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How much do grades factor into MBA admissions?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by micbain, May 17, 2011.

  1. micbain

    micbain Senior member

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    I always hear people say that undergrad grades do not matter and its all about experience + gmat. How true is this for top 15 programs?

    I ask because I have an interesting situation. My cumulative GPA not the best due to my first year of uni which was horrible (C/C- average). I didn't attend class and generally was uninterested (arts student). Luckily I was able to transfer in the business program as I did well enough in econ/english/calc to get in and my last three years went fairly well (A-).

    I graded in 05, after which I did about 4 years of audit in a big 4, plus 2 years big 4 corporate finance (middle market m&a). Assuming I get a killer GMAT, am I good to go? Or is this GPA issue going to haunt me?

    Thanks!
     
  2. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    Grades and GMAT score are pretty much wha tthey look at. Certainly your work experience they will look at but the former is given serious weight.

    The top 10 will not admit you with a 2.0 GPA and a low GMAT score unless you have some legacy connection going.

    Remember your also applying against other applicants that may have stellar credentials and job history.
     
  3. Kajak

    Kajak Senior member

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    Don't know about MBA, but some grad programs only look at the last XX credit hours. Some med schools only looks at the last 60-90, Law is cumulative, some programs are only within their faculty/department.

    So look at each school for that, since your arts grades sucked but your last+relevant grades rock.
     
  4. level32

    level32 Senior member

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    If you have great essays that detail your hopefully awesome leadership/work experience, explain your GPA issue in optional essays, and get a great GMAT, I think you would have a shot. Since you're coming from CF, you're going to be fighting against a lot of guys with better grades and similar, if not better, work experience. Make sure to really get those essays right.
     
  5. Jbreen1

    Jbreen1 Senior member

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    What is your final cumulative GPA?
     
  6. micbain

    micbain Senior member

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    What is your final cumulative GPA?

    3.0 overall, 3.85 in final two.
     
  7. Patrologia

    Patrologia Senior member

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    As long as you are above the cutoff to actually get looked at (and 3.0 is usually high enough to not get tossed in the wastebasket right off the bat) then the fact that after a lousy freshman year, your more recent history is good will be an advantage. You are a person who doesn't give up, and does what is required to re-form yourself. Personally I like that better than the person who was a consistent 3.0 student all four years. I would assume that is even more true in a business school than it is in Humanities.

    Just my 2c.
     
  8. HRoi

    HRoi Senior member

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    This is not what you want to hear, but a 3.0 is a very tough sell to a top 15 program. Whats your GMAT?

    Also, work experience does matter, like others have said, but at this level I think it would need to be absolutely brilliant to overcome the GPA issue. Sorry and ymmv
     
  9. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    This is not what you want to hear, but a 3.0 is a very tough sell to a top 15 program. Whats your GMAT?

    Also, work experience does matter, like others have said, but at this level I think it would need to be absolutely brilliant to overcome the GPA issue. Sorry and ymmv

    +1. 3.0 is not good enough for top programs. It would take an exceptional GMAT or GRE score to compensate for the low GPA.
     
  10. pebblegrain

    pebblegrain Senior member

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    3.0 is not great but not really shite either. keep in mind that your competition is mostly like 3.4-3.8. From your work experience, remember, there are dozens of others like yours but WITH a 3.3 or higher. thats what you are up against.

    Also, I haven't come across any application (schools ranked 1-30) that ever mentioned that they separate out "in major" GPA vs overall, or last 2 years, etc. They might do it internally but I've never heard of it.

    its basically career progression, GMAT, essays, and GPA. those are the 4 things that applications put weight on, not in that order. Recommendations usually don't help or hurt, except bad ones hurt and good ones help (aka famous people).

    get all your other shit in order and you will have a chance...
     
  11. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    For reference, I got admitted to three top 20 schools with a 2.6 undergrad gpa this year. My work experience is interesting, but not amazing. My GMAT is fairly strong, but again, not amazing. So it's possible. Use the optional essay to explain that you acknowledge how low your gpa is and how immature you were or whatever your excuse is. There's no sense avoiding it, and you only get one chance to explain it.
     
  12. oman

    oman Senior member

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    bah

    this thread is reminding me that i recently dropped from a 3.3 to a 2.92 cGPA due to not handing in one blasted assignment
     
  13. Jbreen1

    Jbreen1 Senior member

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    For reference, I got admitted to three top 20 schools with a 2.6 undergrad gpa this year. My work experience is interesting, but not amazing. My GMAT is fairly strong, but again, not amazing. So it's possible. Use the optional essay to explain that you acknowledge how low your gpa is and how immature you were or whatever your excuse is. There's no sense avoiding it, and you only get one chance to explain it.

