Pages

3/2/09

Hey Everybody - if any of you are looking for a quality GMAT preparation I'd encourage you to check out our partnership with Veritas Prep here because WSO members get 10% off: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/veritas-gmat-prep-d...

For those of you thinking of an MBA with admissions questions I've spoken with Stacy Blackman and she and her team have agreed to answer any questions for the WSO community. Any questions you have about the admissions process I'd recommend that you post them here in this thread.

For those of you that haven't heard of Stacy's services, here is a quick bio: Since 2001, Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped clients gain admission to every top business school in the world. The company's approach, based on developing and implementing a winning marketing strategy, makes the application process less stressful and more successful. Stacy Blackman Consulting's dedicated MBA consultant team boasts a unique combination of admissions experience, marketing savvy and writing skills. This, combined with extensive company resources, has led to an exceptional client success rate.

In addition to private client work, Stacy Blackman Consulting has run workshops at companies including JPMorgan, UBS and Credit Suisse First Boston. Stacy Blackman personally serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, has published a book, The MBA Application Roadmap, and is the Back to B-school blogger for CBS Interactive's BNET website. Stacy Blackman Consulting has been profiled in several publications, including Fortune Magazine, BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal.

Comments (548)

3/2/09

One question thats been lingering in my thought were how top MBA programs view a masters degree in finance. I will undoubtedly be applying for H/S/W and want to understand if this will deteriorate my chances. Also unemployment gaps from undergrad to a FT job. Obviously you understand our current situation but how will top MBA programs view this. Thanks in advance

Accepted.com
3/2/09

I have been wondering about how MBA programs view classes taken pass/fail. I understand if it's not in your major it isn't given much consideration, but if it comes down to two equally qualified candidates, can that be used as a point against you? Many thanks

In reply to chjon
3/2/09
chjon:

I have been wondering about how MBA programs view classes taken pass/fail. I understand if it's not in your major it isn't given much consideration, but if it comes down to two equally qualified candidates, can that be used as a point against you? Many thanks

Pass/Fail should not hurt you. If all your quant courses were pass/fail, they would want to see some evidence that you can handle that type of class, but no, most people have some pass fail courses and it is not a big deal. They will look at those classes as probably being subjects that you were interested in and just wanted to take and enjoy...and leave it at that.

3/3/09

For those of us that are going to start working full-time this fall, any tips on how we should spend our spare time after work (in terms of "extracurriculars")? For the idea of increasing admission chances of course.

*EDIT* Those of us that won't be working in banking (hence, actual spare time)

In reply to dipset1011
3/3/09

Of course it depends on each individual situation and your personal circumstances, but as a general rule, the Masters in Finance will not help much. MBA programs want to see that you did well as an undergraduate, and then they want to see you excell professionally. The Masters in Finance can show them that you can handle the quantitative subject matter, but you can also prove this through earning your CFA, or through relevant work experience. If it makes sense for your story, it does not have to hurt you, but it is not something I would recommend to give you an edge in the admissions process.

With regards to gaps in employment...having a gap does not hurt you per se. It's how you handle that gap. Did you bounce back quickly, create opportunities for yourself? What did you learn? How did you grow? Getting laid off can even be an asset if you can show you grew from the experience.

In reply to CCme
3/3/09
CCme:

For those of us that are going to start working full-time this fall, any tips on how we should spend our spare time after work (in terms of "extracurriculars")? For the idea of increasing admission chances of course.

*EDIT* Those of us that won't be working in banking (hence, actual spare time)

The key here is to align your activities with your interests. Think about things that you actually enjoy doing, activities you enjoyed in high school or college, and try to do something that extends that story. If you were on the soccer team, coach a soccer team. If you enjoyed art, get involved with bringing arts to inner city schools, etc... Try to make the activity fit with who you are.

