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Ok - I know posts of this type can get annoying, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.
1.GMAT=720 (I don't remember the breakout right now, but it was strong in both)
2.GPA=3.0 in economics and philosophy from top 25 (low 1st 2 years due to "immaturity," high last 2 years)
3. 4 years (5 by the time I will be entering) in consulting (accounting & financial capacity) - I've been promoted quickly and given high-level opportunities. I am involved in litigation consulting - currently working on investigation in which the SEC is alleging that former execs of public co were cooking the books. I have examined auditor independence issues, materiality, and accounting methodologies (best to keep vague at this point).
4. Short-lived dot-com experience (founder of venture which I ceased operating, due to poor market dynamics)
5. CFA designation
6. I haven't done the essays, but assume I can package my story well.
7. Great recs from bosses
8. Extracurriculars and community service = weak (built a home for habitat for humanity on a spring break in college)
So those are the main areas of interest. Any general input would be appreciated. Also, a specific question related to the low GPA. I tend to think that my completion of the CFA program, relatively high GMAT and experience in a highly analytic field would tend to allay concerns about my intellectual capabilities. Any thoughts on that one?
I guess I got around a 2.4 in the first 2 years, primarily in general requirement classes (i.e., those in which I did not get my majors). Unfortunately, one such class was calculus (C- as I recall). Basically, I just didn't work hard. Then I averaged around a 3.6 in the last 2 years (primarily in my majors - econ and philosophy).
Is auditing a class at a graduate business school an option? I never considered it, but I had considered taking a calculus class part-time. The problem is, I work 60-70 hours a week, math classes don't really work well in that kind of schedule, and I wasn't convinced of the necessity of such a course.
Drill, drill, drill for quant. For verbal, know your idioms, and if you have a while until you take it, I would make an effort to read books and magazines that are a bit more tough to get through (think economist vs newsweek). As far as courses go, I didn't do one given my schedule, and I tend to be fairly self-motivated (since college, anyway), so I never had any problems getting myself to practice (I just got a bunch of books). If you think you require more structure, I might recommend a course. I noticed we have similar target schools - good luck, and maybe we'll run into each other next fall!
Based on your schedule it might not be feasible for you to take a course. However, the GPA you cited would be at the far left tail of the distribution for some of the elite schools. It is probably fair to say that taking such a course is not a necessary condition for acceptance but it would probably improve the odds. One of the best methods of showing that one would excel in MBA coursework is strong performance in MBA-level courses.
Thanks for the advice. I know this is far from an exact science, but do you have a sense for how much the GPA issue will weigh on the decision-making? I'm neither fresh out of undergrad, nor a heavily experienced manager, so the weighting us unlikely to be extreme on either end. In your opinion, is it an application-breaker, or a relatively minor obstacle, given the balance of the other factors I discussed? Thanks again for your input.
I was tempted to give that platitude "it depends on which schools you apply to . . ." but nobody really wants to read that. Your post made me think for some time until I essentially found myself in agreement with your observation that the GPA is probably not a deal-breaker in your situation.
1) Your low grades appear to have been in courses that are of little concern to most MBA programs
2) There was a strong upward trend in grades
3) By the time you enter, your "bad" grades will be roughly 7-8 or so years old. There is a limit how much one wants to punish someone for poor performance (as an 18 year old) that is several years old and who has a strong employment record of several years.
4) Some schools place more stress on the upper division grades than the lower division grades
5) You have a high GMAT score to help offset concerns about academic ability
6) You have the CFA designation which is clearly viewed as a positive factor by at least some admissions officers (see the UC Berkeley BW online chat c. Feb 2002).
Perhaps some elite schools will still view the academic record with a degree of trepidation but I think this is a surmountable obstacle as long as you apply strategically. Others readers, of course, are welcome to disagree.
As an aside, I actually enjoy these types of posts since they allow us to discuss these matters in a systematic fashion.
Your GPA will definitely matter, but what imapct it ultimately has on your chances depends on how you handle it as much as it depends on any particular school's priorities. If you try to steer around the matter and fail to convince them that lack of effort (or whatever caused your low grades) won't be an issue the second time around, then it will matter a lot, because they will notice. But if you address the issue and do a reasonable job of arguing that you understand what it takes to succeed in the classroom, adcomms will probably believe you.
BTW, don't dwell on it too much in your application. Some applicants make the mistake of focusing way too much on a single weakness, and in turn fail to bring out their strengths. So, don't overdo it, but address your low grades and make a case for why it won't happen again, and then move on to all of the positives in your app.
thanks - I'm very happy about it. Aside from the usual stuff that would apply to any b-school, you should demonstrate that you are very interested in them. Learn what about virginia, more than any other, makes it perfect for you and why you are perfect for them. I think that the more genuine you are, the better you will come across to them. I suspect that the admissions folks, after reading several thousand of these things, can spot BS from a mile away. So be honest in your assessment of why Darden is right for you. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what to say - it ends up being kind of a personal message.
I hope this advice (albeit vague at best) is helpful to you. Good luck!
Here are just a few things that we know that Darden tends to look for. Not sure which ones may come up in your particular interview, but be ready for all of them:
- Darden is about as academically rigorous as any top school. Expect them to look for strong quant abilities and a willingness to take academics seriously.
- Darden is all about case studies, meaning that you will constantly be expected to speak up and contribute in class. Your interviewer may test your communication abilities and your confidence in presenting your opinions.
- The school is also well known for its close-knit community. Demomstrate that you understand this, and hopefully be able to provide a convincing argument for why you would fit into the environment.
- All schools take ethics seriously, but Darden is heavily into ethics. Just be aware that you may get some questions about when you had to face a tough ethical decision, etc.
- Finally, Darden looks for people with leadership experience and leadership potential. Expect questions along these lines.
Some of these are covered in Darden's essay questions. Hopefully you already have a strong story from when you did your essays.