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.

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.

Don’t Obsess Over GMAT and GPA Numbers on Your MBA Application!

08fba0fEach year, the majority of anxiety for business school applicants tends to revolve around their GMAT and GPA numbers. Without fail, candidates drive themselves crazy wondering whether their GMAT score or GPA is high enough to gain admission to their target MBA program.

These MBA data points are, of course, just as important an aspect of the decision making process as any of the others, but many candidates obsess over the raw numbers in a disproportionate manner. No matter how many times an admissions officer speaks out publicly about the importance of the non-data elements of the application process the message often falls on deaf ears.

Admissions Committees generally want to know who you are as a person. If numbers were truly the only factor taken into consideration with MBA applications, then most top schools would have classes filled with students who have +700 GMAT scores and +3.5 GPAs, but this is not the case – just a quick look at the class profile of any top business school will confirm this.

What is far less common is the rare candidate who can connect their own personal story with the values and culture of their target program. Candidates oven undervalue how truly unique they are because the time spent undergoing the business school self-assessment process is often limited.

Now, letting admissions know who you are does not mean just talking about your job. Dive deeper and share aspects and anecdotes of your unique story that have defined your life up until this point. Tying such a narrative to your personal and professional hopes and dreams can be particularly powerful, and can truly help an applicant stand out against the competition way more than a +700 GMAT score can.

An applicant’s story – and being able to connect that personal narrative with a particular school’s values – is even more important for candidates whose GMAT and GPA are less competitive when considering school-specific averages. This personal approach is effective for all candidates, but is a necessity for candidates who may have obvious data-related red flags in their profile. By being authentic and creating a holistic application package, an applicant can convince the Admissions Committee that their low GMAT or GPA will not affect their academic experience (or the experiences of their peers) on campus or in career options in the future.

Avoid the mistake that many candidates fall victim to every year of obsessing over scores and understand that your numbers do not define you – the greater focus you put in sharing the “real” you in your application process, the better your chances of admission will be.

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 find more of his articles here.

How to Apply to Business School with a Bad GPA

08fba0fYour GPA is one of the most important evaluation criteria used by MBA admissions committees. Unlike the GMAT or your essays, improving this aspect of your application profile is not as simple as a test retake or an additional essay revision. The “in the past” nature of GPA scores means it is more important to confront a poor performance in this area than just simply ignoring the data point.

There are a few common threads that plague applicants who suffer from a low undergrad GPA. Let’s explore a few of these common reasons for a low GPA and some ways to explain away these red flags:

Maturity:

Did your GPA suffer due to a lack of maturity? Many applicants suffered through a low GPA during undergrad because they did not take the academic rigors of school seriously enough. Sometimes it is an issue with partying, other times it can be a lack of focus or prioritization on academia, but maturity is the root cause of many low GPAs coming into the application process. Addressing any maturity issues head on while providing clear examples that chronicle your growth into a mature candidate can help diffuse obvious concerns about your academic profile.

Outside Obligations:

Was academics not your biggest priority during undergrad? Many students have serious outside obligations that can negatively affect academic performance. From family commitments to work study, students in undergrad are confronted with many distractions than can result in low GPAs. Many of these reasons will immediately resonate with admissions given how relatable these obligations tend to be. The key here is to personalize these challenges and provide context for admissions so it is clear how these obligations affected your performance and whether they will affect your performance in the future.

Extracurriculars:

Did you have a major extracurricular commitment that affected your academic performance? Utilize these experiences to outline the time commitments of these obligations while highlighting the interpersonal skills developed and results achieved. This is a nice opportunity touch on the value of these extracurricular activities in spite of the negative affect they had on your GPA.

Academic Major:

Were you in an intense major? Did you change majors? Did you take on a particularly heavy course load? Not all majors and course loads are created equally – no excuses here! It is important to own up to your mistakes or issues, but if there are outside factors out of your control that are related to academics, don’t shy away from discussing them in your optional essays. Focus here on your major aspects that are atypical and would clearly have an affect on your academic performance.

Health

Did you experience any health concerns during undergrad? Health issues often do not easily show up via your academic record. Even with a withdrawal on your transcript, you will need to explain this via the optional essay. Honestly and vividly express the impact this had on your academic performance to really illuminate the challenges you experienced.

A low GPA is not a death sentence to your MBA dreams – follow the tips above to explain away your past GPA missteps.

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 of his articles here.