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# LOW GPA: What you can do

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MBA Section Director
Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 3650
Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
GPA: 3.8
WE: Marketing (Energy and Utilities)
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Kudos [?]: 13489 [16] , given: 1905

LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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12 Dec 2012, 11:36
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LOW GPA: What you can do

What is a low GPA?

Technically, the yardsticks for GPA are quite flexible and school specific and you should not bother about absolute high/low figures. What you should be concerned with is the median range of the GPA of the school you are applying to, and it’s always good to be on the higher side. However, that said and done, undergrad GPA, just itself, is not a complete piece of information as business schools look for your story, and not absolute figures that you have achieved in life. So a low GPA is definitely not a deal-breaker and let’s try to explain why.

Why GPA is important:

• GPA is a clear indication of how you performed in college in the past, so business school can have a fair idea of how you will perform in the school by simple correlation.

• Often, the progression in GPA values is more important than the mean GPA itself, as an ascending GPA is often regarded as a highly valuable asset in your profile. So even if you have a relatively lower GPA than the school median figure, the fact that you have improved throughout your college semesters mean that you have been persevering and consistent.

• Higher grades, especially those in quant subjects, is indicative of your reasoning abilities and acts as an assurance that you will be able to survive the academic challenges of a business program.

How to overcome low GPA in business school application:

• Ace your GMAT: Chances are that, if you are an international candidate, your high GPA might not be as valued as those studying in US/Europe. The GMAT is a common platform and your score is equally valuable as that for your international competitors and becomes the most effective way to stand out. A 700+ score is always helpful and especially if you get a score which is higher than the median score of the school you are applying to.

• Alternative transcripts and certifications: These are great add-ons to your academic evaluations. Of course, these cannot increase your GPA but it can surely act as a guarantee that you can do well in the MBA program. Make sure to take quant courses such as finance, accounting, calculus, probability and statistics and make sure you get all A’s. Community colleges or even online programs can come of help with these, but please be certain that alternative transcripts do not erase your GPA problem. See this link for a couple of courses to consider: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x459.xml#5
Cerifications such as CFA, PMP, CSQL can come in handy, but make sure they are strongly tied to your story and goals for them to make a stronger impact.

• Your story: As always, your story is your best bet when you want to overcome/compensate for your low GPA. Explore the reasons that led to your GPA problems and make them your strengths. Were you working somewhere part time/full time while you were in college? Were you involved in very strong extra curricular and achieved significant results albeit with some sacrifices on the GPA front? Were you into serious national level sports? Not only these can give you tools to defend your GPA but also they can act as incredible story telling topics which the adcoms will love, provided they are aligned with your short/long term goals.

Correlation Data with GPA and GMAT

 Undergraduate GPA range (10th-90th percentile) and median GMAT School Undergraduate GPA range (10th-90th percentile) Median GMAT Harvard Business School N/A 724 Stanford GSB 3.36-3.97 730 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 3.18-3.87 718 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) 3.1-3.86 710 Northwestern University (Kellogg) 3.19-3.88 712 University of Chicago (Booth) 3.08-3.9 719 University of California--Berkeley (Haas) 3.39-3.9 715 Columbia University 3-3.8 716 Dartmouth College (Tuck) 3.2-3.84 718 Yale University 3.1-3.87 719 New York University (Stern) 3.02-3.79 719 Duke University (Fuqua) 3.06-3.79 689 University of Virginia (Darden) 3-3.8 701 University of California-Los Angeles (Anderson) 3.2-3.86 704 Cornell University (Johnson) 2.78-3.77 691

More discussions on GMATClub about low GPA:

http://gmatclub.com/blog/2012/07/is-my-gpa-too-low/
what-are-my-chances-at-top-b-schools-lower-gpa-129420.html
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2012, 09:22
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Sure. My first GMAT attempt I broke the magic 700 so I thought I was set, but as you can see from all the red when I applied last year that with a low GPA a 700 GMAT just wasn't enough to make the cut. I also think that my applications probably weren't as polished as they needed to be but the combination of having both a GPA and GMAT well below the median was a big red flag.

So I went back to studying for the GMAT in earnest, bought some better study materials and took the Kaplan Advanced Online class. There really wasn't much in the class I couldn't have learned from the books but for me it added a timing and structure that I found helpful. Also the course has a great quiz bank with tons of customization options to help you focus where you need it. Second time around I scored a 750 and broke the 80/80 percentile split people love to talk about.

