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Journey to my MBA

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Low GPA stories

Here is a compilation of low GPA stores from BusinesWeek.

Hey, my GPA was considerably less than yours (around a 3.0) and I still was accepted to Kellogg. I had a high GMAT score and I broached the subject during my optional essay. About me -- I was also a math major and took graduate level classes as an UG. I also had steady extracurriculars while participating in ROTC training all four years of school. I only had one bad academic year and my GPA for the other three was around a 3.3. Still, I am not "proud" of my GPA and was honest about the issue in my essay -- specifically I stated that I just don't identify with the person who performed to that level anymore. I used my subsequent GMAT score, quant background, and work experience to show that I have the brains and the discipline to excel in any future academic endeavors. I also pointed out that following graduation from UG I was recognized as an honor grad during army officer training, etc. Hope this helps. FYI, I would be happy as a pig in sh*t if I had a 3.2 -- it's all relative :)
2/15/06 Brewskind

I have 2.6 in engineering and I will attend Wharton in August. I did not build alternative transcript, but I did write an optional essay explaining why my UG record is not a representative of my potential and intellectual ability. mid 700 GMAT, 3.5 WE in 2 countries, speaking 4 languages, almost non existent EC 2/15/06 teladan

I wasn't even close to a 3.0, and I got in several top-10 schools. You'll need to show that you've done a lot of other significant activities, have a good leadership history, and that you can bring a unique background to the school. A high GMAT can also compensate for a low GPA, assuming your undergrad was at a really good school. Personally I feel like the GMAT is more important to most schools than GPA, but in my case, they definitely looked at my complete application. Just recognize that your GPA is a weakness, and focus your essays on your strengths. 2/15/06 Itcolt1
Got a 3.3 GPA. Lousy transcript. C- in Intro to Calc. The only Math or Econ Class I took. 720 GMATs. At Wharton now as a 1st year. Got a summer job offers at Mck/Bain in San Francisco office, two multi-billion $ hedge funds, and 1 large PE shop. Incredible recruiting year with all my friends with multiple offers. The Wharton name carries tremendous clout to recruiters. Mck and Bain asked for my GPA and still gave me offers. Go figure! They really don't care about GPA, once you get in. 2/15/06 Whartonite07

I had a 2.8 (and 1 failing grade) and I just got into Ross. Here is what I did to mitigate the negative effects of my GPA;
1. got a high GMAT (710)
2. Developed an alternate transcript (took 3 business classes and got A's)
3. Addressed in the addtional info essay (explained that my GPA is nobody's fault, but my own, and said that XYZ proves that it will be better this time)
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an application, but I think these above points (among other things) serve to mititgate a low GPA. I had a 2.8 and a failing grade and I just got into a top 10. It can be done. 3/7/06 cdubya

Hi, I have a 2.8 GPA 690 GMAT and got accepted in Columbia.-3/7/07 mjd903

I got into Wharton with a less than stellar GPA. And have a job at Goldman for the summer so it can be done (I did have a high GMAT and took 4 extra classes and got As to build an alternate transcript)... 3/7/06 natashaMBA

I had a 2.8 undergrad GPA. I balanced this out with a high GMAT and high MS GPA. I am in at Kellogg and Chicago. 3/8/06 Westernkhan

Currently in at Darden, interviewing at Yale, waiting from Tuck and Haas. Due to failing not one but two (!) classes freshman year, I sport a very odd 3.2 from a good but not great small college. I stressed in the optional essays that I learned from my failures, and put up an increasing GPA each year after that. (Had something like a 3.6 the last two years.) I also scored solidly on the GMAT (ever so slightly above median top-10 scores), and, I believe, most importantly, completed a four-course certificate program at Columbia while working full-time last year. Hopefully the 3.8 I racked up there makes a convincing case that I'm no longer a volatile undergraduate hippie who can't be bothered to attend class. 3/8/06 KeithHScott

Not really a success story, but I think I'm a pretty strong applicant despite a 3.04 GPA in CS at a good engineering school. First 2.5 years I had a 2.7, then for the last year and a half I had a 3.5. Had 740 GMAT. Also some really cool work experience, as I crewed on a yacht that crossed the Pacific after college. My dings stem more from the 2 yrs W/E in corporate america rather than gpa. 3/9/06 110th st

