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Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA?

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Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Dec 2015, 04:28
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?

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Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Dec 2015, 12:04
gradeDrop wrote:
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?


Based on the details you gave, I don't recommend writing anything about your grades. Just to correct one point, only some schools have grade non-disclosure.

You are better off ignoring it since you have a good GPA overall and you don't have any extenuating circumstance anyway.

Good luck!
_________________

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Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Dec 2015, 13:35
PersonalMBACoach wrote:
gradeDrop wrote:
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?


Based on the details you gave, I don't recommend writing anything about your grades. Just to correct one point, only some schools have grade non-disclosure.

You are better off ignoring it since you have a good GPA overall and you don't have any extenuating circumstance anyway.

Good luck!


Hi Scott,

Had a quick question on the same topic.

I an Indian male applicant from a top Singapore University and will have 7 years of work experience at the time of matriculation in Investment Banking Technology and Business Strat Consulting.

I have a 740 (Q49, V41) on my GMAT, but unlike gradeDrop, my overall GPA was only 3.35, with a breakdown of 3.37, 3.38, 3.61 and 2.80 in the 4 years. In my final year, I did a Semester abroad in the first semester (grades didn't count towards my GPA) and missed the crucial recruiting period. This was second half of 2008 and by the time I was back in Singapore, the Financial Crisis had unfolded with all its might. Therefore, my focus in the last semester was almost entirely on recruitment (I had student loans to worry about upon graduation) and I did not pay much attention to my coursework and hence, the big GPA drop. When I was leaving for my Semester abroad in June 2008, we really had no inkling about what was going to hit us on our return. And recruitment in Singapore was hit pretty hard with a third of my batch graduating without a job upon graduation. Add to that nearsightedness, did not expect GPA to play a big role in anything other than recruitment for my first job (where the final semester GPA does not matter).

Do you think that I should use the optional essays to explain the fall in grades based on the reasoning above and my overall academic profile (GPA + GMAT)? Will really appreciate any advice!

Thanks a ton!

Best,
Fall2016Eddy

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Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Dec 2015, 17:56
PersonalMBACoach wrote:
gradeDrop wrote:
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?


Based on the details you gave, I don't recommend writing anything about your grades. Just to correct one point, only some schools have grade non-disclosure.

You are better off ignoring it since you have a good GPA overall and you don't have any extenuating circumstance anyway.

Good luck!

Thanks Scott! I appreciate the reply. I got similar feedback other locations...I think I was overreacting a bit.

Happy holidays!

Kudos [?]: 0 [0], given: 0

Expert Post
Admission Consultant
User avatar
G
Status: Boutique MBA Admissions Consulting from a Wharton graduate - Helping applicants get into top global business schools since 2008
Affiliations: Wharton, MIT
Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Posts: 1215

Kudos [?]: 131 [0], given: 3

Location: United States (NY)
Overall Client Admit Rate: 96%
Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Dec 2015, 19:55
gradeDrop wrote:
PersonalMBACoach wrote:
gradeDrop wrote:
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?


Based on the details you gave, I don't recommend writing anything about your grades. Just to correct one point, only some schools have grade non-disclosure.

You are better off ignoring it since you have a good GPA overall and you don't have any extenuating circumstance anyway.

Good luck!

Thanks Scott! I appreciate the reply. I got similar feedback other locations...I think I was overreacting a bit.

Happy holidays!


No problem. Happy holidays!
_________________

Personal MBA Coach
Boutique MBA Admissions Consulting
scott@personalmbacoach.com | +1 617 645 2424
http://www.personalmbacoach.com | http://www.personalmbacoach.com/blog

Sign up for a free consultation!

Image

Kudos [?]: 131 [0], given: 3

Expert Post
Admission Consultant
User avatar
G
Status: Boutique MBA Admissions Consulting from a Wharton graduate - Helping applicants get into top global business schools since 2008
Affiliations: Wharton, MIT
Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Posts: 1215

Kudos [?]: 131 [0], given: 3

Location: United States (NY)
Overall Client Admit Rate: 96%
Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 28 Dec 2015, 19:57
Fall2016Eddy wrote:
PersonalMBACoach wrote:
gradeDrop wrote:
I wanted to get some advice on whether to fill out the Wharton optional essay to explain an undesirable trend in my GPA.