My undergrad degree is in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and I had 3 F's on my transcript. I would think that the admissions committee probably gave me a little more leniency considering all of my F's were in challenging engineering classes and I got 2 A's and a B when I re-took them. I used the optional essay for each school to address the F's on my transcript. I didn't make excuses I just told the truth; I over-extended myself in extra-curricular activities and lost focus on school work. My last year in college had my highest GPAs for any 2 semesters so that also probably played to my favor.

Even with the poor GPA and F's and I got accepted ED to Columbia and invited to interview at Booth. I think I would have been accepted at Booth as well but I withdrew my application after hearing from CBS. So even with a bad GPA it can be done. I'm also a white, American male in case that matters.
MBA Section Director
Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 3650
Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
GPA: 3.8
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LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2014, 06:21
3
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Expert's post
Assman wrote:
Here are my AUD$0.02… Why on earth does your GPA count towards anything for your mba application? Take me for example. My undergrad marks are pretty crappy…that’s because I was chasing girls, getting drunk and taking drugs every night. This was 6-7 years ago. So what…I was 18-22 and doing what an 18-22 year old does! Now does a b school think that I’m going to have the same attitude when it comes to my MBA? Given that I’m forking out$100k plus forgoing my lost income while I study? I don’t get it!

Also, building an alternative transcript by taking extra courses, subjects that you’ll learn in your mba, in the hope to score high marks and show adcom you’re not dumb…might be the most loser-ish thing to do! Go spend your time, money and effort and gain some life experiences and build yourself personally. That way you’ll at least have some compelling essays to write!

Feel free to give me another warning with no explanation if you don’t like this post!

Assman out!

Quote:
Why on earth does your GPA count towards anything for your mba application? Take me for example. My undergrad marks are pretty crappy…that’s because I was chasing girls, getting drunk and taking drugs every night. This was 6-7 years ago. So what…I was 18-22 and doing what an 18-22 year old does!

Chasing girls, getting drunk and taking drugs every night is not what every 18-22 year old does.
Your undergrad score has less importance as you get older. Undergrad scores for a 30 year old applying to business school will probably not have the same importance as for a 24 year old. The average age at HBS is 24-25. Would you discount the undergrad experience then? Because it is only 2 years out.

Quote:
Also, building an alternative transcript by taking extra courses, subjects that you’ll learn in your mba, in the hope to score high marks and show adcom you’re not dumb…might be the most loser-ish thing to do! Go spend your time, money and effort and gain some life experiences and build yourself personally. That way you’ll at least have some compelling essays to write

"Loser-ish" is quite a perspective thing, don't you think? Nobody thinks taking alternative courses and getting life experiences are mutually exclusive. If you have traditionally scored low in quant courses and your GMAT quant is not that great, taking few quant courses will probably help in dispensing the doubts in the adcom's mind about your analytical abilities. Also taking alternative courses which are exactly the same as things that you are going to learn in your B School may seem counter productive but it may be a pretty cool thing to do if you have the time. I hear B School is extremely engaging in general. It does not harm to have the basics in place.

Quote:
Feel free to give me another warning with no explanation if you don’t like this post!

Sure, when necessary. Thanks for being so compliant
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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04 Mar 2013, 12:34
2
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Expert's post
souvik101990 wrote:
iVoRy wrote:
I've some questions.
I've a low-ish GPA (3.09) with upward trend (2.83>3.42>3.7>3.83 for last 4 semesters) I've no excuse for my low GPA during Freshman and Sophomore years. That's mostly due to DotA Allstar and too much clubbing. At that time I didn't really care about GPA. and I also didn't do well in some quant classes (Stat-C, Fundamental Math-C, Finance-C+ but Managecial Accounting-A, Fundamental Accounting B+ and Business Quantitative Analysis B+). Do you think that will hurt my chances despite the upward trend?
Do you guys think I should have alternative transcript or just concentrate on the GMAT preparation?

PS. I've graduated from one of the most competitive B-school in Thailand, where only one of my classmate (from about 80 Marketing majors) manage to get more than 3.5 GPA. If that can help.

Yeah so upward trend is a clear winner
Also another important aspect is, what was your class percentile in terms of GPA?
I think if you haven't taken the GMAT yet, that is where you should start!

No question that a high GMAT will do a lot to mitigate a low GPA. To a lesser extent, the opposite is also true. And as mappleby and souvik101990 also point out, grade trends and the difficulty and relevance of cousework to MBA studies also is a factor. Your story also counts. Finally, as soumik notes, taking business classes and earning A's in them is a highly effective way to mitigate a low GPA, especially if getting a mid-700 GMAT isn't in the cards. This is particularly valuable if you don't have business classes on your transcript. A's show additional aptitude for business and the coursework you will encounter in business school.

