among others, am proof that a low GPA can absolutely be overcome. Just hit me up on PM if there's anything I can do to help anyone who is in the same situation as I was. I'll be happy to share what I have learned and hope that my experience can be of help to someone. Best of luck!
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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15 Mar 2010, 10:26
2
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Didn't want to jump the gun until I heard back from a few schools, but despite my low GMAT (mid-600's), I received admissions to Booth and Kellogg.

Moral of the story: don't lose hope even with the low GMAT or GPA. Blow them out of the water with your story and other accomplishments. Hope this helps motivate others to keep fighting for that admission spot. Best of luck all!

Last edited by nlt22 on 22 Mar 2010, 08:10, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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22 Mar 2010, 08:40
2
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Happy to report that this morning I got an interview invite for Cornell and I also got into UNC. I only applied to 3 schools in the US, and here's the tally so far:

1) Ross - got in
2) UNC - got in
3) Cornell - int invite

My GPA is exactly 1.87, so low GPA friends - do not despair!
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Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2011, 13:42
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BOOKMARKED
Via wrote:
Hey Guys/Gals,

I have a low undergrad GPA (2.99) and a low GMAT (650/44Q/35V/5.5AWA).

All in all, I applied to 8 schools (Kellogg, Tuck, Yale, Darden, McDonough, Kelley, Owen, Olin) and I was accepted to all of them. I also received significant scholarships (half tuition or full tuition) from 4 of them (Yale, Darden, Owen, McDonough).

My success, I believe, was a product of my research efforts and application strategy. Using my research on the GMAT Club and several other sources, I realized that I had several attributes that were appealing to admissions committees and I worked hard to highlight every one of them.

My approach:

Two and a half years ago, I realized that I wanted to attend graduate school. Specifically, I wanted to attend a competitive b-school program but I realized that my undergrad GPA was low. Therefore, I took graduate level classes within an MA in leadership and management program. I only took four classes within a year and a half period but I received a 3.75 GPA. I was able to highlight this GPA on my application to counter my undergrad GPA. Although I only took four classes, I argued that I earned good grades despite working full time as a general manager, dealing with several life changing events, and volunteering/etc...

About a year ago this month, I started researching b-schools in depth. I was addicted to the GMAT CLUB, BW Forums, the GMAC website to see GMAT statistics, books ("How to get into top B-school"), and 15 b-school websites. I also attended MBA Fairs and discovered groups like The Consortium. Basically, I was a research-a-holic last year.

Using my research, I decided to apply to the 8 schools I listed above. Given my low GPA and GMAT, I didn't know where I'd lie on the competitive ladder among b-school applicants. Therefore, I decided to apply to 1 top-5 school, 1 top-10, 2 top-15, and a couple of other programs that lied in the 15-35 range according to US News and BW rankings.

I then developed a very specific essay strategy that highlighted any and every attribute that I thought gave me a competitive advantage. My goal was to show that I was a success story, that I could succeed in any rigorous academic program, and that I would contribute to any b-school as a student and alum.

In my opinion, my positive attributes include: I'm a first generation hispanic/ I'm the first member of my family to pursue a graduate degree/ I'm in the Army and have deployed twice/ While I was at my undergrad institution- I was heavily involved in my student government as an elected officer/ I served as a tutor, Div 1 athlete, and as an elected and appointed club leader throughout my time in college / I continue to serve as a Class Officer for my undergrad alumni organization/ I earned a 3.75 GPA in graduate level courses despite losing two family members and working full time as a general manager. As a general manager, I received formal ratings that eventually placed me in the top 2% of my peer group. There were a couple of other small data points I added to my essays but you get the point.

When I was writing my essays, I tried to answer the unique questions of each b-school while inserting these attributes to develop a unique story of enduring success. After endless revisions to my b-school essays, I submitted all of my applications by Round 2 for each school. I applied to 5 schools through the Consortium and 3 schools independently.

Some other things that I believe helped me:

I visited every school to which I applied and I highlighted that fact during my interviews. I searched for "key" terms each admissions committee was likely looking for. In my opinion, some of these include: Olin: Research driven thinking/Kelley: family, community, involvement / Kellogg: collaboration, Look at their 4 pillars ie. Intellectual Depth, Diversity of thought.../ Tuck: loyalty, community, friendship, advantage of a b-school education in a rural setting (ie. less distractions, community, focus, etc.)/ Darden: Case Method, working on a team to solve cases, interactive classroom environment.

Every school has a unique community and academic experience that they want to sustain. Figure out what that is and show how you could contribute to it.

Many of you have pointed out that, unless you are an underrepresented minority, female, or have unique work experience, you may not be able to overcome a low GPA or GMAT. Overall, that may be true. However, there are no absolutes in this world. I think everyone has positive attributes that can make them look very competitive despite poor stats. I could have easily applied to less prestigious schools and have saved a lot of time & money in dropping my Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, and Yale applications. Also, had I failed to highlight my strengths to the admissions committee, I could have experienced multiple rejections that some applicants with very high GPAs and GMATs have experienced. In the end, it never hurts to fight for your candidacy and apply to the b-school programs you love.

Furthermore, I believe that, even as a minority, I still overcame major weaknesses in my application. I am certain that over 80% of the minority applicant pool at Kellogg had better stats than I did. It is rare to have both a low GPA AND low GMAT and get into a top 5 program.

Now that my application journey is over, I hope that this post will help some of you. I feel indebted to all of you who have contributed to GMAT Club and have educated me for the last couple of years.

-Via

Hi Via - you are indeed an inspiration - 8 for 8 is simply amazing!. I particularly enjoyed where you talked about what is unique to each school - however, you didn't mention on Yale (dream school) - what would you say is Yale's sweet spot?
Re: Profiles - Admitted to Top B-Schools w/ Low GMAT or Low GPA   [#permalink] 25 Nov 2011, 13:42

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