To give more details – I ended up with a good GPA overall at a top engineering school (3.7). However, the splits show a bad trend: Freshman – 3.95, Sophomore, - 3.89, Junior – 3.60, and Senior – 3.41. Included are one B- and two C+s (everything else was B+ or better). The reason for the drop represents a shift in focus from spending 75%+ of my time on school, to focusing on my extracurriculars (President of 2 reputable clubs) and personal growth. I realized that these factors would help me get my target job, not having a 4.0 vs. a 3.7. This was a bit short-sighted when it comes to grad school, and I am worried that it will make me look lazy.

I should also note that I have other credentials which show my ability to handle the MBA course load (high GMAT, work at top consulting firm).

So, I would love to get your advice on how to proceed. When thinking about explaining this issue explicitly in the optional essay, I think the pros and cons are the following:
Pros: Acknowledges that the grades aren’t up to my standards, gives SOME explanation for the drop (business schools may respect my reasons since they all have grade non-disclosure for similar reasons)
Cons: Is not really an “extenuating circumstance” (e.g. family illness), may shine light on my grades when they wouldn’t have cared otherwise

Am I thinking about this the right way? How would you proceed?


Based on the details you gave, I don't recommend writing anything about your grades. Just to correct one point, only some schools have grade non-disclosure.

You are better off ignoring it since you have a good GPA overall and you don't have any extenuating circumstance anyway.

Good luck!


Hi Scott,

Had a quick question on the same topic.

I an Indian male applicant from a top Singapore University and will have 7 years of work experience at the time of matriculation in Investment Banking Technology and Business Strat Consulting.

I have a 740 (Q49, V41) on my GMAT, but unlike gradeDrop, my overall GPA was only 3.35, with a breakdown of 3.37, 3.38, 3.61 and 2.80 in the 4 years. In my final year, I did a Semester abroad in the first semester (grades didn't count towards my GPA) and missed the crucial recruiting period. This was second half of 2008 and by the time I was back in Singapore, the Financial Crisis had unfolded with all its might. Therefore, my focus in the last semester was almost entirely on recruitment (I had student loans to worry about upon graduation) and I did not pay much attention to my coursework and hence, the big GPA drop. When I was leaving for my Semester abroad in June 2008, we really had no inkling about what was going to hit us on our return. And recruitment in Singapore was hit pretty hard with a third of my batch graduating without a job upon graduation. Add to that nearsightedness, did not expect GPA to play a big role in anything other than recruitment for my first job (where the final semester GPA does not matter).

Do you think that I should use the optional essays to explain the fall in grades based on the reasoning above and my overall academic profile (GPA + GMAT)? Will really appreciate any advice!

Thanks a ton!

Best,
Fall2016Eddy


Eddy,

This is borderline but I would lean toward mentioning that. To be honest, it isn't really an extenuating circumstance since everyone in your class faced it, but it is at least an explanation. I don't think it will hurt you to include that.

Let me know if you have any other questions or want other help reviewing your applications.

Best,
Scott
_________________

Personal MBA Coach
Boutique MBA Admissions Consulting
scott@personalmbacoach.com | +1 617 645 2424
http://www.personalmbacoach.com | http://www.personalmbacoach.com/blog

Sign up for a free consultation!

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Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA? [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jan 2016, 10:13
Just be careful of creating a perception that you're paranoid over trivial things. Your gpa more or less speaks for itself unless you went from 4.0 to 2.8 in one semester due to mom having cancer while sister going through rehab.

I think you nailed it when you said that you don't want to draw attention to something that would otherwise be a non issue (especially with a 3.7 gpa, some would kill to have that).


"Station the low visibility detail, station the low visibility detail."

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Re: Should I write an optional essay to explain my decline in GPA?   [#permalink] 03 Jan 2016, 10:13
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