With a great deal of significance that Indian MBA applicants seem to attach to their GMAT scores, many don’t bother much about their academic grades (GPA, Percentage) during graduation. Some do, and they are right in doing so, because the admissions officer looking at your essays and recommendations would also be interested in knowing how you performed as a student. Are 10th and 12th marks important? How to overcome low academic performance in MBA abroad applications? Can a high GMAT score We tackle these questions below.
As a general rule, they don’t. That’s because you probably have around 4-5 years of work experience at the time that you start working on your MBA applications. And a graduation degree (like engineering, B.Sc, B.Com etc) where you spent another 3-4 years. That means your 10th Standard and 12th Standard memories are close to a decade old.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Admission Committees are more concerned about what’s happened recently. Your GPA and percentage in the most recent academic degree you have obtained would matter more.
An exception to this would be when you’ve had some very good (topped the merit list) or very bad (dropped a year) story that has had implications over the subsequent years as student or professional.
You bet, it does. And here’s why. After all has been said eloquently in aesthetically designed B-school brochures and websites about how they’ll convert you into a manager and business leader, the fact remains that you are entering into a class and spending a whole amount of time grappling with academic concepts, some more complex than the others.
Though your graduation marks might’ve been earned in an unrelated discipline (like engineering, science, commerce), your percentage / GPA during those years is still indicative of how academically tuned your brain is. The impression that the Admissions Officer will have if you did well in class last time, is that you can do well again – even if the subjects are different.
And in a class full of achievers (who aren’t going to depend on shoddily photocopied notes from their seniors), they don’t want laggards.
From a clear No and Yes answer (to the previous questions), we are now getting into the gray zone. Rather than saying ‘it depends’, let’s look at multiple scenarios (which, your well-trained eye will recognise, is a roundabout way of saying – it depends).
If you’ve graduated from any of the best undergraduate colleges in India (like IIT, NIT, BITS) or abroad (Ivy league universities in the US) where selectivity is very tight, mediocre grades could be justified with a high GMAT score. If the low GPA was due to your over-indulgence in other campus activities that helped you hone your managerial and leadership skills, Adcoms would be more lenient with your academic performance.
For instance, we’ve worked with some excellent folks who were part of the organizing committee of IIT-B’s Mood Indigo. Their grades weren’t impressive, but everything else about them was.
If you got into Sant Tambooji Maharaj College of Poultry Farming on a management seat (i.e. after paying a hefty donation) and your lacklustre grades would make Shri Tambooji turn uncomfortably in his grave, this may be tough to justify in your international MBA application, irrespective of how high your GMAT score is.
Most folks who work with us are in this category. The top schools may be out of reach, as some of them may have minimum / cutoff limits for academic performance. However, no point crying over spilt beer. Score as high as you can on the GMAT and move on.
A combination of one or more of the following actions may help you offset the impact of a lower academic performance.
Beyond the super-elite bschools that get thousands of equally strong applicants, most of the lower ranking MBA colleges would give a higher weightage to your GMAT score.
You could select bschools that balance out the quality and flexibility aspects. Spread out the risk across schools and focus on putting in solid essays, recos, interviews. There are many that will give you access to similar opportunities (like good education, good jobs, good network, good RoI).
Several American universities offer online courses that are graded. They can be pretty expensive, the choice of subjects may be limited and their utility may be uncertain. But still easier to do this than go back in time and fix your graduation marks.
This is an easier (and free) option for cost-conscious Indian applicants. Of course, it needs the right ingredients too to justify what happened to your grades (was it an illness, was it because you were busy growing in other areas, or just plain immaturity) and why it won’t happen again.
Don’t try to underplay the low graduation marks in front of the Adcoms. They know its relevance, so you can’t just brush it under the carpet. Be honest in your applications. At the same time, be smart about how your present your overall profile.
Still unsure of how your low GPA and average percentage will impact your application? Share a little about your profile and we’ll add some perspectives for you to ponder upon.