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Low GPA Success Stories

Low GPA Success Stories

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. Read Average GPA for top MBA programs

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. And here’s a peep into MS admissions with bad grades.

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!

Low GPA Success Stories

Successful MBA Applicants with low percentage / CGPA / GPA


Know your matching B-School

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 – 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.

Build a profile that speaks louder than grades

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.

Mitigating a low GPA with a high GMAT score, extra-curriculars & work Experience

Rishika Karnani 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 Rishika’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.

Build your profile and stay positive

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.
Here’s another story of a Physiotherapist in MBA who made it in despite a chronic medical problem and low GPA.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

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.

Choosing the right MBA consultants

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.

Good Luck!

Here’s some reading for your curiosity.

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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: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

8 thoughts on “Low GPA Success Stories”

  1. Hi Sameer
    Hope you are doing good
    I am a bpharm graduate and did my PGDM in pharmaceutical management from SIESCOMS with a total work experience of more then 5 years currently working as a brand manager in Sun pharmaceuticals. I am in a double mind to pursue 1 year mba from ISB/ IIM or not. What will be your advice on the same.

  2. Hello, Sameer sir. I want to pursue MBA from Ivy League universities. I am leaving my profile details below. Kindly analyze and tell me about my chances of achieving this dream.

    Age- 22yrs
    College – IIT Madras (Electrical Dept)
    Program – 5 yrs BTech + MTech (currently in final year)
    Possible graduation marks – around 68%
    Company I will work for from next year – Wipro Technologies (IT) (got a PPO after summer internship)
    I will give GMAT possibly in December and I hope for 720+.

    Kindly comment on my profile assuming if I already have achieved 720 or 730 in GMAT
    Thank You

  3. HI, i am a pharmacy graduate, planning to do MBA in healthcare management from a top b school in India. i preferred GMAT to CAT as it will be some what better in difficulty level. As i am having a non-math background.. i am confused whether i can make it to a top b school in India. What will be the minimum score according to my profile ??

  4. @Sameer: When in doubt, best not to jump in. It just means that you aren’t fully convinced about the RoI from it. Do a little more research, talk to others with a similar profile who’ve gone for an MBA, ask them what they liked/disliked about the experience. Then take a call.

    @Pranav: At this stage, we just know that you’ll be graduating and entering the most competitive pool in the MBA application pool. It doesn’t help worrying about your chances at this stage. Here are a few things you can think about in the next few years:

    @Pranavi: Read this article on the common question related to minimum GMAT scores:

  5. I recently scored 710 in gmat (q-48,v-38), I am considering the mba programme of HEC montreal, university of british columbia,concordia university and university of alberta. However going through the minimum entrance requirement I came to know that most of these universities want 60% percent in 4 years undergraduate course.
    I hold my (hons) degree from Aligarh Muslim University (A NAAC rating A institution) with only 55 % marks, which is a 3 years degree. Additionally I hold 2 years Masters in Finance and Control degree with 71% marks.
    Regarding my work experience I have nearly 5 years of experience with Indian Overseas Bank as Assistant Manager where I was involved with underwriting the retail loans.
    Keeping in view my qualifications and work experience do you think I am eligible to apply for MBA programmes of mentioned institutions. Also please clarify if they consider last 2 years of my university for grades or the grades of my undergraduate degree only.
    Thanks and Regards

  6. Hi Sir,

    First of all I am not looking for Ivy League colleges like Harvard or Wharton.
    I have 3.5 years work experience in India and middle east as planning Engineer with a oil and gas / mechanical projects background.
    I am hoping to do an MBA preferably in a top 10 B-school in Canada/Australia for acquiring new life skills and settling in a new country.

    I written IELTS exam last month and scored 7.5.I am going to take GMAT this month and I am hoping to apply for 2020 Jan-May intake.I gave a mock gmat and scored 650.
    I hope I can score around 650-680 in GMAT. 700+ given more time.Coming to my undergrad performance it was quite terrible with 6.3 GPA and 8 backlogs from a top 5 college in kerala.GEC, Trivandrum.

    Do you think I have a chance at Canadian top bschools like UBC Sauder, UoT Rotman etc.If not

    Do you think I have a chance with non ivy League universities like University of Alberta, Ryerson University, HEC Montreal etc.

    I personally got disappointed after visiting many agencies who said I am unqualified due to this much backlogs.If that is true I will accept it because I was such an irresponsible guy during my first year (had 5 arrears).

    Kindly advice do I have any chance otherwise I may have to go for Jan 20 intake in a not so famous university in canada for which I got an admit.Thompson Rivers university.

  7. @Saad & Sachin: When it comes to the topic of eligibility here’s what we suggest.

    Instead of relying on the views and opinions of third parties, a better approach would be to connect with the admissions office of your target programs and ask them directly.

    If they encourage you to apply, there’s no ambiguity or guess-work. You can go ahead and put in the best possible essays and overall application you can, either independently or with the help of a good consultant.


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