Another low GPA success story....I got into Kellogg with a GPA of 2.7 (Ivy league school). GMAT was around the average for Kellogg. 3/21/06 hekmatyar

2.9 gpa. downward grade trend. major gpa something like a 2.3 (obviously did not highlight) econ (which apparently for everyone else was an easy major) no alt transcript. 730 gmat (gave up a few months of life to study for it) Accepted at wharton. is it just me? seems like wharton's the way to go if you have low gpa but story to back it up. all i can say is... there's hope! at the end of the day, you want them to look at who you are, not what your stats are. i was really discouraged when i started out, specially from reading all these forums. but at the end of the day it's really letting what you're all about shine through, not about contorting yourself to fit what you think they want. of course you do that strategically, but really, the process is not as fake and superficial as people on these boards make it out to be. they really do want to get to know you! 3/21/06 akanelo

Hi everyone, I fit in this category, I had just below a 3.0 from a solid undergrad school. I have almost 4 years of work experience and I took courses at a nearby community college to make up for my transcript. My quant score on the GMAT was good too. I am in at Darden and currently waitlisted at Chicago. I was waitlisted at Cornell but I'm going to take myself off. I think that it is definitely something you can overcome, but you need to act on it outside of the workplace in my opinion. My biggest piece of advice is that you can make up for weaknesses in the past, but you cannot make up for sloppy essays. Do not take the writing aspects of the application lightly, it will hurt you more than poor stats. 3/22/06 ScoobySteph

I haven't finished my quest yet, but I have had some success thus far, so figured I'd share... 2.46 ugrad Ivy CompSci, 710 GMAT (77% Q)
My work experience has been really strong (I'll have 7 yrs upon enrollment) with 2+ years of management experience. Been doing volunteer work for last 2 years and have been an electronic music DJ as a hobby for last 6. Start picking up extracurriculars ASAP if you don't have any. They make great essay topics, too, IMHO. Interviewed at Wharton, Columbia, and MIT in R1. Was really hoping for the MIT one, but got the ding. I took 3 classes (calc, accting, stat) and got A's and A+'s in them prior to applying. I think this was what prevented me from being "dead meat" (gotta love Sandy). I HIGHLY recommend you do this if you had a poor GPA. Also spent a ton of time on my essays and really tailored them to the specific schools. You really need to show you are extremely interested and knowledgable about the school, but its even more important if you're not one of those 800 GMAT / 4.0 braniacs who work at McKinsey and climb volcanos in their spare time. Just found out I was waitlisted at Yale (with no interview....weird) and so now I am enrolling in another class (econ) at UCLA Extension (online) to show that I'm still committed and that I am still going to do well in my classes. And who knows, I might get some love from HBS (although it hasnt happened yet), this whole process is such a black box I don't know what to expect any more! Hope this helps someone out there. And don't give up hope w/a low GPA. You absolutely should apply, but plan on working twice as hard as aforementioned brainiacs :) The way I look at it, they worked harder than me as a ugrad, and now I am paying for it. As a side note, having to bust my butt also made me constantly confirm that I really wanted to do this. 3/22/06 shifter0


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, just to add one more-2.6 GPA and in at Chicago, CBS and LBS.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a first-year at Columbia College, have a GPA of 2.65, but have only taken the hardest classes possible in the Physics department. Am i fucked?

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you take the hardest classes in first year?

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a 2.6 gpa from Tulane. I started engineering and then went finance. I accept that I have a low gpa, it is no ones fault but my own, and I know it is not an accurate reflection of my performance...I had a very hard time adjusting to college and dealt with several personal issues.

It is definitely a negative mark, but I think it can be overcome...I want to go to a good graduate school, so I have my work cut out for me.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all who have posted stories... THANKS!!! Feeling better about my chances already.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks everybody. Can you please let me know how to take courses and build an alternate transcript to overcome the low GPA?
Which courses are most suitable?

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I would like to throw a twist out there... I have a 3.55 GPA but a very low GMAT score and it's deadline time. I have already submitted apps with the low GPA what are my chances at UCI?

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help here!!