For a good summary of how to handle a low GPA or low GMAT, please see "MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA" For more detail and suggestions on handling these and other weaknesses, please see "Overcoming MBA Application Weaknesses."

Best,
Linda
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Current Student
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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18 Dec 2012, 07:20
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It worked for me.
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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14 Feb 2013, 17:46
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chamisool wrote:
what about the opposite situation? low gmat but a high gpa?

This is pretty easy and a better situation to be in: re-take the GMAT. You can't change your GPA, but you can improve your GMAT score. Keep in mind you can even take it again after the application deadline because some schools will accept an updated score, and also, if you application is strong but the GMAT is lacking and you end up on the waitlist, providing a higher score is a good way to stand out from the WL pack.
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2013, 20:04
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I've some questions.
I've a low-ish GPA (3.09) with upward trend (2.83>3.42>3.7>3.83 for last 4 semesters) I've no excuse for my low GPA during Freshman and Sophomore years. That's mostly due to DotA Allstar and too much clubbing. At that time I didn't really care about GPA. and I also didn't do well in some quant classes (Stat-C, Fundamental Math-C, Finance-C+ but Managecial Accounting-A, Fundamental Accounting B+ and Business Quantitative Analysis B+). Do you think that will hurt my chances despite the upward trend?
Do you guys think I should have alternative transcript or just concentrate on the GMAT preparation?

PS. I've graduated from one of the most competitive B-school in Thailand, where only one of my classmate (from about 80 Marketing majors) manage to get more than 3.5 GPA. If that can help.
MBA Section Director
Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 3650
Location: India
GMAT 1: 760 Q50 V42
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WE: Marketing (Energy and Utilities)
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Kudos [?]: 13489 [1] , given: 1905

Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2013, 20:58
1
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Expert's post
iVoRy wrote:
I've some questions.
I've a low-ish GPA (3.09) with upward trend (2.83>3.42>3.7>3.83 for last 4 semesters) I've no excuse for my low GPA during Freshman and Sophomore years. That's mostly due to DotA Allstar and too much clubbing. At that time I didn't really care about GPA. and I also didn't do well in some quant classes (Stat-C, Fundamental Math-C, Finance-C+ but Managecial Accounting-A, Fundamental Accounting B+ and Business Quantitative Analysis B+). Do you think that will hurt my chances despite the upward trend?
Do you guys think I should have alternative transcript or just concentrate on the GMAT preparation?

PS. I've graduated from one of the most competitive B-school in Thailand, where only one of my classmate (from about 80 Marketing majors) manage to get more than 3.5 GPA. If that can help.

Yeah so upward trend is a clear winner
Also another important aspect is, what was your class percentile in terms of GPA?
I think if you haven't taken the GMAT yet, that is where you should start!
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LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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08 Oct 2013, 12:31
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Expert's post
sibanmishra wrote:
My GPA is 6.0(scale of 10).If i convert that to a scale of 4, GPA becomes 2.4 .Thats really bad.Also, If u consider my class, i will be in the bottom 15. But earlier to that, my All india rank (in 400s) and state rank (single digits) are really good and i went to one of the top 10 engineering college in India. So what are my chances of getting into a good bschool

Your high school performance isn't important when applying to a top masters program. Your grades, professional progression, and test score show your more recent academic ability as well as your ability to apply yourself in a tough academic setting.

That being said your ability to be accepted at a top program is not determined solely by your undergrad performance and I can't assess your profile based on what you wrote above. People are accepted to good MBA programs with low GPAs. Please click on the link in the preceding sentence for suggestions as to how you can make yourself competitive at good programs with a low undergrad GPA. Great professional progression, additional coursework with high grades, and a high GMAT go a long way towards mitigating a low GPA.

Also, while I agree that a 6.0 is a disadvantage when applying to top U.S. business schools I urge you not to translate it to the U.S. GPA system unless the school you are applying to requires you to do so. Allow the admissions directors to interpret it themselves. They know the different grading systems and schools, certainly the more prominent ones in India.

You may also be interested in It doesn't directly address your GPA question, but it does address several issues that Indian applicants face.

Best,
Linda
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Last edited by Accepted.com on 11 Nov 2014, 08:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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08 Oct 2013, 12:37
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Expert's post
krr15h wrote:
I'm from India and I got 73.28% in my undergrad. That's a really good score (first class with distinction) in India but on converting it to GPA, it becomes a paltry 2.66. One Booth alum I talked to suggested that I write an additional letter explaining how 73% is a good score in India and that very few people get a GPA above 3.0 (80%) in Indian undergrad courses.

