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Help for Applicant With Weird Background...

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Joined: 31 Oct 2017
Posts: 62
Location: United States (CA)
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Technology
WE: Marketing (Computer Software)
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New post 31 Oct 2017, 18:12
Hey there,

I'm currently applying for fully employed b schools that are in my home state of California and I'm concerned about my candidacy. On one hand, my candidacy is super strong, yet on the other hand, it's very weak.

Weaknesses/Question Marks:
2.66 overall GPA (3.0 first half of college, 2.4 second half of college) - this was due to me working a 40 hour a week internship for my final 2 years of college while playing Division I football. My junior year, I was in the hospital in the 3 weeks leading up to school when all of my muscles atrophied. Additionally, once I saw my career trajectory, I treated school as a minimum means to an end after my sophomore year. Now realize that was obviously not good
For the classes I didn't do well on in undergrad, I took summer classes and achieved a 3.2 across 5 classes and 3 institutions
Taking the GMAT 11/18, 1/9, and 3/3 so TBD on that score, last practice test a month ago was 600 but shooting for 660-710

Strengths:
Over 1K hours post grad volunteer experience (over 4 years)
Been studying/practicing cloud software since I was 10 (dad was early employee at notable startup that went public)
Mentored by VC's and CEO's from the tech industry
Involved with 2 IPO's and one acquisition by 24 (currently 26)
Grew a business line from nothing to $30M
Was the second marketing hire at 2 startups and built their email marketing and website infrastructure
Promoted 2 times in a 2 year period (have been out of school for 4 years)
Currently working with Microsoft to help them build their first retail ERP system
Started an 8 person health software company on the side in 2015 and created the structure for a health search algorithm and encrypted health passport. Currently have 2 customers, and achieved profitability
Took a business statistics class while working 3 hours away from the class and running a startup, but still earned an A this past summer
Chose to shoot for an MBA because while I can still continue my trajectory, I want to make sure my foundation is solid to sustain success

Does anyone have any tips, or frankly, any hope?
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Re: Help for Applicant With Weird Background...  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 18:18
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Hi jsmallwood82 ,

Welcome to GMATClub :)

I believe your strengths are way more than your weaknesses. If you could get a high Gmat score, you can very well prove your academic capabilities. Also, you can provide proper justification about your weaknesses in optional essay and support your point with a good Gmat score.

All the best :)
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New post 01 Nov 2017, 06:13
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You’ve strong, not-so-common work experience, which is a big positive. Explain the reasons you’ve mentioned for low GPA in the optional essay, and get a strong GMAT score.
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New post 01 Nov 2017, 18:20
Thanks guys! abhimahna said that I would likely need a 700 bare minimum. Do you agree 99Colleges ?
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New post 01 Nov 2017, 20:33
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I think you want the best score you can get; however, FEMBA/PT MBA are much less focused on the GMAT and more so on work experience - you can definitely make it shine with your profile. The overall score requirements are less. I hope it is not going to make you slack but I would not think that all is lost if you get a 650 or 670. However, the golden rule is that 700 is always shinier than 600.

P.S. You can also approach adcom for the programs you are looking at and get their input about your candidacy - they usually are pretty open about it and can give you some indication/tips. (It is less competitive and they are eager to help out a good candidate)

By the way, i think your profile is great!
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Re: Help for Applicant With Weird Background...  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2017, 15:05
bb thanks for the encouragement! You're right about talking to the adcom. The cool thing is many of the California adcoms have been very accommodating and accepting. But I always assume that they have to haha.
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New post 02 Nov 2017, 15:57
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You should be solid for almost any part time program if you score near or above a 700. Schools aren't super sensitive to gpa especially if you can demonstrate that is wasn't just from laziness. All of your activities during undergrad and your work experience should mitigate any concerns admins would have with your 2.6x
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Re: Help for Applicant With Weird Background...  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2017, 20:06
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jsmallwood82 wrote:
Hey there,

I'm currently applying for fully employed b schools that are in my home state of California and I'm concerned about my candidacy. On one hand, my candidacy is super strong, yet on the other hand, it's very weak.

