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So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA?

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So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2013, 13:13
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Hey Folks -

Still on the road, but wanted to pop in here quickly because our team has been getting a LOT of emails lately asking about GPA and the impact it has on applications. So I thought I'd weigh in here.

Let's dig in....

Dealing with a low GMAT can be a pain, but in comparison to a low GPA it’s pretty easy - you just retake.
But how can you deal with a low GPA? I mean, it’s there right? And you are stuck with it, right?

Sooo let’s think. There are a few things you can do to address the low GPA, and my suggestion is a split strategy:

On the one hand you want to explain why you have a low GPA (without making excuses, but we’ll get to that soon), and on the other hand you want to PROVE that you are in fact smart in other areas of your application.

Let’s start by brainstorming about some possible good reason you might have for a low GPA:

- Did you double major? Or do a double degree?
- Did you work part or full-time while studying?
- Did you change your studies in the middle?
- Did you have any family health or psychological difficulties during your studies?
- Were you a professional athlete?

These are all examples of some good reasons for a low GPA. You can work with these... if you play your cards right. The way to play your cards WRONG is to turn these into EXCUSES instead of EXPLANATIONS. The way to do it RIGHT is to explain what happened and take full responsibility for all of it. Keep it short, simple, to the point, and NO EXCUSES: “I was working forty-hour weeks in the cafeteria to pay for my studies, and although I know now that I should have managed my time better, it affected my grades.”

And your reasons should also be coupled with PROOF that SHOWS you are in fact capable of succeeding in a tough and rigorous academic program.
Here are some of the most common things you can use:

- Publications
- Awards
- High GMAT or any other official test score
- Passing other tough professional tests (CFA, Bar, etc.)
- Good Masters GPA

Basically anything that will show your smarts.

And what about “alternative transcripts”? Well, despite all the writing on the Internet, an “alternative transcript” (meaning you taking more courses now) is not really that effective in dealing with a low GPA. It doesn’t remove your bad GPA, nor does it improve it. Yes, it shows that you've got what it takes and you can handle difficult coursework but, in general, I’d say that 20 points higher on the GMAT is worth 15 more classes you could take.

The ONE case where taking additional classes can be helpful, of course, is if you are NOT in a quant-based industry, and/or you did poorly on quant courses. In that instance, yes, taking some additional courses can prove to the adcom that you are capable of doing the math that's coming at you in business school… but really that addresses another problem altogether.

So the bottom line is: if your GPA is low, you gotta crush that GMAT, explain the low GPA... and show the adcom how smart you are via your essays and LORs.

...I never said it was easy.

Hope that helps : )
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2013, 12:54
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Nice article Jon..! +1 Sir :-)

Just couple of quick questions-
1. What is a Low GPA actually on a US scale for an International(Indian) candidate for top 10 and top 20 schools? Please shed some light on this considering these two cases.

2.If a GPA is low for the same set of schools for the same candidate then what GMAT is actually required to offset the Low GPA?

Looking forward to hear from you.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2013, 21:28
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bagdbmba wrote:
Nice article Jon..! +1 Sir :-)

Just couple of quick questions-
1. What is a Low GPA actually on a US scale for an International(Indian) candidate for top 10 and top 20 schools? Please shed some light on this considering these two cases.

2.If a GPA is low for the same set of schools for the same candidate then what GMAT is actually required to offset the Low GPA?

Looking forward to hear from you.


Ooooh! I love +1s!

:)

1. Good question! On the US scale, low starts to be low around 3.2. BUT it does matter which school you are in. Some schools are more generous than others, and some more prestigious than others, and this does count. In India, I'd say below 7 (maybe 7.5) begins to look low. Again, it depends on the school... so if you have a 7 at IIT it still probably looks better than a 7.5 at any other school, and the Adcoms are aware of that.

2. Another good question! Ultimately your low GPA is a low GPA.... your GMAT doesn't actually "make up" for anything, but the idea is that you are proving that you have the intellectual and academic capacity to succeed. So it doesn't actually "offset" the GPA, although obviously the higher you get in the GMAT the more easily you would be able to convince them. What I mean is that there is no hard fast rule to quantify it, just do the best you can.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 10 Sep 2013, 23:36
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JonAdmissionado wrote:
bagdbmba wrote:
Nice article Jon..! +1 Sir :-)

Just couple of quick questions-
1. What is a Low GPA actually on a US scale for an International(Indian) candidate for top 10 and top 20 schools? Please shed some light on this considering these two cases.

2.If a GPA is low for the same set of schools for the same candidate then what GMAT is actually required to offset the Low GPA?

Looking forward to hear from you.


Ooooh! I love +1s!

:)

1. Good question! On the US scale, low starts to be low around 3.2. BUT it does matter which school you are in. Some schools are more generous than others, and some more prestigious than others, and this does count. In India, I'd say below 7 (maybe 7.5) begins to look low. Again, it depends on the school... so if you have a 7 at IIT it still probably looks better than a 7.5 at any other school, and the Adcoms are aware of that.