3/3/09

Being that I am still an undergrad, I have a bit of time before I look at MBA schools more seriously, but I have a very general question for you. From some conversations I have had with alumni up to this point, it seems like there are three major things the schools focus on for candidates:

1) Undergrad GPA
2) Work Experience
3) Letter of Recommendation

Would you say this is an accurate perception? If not, what would you add? Are clubs/organizations relevant given the fact that they most likely have not been touched upon in 5 years when it becomes time to apply?

Any comments appreciated, thank you!

In reply to PaperTrail
3/3/09
PaperTrail:

Being that I am still an undergrad, I have a bit of time before I look at MBA schools more seriously, but I have a very general question for you. From some conversations I have had with alumni up to this point, it seems like there are three major things the schools focus on for candidates:

1) Undergrad GPA
2) Work Experience
3) Letter of Recommendation

Would you say this is an accurate perception? If not, what would you add? Are clubs/organizations relevant given the fact that they most likely have not been touched upon in 5 years when it becomes time to apply?

Any comments appreciated, thank you!

The GMAT is also important. Activities matter as well, and if you have important activities in college you will want to continue to be involved in some way post college. Your life should not just be pure career. Hence it will not be a gap of five years by the time you apply. Your essays, which encompass most of these things, are incredibly important, along with recs and interview. In the essays you touch on academics, career, and also who you are and what your goals are. This is where you tell your story - everything gets tied together.

3/3/09

When speaking about GPA, is this Overall or Major? What happens if you have a 3.7+ overall from double majoring, but around a 3.3 GPA in your business major?

In reply to IB1
3/3/09
IB1:

When speaking about GPA, is this Overall or Major? What happens if you have a 3.7+ overall from double majoring, but around a 3.3 GPA in your business major?

They look at everything. The number that is often quoted "average GPA" is the overall GPA. But if that overall GPA is based on easy courses at a lower ranked school, it will not weigh as heavily as if you majored in engineering at Stanford, or finance at Penn. They are not necessarily concerned with your major GPA, but if your major was easy or difficult that will factor into the assessment of your GPA. If your major was a business or highly quantitative subject, they will scrutinize it more carefully, because they want to know how you perform n these subjects.

Stacy Blackman Consulting
MBA Admissions Consulting

3/3/09

Lets say you did your first two years in one school, than later transferred to another school two finish the last two years. Which school GPA do they take into consideration for admissions? Will they take the last two years or do they average the two?

Thanks!

3/3/09

I was curious to know exactly what Harvard/Wharton/Stanford view as being the most important criteria for admission. How important is the GMAT (I've heard that its more important in business school admissions than the SAT is in college admissons)?

Also, since I am an undergraduate at a state university, and I am majoring in Engineering (minor in econ/math), is there anyway that I might be given more leniency for GPA standards?

As a final question, I wanted to ask you how the undergraduate major factors into Business School admissions. I've known many people who got into excellent business programs (Harvard/Wharton) with engineering undergrad, and I've noticed that many non-finance majors have fared very well in the admissions process. Is there an advantage to studying something other than business/econ as an undergrad?

John Wikowski

3/3/09

You mentioned that a candidate's life shouldn't be purely work-related, but following up on what CCme said, will admissions take into account that full time analysts in banking will not have much (or any) time to pursue activities outside of work?

Thank you in advance for answering our questions!

3/3/09

Should I take the GMAT as an undergrad?

I am currently an undergrad about to graduate very soon and my professors have told me I should take the GMAT when I have my study habits and ample time. Or is there a more optimal time or life stage in studying and preparing for the GMAT?

3/3/09

How important is work experience for the MBA? I'v heard its possible to take the MBA immediatley after graduating for a bachelors without prior work experience but I'm inclined to take this with a grain of salt.

3/3/09

I have a few questions.

From looking at statistics, it doesn't seem GPA is weighted as heavily in business school admissions relative to other graduate programs, but rather the GMAT is more emphasized. However, I've heard that once you cross the 710 mark or so, the difference between a 730 and a 750 is negligible in terms of admissions prospects. Is this accurate? Also, what kind of weight, if any, do admissions officers place on your undergraduate institution? What about if they are under the same university?

