Are you wondering about how to get into an MBA program with low GPA? Then, you have come to the right place. In this post, we will be looking at how to get into grad school with a low GPA using methods available to you that include submitting a supplemental essay and looking through the admission requirements of different business schools.
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Does a low GPA mean an end to your MBA dreams?
Let us start by saying that a low GPA doesn’t necessarily mean that your dreams of an MBA education are dead. Although admittedly, it will be more difficult to get that seat in an MBA course, it doesn’t mean that there is absolutely no hope for you.
What is considered a low GPA?
There is no one particular answer to this question, but generally, a score lower than 3.4 GPA may be considered a low GPA. If you wish to target the top MBA programs, you may want to have a safe ground at 3.4 and above.
The average GPA score to join an MBA course for the top 50 universities lies between 3.4 and 3.7.
There are several options available to you if you want to get into an MBA program with a low GPA score.
First, you can opt for business schools that accept candidates with lower-than-average GPA scores. These types of schools accept students with GPA scores that are as low as 2.25 (and average out at 2.75). They accept candidates like you without compromising on the quality of education.
Examples of such universities include Texas A&M University and Niagra University.
You can do some research and find some MBA programs which occasionally accept applicants with low GPA scores. And then, call MBA admissions, if necessary, to make sure you would not waste the application fee.
Remember, though – these colleges are still elite institutions that are just as challenging to get into and often have acceptance rates of less than 20%. While they have lesser academic and extracurricular expectations from their new candidates, the number of students that apply to join them is fewer and that means each eligible candidate has a better chance of getting accepted.
Alternatively, you can also opt for business schools that offer highly-recognized MBAs via their online courses. Good examples here are the University of Southern California (Marshall) and George Washington University.
Do you still have time to improve your GPA?
If you are still in your last semester in college and need to make that one last effort to improve your GPA score, then this is the time to pull all the stops. Here are a few tips to help with that last-minute effort:
This is a simple solution. Now is the time to start attending all your classes. Make sure you pay attention in class and actively participate in getting the most out of each lecture. This will help with scoring highly on final exams and midterm tests.
Take courses that can increase your GPA
If you think you are still lagging in a subject, or think that you may need help with it, try making up for it by taking extra classes. Opting for tuition is also a worthy investment in your future. If you want to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have acquired more in-depth knowledge than your GPA score shows, taking one or more courses might do the trick. Earning an A in a standalone calculus class would show that you’ve mastered that key material.
As an aspiring MBA candidate, you need to make sure you have strong mathematical and analytical skills. Therefore, if you’re not already, you should take the following courses and earn at least a B+ or higher in each one of them: Calculus, Microeconomics, Statistics, Accounting, and Finance or Corporate Finance.
If these are not your forte, you may want to take courses that you excel in. Many MBA programs do not really care about what courses you took and what you majored in if you got a high GPA. Try to take classes in dsiciplines that you enjoy and do well in.
Working on your MBA statement of purpose? Check this out:
Submit assignments – all of them and on time
Now is the time to catch up on all outstanding assignments. Perhaps, the thought of scoring a low GPA will motivate you enough to go above and beyond with your assignments. Every single assignment will help with increasing your GPA score – so don’t hold back.
Seek help from people who can help
You can seek help and advice from the people in your academic life. Examples here would be your advisor, professors for the courses that you’re doing poorly in, your college’s learning center or even the best MBA essay consultant you can get your hands on. These people can help you with your grades, your essays, and your general application.
If you are no longer a student
There are several ways you can compensate for a low GPA score if you are no longer a student. These include:
Improve GMAT or GRE scores
The very first thing you need to do is to make up for the low GPA score by scoring very well on the GMAT or GRE. Try to improve your GMAT scores.
Remember, you are allowed to take the GMAT exam once every 16 calendar days, for no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period, and no more than eight times total in your lifetime.
This standardized exam is often required when applying to an MBA program, and most business schools require candidates to submit their total score before they decide whether to admit them.
To help you determine the score you need to get to compensate for a low GPA, you can look at the average GMAT score at the business school of your choice and use that as a benchmark.
Take admissions essays seriously
Many applicants underestimate the importance of MBA admission essays when applying to business schools. Application components like MBA Motivation Letter or MBA videos essays are an excellent opportunity to provide more context for your lower GPA. They are the most important part of the application where you can explain not only the low GPA – but also everything you have done since to improve your chances of getting into an MBA course.
You can use an MBA diversity essay to describe your background – including how difficult it was to pursue your college degree and all the effort you put into achieving it. It can also be used to show the admissions committee that you are a hard worker, despite a low GPA score. Perhaps, you had to overcome great odds to get where you are today. Let them know all about it.
The supplemental essay is a good way to explain extenuating circumstances. You can use optional essays to let the admissions committee know if your grades suffered because of unforeseen circumstances that you had no control over.
Here is a sample essay:
Dear Members of the Admissions Committee at [INSERT BUSINESS SCHOOL NAME],
As you go through my transcript, you, the review committee, may notice a significant drop in my GPA score from the start of my third year in college. I have no one to blame but myself, but please know that I have a good reason and I hope to convince you it is so.
After maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.77 for my first two years, I had to make a voluntary withdrawal in my third year following my poor performance in Algebra, Investment Analysis, International Trade, and Economics.
The reason for my poor grades and my subsequent withdrawal was the illness, and then passing away, of my father.
Right at the start of my third year at ACME College, my father fell ill and was forced to require full-time home care. As the only child in the family, I had to spend more and more time looking after my father.
It also meant that I needed to work extra hours – to care for him as well as pay my way through college. This became too stressful as I couldn’t cope with working 10-hour shifts, taking care of my father, going to classes, and studying.
