ForumWatch: How to Overcome a Low GPA

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on April 12, 2011

One question that comes up often when people are applying to business school is how a low undergraduate GPA will influence a candidate’s chances of getting into a top program. Admissions directors and consultants say there are two ways to make up for the sins of youth: earning a high GMAT score and auditing courses in subjects, especially quant subjects, that were a candidate’s weakest.

Recently, Skippy, a Business Schools Forum participant, admitted that he took too many courses on a pass/fail basis, which might have skewed his GPA. Skippy also had a few weak subjects that needed to be strengthened before submitting applications. What was troubling Skippy was whether taking courses at the local community college would suffice or if the school needed to have a brand name. Also, would online courses be enough?

So far, there is no consensus among those who have responded to Skippy. “Neither of the two schools you listed [San Francisco State and City College of San Francisco] are considered strong. I am not sure if there will be a difference in ADCOM’s perceptions,” wrote JinShil2. “The institution doesn’t play a huge role when it comes to how business school adcom view alternative transcripts,” wrote FANATICALFAN. “They realize that with a FT job, most people are going to have to choose a school based on proximity and convenience.”

These are the kinds of questions to pose to admissions experts. In fact, Skippy could go directly to the source and ask the admissions directors at schools of interest what they think. In the meantime, what do you think? To create an alternative transcript, does an MBA candidate have to audit courses at a stellar school? You can share your opinion here or on Skippy’s discussion thread .

—By Francesca Di Meglio

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of a series about discussions taking place on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum, where prospective b-school applicants, current students, and recent alumni trade admissions tips, job-hunting advice, and the occasional barbed comment. We invite you to join these discussions or start one of your own.

Reader Comments

Anna Damaris

April 19, 2011 6:39 AM

The student must have the initial knowledge of type of grades that he needs to obtain for various subjects. He can use online GPA Calculator to measure his own grade. I think it is essential for a student to be able to measure his own grade.Because if you can measure it, you can make it better.


April 23, 2011 11:51 AM

They are also going to have to convince the business school that they are done blowing off school and are serious this time around. Being out a while and accomplishing good things helps with that. It is unlikely that if you are trying to go straight, or almost straight from under grad to an MBA and have a so so job that you are doing only a so so job at that you will convince anyone of anything. Takes a while to clean up a mess. While you are at it clean up your web presence, especially if partying, drinking or drugs have anything to do with your record.

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