Finally, it seems that some schools are leaning towards younger applicants, while others still prefer older applicants. I am planning on applying to business school after 2 or 3 years of WE - would it be best to apply to the schools looking for younger applicants and, should those not go well, wait another 2 years or so to apply to the other schools? Thanks

3/3/09

I'm currently in my last semester of college and have a 3.65 GPA.

I often hear that unlike law school or med school, business schools take a holistic view of the application and things such as work experience, GMAT score, and essays are more important than having a high GPA.

Because I'm planning to take the CPA exam, I am trying to study as much as I can for the exam prior to working. I know this may be an asinine question, but do you think it'd be better to chill on my school work and spend more time on CPA or should I still try to get straight A's? Even if I get straight B's I will have above a 3.5 GPA when I graduate.

I also, don't want to spend my last semester of college trapped in the library.

3/3/09

How have previously successful MBA candidates secured spots in top MBA programs after only two/three years of work experience for an investment bank? I know circumstances differ from one candidate to another, but the average work experience in top MBA programs is 6-7 years.

3/3/09

This might seem like a juvenile question, but if one is applying to a top MBA program, with 3-4 years of Investment Banking, and then Private Equity experience, does knowing a Senior Lecturer help at all with the admission process?

3/3/09

Hi Stacy,

I'm currently an undergraduate who will be joining Teach for America next year. I was wondering how TFA is viewed in terms of placement for business schools. If, for example, I were to do TFA for 2 years then go into one of the more traditional business industries (i-banking or consulting) for 2-3 years, would I be at a disadvantage compared to those who did a more traditional i-banking then PE career path? Would you even recommend applying to business school straight out of TFA, assuming that I have taken the GMAT (700+ score) and with a decent GPA (3.7+ from a top non-target)?

Finally, what advantages are there for taking the CFA? Do business schools take into consideration being CFA chartered in their admissions process?

In reply to LBJ
3/5/09

There is some variance between business schools on this subject. Many schools will use the cumulative GPA from the institution you graduated from as your GPA statistic in your evaluation. Other schools will use the GPA for only your last 60 hours. Then there are some schools who will use the overall, cumulative GPA factoring in your grades from all schools attended. The most common is the first--using the cumulative GPA from the school where you received your degree, but you can't count on that being the standard. Regardless of what GPA is assigned to you, transcripts from all institutions will be scrutinized and your performance in quantitative subjects in particular will be noted.

Stacy Blackman Consulting

In reply to doingfinance07
3/5/09
doingfinance07:

I was curious to know exactly what Harvard/Wharton/Stanford view as being the most important criteria for admission. How important is the GMAT (I've heard that its more important in business school admissions than the SAT is in college admissons)?

Also, since I am an undergraduate at a state university, and I am majoring in Engineering (minor in econ/math), is there anyway that I might be given more leniency for GPA standards?

As a final question, I wanted to ask you how the undergraduate major factors into Business School admissions. I've known many people who got into excellent business programs (Harvard/Wharton) with engineering undergrad, and I've noticed that many non-finance majors have fared very well in the admissions process. Is there an advantage to studying something other than business/econ as an undergrad?

There is not one aspect of your business school application that is more important than another. Schools do not assign numeric values or weights to the different components (i.e., GMAT score, GPA, essays, interview, etc.). Schools do take into account where you go to school and your major in the evaluation. They know there are differences in the academic rigor across institutions as well as across majors. There is no preferred degree or one that will give you an advantage in business school admissions--it is best to pursue the degree that you are interested in so that you will be successful not only in terms of GPA, but also in your work experience after college.

In reply to california
3/5/09
california:

You mentioned that a candidate's life shouldn't be purely work-related, but following up on what CCme said, will admissions take into account that full time analysts in banking will not have much (or any) time to pursue activities outside of work?

Business schools are aware of the difference in time demands between career paths. So while it is understandable banking analysts do not have much time outside of work, it is still possible to be involved in a community organization or nonprofit. Similarly, you will still have outside interests/hobbies. You don't have to spend 20 hours a week committed to an outside activity--it can be something you do one weekend a month or chairing an annual event. The important thing is to demonstrate your ability to juggle work with personal life and have other areas where your leadership abilities can shine.

