Low GMAT score, career break, multiple dings, MS vs MBA: SuperwoMan(ju) flies again

Low GMAT scores for Indian male (or female) applicants usually mean a big red flag. So you muster up the courage to go through the GMAT preparation ordeal again. And the result…another low GMAT score to give the earlier one some company. Most candidates in Manju’s situation would’ve lowered their expectation and settled for a not-so-high-ranked school. But what if the lower-ranked universities also dinged you. Give up on your higher study plans and go back to the job that you were trying to get away from? ‘No way,’ said teacher-turned-IT-consultant Manju Suresh who’s X-Ray vision glasses (proudly on display in the pic) showed her a different option – MS programs

Low GMAT Score, MS vs MBA, Manju's storyI was always a happy-go-lucky girl since childhood. I started my career as a teacher and then became an IT professional. Life changed for me after I started working in US. I had to quit my job in Dec 2007 due to personal reasons and was ready to go back to work by 2010.But it was difficult to get a genuine H1b sponsor. Also I wanted to take up IT consulting and did not want to go back as a developer. So I decided to complete my MBA with a focus on business as well as IT.

I studied for GMAT from Apr 2010–Nov 2010. My academic record in my school and in my undergraduate Electrical Engg is excellent. But I am not a good test taker especially under timed tests such as GMAT. First time I took the test, I was not able to achieve a score above 600 in GMAT. I tried again with a private GMAT tutor. I participated in a study group. My private GMAT tutor told me that with the kind of questions I answered in the sessions with him I should at least score 650. Even the second and third time I was not able to score above 600. Somehow I’d screw up on the test day. I was really devastated and frustrated at this point.

The inspiring stories of people who got admitted to business schools even with a low GMAT score in Beat the GMAT motivated me to apply to bschools. So I applied to some business schools such as Babson, Northeastern, and BU and Simmons in Boston. As expected I did not get admission in any of the schools until Feb end. Somehow I wanted to join a Master’s (MS) program since I had put lots of efforts to study GMAT :-) One day I was just talking to my GMAT study partner. He recommended an MS in Information Technology at Bentley University for me. Now I wanted to decide between MBA and MS (IT).

I researched the program and I was really happy to have found this unique program which combines business with IT. And the special advantage is this is a one year program with internship opportunity too. And the cost of the program is half of what I would spend for an MBA. There are options in the program to choose several interesting courses such as Business Process Management, Intermediate Statistical Modeling for Business and Information Management which can help me to take up IT Consulting. I also loved the option to choose electives from different departments such as MBA (IT concentration), Human factors in information design and Information process management. The University campus has cutting–edge labs [Design and Usability Center, Center for Marketing Technology] and a world class trading room. Also the program is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 15 IT programs in the nation. The class size is small and Bentley University’s career services department is very active. Moreover, I was very pleased with my interactions with Bentley university staff, faculty and Alumni. So I decided to join Bentley University. Just few days back I did get a favorable admission decision from Simmons School of Management for their MBA program. But now my favorite program is MS (IT).

I understood that ‘Bhagwan ek darwaja close kiya tho bhi doosra acha darwaja kholte hai‘. So be happy and best of luck to everyone.

Gotta love that closing comment in Hindi. While we are on the opening-and-closing-doors’ analogy, (in the garb of philosophical value addition) let me extend it just a little – ‘While navigating the maze of life, be careful that you don’t get stuck in a revolving door and end up going around in circles. Watch out Aastha Channel!

If you want to know more about Manju’s X-ray vision glasses (lending rates, bulk discounts), drop your comments here. If you want to talk about important-but-not-as-interesting topics like MS programs, that’s fine too.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

15 thoughts on “Low GMAT score, career break, multiple dings, MS vs MBA: SuperwoMan(ju) flies again”

  1. How about a low graduate GPA? I have a low GPA but graduated with an Engineering degree from one of the top Engineering Institutes (I am sure you have guessed). However, I do not qualify for the eligibility to write CAT. What MBA schools should I go for? Would going for a second tier MBA school help me in my management career in any way?

    • GK,
      As a general rule of thumb, a mediocre GPA from a top-notch institution is better than a top-notch GPA from a mediocre institution. But in absolute terms, neither translates into a direct and definite GPL.
      But you are talking about a low (not just mediocre) GPA. So not sure how bad the situation is.
      Tanik hamaar email-wa par chitthi bhej dijiye. Vistaar mein baaki vartalaap karenge.
      Tohaar shubhchintak.