School: Rochester Institute of Technology
Major: Electrical Engineering
GPA: 2.8
GMAT : (Haven't completed)
Work experience: Approximately 1 year (Consulting as a business analyst on a project with Abbott - private consulting firm)

My Question > I know I have several years to go and what steps do I need to take to beat the 'low gpa'. I will crack the GMAT with +750, but then what then? Is the consulting firm more important than the projects as a consultant?

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the best way to develop an alternate transcript? Feedback would be great

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get into the MBA program but a very low GPA, 2.2! Yuck-I know! But what are my chances!? High GMAT score? Anything else? I hold a great career, working for a high tech firm as a manager for the Engineering Services Dept., making nearly 6 figures! I graduated in 2005 with an undergrad degree in Bus. Management and now want to go back to school. How badly will that GPA hurt me?

5:13 PM  
Blogger tao said...

Hi guys, I really need some help here. First, I just graduated from Stony Brook University(Econ Major) with a 2.66 GPA. I know I really should have studied a lot harder than partied a lot harder.... I have been looking for a finance related job, but no luck. I feel like I really need to go back to school to do well and get my MBA. But just look at my GPA, no school will accept me, and I cannot get a decent job to back me up. what should I do?

5:54 AM  
Blogger AH said...

Are you guys with low gpa's all engineering majors?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Low Undergrad GPA's, from top engineering schools don't hurt as much, i.e. 2.5 from MIT, CMU, Berkeley, Cal-Tech, Stanford or a place of that caliber.
You MUST have a damn strong essay (don't be afraid to talk about your GPA. but don't dwell on it) especially if it was like 5 years ago. Well above averages test scores, a 700+ doesn't hurt. Take a couple classes at full time colleges if you can. Stay away from community college, you have a 4 year degree, why would you go to community college. A strong post college resume will help too. Stuff like promotions at work. O, and if you climbed everest, I would definitely talk about that, the would eat that shit up. Key is to be ruthless, prove to them that you can hack it, that you have a hell of a lot more offer more that that 4.0 number cruncher who is socially inept. May sound like a broken record, but its true. You have to suck their eyes away from the G.P.A..

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i am at georgia tech with a gpa of 2.8
do u think i can get into wharton for mba

3:14 PM  
Blogger Petar said...

when a few of your said "alternate transcript" what does that mean?

i'm a comp sci major who just completed a bachelor degree and have a low GPA... if i take an extra term to improve it -- can i take any courses? can i take only 3 (min for full time)... do they have to be upper year courses? etc.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bit of hope you offer here.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm starting at Ross this year, and I had a 2.9 GPA undergrad including a semester on strict academic probation where I failed a class and received two Ds in my others.

The answer to your questions is YES you can get in to any school, but in order to do that, you have to be able to overcome the concern about your lower GPA and pair that with a well-written application that is strong in all other areas. B-schools expect flaws in people's backgrounds....that's how we all learn lessons, after all, and they love seeing that you've grown and have something solid to offer.

Have faith in yourself, work hard, and good luck!


2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

guys, i'm in the middle between two options, i'm majoring in Marketing with a 2.7 GPA but i'm sure if i stay in marketing, i'll raise it up (the classes seems to be easy); from the other hand i scared i wont get a good paying job and i want to switch to Finance, but that will make me work harder while having a familly to take care of, and this will lower my GPA. what are my chances a fair gpa in marketing that show good grades at the end of my degree or a Fin with low gpa and creepy grades at the end. also, i'm North african (Morocco), will that help?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alternate transcripts????how ??
business classes???
Can you please throw some light on it.......Please

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm from india with 3 yrs bachelors in business background and i got below 3.0 gpa at pre-mba i.e 3months foundation course of 9 credit hours from US.Is there chances to get mba admission?

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a declining gpa from Kelley School of Business undergrad. Starting from 3.7 to 2.8. I was the VP of many organizations and on the board of several others. Now I'm on the board of directors of one of their alumni chapters. I am looking to get into an IVY league school starting fall 2010. Would it be beneficial to get a Masters first (certainly do extremely well) and then go back and apply with an IVY? or would it be sufficient enough to apply with a 700+ GMAT?