In reply to RexMundi
3/5/09
RexMundi:

How important is work experience for the MBA? I'v heard its possible to take the MBA immediatley after graduating for a bachelors without prior work experience but I'm inclined to take this with a grain of salt.

Most schools prefer that applicants have at least 2 years of professional work experience prior to entering business school. Professional work experience is defined as full-time, professional-level work after graduating with a bachelor's degree. Having experiences you can draw on during class discussions as well as the maturity you gain from working are important for you to maximize your learning in business school. While some schools do take applicants directly from undergraduate studies, these folks generally are high academic achievers (>3.8 GPA, >700 GMAT) and have done some professional internships or have experience in a family business. Likewise, they have extensive evidence of leadership and teamwork skills from extracurricular activities during college.

In reply to monkeyinasuit
3/5/09
monkeyinasuit:

Should I take the GMAT as an undergrad?

I am currently an undergrad about to graduate very soon and my professors have told me I should take the GMAT when I have my study habits and ample time. Or is there a more optimal time or life stage in studying and preparing for the GMAT?

Your GMAT score is good for 5 years. So, if you take the GMAT as a senior in college, you can use that score to apply to business school after gaining up to 4 years of experience. For many people, it is a good idea because preparing for the exam can take up quite a bit of time. There is no evidence people who take it as college seniors score higher than those 3 years out of college though. If you feel you have time to prepare and know you will want to apply within 4 years of graduating, then perhaps you should take it and see how you do. You can always take it again later.

In reply to mcds
3/5/09
mcds:

From looking at statistics, it doesn't seem GPA is weighted as heavily in business school admissions relative to other graduate programs, but rather the GMAT is more emphasized. However, I've heard that once you cross the 710 mark or so, the difference between a 730 and a 750 is negligible in terms of admissions prospects. Is this accurate? Also, what kind of weight, if any, do admissions officers place on your undergraduate institution? What about if they are under the same university?

Finally, it seems that some schools are leaning towards younger applicants, while others still prefer older applicants. I am planning on applying to business school after 2 or 3 years of WE - would it be best to apply to the schools looking for younger applicants and, should those not go well, wait another 2 years or so to apply to the other schools?

There is no component of the application weighted heavier than another. Applicants are viewed holistically, and admissions professional are looking for applicants who are strong overall. So both the GMAT and GPA are equally important and can help to mitigate each other. For example, maybe your GPA is on the low side because you worked during school; scoring well on the GMAT can mitigate that possible weakness because it confirms your ability to succeed in the classroom. Business schools are also aware of the variance in rigor between schools and majors, so where you go to school and your major is accounted for in the evaluation of your application.

Yes, there is a trend with some programs to admit younger applicants. However, most schools still prefer applicants to have at least 2 years of professional experience. If you plan to apply when you have 2-3 years, then there is no reason to select your target schools based on some notion of whether or not the school likes younger/older applicants. You want to target schools that are the best match for your career goals.

In reply to youngmoney
3/5/09
youngmoney:

How have previously successful MBA candidates secured spots in top MBA programs after only two/three years of work experience for an investment bank? I know circumstances differ from one candidate to another, but the average work experience in top MBA programs is 6-7 years.

The success of an application to business school is not an exact science; there is no secret formula or guarantee of admission if you meet a threshold. Admissions is based on evaluating an applicant holistically to determine if s/he can handle the work, has realistic career goals, has a solid rationale for getting a MBA, and will be a cultural fit at the school. Depending on the individual, some folks are ready for business school after 2 years of work experience and others are ready after 5 years. Where you are on your career path and in your life are critical in selecting the right time to go to school. Finally, with regards to the average years of experience for a school, it is simply that--an average. That means half the class is less than that number and half the class is above that number. Thus you will find a range of experience in any class with the majority of students falling somewhere between 2 and 8 years of work experience.