2. Another good question! Ultimately your low GPA is a low GPA.... your GMAT doesn't actually "make up" for anything, but the idea is that you are proving that you have the intellectual and academic capacity to succeed. So it doesn't actually "offset" the GPA, although obviously the higher you get in the GMAT the more easily you would be able to convince them. What I mean is that there is no hard fast rule to quantify it, just do the best you can.


Thanks for the reply Jon...

1. So, a 8.3/10 doesn't mean a low GPA from a non-IIT college I think...Right?
But, if you convert it to a US scale by simply unitary method, it turns out to be a ~low 3.32. I hope Adcoms won't do that to make it look like a low? Your thoughts please...

2.Agree with you Sir..! But what I was trying to point out that if a low GPA is there then at least some good/great GMAT can *offset* it more qualitatively in order to convey that this guy can handle the academic rigor than quantitatively...
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 00:12
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I don't think an 8.3 is low at all. On the contrary! It's pretty good (should put you in the top 5% or so, if I'm not mistaken.. and Top 5% in the US is pretty much 3.7+). And the schools all know this. I don't know what scale you used to convert your grades, but I think it may be underestimating a bit.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 00:31
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JonAdmissionado wrote:
I don't think an 8.3 is low at all. On the contrary! It's pretty good (should put you in the top 5% or so, if I'm not mistaken.. and Top 5% in the US is pretty much 3.7+). And the schools all know this. I don't know what scale you used to convert your grades, but I think it may be underestimating a bit.


Glad to know that Jon...!

Yeah you're right - it should be like that top 5% or so; schools just don't publish that data but I can remember I was directly through to Final round of Interview during campus-recruit (bypassing the written aptitude test and initial round of Interview) because of being from top 6 of the class.

I simply used unitary method...maths don't always turn out to be great :roll:

P.S: Just curious- you must be in China at this moment as in US it's around 4 AM! It'd be REALLY great to see you posting from India in due course :)
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 07:58
Hi Jon,

Big fan of the essay analysis section of website!

I also was wondering if I should explain my 3.3 gpa (engineering + top 15 us news undergrad) in the applications. You mentioned 3.2 as "low", but 3.3 isn't much better imo.

Thanks.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 23:14
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bagdbmba wrote:
JonAdmissionado wrote:
I don't think an 8.3 is low at all. On the contrary! It's pretty good (should put you in the top 5% or so, if I'm not mistaken.. and Top 5% in the US is pretty much 3.7+). And the schools all know this. I don't know what scale you used to convert your grades, but I think it may be underestimating a bit.


Glad to know that Jon...!

Yeah you're right - it should be like that top 5% or so; schools just don't publish that data but I can remember I was directly through to Final round of Interview during campus-recruit (bypassing the written aptitude test and initial round of Interview) because of being from top 6 of the class.

I simply used unitary method...maths don't always turn out to be great :roll:

P.S: Just curious- you must be in China at this moment as in US it's around 4 AM! It'd be REALLY great to see you posting from India in due course :)


Haha! Thanks man! Yeah, china is NUTS! If I were two people, I'd send half of me to India for sure! But one thing at a time :)
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 23:15
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Blax0r wrote:
Hi Jon,

Big fan of the essay analysis section of website!

I also was wondering if I should explain my 3.3 gpa (engineering + top 15 us news undergrad) in the applications. You mentioned 3.2 as "low", but 3.3 isn't much better imo.

Thanks.


Thank you! I like big fans! :)

Naaaaah don't write anything about a 3.3. It's too good to write an essay about.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 23 Nov 2013, 06:02
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Hey Jon-
I just did an evaluation on WES to get a sense of how does it stack up...!

Before that a quick refresher on my GPA per Indian scale - First Class with 82.6% or 8.26/10 in engineering from a non-IIT college. Top 6 of the department.

PLEASE Note that my university awards grades on a scale of 10 in the form of range such as 9 on 10 means 90-100; 8 on 10 means 80-89; 7 on 10 means 70-79 etc.So, I've calculated two instances although there is a very little difference in the end result in WES score.

1. Considering I got at least the lowest value of any range i.e 9 refers to 90, 8 refers to 80: WES GPA 3.96

2.Considering I got the average value of any range i.e 9 refers to 95, 8 refers to 85 (I think this is the IDEAL case-to take average) : WES GPA 3.97

I think, 3.96 or 3.97 is above any school's middle 80% range. Please let me know your thoughts.
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 25 Nov 2013, 09:32
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bagdbmba wrote:
Hey Jon-
I just did an evaluation on WES to get a sense of how does it stack up...!

Before that a quick refresher on my GPA per Indian scale - First Class with 82.6% or 8.26/10 in engineering from a non-IIT college. Top 6 of the department.

PLEASE Note that my university awards grades on a scale of 10 in the form of range such as 9 on 10 means 90-100; 8 on 10 means 80-89; 7 on 10 means 70-79 etc.So, I've calculated two instances although there is a very little difference in the end result in WES score.

