The Most Important Thing to Focus On When Applying to Business School With a Low GPA

08fba0fGoing into the MBA application season with a low GPA can be an unnerving situation. Your GPA was set long ago, you are years removed from your undergraduate days, and you know this statistic will appear in your applications no matter what. What can you do?

Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that your GPA is not evaluated in a vacuum – all GPAs are not created equally, so depending on the reputation of your undergraduate college, rigor of your major, and performance in your analytical courses (hopefully you have taken some), the perception of your GPA can rise or fall from the actual number on your transcript.

Assuming you actually have a low GPA – one that is “materially” below the listed average score at your target program – now is the time to take action. Now, these tips are really only potential options for those who have the time to follow them; if you are closing in on an application deadline, it will be difficult to make much of an impact here. For most, the two major options you have to address a low GPA are to take additional coursework and/or focus on your GMAT score.

As referenced earlier, your GPA is not an independent data point. It often is taken in concert with other factors, and the most impactful of these is one’s GMAT score. In the eyes of the Admissions Committee, the GMAT is similar to your GPA – both are seen as measures of your intellectual aptitude, and both are also considered to be indicators of your ability to perform in the heavily analytical first year of business school. So, if you are suffering from a low GPA, then the best action you can take to mitigate this red flag is to work on improving your existing GMAT score and aim to exceed the GMAT average of your target program.

For many, this may not be the best approach – a more obvious approach might be to take some additional coursework to counteract the low GPA. This is also something that could help, but when considering the more impactful approach (especially considering the time commitment each option requires) it can be difficult to do both for a working professional. This fact places even more importance on how a candidate prioritizes the limited time they are given during the application process.

Low GPA holders rejoice! All is not lost – prioritize your GMAT score to counteract that red flag and give your application a better chance at success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Cool MBA Tool: List of Online Pre-MBA Courses in Calculus, Accounting, Finance and Statistics

Applying to MBA programs and need to bolster your GPA?

The one issue I see with MBA applicants is their inability to properly account for their undergraduate performance:

  • Most think that an admissions comittee will gloss over a few low grades during the applicant’s freshman year.
  • Other’s believe that using the optional application essay to point out low academic performance or non-traditional undergraduate degree will suffice.

However, these applicants are missing the point.

  • Admissions committees are keen on the “show and tell” not just the “tell”. Most applicants miss the opportunity to bolster their undergraduate performance by taking recent courses relavent to the MBA experience.
  • Remember that demonstrated success in quantitative coursework is a strong signal to an admissions committee that you can handle the quantitative rigor of the MBA core courses.
  • Throwing gasoline on the fire, most MBA are torn between a number of current professional and personal responsibilities that push this priority to just below watching paint dry.

To help the prospective MBA get a grasp on taking an additional course(s) to bolster their academics, I have put together a list of online courses via Google docs.

  • Admissions committees want to see an A grade in these courses. They are less concerned about the school name and online/in-class format.
  • Click here: List of Pre-MBA Online Courses

Paul Lanzillotti