Is this a good idea? Or is it over compensating?

As I wrote the previous poster, don't convert your GPA if you aren't required to do so. The admissions committees are very good at interpreting Indian transcripts from the better known schools. A First Class with Distinction is not the same a 2.66.

At the same time, especially if your school is not well know, I agree with the Booth alum that providing context for your grade percentage is an excellent idea. Provide your class rank. Provide the information about distinction an the percentage who get it. It's better to over-compensate in this area than risk an uninformed reader who is left wondering about your abilities.

However, if you combine the info you provided above (and you attended a rigorous program) with a good test score and good progression at work, I think you will present a competitive picture of your academic qualifications. IN other words, I'm not worried about it.

You may also be interested in It doesn't directly address your GPA question, but it does address several issues that Indian applicants face.

Best,
Linda
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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15 Oct 2013, 10:10
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acshen wrote:
You should list your class rank and a note about the conversion or your app will be thrown out.

Well as it turned out I calculated my GPA wrong .. sort of. Theoretically it is 2.66, with the formula GPA=[(percentage/20) -1]. BUT I also passed in the highest grade, "first class with distinction" (Think "summa cum laude"), and that makes my GPA 4.00 (theoretically of course ).

The lesson is to not convert anything into GPA. Just pass on your scores as they are and also tell the ad-com in which grade you passed. (Highest? Second Highest? Lowest?)
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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19 Dec 2013, 19:21
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Thank you for the response. Makes sense.
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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24 Dec 2013, 15:32
1
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Expert's post
NCK wrote:
I have seen many mentions of an alternate transcript, but not much about a masters degree.

Allow me to elaborate. My undergraduate GPA is a paltry 2.88 from a regional college. This was 7 years ago, and since then I have not only built outstanding credentials (right now lead an organization of 80), but have recently earned a MS in IT Management. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and have earned A's in MBA business statistics and microeconomics. I took these two classes specifically to bolster my MBA application.

As long as your MS is at a rigorous college, it will carry a lot of weight. It is an alternative transcript and a demanding one at that. The two A's in business related classes will also help as will your professional stature. Finally a high GMAT and context for your undergraduate performance will also help the admissions committee understand what happened then and realize that your more recent performance is a more accurate representation of what they can expect from you.

Best,
Linda
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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25 Dec 2013, 09:13
1
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Expert's post
NCK wrote:
Linda,

Thank you for your response. I don't know if I would classify my degree as "rigorous," but it was from a top-20 regional university (based off of US News Rankings). I know that's not be saying much, but it was not from a degree factory or community college either. As far as GMAT, I will take it on January 8th. My practice scores on 2 GMATPrep have been over 700, and if I don't get a 710 or higher, will re-take. I know there are many other elements to an application, but undergraduate GPA is clearly a weakness that I need to address head-on.

My point with "rigorous" was that it was from a real university and not from a degree mill. So check that box. Good luck with the GMAT!

I think you are taking the right steps to ameliorate the impact of your undergrad GPA. The last step will be providing that context that I also mentioned.

My final point is be realistic. Yes the elite schools may overlook your low GPA given a high test score, your masters degree, and strong experience. You are making the right moves, and if you want to apply to a few in that category, do so. However, they are tough. Also apply to excellent schools that support your goals and they may not be the elite of elite.

Best,
Linda
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Linda Abraham
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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10 Jul 2014, 21:00
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Expert's post
tanveerwithyou wrote:
What about credit courses offered by Coursera in Calculas [only 5 subjects available(newly introduced)] and credit course of 'Berkely Hass Extended online' offering grades (Very costly 800\$ per subject).
In case of Berkely if it is ok to join the online credit course, is it advisable to join graduate courses or certification courses or undergrad courses to prove about your competency inspite of low undergrad GPA (all offer credit and grades)?
Since I am not an US resident ,here, community college system is not prevalent.

If the online course is the best or only option, then take it. It may not be optimal, but it still shows that you are attempting to get ready for b-school and improve your quant skills. Obviously you want to do well in it or it won't mitigate the low GPA from college. It will just reinforce the impression made by your transcript.

If, however, you have a low GPA and a choice between taking an online course and a traditional graded course, then go with the traditional graded because that is most like what you will be doing.

