Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review Hong Kong, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting in Hong Kong for Top Business Schools.
Getting into grad school is difficult enough, but the process can be filled with added anxiety when you have a low GPA. It’s no secret, MBA programs are competitive and small differences can make a case for students in the acceptance or rejection stacks of applications. Despite a low GPA, at Manhattan Review, we believe there are ways to improve your application and we are going to list them here.
We all know that GPA is an indication of how one performed in college, not how one will perform in grad school. However, a business school can get a fair idea of how you might perform in an MBA program by simple correlation. To complicate matters, admissions committees look to GRE (Graduate Record Exam), which measures a variety of skills that are thought to predict success in grad school across a wide variety of disciplines. While the GRE is only one of several criteria that graduate schools use to evaluate your application, we believe it’s one of the most important. This is particularly true if your college GPA is not as high as you'd like. Consequently, we’ve seen exceptional GRE scores open up new opportunities for grad school.
Apply to Schools That Evaluate You as a Whole.
There are a good many business schools that evaluate applicants not just on GPA or academic performance during undergrad studies. They evaluate all the components of an application thereby giving you a better shot at admission. Here’s where you want to start the application process.
Check the School's Minimum Numbers.
The first step is finding out just what minimum GPA is required to get into a specific business school program. Schools often post the minimum GPA required to get a program. If not on the school’s website, you may want to contact Admissions for the information. More competitive programs will have a higher requirement while less competitive programs will have a lower one. Further, there are schools that may have exceptions to this rule so you definitely want to contact the department to find out.
Let’s say you have a low GPA but you’re outstanding in all other areas of the application, provisional admission could be possible. This may include stipulations regarding enrolling in the first semester and having to adhere to certain requirements. In any event, don’t accept a GPA number listed in a school brochure or on a website as the end of the world for you because of a low GPA.
Stellar Coursework Counts.
With a low GPA, it’s essential that you emphasize other important aspects of your application. Students with a 4.0 who packed their schedule with easy, low-level classes may have an issue when it comes to their coursework versus their high GPA score. The more challenging courses you took in your undergrad school may offer a picture as to why your GPA was low. Many applications have a section where you can list your rigorous and relevant coursework so take advantage of this venue to emphasize your stellar coursework.
Be Sure to Explain.
Provided that the reason for a low GPA is not laziness during your undergrad days, it’s essential that you offer an explanation as to why your GPA is low relative to the program requirements.
Firstly, you might want to include it in the statement of purpose (an essay on your previous experience and goals for your future career). Another option might be to highlight past challenges in the previous experience portion as they relate to your college grades. What you’re striving to do here is to paint a fuller picture about you as a student. A second option would be to have a former college professor discuss or write about your strengths and successes during your undergrad time.
Grants, fellowships, scholarships.
Graduate schools often offer admitted students funding. In many cases, however, funding is competitive and schools just can’t provide all admitted students with this kind of aid. In other instances, schools will not accept students if they cannot fund them. With a low GPA, you can bypass this obstacle and create a great application booster by obtaining funds in the form of fellowships, scholarships and grants. These kinds of funding sources, we know, are placed above just having the money to pay for tuition because they usually require a type of academic standard. Showing that you have obtained funding through competitive means is a terrific way to offset a low GPA.
In conclusion, if there’s an area in the application that allows you to select an interview, check it off. The interview will most likely be conducted by school alum.
Truly show whom you really are, what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you plan to do to achieve better academic performance if you are accepted to this particular program. You might explain what you feel are the reasons behind your low academic performance. If you properly address these considerations with a mature attitude, you will be able to demonstrate another side of the picture in your application, which schools always take into account. To round out a more balanced image, you can offer skills and character traits you gained through extracurricular activities or sports you played; hobbies that turned to passions – these activities and interests make you stand out from the pack of applicants.
All of these presented suggestions will require an enormous amount of discipline and commitment. Start the process early and do not allow your low GPA to drag you down in this competitive process. It’s your one chance to show schools that you as an individual have more to offer than just good grades. So go for it!
We recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of further useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from our consultants who have worked on the admission committees and evaluated candidates for top business schools in the US and in Europe. To arrange a free MBA candidacy evaluation please call +1-800-246-4600 or +1-212-316-2000. Good luck with your conquest for an MBA!