As my father’s health deteriorated further, I also found it mentally taxing to cope with the fact that I may lose him at any given time. Seeing him suffer every single day didn’t help either.
It was then that my performance in class and my GPA scores started to be affected. By that time it was obvious that my father wouldn’t recover and was left with a few more days to live, I couldn’t even think straight. And hence, my withdrawal.
After my father’s passing, I was determined to get my life back on track and try to achieve as best grades as I could because I knew it would make my father proud.
I went back to school and retook all necessary classes and tuition to sort my weak grades out. By graduation, I was able to push up my GPA to the levels you see today.
I am proud to say that I think my father would be proud of my overcoming that hardship and being able to pull up my socks and continue to improve myself. If there is one lesson I have learned from all of this is that we should never give up, even when we are down and out for the count. There is always one more chance to take.
I hope that you will be able to consider these facts as you consider my application for an MBA at your esteemed institution.
Some points to remember when writing your supplemental essay include:
If there is one key point to take into consideration here it is this: do not lie and take responsibility for what happened. As brilliant as you may consider yourself at concocting a tale, it is never worth it. If the lie isn’t obvious in the essay itself, it will become evident in subsequent interviews or even months down the line – after your application has been successful. Also, the top universities do perform background checks, so there’s that too.
Offset your low GPA with your resume
Try applying to business school with 2-5 years of work experience with increasing responsibility. A powerful MBA resume will help offset a poor GPA score – to some extent. Showcase your background in business and your valuable experience. This can help outweigh your not-so-strong academic background, since work experience is extremely valuable for MBAs.
Try to write a resume that aims to impress the admissions committee. But, remember that an MBA resume is not like a regular job resume. It does not demonstrate functional skills or specific qualifications, but rather showcases the impact you have made in a business with your leadership skills. It should include your achievements and experiences that tell a story about your suitability for business school and why you have chosen to apply to an MBA program.
Make sure your letters of recommendation talk about strengths and abilities
Your MBA recommendation letters should come from people who can testify to your professionalism and suitability for an MBA, above all else.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the recommendation letters leave out showing you are of good character, but it should take second place to demonstrate your capabilities as a leader and a team player in the business field. They should also mention examples of how you’ve overcome obstacles, your ability to multitask, and how you manage your time effectively – everything that is needed to become a well-rounded leader in the business field.
It wouldn’t hurt either if the recommenders themselves were captains of industry who have impressive records.
Do not underestimate the power of volunteering
Try to include any volunteering activities in your resume and MBA personal statement; it could help you score that single point that makes your application stand out from that of the other applicants.
Especially beneficial would be any volunteering experience that included both charity work involving direct contact with people as well as involving logistics coordination and leadership skills.
Apply in Round 1 or Round 2
In case you didn’t know, most MBA programs have three rounds of admission: Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3.
Any candidate with a low GPA score would be well advised to apply in the first round and the second round at the latest.
The main reason for this is that there are more spots available during the first and second rounds. Most of the schools only hold the third round to make sure that any remaining spots are filled. And needless to say, the competition is fierce for those few remaining seats.
Ask the admissions committee
You need to ask the school if there is anything you can add to make sure you meet their expectations and make the MBA application process a successful one.
There could be supplemental information, maybe even an interview or a face-to-face that could increase your chances of getting that seat.
Preparing for your MBA interview? Check this out:
We hope you now know how to get into an MBA program with a low GPA. The main thing is that you follow all the advice we have given you in this post and continue to apply to as many business schools as there are on your wish list.
Never give up your dreams of getting that MBA – just keep improving your application process.
1. Should I even be bothered with trying to join an MBA program with a low GPA?
The short answer is, “Yes!”
The long answer is that most business schools expect students with lower GPA scores. They look to diversify their student body. They also have a realistic outlook on the candidates that apply to their admissions committees – not everyone has a high GPA score.
Also, remember that one character they are looking for is resilience or persistence. By applying with a low GPA you are showing that you do put some effort into achieving what you aim for.
2. Can I reuse my letters of recommendation from a previous year?
Yes, you can reuse your letters of recommendation. But, you always need to make sure that all the information on them is still valid and accurate – including dates, contact information, and the willingness of the people to stand by their testimonies.
3. Can I still apply to an MBA program when I don’t have any work experience?
The admission process, to any MBA program, is always a highly competitive affair; having some work experience is one of the things you would want to increase your chances of getting a seat – especially when you have a low GPA. While you’re still eligible to apply, it would be wise to do so with some working experience (at least 2 – 3 years).
4. How long should my essay be?
Well, for the most part, the business school that you are applying to will have instructions on the length of all supplemental or optional essays. If they don’t have any information about it, you should go ahead and ask. The recommended length for the essay though ranges from 350 to 900 words.
5. Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
The best people to ask for a letter of recommendation are your immediate supervisors. This is especially true if you have (or had) a good working relationship with them. They should also be able to testify to your good work ethic and leadership skills. They should also be people who would be willing to testify via phone calls – because the business school could call them up.
6. How many letters of recommendation should I have?
Most business schools will ask for two or three letters of recommendation. However, it is always best to check with the specific school to find out their requirements.
7. I have an MBA from another non-tiered university, will I be able to join an MBA program in a tiered university?
Yes, most business schools accept candidates with MBAs from other schools. The operative word here is “most.” So, do some research and find out if your particular business school of choice allows it too.
8. Do universities have a preference between the GMAT and GRE?
Again, most universities do not have a preference for one test over the other. If you submit multiple test scores from GMAT or GRE to a school, they will most likely only consider the highest score from all test sittings. However, always check with the schools you are applying to whether they have a preference.
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