How important is your GPA for Top MBA Programs?

When we think of applying to our dream business schools, the very first thought that grabs your mind is “Am I good enough for the world’s top b-schools”. And that is when we start thinking of every aspect of our profile. We want to make sure we check every box and get a perfect application! But then comes in mind the “sins” of our college days and a low GPA :(. We often have concerns about our low GPA and the impact it may have on our application to top MBA programs.

So here we are getting in the shoes of adcoms to know the importance of GPA and discussing everything from experts’ views towards GPA’s contribution to one’s profile, top 25 MBA programs with low GPA and tips to enhance our application to the best despite a low GPA and explain our low GPA convincingly to the adcoms.

WHY GPA IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT- KNOW WHAT ADCOMS’ THINK

GPA holds a good weightage in your MBA application and some schools claim to consider GPA a crucial part of your selection procedure. But why has an undergrad GPA become an important part of the application? What does it signify other than your academic potential? 

GPAs lets adcoms get an idea of how you have been performing in your academics, which fields entice you the most and how you have utilized your college time. Basically, it acts as a mirror to your entire educational life and gives evidence of your performance, your record of accomplishments, goals, and your majors.

It gives a holistic view of you as a prospective student and gives them an idea of how far you can go and exhibit your past knowledge and experiences and be able to tackle all the odds coming your way in the MBA curriculum which requires a lot more hard work. 

If I have to summarize its significance, more than your intelligence, it exhibits diligence and perseverance in you.

WHAT CONSTITUTES A LOW GPA?

There is no one particular answer for it but generally, a score lower than 3.0 GPA may be considered “low GPA”, at least, for the Tier 1 MBA schools. If you wish to target the top MBA programs (M7) or T10, you may want to have a safe ground at 3.2+.

Overall, every business school accords different importance to GPA and even if you are scoring a 2.5, you still have a “good” shot at your dream school, no matter how competitive it is! Don’t believe me? Check the evidence for the same in the GPA range of your target school’s class profile!

If you see the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is one of the M7, the lowest range is 2.8 and for Kellogg, it goes to 2.5! 

WHAT DIFFERENT EXPERTS OF THE INDUSTRY THINK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF GPA FOR TOP MBA PROGRAMS?

Before I give you the experts’ opinions, let me explain to you the importance of GPA with reasoning. If you’ve read the adcoms’ point of view for GPA in this article, you must know the significance of GPA in MBA applications. It gives the adcoms’ an idea into your academic interests and highlights the traits like diligence and hard work. Can we not exhibit all of these through other parts of our profiles? We can show academic interests through different coursework we might have taken during/after our undergrad. We can show perseverance through every aspect of our profile. Therefore, we can get into a top MBA program (even M7) despite a low GPA.

According to Poets & Quants, “Undergraduate grade point average is, arguably, the least important aspect of your MBA application. Most of the schools will overlook a low one if an applicant is extraordinary in other ways.”

Eric Askins, Berkeley Haas’ Admissions directors, while offering up advice for young applicants, remarks, “If you want to tell us that you want to get into sustainability in some way in the future, we’re going to want to see the pieces of sustainability. And they don’t have to live in my undergraduate major. They can live in the courses I’ve taken. They could live in extracurricular work that I’ve done. They could live in some of these other spaces.”

If you see the GPA trends for T25 from 2016-2020, you will see an average gain of 0.06 while in the same period for T25 from 2015-2019, there was an average gain of 0.07+ in undergrad GPAs. So, rather than fretting over low GPAs, focus on digging yourself deep to find your unique story and come with a stellar MBA application!

YOU CAN FIND HERE THE AVERAGE GPAS AT TOP 25 MBA PROGRAMS IN THE U.S. AND THEIR TRENDS OVER 4 YEARS.

HOW CAN I GET INTO A TOP MBA PROGRAM DESPITE A LOW GPA?

First and foremost, to compensate for a low GPA, you need to know the significance of GPA in MBA applications. Since we already have read this, we know it majorly exhibits two things, academic rigour and interests. For the former part, we may compensate for our low GPA by extraordinary GMAT or other scholar awards and achievements during/after undergrad.

For the latter part, you need to dig in deep to understand the purpose of MBA applications, especially at the top MBA programs. What purpose do these applications serve to adcoms? In most simple terms, to know your “intentionality” and by this, we mean, why are you applying to MBA? Why are you applying to their schools? What are your intentions? Applications help schools know your purpose of life, your purpose of pursuing an MBA and your intentions of applying to the top MBA schools. Once they get this idea, they try to find and connect dots from your past experiences which shaped your vision. 

For example, you want to pursue entrepreneurship in education post-MBA. But can I find this interest in your past life? Maybe, you have taken a major in this sector during your undergrad and excelled in it. Or you have been a mentor to unprivileged students during your undergrad or you have been part of an edtech in your professional experience. Therefore undergrad GPA is a very minor part of your application to help connect these dots. So, even if you have a low GPA, it does not undermine your potential to the top MBA programs! You still can ace your applications!

HOW TO EXPLAIN THE LOW GPA TO BUSINESS SCHOOLS?

Now another important concern is do our low GPAs need explaining? And if yes, how should I explain it in my MBA application? 

A muted GPA is an opportunity to show self-awareness and deep introspection about personal experiences and past setbacks. Exhibit how a low GPA impacted you and what you did to compensate for it? It can be a window into a candidate’s character and values and can be invoked to tug at the heartstrings of the MBA Admissions Office readers. Express your reasons for low GPA and how you did not let it hamper your personal and professional growth!

To sum it all up –  GPA is one useful feature but not the most important feature to worry about when applying. There’s literally nothing you can do to change it! Of course, you should make an effort to explain it, especially if it looks like a weakness on an otherwise strong application. But fixating on a low GPA doesn’t get you anywhere. Work on several other components and you are good to go! We are with you to support you in your journey!

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