Weaknesses/Question Marks:
2.66 overall GPA (3.0 first half of college, 2.4 second half of college) - this was due to me working a 40 hour a week internship for my final 2 years of college while playing Division I football. My junior year, I was in the hospital in the 3 weeks leading up to school when all of my muscles atrophied. Additionally, once I saw my career trajectory, I treated school as a minimum means to an end after my sophomore year. Now realize that was obviously not good
For the classes I didn't do well on in undergrad, I took summer classes and achieved a 3.2 across 5 classes and 3 institutions
Taking the GMAT 11/18, 1/9, and 3/3 so TBD on that score, last practice test a month ago was 600 but shooting for 660-710

Strengths:
Over 1K hours post grad volunteer experience (over 4 years)
Been studying/practicing cloud software since I was 10 (dad was early employee at notable startup that went public)
Mentored by VC's and CEO's from the tech industry
Involved with 2 IPO's and one acquisition by 24 (currently 26)
Grew a business line from nothing to $30M
Was the second marketing hire at 2 startups and built their email marketing and website infrastructure
Promoted 2 times in a 2 year period (have been out of school for 4 years)
Currently working with Microsoft to help them build their first retail ERP system
Started an 8 person health software company on the side in 2015 and created the structure for a health search algorithm and encrypted health passport. Currently have 2 customers, and achieved profitability
Took a business statistics class while working 3 hours away from the class and running a startup, but still earned an A this past summer
Chose to shoot for an MBA because while I can still continue my trajectory, I want to make sure my foundation is solid to sustain success

Does anyone have any tips, or frankly, any hope?


Hi jsmallwood82,

First things first, you have a differentiated profile, complete with leadership, entrepreneurial, and volunteering experience. Hence, a lot will depend on how well you utilize these experiences to create a strong application that highlights the competencies you have gained, and how you further wish to utilize the same in order to meet your career goals.

Yes, the GPA is a bit of a constraint. However, this may be addressed in an appropriate manner in the Optional Essay. Schools tend to understand and respect genuine reasons. Besides, a strong GMAT score (preferably above the 700 mark), coupled with a stellar application will reduce the influence of your GPA on the overall application :)

We strongly recommend that you now focus on building a strong case duly emphasizing the unique points in your profile. The rest will fall in place :)

All the best!
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Joined: 31 Oct 2017
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Location: United States (CA)
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Re: Help for Applicant With Weird Background...  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2018, 18:04
Hello there, I have a bit of an update. I'm interested to see if anybody's viewpoints changed...

So even though my GPA was still bad, I learned last week that I actually had a cumulative GPA of a 2.75 in undergrad, not a 2.66.

When I looked at the supplementary classes I took at 3 different community colleges, including one this past summer, my average GPA was around a 3.3. The business statistics class I took over the summer, I earned an A in (97%).

I took the GMAT in November and got a 610. Not great, but an improvement from the 490 on my first baseline attempt. I am taking a second attempt this weekend.

I got really good recommendations. One from my mentor, a VC who was one of the the main investors in GoPro, Crocs, etc. And one from my manager without talking to my mentor or me, echoing many of his sentiments. My mentor explained how he had known me for 20 years and watched me develop into a strong leader and entrepreneur. My boss explained how she saw me as a partner, how I transformed my day job into a digital first business, and how I reduced costs by a factor of 10.

Finally, I wrote my essay from the heart. I mentioned how I knew I wanted to be in technology after meeting Bill Hewlett of HP at age 7, which caused me to focus on being a technology CEO. With the mentors I had growing up and going to private school, I had a great start. I also explained how in college, which took me from my privileged background to the "hood" of DC (true story), I was doing well in school until I got my first tech job with a company I had been involved with since I was 10, and IPO'ed with at 16. I mentioned how after getting that job and knowing that I would have a similar job out of college, I mentally checked out. Going to the hospital for 3 weeks and playing college football didn't help either.

To close the essay, I mentioned how my flippant attitude towards school may not have changed the dramatic uptick of my career, but being transported to an opposite environment from the one I grew up in and realizing that I was wasting privileges many would die for through my experiences and friendships with people who grew up in the slums, I was hoping to get an MBA to better refine my skills and hopefully share my experiences to help create a less divisive society. Additionally, I wrote that I hoped my story would help empower other African Americans like me to not be so scared of the elite business world.

Ultimately, the (honest) truth I tried to convey in my application is that I grew up privileged, took it for granted, and through many bumps and bruises, realized that success wasn't just for my benefit - it was to better society as a whole and hopefully inspire individuals to be who they are meant to be.

Any thoughts or feedback? I'm applying to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and USC.
Re: Help for Applicant With Weird Background... &nbs [#permalink] 09 Jan 2018, 18:04
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