  2. Other MS options with a gmat score of 650 range? I am equally interested in MS programs but cant think of appearing for GRE at this stage.

  3. Hi Sammer

    First of all thanks for such a wordeful blog. I have gone thru many websites but your blog provides both pros and cons of the argument. Please help me out regarding the below query
    I am going thru the same mid life career crisis as most of the IT professional go thru. I did my graduation (B.tech) and have around 4 years of exp in IT field, the job is fine but not enjoying the work anymore, which i used to all these years. The main reason for this is, i was not able to go for my higher education (MS in particular) due to finacial problems which i always wanted. Now i want to purse my higher studies in MS, but people around me suggested me to rather go for an MBA than MS since i already have a good exp. But i do not want to go into complete management side. I am confused, can u help me with few suggestions.


  4. hi i did my graduation in mechanical engineering in year 2006 and right now i m working in EPC industry as pipe stress analysis i want to know about M.S.consultancy management offered by bits pilani about its scope and how will it benefit to my career in near future?

  5. @Vineet: You don’t have to follow the herd mentality and go for an MBA if you aren’t keen on a management role. You could still apply to MS programs, like Manju did.

    @Dinesh: Sorry, buddy. Can’t help you there as we aren’t familiar with the program.

  6. Hi Sameer,
    i am going through a very confusing state . sometimes i think that MBA is good , but than i think that its very costly to do MBA from a decent college . I need your advice on this .I want to earn more and want to do some interesting work . Currently i m working in a software firm for almost one year .


  7. Hi Sameer,

    i am a mechanical engineering graduate and now i have a three years experience in renewable energy field . The three year work experience i have is in middle east, my career started as a site engineer where my work nature was basically a management one i manged money ,manpower and material. now i have quit my job considering that i should do a highers, and it has been one month since i quit job and still in a confusion to choose between M.B.A and M.s, i read a lot of articles regarding this but still the confusion looms around me. i have even ordered the book pathfinder by Nicholas Lore( awaiting delivery) to solve my turmoil. but I sincerely believe you can help me, your blogs give me such a confidence.so please advice this hapless guy.


  8. Sandeep: If it’s confusing for you, hang on. Don’t take any quick decisions. Talk to folks who’ve gone through this journey early. Read up more about international MBA programs. Read Beyond The MBA Hype.

    @VM: The simplistic answer is (considering the constraints of this platform): if you want to get into technical roles, go for the MS. If you want to move into managerial roles, go for an MBA.

    A little unsure why you quit your job when you weren’t sure about what you want to do. It takes over a year for the application process to be completed and classes to start. Don’t depend purely on books to give you the answer. Try to keep yourself gainfully occupied as you’d need to address questions related to your break, when you are face-to-face with the Admission committee guys.

  9. Hii Sameer

    I am pretty much confused regarding whether i should apply for colleges or not.
    I have got a GMAT score of 550 and 2 yrs of work experience with 6 months of onsite experience in instrumentation industry.
    Can you please help me out on this?


  10. an inspiring blog is there. sir i m about to complete my b.tech (cse) in april. i want to pursue mba in top university of U.S . is GMAT a good option than GRE.?

  11. Hi Sameer!
    I have been preparing for GMAT for past 1 year but unfortunately couldn’t manage to score above 600. Now the situation is that I have already left my software job hoping that I would eventually clear the GMAT within the stipulated time frame I predicted but situation has moved from bad to worse. I do not wan’t to go back and join another IT firm as my frame of mind has changed completely and I am looking to transform my career into a management job.As my GMAT score is in the the mid 500 range, none of the colleges will be willing to consider my application, so I am thinking of applying to MS programs in (Business Analytics & Strategy(MBS), Business Consulting(Warwick) and similar programs in the leading B schools of UK). Can you help me answer these questions :
    1: Will these colleges accept my application although GMAT is not mandatory for these courses.(My experience is 4.2 years as software developer).
    2: If I get accepted then is it worth going for these courses?
    3: Will I be able to get employment in UK after pursuing one of these courses unlike MBA programs.
    4: If I do not get employment in UK then will my degree be considered for a decent management job in India.


  12. @Rajat: Though most bschools accept GMAT and GRE scores, if you have to choose one, I’d suggest GMAT.

    @Manu: The more selective a school, the better is its market level among employers. When MBA courses start dropping requirements to attract more applicants, that’s not a good sign.


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