Is My GPA High Enough for Round 2?

By - Nov 27, 09:05 AM Comments [0]

From The Staff of MBA,
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Is My GPA High Enough for Round 2?

Many candidates look back on their college GPA with regret and wonder, “Is my low GPA going to hamper my ability to get accepted to a top MBA program?”

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The answer to this question is candidate-specific and will depend on many factors, not exclusive your profile, your professional track record, and the schools that you are applying to. You can do a quick online search to find what the average GPA for matriculating students is for your top-choice business schools. This should start to give you a pretty good sense as to whether your will be considered a competitive candidate based on your GPA. But GPA aside, the overall profile of the candidate matters a great deal. At MBA Admit, when a candidate shows an obvious weakness in his or her profile, such as a low GPA, we help candidates to expound on any mitigating factors that may have existed to explain the lower-than-ideal GPA while concurrently working to shed light on the candidate’s most significant professional achievements and traits. With these tactics, we have helped candidates with GPAs as low as 2.7 gain acceptance to some of the world’s top MBA programs, including Stanford, Harvard and Wharton.

Thankfully, just about every MBA application will provide applicants a space to explain any “mitigating circumstances” and provide legitimate reasons as to why a GPA might be lower than the ideal. With a legitimate reason, chances of admission are not so far off. Start by considering whether any of these “mitigating circumstances” might apply to you:

Where did you go to college? If your school is notorious for being one of the toughest graders and is a top-ranked college, the admissions committee may be a bit more understanding of a lower-than-ideal GPA than an applicant who went to a lower-ranked college or a college that is known for handing out straight “A”s across the board.

What was your major? It is no secret that some majors are more difficult than others. In this case, many students in these often graduate with GPAs that are lower than candidates who graduated from “softer” majors. Admissions committees are sympathetic to this fact and will take this into consideration. For example, at many top colleges, students who graduate with electrical engineering degrees may have relatively lower GPAs than those graduating with an art history degree. If this was the case in your college, you can always point this out in your admissions essays.

What is your gender? Sorry guys – women do sometimes have an easier time in MBA admissions. This is due to the simple fact that women are greatly underrepresented in the business world, including the business school world. As a result, admissions committees value the presence of women in top MBA programs, and so you may see women receive a little more leniency on GPA.

Other mitigating factors may include whether you had to work your way through school to support yourself or your family financially. If so, admissions committees are often sensitive these sorts of hardships – paired with a well-written explanation.

Also ask yourself: Did you start off poorly in college and improve as you went along? Your improvement can matter a great deal, and you will want to highlight your improved performance in the latter college years as a true indicator of your abilities and potential.

These are just a few examples of mitigating factors that may allow for greater leeway when considering your GPA. If you are concerned about your GPA, think about how admissions committees will view your GPA, and what mitigating factors you could use to positively affect that view. This strategy will help both you and the admissions committee understand whether your GPA is a strength or a weakness in your MBA application.


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Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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