In reply to waltersobchek
3/5/09
waltersobchek:

This might seem like a juvenile question, but if one is applying to a top MBA program, with 3-4 years of Investment Banking, and then Private Equity experience, does knowing a Senior Lecturer help at all with the admission process?

Perhaps. It will not hurt you to know a faculty member, but you should not expect it to give you an advantage either. In most cases, knowing a faculty member is helpful as you should be able to get a thorough introduction to the school, and the faculty member can convey your strength as an applicant to the admissions office. In essence, it helps to make your application less of a paper file and more of a person. Likewise, it can also help you to get an introduction to the Director of Admissions that might otherwise be tough to get.

In reply to BigBear85
3/5/09
BigBear85:

I'm currently an undergraduate who will be joining Teach for America next year. I was wondering how TFA is viewed in terms of placement for business schools. If, for example, I were to do TFA for 2 years then go into one of the more traditional business industries (i-banking or consulting) for 2-3 years, would I be at a disadvantage compared to those who did a more traditional i-banking then PE career path? Would you even recommend applying to business school straight out of TFA, assuming that I have taken the GMAT (700+ score) and with a decent GPA (3.7+ from a top non-target)?

Finally, what advantages are there for taking the CFA? Do business schools take into consideration being CFA chartered in their admissions process?

Congratulations on joining TFA! That is quite an accomplishment. Business schools are very aware of the selectivity of TFA and the caliber of its members, so that should serve you well in the future. TFA has partnerships with many graduate programs, including business schools. Consequently, you should think about when you might want to go to business school as many b-schools waive the application fee for TFA members in their final year of service. If you score well on the GMAT (700+) and have a GPA over a 3.5, I think you could be a competitive applicant after your two years of TFA. However, if you feel you need the corporate work experience first, then you should consider working for a few years prior to applying. Essentially, it comes down to what makes the most sense for you in relation to your career goals and where you are in your personal life. Business schools do not have industry preferences nor do they value banking experience over other industries.

As for the CFA, it will not give you any sort of advantage, per se, but can help to demonstrate your quantitative aptitude.

In reply to lionheart
3/5/09
lionheart:

I'm currently in my last semester of college and have a 3.65 GPA.

I often hear that unlike law school or med school, business schools take a holistic view of the application and things such as work experience, GMAT score, and essays are more important than having a high GPA.

Because I'm planning to take the CPA exam, I am trying to study as much as I can for the exam prior to working. I know this may be an asinine question, but do you think it'd be better to chill on my school work and spend more time on CPA or should I still try to get straight A's? Even if I get straight B's I will have above a 3.5 GPA when I graduate.

Business schools do view applicants holistically, but that is not to say it diminishes the importance of your GPA. All aspects of your application are viewed with equal importance. Like many accounting majors, you are studying for the CPA in your final semester, and as such, must manage your time well. I think you should simply try to do your best in your coursework and on the exam without thinking in terms of sacrificing one for the other. There will not be much significance to your GPA being a 3.5 versus a 3.65. However, if your final semester looks different from the previous semesters in terms of performance, you might want to note why that is in your application (studying for the CPA).

3/18/09

I need help! It's very urgent! The response deadline is next Monday. I'm accepted to Stanford GSB, Chicago GSB and Dartmouth Tuck Bridge summer business programs. I want to apply for Harvard 2+2 program. So, which summer business program shall I choose? My preferences are Stanford and Chicago, coz the Tuck program is too finance-oriented, while Stanford and Chicago programs will teach more, e.g., marketing, corporate strategies.

Any suggestions?

In reply to JZ
3/20/09
JZ:

I need help! It's very urgent! The response deadline is next Monday. I'm accepted to Stanford GSB, Chicago GSB and Dartmouth Tuck Bridge summer business programs. I want to apply for Harvard 2+2 program. So, which summer business program shall I choose? My preferences are Stanford and Chicago, coz the Tuck program is too finance-oriented, while Stanford and Chicago programs will teach more, e.g., marketing, corporate strategies. Any suggestions?