9:45 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

– I have a GPA of 3.1 from a top 100 school. My Bachelors is a BFA in graphic design of all things. Hardly any math in college. I did this while working 30 hours a week in my last two years of school, married, with a toddler. My BFA program was highly competitive.

– I have a 630 GMAT (93 percentile in Verbal!)

– I have international experience, I lived in South America for a few years serving as a community ambassador.

– I am a native English speaker with a fluency in Spanish.

– My work experience has been narrow. I have worked as a Graphic Designer/Art Director for 8 years. The last year of which I started up my own business. I published a magazine and website, sold advertising and managed a creative, editorial, and sales team. This experience is what got me thinking about an MBA.

– I am involved in community youth sports, I have coached baseball, basketball and soccer for three years.

– I have ecclesiastical leadership experience.

I live in Arizona and since I now have more kids, I am only considering local MBA's ASU's Carey, and Thunderbird.

I am wondering if my case would be a competitive one at a top tier school. I have noticed that UNC's GMAT's are slightly lower for a top tier school. Also curious about Fuqua and HAAS.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently graduated with an economics degree and a 2.3 gpa from the University of Texas at Austin. I could not have cared less about school when I was 18 years old and failed every class except for one D my first semester. Looking back now it is hard to imagine how I could have been so irresponsible, but I honestly don't regret it all that much. However, it does stink that I have to compete against people that made good grades all through college when thinking about getting a MBA. I feel like my ONLY chance to get in a good program would be to dominate the GMAT and have excellent experience. Of course I have to find any kind of job before I can gain excellent experience, stupid economy. I am studying for the CFA right now so I am hoping that will help me find a job and the rest will be history.

6:48 AM  
Blogger vinay said...

k all you guys who made in to the ivy league schools I have something to ask exactly is our GPA calculated ?i stay in India and i feel that education here is waay tougher than education in the US .I have a 70% in my first 2 years in under graduation but i feel that if i had studied the same course in the US i would have scored a better GPA ..i mean getting a 70% in my engineering course here is tougher than getting 70% in an engineering course in the US so if i convert my percentage to GPA it comes to around 1.5 which is reaaaly baaaad but i cant help that because the course here is grinding and the highest anyone can get is 89% so there..what am i supposed to do is my mark good or bad?

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 2.8 GPA from an engineering school. Yes, I screwed up.

I've come to realize that after reading the posts and the questions, I'm not concerned about my pathetic GPA.

With 4 years of work experience in great firms, speaking 3 languages, being an endurance athelete, a social life, volunteer experience, a failed business I tried to start, AND knowing where my short/mid/long terms goals are, getting into the top US or OUS schools can be done!

Oh...that GMAT! I'm going to make it happen.

Good luck to all of you!

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have you all beat. I had a 2.29 GPA and my major was Geology. Later in life I returned to graduate school. I was allowed in the graduate school but I only graduated with a MS in environmental geology with a 3.25 overall graduate GPA. I never found a job as a Geologist, even to this day, some companies request my 1985 transcripts and I am rejected for the jobs because I flunked Calculus II, foriegn language, mineralogy, and regional geology the first time I took the courses. I enedede up with Ds in foreign lanugauages and calculus II. I am now 51 and feel as if I am a failure in life, even though I did graduate with a BS and MS, but I have always been underemployed.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a 4.0 GPA and a 740 GMAT, but I probably won't get in because of all of the accepted washouts? Remember your luck could be another's misfortune.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2.25 GPA and 11 years of great experience including management. What can I do?

6:09 PM  
Blogger jello said...

like many others, I have a low undergrad GPA and I have my own kind of reasons for that. I hated my major, which was chemcial engineering but in my country you can not change ur major easily. after graduation I changed my job to sales and marketing including getting a degree in Marketing. I took GMAT and I got 530, I'm planning to retake. I dont want to go to top 20 programs, any suggestion for me?I have no chance to make an alternative transcript either.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you all realize no one has answered your questions. allow me.

get a gpa 4.0 or better.

become a CEO.

start a business school that admits students with terrible grades, excuses, and no work experience.

5:10 PM  
Blogger kegewe said...