1. Considering I got at least the lowest value of any range i.e 9 refers to 90, 8 refers to 80: WES GPA 3.96

2.Considering I got the average value of any range i.e 9 refers to 95, 8 refers to 85 (I think this is the IDEAL case-to take average) : WES GPA 3.97

I think, 3.96 or 3.97 is above any school's middle 80% range. Please let me know your thoughts.


Hey there!
Well 82.6 is pretty darn good for an Indian school. I know though that it depends from school to good, and although WES is a great resource to get a pretty general idea, no conversion will you get a precise answer. But maybe there's a better way to look at it: Do you know what percentile you were in? top 10%? Top 5%? Top 1%? What about your ranking (not just in your department but your whole year)? As well as the ranking of your school. These facts when taken together can reveal more about your standing than a pure numerical conversion.

Hope this helps!
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 25 Nov 2013, 09:58
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JonAdmissionado wrote:
bagdbmba wrote:
Hey Jon-
I just did an evaluation on WES to get a sense of how does it stack up...!

Before that a quick refresher on my GPA per Indian scale - First Class with 82.6% or 8.26/10 in engineering from a non-IIT college. Top 6 of the department.

PLEASE Note that my university awards grades on a scale of 10 in the form of range such as 9 on 10 means 90-100; 8 on 10 means 80-89; 7 on 10 means 70-79 etc.So, I've calculated two instances although there is a very little difference in the end result in WES score.

1. Considering I got at least the lowest value of any range i.e 9 refers to 90, 8 refers to 80: WES GPA 3.96

2.Considering I got the average value of any range i.e 9 refers to 95, 8 refers to 85 (I think this is the IDEAL case-to take average) : WES GPA 3.97

I think, 3.96 or 3.97 is above any school's middle 80% range. Please let me know your thoughts.


Hey there!
Well 82.6 is pretty darn good for an Indian school. I know though that it depends from school to good, and although WES is a great resource to get a pretty general idea, no conversion will you get a precise answer. But maybe there's a better way to look at it: Do you know what percentile you were in? top 10%? Top 5%? Top 1%? What about your ranking (not just in your department but your whole year)? As well as the ranking of your school. These facts when taken together can reveal more about your standing than a pure numerical conversion.

Hope this helps!


Hi Jon,
Thanks for your reply.
I was in top 10% of the the class and also in top 6 in my department ; although schools just don't publish that data but I can remember I was directly through to the Final round of Interview during campus-recruit (bypassing/jumping over the written aptitude test and initial round of Interview) because of this ranking (that's the only time we had something called *ranking*). So as you understand they don't break it down further...

Ranking of my school- as I've mentioned it's a non-IIT engineering college.Hence, you may say tier 2 school.And oh! it's in the top 10 colleges of my state.

So,any thoughts where do I stand now?
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Re: So, How Do You Overcome a Low GPA? [#permalink] New post 28 Nov 2013, 01:34
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bagdbmba wrote:
JonAdmissionado wrote:
bagdbmba wrote:
Hey Jon-
I just did an evaluation on WES to get a sense of how does it stack up...!

Before that a quick refresher on my GPA per Indian scale - First Class with 82.6% or 8.26/10 in engineering from a non-IIT college. Top 6 of the department.

PLEASE Note that my university awards grades on a scale of 10 in the form of range such as 9 on 10 means 90-100; 8 on 10 means 80-89; 7 on 10 means 70-79 etc.So, I've calculated two instances although there is a very little difference in the end result in WES score.

1. Considering I got at least the lowest value of any range i.e 9 refers to 90, 8 refers to 80: WES GPA 3.96

2.Considering I got the average value of any range i.e 9 refers to 95, 8 refers to 85 (I think this is the IDEAL case-to take average) : WES GPA 3.97

I think, 3.96 or 3.97 is above any school's middle 80% range. Please let me know your thoughts.


Hey there!
Well 82.6 is pretty darn good for an Indian school. I know though that it depends from school to good, and although WES is a great resource to get a pretty general idea, no conversion will you get a precise answer. But maybe there's a better way to look at it: Do you know what percentile you were in? top 10%? Top 5%? Top 1%? What about your ranking (not just in your department but your whole year)? As well as the ranking of your school. These facts when taken together can reveal more about your standing than a pure numerical conversion.

Hope this helps!


Hi Jon,
Thanks for your reply.
I was in top 10% of the the class and also in top 6 in my department ; although schools just don't publish that data but I can remember I was directly through to the Final round of Interview during campus-recruit (bypassing/jumping over the written aptitude test and initial round of Interview) because of this ranking (that's the only time we had something called *ranking*). So as you understand they don't break it down further...

Ranking of my school- as I've mentioned it's a non-IIT engineering college.Hence, you may say tier 2 school.And oh! it's in the top 10 colleges of my state.

So,any thoughts where do I stand now?


So what I suggest you do is that when you report your GPA include these two facts:
1. You were top 6 in your department (plus dept. size if it's big)
2. That your school is one of the top 10 in the state.

That way you give your profile the biggest possible boost.
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