What GPA Should You Report in Your MBA Applications?

08fba0fThe question of what GPA an MBA applicant should report is, at first glance, one of the simpler questions one would expect to receive during the business school application process. However, year in and year out, many applicants struggle to sort this question out.

For those who have received only one degree from the one university, this aspect of the application process tends to be pretty straightforward – your GPA is the number listed on your transcript and that is the number that should be used.

For those who tend to have confusion over what GPA to report, the challenge usually stems from having multiple transcripts from multiple schools. This is primarily the result of one or more of the following four situations:

Transfers:
Did you transfer from another college? Having two transcripts from two different schools can be the source off a lot of confusion. Generally, the degree-granting institution takes priority here, but if you transferred from a similarly-structured university, your GPA from your first school can also be factored in. The key here is that only courses that gave you credit toward your first bachelor’s degree count.

Study Abroad:
Did you study abroad? Most study abroad courses tend to be pass or fail and usually do not influence your GPA too much, given there cannot be a grade point associated with this result. Generally, your study abroad transcript is not necessary to include in your application package, but if you plan to discuss your study abroad classes elsewhere in your application, it may make sense to include your study abroad GPA as well.

Non-Degree Coursework:
Have you taken coursework in the past that did not relate to your degree? Many MBA candidates take classes online or at a community college after they graduate from undergrad to bolster their application profile. If you have taken such non-degree classes, you should include the transcripts from them in your application, but don’t worry about incorporating this performance into your reported GPA.

Graduate Degree:
If you have secured a graduate degree prior to applying to business school, your GPA cannot be included in your MBA application as part of your reported GPA. Typically, there will be a separate area in your application to report your graduate GPA, but don’t look to combine this score with your undergraduate GPA. Remember, the only courses that count here are the ones that gave you credit towards your first bachelor’s degree.

All of the elements above can be positively associated with your academic aptitude, so just because they don’t feed directly into your reported GPA does not mean they are irrelevant. MBA programs will take a holistic look at your performance across these various touchpoints, as well as at the type of coursework and trends within your reported GPA.

The key with any of the situations above is to follow the guidelines of the school that you are applying to – many schools caution against calculating your GPA on your own, while others encourage it. You generally want to avoid converting your college’s scale to a different GPA scale, as that can open up even more confusion. Assume that the Admissions Committee is experienced with school-specific grade scales from all over the world, so defer to their expertise in this matter. Make sure you are clear on the GPA reporting protocol for the schools you are applying to, and don’t be afraid to use the optional or additional information section to address any potentially confusing aspects.

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 FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ 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.

Why It’s Hard to Be a Poet in Business School

Make Studying FunOnce MBA classes start, they move very quickly, and although you’ll want to spend a lot of time outside of class trying to understand the new concepts you are learning, you won’t have much time. For someone who doesn’t have a strong quantitative background, taking statistics, accounting, and economics at the same time can be quite challenging. If you’ve never seen a financial statement or learned how to do derivatives, you might want to consider doing some work before you get to campus.

Take a look at what classes you’ll need to take over the course of your MBA program. These will likely be similar across programs, so you can figure out which classes will be most helpful for you to take at your local community college, extension program, or online before school begins. If you’ve never taken economics, pick up a book about demand curves and learn how businesses determine how much of a product to sell. If you haven’t taken a math class since your freshman year of college, take at least one before you get to campus.

With a basic understanding of statistics, accounting, and economics, you’ll be much more successful during your first year of school, and you’ll also be a great resource to your classmates who might be struggling a bit more than you. Recommended classes to take are business statistics, financial accounting, and microeconomics, but if you only find “accounting” or “statistics” courses, those will still be quite helpful.

Taking on extra quant-based coursework might seem like a daunting task while you’re working full time, studying for the GMAT, and writing essays for your business school applications, but it is definitely worthwhile – just think, you’ll be this busy if not busier in business school, so you might as well start now and learn how to manage your time. Those quant classes will also help you prep for the GMAT, so it’s really a win-win.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed during your first few weeks of school, just remember that you’re not alone. There will be a lot of people in your class who come from a humanities background, and you will still have a lot to offer your classmates, even if it is not through your accounting or statistics expertise.

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.

Colleen Hill studied Middle Eastern and North African Studies at UCLA before heading to Michigan’s Ross School of Business to pursue international development consulting in Africa. She’s very happy she took accounting and statistics in the year before she moved to Ann Arbor.

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