The genius Tagore may have hated formal schooling and even chastised the concept of examinations, but for the rest, education has had a pretty rigid framework. You get into school, you go to classes, you appear for examinations and you find religion when it is time for you to see your results. And the more competitive it is, the more intense is the score fever.
Why? Well simply because for whom it matters, your academic record, your GPA score, your past percentages, or grades, give a glimpse into your ability to transform knowledge to performance. Whether it is a job interview or an assessment to get into higher education, the success of your past education defines, even if to a certain extent, the value of your candidature. Especially in a dog-eat-dog world of MBA admissions, where everything in your past creates your selling point – your GMAT score, your essays, your work experience, extracurriculars, and of course your academic record.
So…is the world simply designed for people with over, say, a 3.6 GPA? Does a “D” really have that much power to change the course of your MBA admissions?
The answer is a strong “maybe”. “Yes”, it is absolutely possible for an admissions committee to be put off by a string of mediocre grades or your year of finding yourself, fruitlessly spent in your grandparent’s attic. And “No” if the grades, or the drop year, can be explained away by a compensating quality in your resume for an MBA application. The art of an MBA application is in marketing your good side, while being realistic about your shortcomings.
While it is absolutely not recommended that you hide behind a made up cover story or conceal your inferior transcript, a bad academic record needn’t always be a bad thing. In fact, there is an appeal in the act of learning from the humbling experience of failure. If you are able to manage a stellar career development, post your GPA slip, you may just be able to exhibit a far better ability at managing the most, out of a lousy past, as compared to the A for alpha fellow MBA candidate.
For a better insight as to how to steer the adcom, in your favor, in spite of a low GPA, read Managing low academic grades (GPA) in MBA applications to write your success story.
In this article, we will talk about a few instances where a seemingly low academic record did not stop these candidates from aspiring high and achieving beyond the curse of their GPA!
Kartik Gupta’s story may have begun with less than happy undergraduate grades, but here’s how he managed to turn the tables and get an admission to, wait for it, Ross School of Business at University of Michigan. That too for his second MBA.
In his case, Kartik managed to retrieve his candidature by showcasing his leadership centric extracurriculars, high GMAT score and most importantly, as he insists, working with us in choosing the right match for his B-School. Read Kartik’s story of low grades to an elite MBA program.
Sayanta Dutta did not come from the usual engineering, or business, background. A Physics graduate, he caught the management bug fast enough to begin a concert management company, while in undergrad! After showing off his skills in a consulting start-up, ventured by ex McKinsey employees, he got a position at McKinsey itself.
With such a strong profile to back him up, no wonder he managed to secure an admit in Duke’s MBA program. From Physics to McKinsey to Duke to Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley – The Cinderfella.
Rashima Vatnani may have had just average undergraduate grades, to show for her GPA, but what she had going for her were her above average extracurriculars, a GMAT score in the above 90th percentile and work experience with plenty of accomplishments to mask any of her contenders.
With just enough fingers to count her B-School admits, in one hand, find out how she managed to secure scholarships as well. Read Rashima’s story of how she got acceptances from 5 elite MBA programs – Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto, Goizueta Business School at Emory University, Kelley at Indiana University, Kenan Flagler at University of North Carolina, and ISB.
With a rejection from the glory of the IITs, Shirin Bhansal had been facing failure, even before he began college. Having little interest in academia, he, and his friends, created an online platform to promote local businesses, while in his undergrad.
A high GMAT score, substantial work experience, his can do attitude, and our career counseling managed to sail him into ISB Hyderabad’s campus, for his MBA. Read Shirin’s inspiring story here.
It is just as much important to be aware of each, when you are setting yourself up to apply for your MBA. And that’s the lesson Nihar Prasad would like us to leave with, in his recap of his application experience. He didn’t graduate from a college with a juicy brand, he wasn’t an outstanding student academically, and he didn’t even have much of extracurriculars to boast about.
What he had was an impressive work experience, with international exposure, and a good GMAT score. Read his story of how he made it into INSEAD Singapore.
Sometimes, an average ranking undergraduate school is all you have to show for, in your application. Even your work experience seems to pale in comparison with the rest of the glossy candidates. It is, after all, widely understood that top ranking B-Schools attract the overachievers. Harsha Vardhan faced a similar situation. What had it going for him was his confidence that the right application material – read essays, resume, etc – would make an impression otherwise lacking in his candidature. Having brainstormed with our consultants, Harsha drafted his essays to a perfection, effectively representing his candidature, more than his average undergraduate school, average grades, or his average GMAT score could have. Read Harsha’s story of being accepted into HEC Paris.
Every candidate is different and each has a different story to tell. A seasoned MBA admissions committee understands that. A high academic record is obviously an appealing place to begin your MBA application, however, a less than ideal educational background needn’t always be a handicap. Every aspect of your application packet carries its own weight in worth. The term of atonement, for the lack of any, is simple – recognize your talents and accomplish the most with what makes you desirable.
Here’s some reading for your curiosity.