    Did you go to a top ranked school or graduate in a particularly hard major?
     
  14. Jbreen1

    Jbreen1 Senior member

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    bah

    this thread is reminding me that i recently dropped from a 3.3 to a 2.92 cGPA due to not handing in one blasted assignment


    Try and get it back to above a 3.0. I graduated with a 3.2 a few months ago, and was first pretty happy with it. Then I looked over my transcript and realized that my GPA could have been so much better if I didn't do some stupid stuff.

    There was a class I probably should have withdrawn from, but didn't. I also never looked into the different professors that taught the same course. I probably could have gotten some professors that catered to my work style better and/or were just easier in general. Also, I never took any classes as pass/fail. At my school you were allowed to take one class each semester as pass/fail and I never took advantage of that.
     
  15. pebblegrain

    pebblegrain Senior member

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    here's another tip: claw and fight to avoid Cs. Just keep up and get that B- or B. Cs (and lower) will kill your GPA and take forever to make back
     
  16. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I don't know about MBAs in particular, but our graduate office, which handles graduate admissions for all (and we are not a top tier program) will not admit anyone with a GPA under 3.0, except under exceptional circumstances, in which the departmental admissions committee makes a special request on that student's behalf. This means that you have to make the committee really, really, want you because you stand out in some way.

    Different faculty members look for different things when looking at a GPA. Like someone else indicated, some like to see evidence of improvement, but I am generally suspicious of GPAs that shoot up from the 2s into the high 3s. I much prefer to see incremental improvements, which tend to indicate that a student just didn't have the hang of things for whatever reason, but were always willing to put in hard work to at least get decent grades, and once they did get the hang of things, really took off. GPAs that are really low, and then become really high, I need to hear a compelling story to want to admit that student, much less champion that student. Something like a death in the family or some other tragic event would probably make me sympathetic.

    The explanantion that "I wasn't interested in the courses" would be an application killer for me and for many other faculty. That type of student is a huge crapshoot, and I am not going to take the chance unless they have shown some real initiative and achievement.

    I'd say that your best shot is to make a personal appeal, and by that, I mean, ask to speak to professors in person, traveling on your own dime, and be ready to really wow them. When asked about your GPA, take ownership of your mistakes and tell them that you made some bad decisions, but that you are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to show them that you are willing to work hard, including provisional admittance to a single semester, whatever.
     
  17. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    First, what's your actual GPA? I don't think you included it in your post. I think what LA Guy is referencing is the fact that for a lot of schools the Graduate School itself (not the specific program, ie business) has specific GPA requirements that if you don't meet, you can't be admittd.
     
  18. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    bah

    this thread is reminding me that i recently dropped from a 3.3 to a 2.92 cGPA due to not handing in one blasted assignment


    Don't do this man. It's a really stupid way of losing out on opportunities. 3.3 is good, but not stellar. 2.92 sucks. It's a red flag. If your explanation is "I didn't hand in an assignment", you are going to have absolutely no traction with future employers or graduate schools, who are going to think "lazy", "disorganized", "irresponsible", or possibly, all three.

    Go to your professor, and tell them that you will do anything to bring that grade up - hand in that assignment. Tell them that you'll put off everything else, and do additional work. You'll volunteer to do grunt work for free when you could be having fun to bring that grade up.
     
  19. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    First, what's your actual GPA? I don't think you included it in your post. I think what LA Guy is referencing is the fact that for a lot of schools the Graduate School itself (not the specific program, ie business) has specific GPA requirements that if you don't meet, you can't be admittd.

    Major programs are their own school and do not fall under "the Graduate School." This is good as the major schools are much harder to get into than the general "graduate school." Your MA is probably under the catch-all "graduate school" while law, business, and medicine will all have their own schools with their own rules. Other disciplines will vary by university, i.e. will be under the aegis of the graduate college at some places but have their own college at other places.
     
  20. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Major programs are their own school and do not fall under "the Graduate School." This is good as the major schools are much harder to get into than the general "graduate school." Your MA is probably under the catch-all "graduate school" while law, business, and medicine will all have their own schools with their own rules. Other disciplines will vary by university, i.e. will be under the aegis of the graduate college at some places but have their own college at other places.

    actually at my school, all of the programs fall under the same graduate school administration umbrella, ie: they aren't their own independent entity. this includes professional degrees and a medical school.
     

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