Best,
Linda
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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10 Jul 2014, 21:04
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Expert's post
CW32 wrote:
Do b-schools take a look at Post-Graduate GPA's in addition to UG GPA's? I had a 3.0 GPA in UG from a top-5 school in Canada, which was mostly because I opted for essay courses wherever possible to build transferable skills. Essay courses are marked much harder than multiple-choice courses, with all of my professors stating that any essay receiving over 80% was worthy of being published in their eyes.

However, I did a 1-year Post-Graduate marketing course at a community college and maintained a 3.7 (it might be worth mentioning that my WE is all in marketing, and I'm going to be applying specifically for marketing).

Would this help the adcomm's in overlooking my 3.0?

The admissions committee will not overlook your undergraduate GPA from a top school, but they will notice that you got a 3.7 in your post-college classes. They will also realize that you did so presumably while working full-time. And they will also realize that most community college classes are not as demanding as classes at a top 5 school. So that market course will probably mitigate, but it won't erase. A competitive GMAT will also help.

Best,
Linda
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2014, 23:34
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Expert's post
tanveerwithyou wrote:

That depends. What's the purpose of your taking the classes? How you did in your previous classes? And if you have the pre-reqs for graduate classes. If you are taking classes to prepare for business school and create an alternative transcript because you don't have a background in business, you can take undergrad classes.

Best,
Linda
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LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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03 Nov 2014, 04:11
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Since they are both indicative of your academic performance, GPA can generally be supported by (and in some extreme cases completely substituted with) a good GMAT score. If you have got low scores on both, it is a sign to the admission committee that you may find difficulty to stay competitive from a courses/grades perspective.

In all cases, everything on the application can be forgiven if something else is awesome. The only thing, from I have come to know so far, that is hard to forgive is a poor extracurriclar record. Don't take that information for granted, but it seems that it's the only one thing all students across b-schools have in common
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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10 Nov 2014, 11:50
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KUDOS
Expert's post
jhonnytorrio wrote:
I want to know what are my options in b-school even if I get a good score. My main aim is to venture in the field of general management or consulting.

PS: Sorry. I can't quote your reply(It can't be done till I have written 5 posts)

Jhonny,

Please see Overcoming Weaknesses: Low Stats for several articles with tips on how to overcome a low GPA. Your grad GPA will definitely help you, as will above average progression on the job. Aim for schools where your GMAT is clearly above average and that support your goals. So if you get a 750 or something close to it, apply to programs like Darden, Ross, Cornell Johnson, Duke, Yale, and Emory.

Best,
Linda
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Re: LOW GPA: What you can do [#permalink]

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11 Nov 2014, 08:06
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Ok, So I have a low Undergrad GPA from Pakistan but then I have a really good MSc GPA which i did from England.

How much weight will my MS carry to offset my low Undergrad GPA?
I had a 2.82, should I apply to schools who admit a mean GPA of more than 3?

For your own good, I will have to be frank with you and tell you what I heared a previous HBS adcom once say. generally, they don't rule out UG's GPAs even when combined with a good MS GPA mainly because most MS grads get high GPAs; so UG GPAs definitely give a different way to view applicants' academic performance. However, it is far better to get a good MS GPA than nothing or even worse, a lower MS GPA. Going forward, you have to understand that if you are aiming for a top 10, 20, or even 30 (Judging by the school selections on your profile), you should not have any other major weaknesses beside your GPA.

I am not the most experienced in terms of applicants candidacy, but I can give you my suggestions based on what I learned from my story

1. You need to get a high GMAT score, higher than the average of the schools you are applying to. This, along with your good MS GPA, will offset you low UG GPA.
2. You must have a good reason (regardless if it represents your real goal) why you want MBA. You should clearly show to the school why you want to pursue your short-trem goals (after you told them what they are) and, most importantly, why getting an MBA is an amportant step to achieve that goal.
3. When you apply to a certain school, put some extra effort in searching what is special about this school and try to show it the school to, at least, prove that you are a good fit in terms of culture. I share a similar profile (I have a bad GMAT score) and I had to search a lot, visit the school and attend classes, and interview with students to write the most "made-for-this-school-specifically" type of essays. The outcomes were pretty satisfying I guess (I got in!).
4. After doing the above, spend every single bit of energy remaining in beefing up your extracurricular activities and community leadership. This is like an open-ended file that sets no limits to what you can impress the school with. Don't save any effort here.
5. If you feel like your struggling with the details of the above points or in the applicantions in general, it doesn't hurt to reach out for an expert. Consultants and people here can pave the road for you as you are dealing with many things all the same time.

all the best making the best out of your skillsets. Let me know if you have any question.
Re: LOW GPA: What you can do   [#permalink] 11 Nov 2014, 08:06

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