Congratulations on your admission to some great programs! I would suggest thinking about what you want in a program, make a list, and then prioritize the list. Then you can measure each program against the list to see if one rises to the top. Don't forget aspects like cultural fit, location, and industry/alumni connections as these can be as valuable to your experience as curriculum, resources, and programs. Based on the schools, I don't think you can make a "wrong" decision; it is just a matter of determining which is the best fit for you.

3/20/09

Hello Stacy,

I am currently a junior studying business, but am interested in applying for the HBS 2+2 program. I know that they do not usually take business undergrads, but I have a nontraditional background. I've founded two successful startups, the first of which I exited to jump on to the latter, have a history of volunteer work, and have a 3.7 GPA at a top undergrad business program.

First, do you think it would be worthwhile to apply for the 2+2 program, or even for full-time MBA programs if my goals are either to develop business skills to grow my startup ideas or to apply my previous experience to a consulting/technology job?

Second, I have not taken my GMAT or approached my recommenders for letters, and the deadline for the 2+2 program is this July. That leaves just 3 months for both, and I am not sure if I can accomplish both requirements in that time.

I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give. Thank you.

3/22/09

Hi Stacy

I have been following your blog for quite sometime. I have offers
from three B-schools: CMU-Tepper, Toronto-Rotman and McCombs-Texas.

Considering that I am an international coming from non-fin background which school should I be looking at to launch a career in asset-management.

(My fellow primates chip-in here and let me know what you guys think)

Cheers

In reply to Kikuichimonji
3/26/09
Kikuichimonji:

I am currently a junior studying business, but am interested in applying for the HBS 2+2 program. I know that they do not usually take business undergrads, but I have a nontraditional background. I've founded two successful startups, the first of which I exited to jump on to the latter, have a history of volunteer work, and have a 3.7 GPA at a top undergrad business program.

First, do you think it would be worthwhile to apply for the 2+2 program, or even for full-time MBA programs if my goals are either to develop business skills to grow my startup ideas or to apply my previous experience to a consulting/technology job?

Second, I have not taken my GMAT or approached my recommenders for letters, and the deadline for the 2+2 program is this July. That leaves just 3 months for both, and I am not sure if I can accomplish both requirements in that time.

First, I think you need to determine if obtaining a MBA is the right step for you. Depending on your career goals, it might or it might not. If you feel that you do need/want a MBA for professional development, then you should think about when the appropriate time is to go. Should it be after a few years of work experience? Or should you go directly from undergraduate studies? Or should you wait and consider doing an executive program after 10 years of experience?

As for the 2+2 program, I think you should contact HBS to discuss your background in relation to eligibility for the program. While business majors are not prohibited from applying, the program is really designed for non-business majors. Additionally, you have business experience with your start-up opportunities. Based on what HBS has on the website, you appear to be a better fit to apply directly to the MBA program as a college senior. It is not impossible to get an application in by July, but you would need to start preparing for the GMAT immediately and take it by mid-May. Then you would still have a chance to take it a second time if you don't like your score prior to the deadline.

In reply to brucekane
3/26/09
brucekane:

I have been following your blog for quite sometime. I have offers
from three B-schools: CMU-Tepper, Toronto-Rotman and McCombs-Texas.

Considering that I am an international coming from non-fin background which school should I be looking at to launch a career in asset-management.

Congratulations on your admissions offers! What great choices you have in front of you, so you can't make a "wrong" decision. I think it is helpful to approach this decision in a systematic manner making sure you are picking the program that is the best fit. In order to do that, you need to make a list of what is important to you in a program (i.e., curriculum, industry connections/placement success, alumni network, culture, location, etc.). Then you will want to prioritize the list and measure each program against your list. Good luck with your decision and enjoy business school!