I've spoken with admissions directors at a few schools, and they all tell me that taking extra classes after your undergrad is a waste of time. Personally, I have a 2.6 from Tufts and a 750 GMAT. I spoke with ppl at Stern and mentioned the extra classes idea and they said not to even bother. GPA was 3+ years ago. they are more interested in what you've done since. It's not like law school, its less of a numbers game. They are looking at it more qualitatively than quantitatively.

8:53 PM  
Blogger nidhi said...

I scored 60% in B.Tech in Information Technology in year 2004. What score in gmat would help me to enter in some business school.

4:07 AM  
Blogger ahmed said...

I have gone through this blog. I found it very interesting and helpful. Nowadays I am completing my online degree course from home.
So this blog really doing great for me.

Bachelor,s Degree

11:39 PM  
Blogger Low GPA MBA said...

I've summarized my experience with having a Low GPA and applying to MBA Programs on this website:

Hopefully, people will find it useful!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applied and got into Berkley, Chicago, UCLA. 2.9 undergrad gpa from ivy school, econ major. I also took 5 classes at UCLA after undergrad and maintain an A average. I highly recommend using the optional essay to explain. Btw, I didn't get a spectacular gmat school (below 700), but I tend to write well, so I think my essays helped. I have 7 years work experience, so I think at that point, it's more effective than the undergrad gpa.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Low UG GPA, strong work experience.

Q: I am currently taking a 9 week GMAT prep course and it has been a tremendous help. Would anyone suggesting getting an adviser such as MBAmission? They're pricey, but I'm more motivated than ever to get into a top MBA program.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not going for an MBA, but...I graduated from ECU in 1996 with a 2.04 GPA; dropped out the last semester and four Incompletes turned into four Fs (still had enough credits to graduate). Took the GRE last year (2009, actually), 740/710/5. Wrote my ass off in a Statement of Purpose, explained the low GPA from 15 years ago. Between then and now, I've spent the entire time in the US Army and I've published three articles in professional philosophy journals. I'm in the MPhil program at Columbia right now. It is possible.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, I just want your input. I am an undergraduate student right now majoring in Finance. My GPA is 3.17. I was initially premed and received C's in only my chemistry courses.

However, this semester was awful for me. I suffered from depression which I am still overcoming. I lost my grandmother not too long back as well as suffered a terrible break up with a bf of 7 years who I loved with all my heart.

My attendance this semester was very poor, and while I am getting A's in some courses this semester I received a D in a Marketing course because it was largely based on attendance and I had trouble just getting out of bed this semester. I received A's on all the exams for this course and still received a 71 percent in it but the professor grades based upon all the other students scores. I do own up to the fact that the D is my fault, but I sunk into a state of isolation.

In the future, I do intend to apply to grad school. I currently attend a third tier school. I am also the program coordinator of a large association consisting of 350 families. I am the sole program coordinator, there are supposed to be three, but two dropped out. I have undertaken a huge challenge being the sole program coordinator. I was also chosen to be the president next year of a campus organization dealing with diversity at one of the most diverse higher education institutions. Furthermore, it is for a honors college organization, and I am not a part of the honors college. I have two more years left to raise my GPA. I attempted to find a summer internship this summer, but was unable to. Do I have a shot at a top grad school? This grade has really got me down. Also prior to this year, I held the positions of youth coordinator and chair of finance in both organizations. Thank you for your help

1:58 AM  
Anonymous jim said...

Hello Guys,

I wanted to get opinion in regards to my situation. I am graduating this December from a top 3 engineering school in the nation where my particular engineering program has been rated top in the world for past 10-15 years. I am graduating with a 2.8 GPA and an F on my transcript. I already accepted an offer with a consulting firm. My goal is to get into top MBA school after couple of years of experience. I wanted to know what I can do now so that I can make a compelling story and that my GPA would not be to my disadvantage.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys really do give us hope. I have a 3.3 GPA at the University of Maryland UG majoring in Finance and IS.

I plan on getting over a 700 and hopefully 760 on the GMAT... will that be good enough for the Harvards or the top IVys? at the point of my application I hope to have the CFA levels 1, 2, and 3 all done, and stuff dealing with leadership and humanitarianism before i apply. what do you guys think?

7:44 AM  

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