3/29/09

Hey Stacy,

Thanks for your willingness to help the community. I have a couple GPA-related questions I would appreciate your help with:

1) Do business schools recalculate your undergraduate GPA or just take the one given by your school? I once failed an introduction to finance class (made a conscious decision to fail so I could retake it) and am retaking it and will likely get an A. My school replaces my old grade with the new in calculating my GPA, but will business schools do the same or count both in the GPA?

2) I am thinking of changing my intermediate accounting course to pass/fail to save my GPA from a B-/C+ which is actually pretty significant considering I am a borderline 3.5 student. How do business schools treat a "P" when calculating my GPA (if they do this at all) and evaluating my application? Would you suggest this? I figure I can prove I have a strong quantitative mind with a high GMAT and because I will soon start working for a top BB investment bank.

3/29/09

I posted this in the general thread but would love your opinion as well:

"I am thinking of studying abroad in China for the second semester of my senior year. However, I'm concerned because my GPA is relatively low and it may be a better idea to stick around at my school to take some classes and boost my GPA (3.5+ --> 3.6+)

In terms of business school admissions, which would make a more positive impact?

I also did poorly in some quantitative courses due to being lazy. Would it be a good idea to stack my last semester with quantitative courses to prove I can count?

3/29/09

I did poorly in my quantitative courses at my university but will be starting at a top BB as an IBD analyst. Would this be enough to show my quantitative skills or should I stack my senior year with more quantitative courses like economics/statistics/accounting and try harder than my previous 3 years?

In reply to jay-z
3/29/09
Kaba Modern:

Thanks for your willingness to help the community. I have a couple GPA-related questions I would appreciate your help with:

1) Do business schools recalculate your undergraduate GPA or just take the one given by your school? I once failed an introduction to finance class (made a conscious decision to fail so I could retake it) and am retaking it and will likely get an A. My school replaces my old grade with the new in calculating my GPA, but will business schools do the same or count both in the GPA?

2) I am thinking of changing my intermediate accounting course to pass/fail to save my GPA from a B-/C+ which is actually pretty significant considering I am a borderline 3.5 student. How do business schools treat a "P" when calculating my GPA (if they do this at all) and evaluating my application? Would you suggest this? I figure I can prove I have a strong quantitative mind with a high GMAT and because I will soon start working for a top BB investment bank.

Business schools do not usually do a recalculation of GPAs. They rely on the applicants to truthfully report the accurate number and expect it to match what is on their transcripts. Nevertheless, you should not rule out the possibility that a school will do its own calculation. In doing so, the school will use the transcripts. Thus you need to determine how these courses will appear on your transcript.

Whether or not you change your intermediate accounting class to pass/fail is your call. If you can do that and still earn the credit, then you might consider it so it does not affect your GPA. Generally speaking, I think schools would rather see an actual grade earned. However, as an applicant, I think if you can change a course to pass/fail to not hurt your GPA then it might be worth doing so. Since there are no grade points associated with a pass/fail, then it will not be part of a GPA calculation.

In reply to jay-z
3/29/09
Kaba Modern:

I am thinking of studying abroad in China for the second semester of my senior year. However, I'm concerned because my GPA is relatively low and it may be a better idea to stick around at my school to take some classes and boost my GPA (3.5+ --> 3.6+)

In terms of business school admissions, which would make a more positive impact?

I also did poorly in some quantitative courses due to being lazy. Would it be a good idea to stack my last semester with quantitative courses to prove I can count?

I think you need to do what makes the most sense for your personal and professional development. I don't think increasing your GPA from a 3.5 to a 3.6 is a significant difference. I do think, however, that it strengthens your application to show high marks in quantitative coursework. So if you did poorly in quantitative courses, then you might want to consider taking some classes and earning A's to demonstrate your aptitude. That is not to say you have to do that now--it is something you can do after you graduate while you are working. Either way, I think you might strongly consider taking courses prior to applying to business school.

In reply to apcpaehfaef
3/29/09
runner88:

I did poorly in my quantitative courses at my university but will be starting at a top BB as an IBD analyst. Would this be enough to show my quantitative skills or should I stack my senior year with more quantitative courses like economics/statistics/accounting and try harder than my previous 3 years?

Simply working in finance will not be enough to mitigate poor marks in quantitative courses. Business schools need to see that you have the aptitude to succeed in the classroom. I think it would be helpful to not only your future applications, but also your career if you take some additional quantitative courses and do well in them. You will also want to score highly on the quantitative section of the GMAT. Finally, you will want to succeed professionally in your career path to demonstrate your ability to practically apply quantitative skills.

3/30/09

Hey Stacy, when you say people can take quantitative courses after we graduate, are you talking about taking community college courses?

Also, would I include these extra community college courses in calculating my GPA, or am I supposed to calculate and write 2 separate GPA's on the business school application (1 for my university and 1 for the courses I've taken at a community college)?

3/30/09

Thanks for the prompt response. A couple more questions...

1) Would stacking my first semester senior year with quantitative courses (accounting/finance/economics), doing well in them, and then traveling abroad the following semester be enough to prove I have a strong quantitative side? Or should I stick around for my final semester to take even more quantitative courses?

2) What about taking quantitative courses while I am abroad? How much would business schools discount these courses because they are not at an American institution? I am participating in study abroad through a university-sponsored program so all courses are transferable and included in my cumulative GPA and major GPA.

Appreciate it.

3/30/09

1. To continue with this discussion, I hear that business schools will recalculate your GPA for the final 2 years of your undergraduate program. Is this true?

2. In this case, if your university includes your study abroad grades in calculating your cumulative and major GPA's, will business schools also include these study abroad grades when calculating your last-2-years GPA? Or will they cut these grades out?

3. I have failed and retaken a course in my junior year - my school replaces the old grade with the new in calculating the GPA (although you still see both grades). Would business schools include BOTH grades in calculating my final-2-years GPA, or just the new one?

In reply to apcpaehfaef
4/3/09
runner88:

Hey Stacy, when you say people can take quantitative courses after we graduate, are you talking about taking community college courses?

Also, would I include these extra community college courses in calculating my GPA, or am I supposed to calculate and write 2 separate GPA's on the business school application (1 for my university and 1 for the courses I've taken at a community college)?

Yes, you can take courses at a community college or university. These courses would not count in your reported GPA for your degree since they do not count towards your degree, but you do want to take them for a grade to show you mastered the material.

In reply to apcpaehfaef
4/3/09
runner88:

Hey Stacy, when you say people can take quantitative courses after we graduate, are you talking about taking community college courses?

Also, would I include these extra community college courses in calculating my GPA, or am I supposed to calculate and write 2 separate GPA's on the business school application (1 for my university and 1 for the courses I've taken at a community college)?

Yes, you can take courses at a community college or university. These courses would not count in your reported GPA for your degree since they do not count towards your degree, but you do want to take them for a grade to show you mastered the material.

In reply to jay-z
4/3/09
Kaba Modern:

1) Would stacking my first semester senior year with quantitative courses (accounting/finance/economics), doing well in them, and then traveling abroad the following semester be enough to prove I have a strong quantitative side? Or should I stick around for my final semester to take even more quantitative courses?

2) What about taking quantitative courses while I am abroad? How much would business schools discount these courses because they are not at an American institution? I am participating in study abroad through a university-sponsored program so all courses are transferable and included in my cumulative GPA and major GPA.

Any of these scenarios will suffice, so choose what works best for you to achieve your goals. As long as the school sees the grade you earn in the courses on your transcript, then you can take them domestically or abroad.

In reply to Beast Mode
4/3/09
Beast Mode:

1. To continue with this discussion, I hear that business schools will recalculate your GPA for the final 2 years of your undergraduate program. Is this true?

2. In this case, if your university includes your study abroad grades in calculating your cumulative and major GPA's, will business schools also include these study abroad grades when calculating your last-2-years GPA? Or will they cut these grades out?

3. I have failed and retaken a course in my junior year - my school replaces the old grade with the new in calculating the GPA (although you still see both grades). Would business schools include BOTH grades in calculating my final-2-years GPA, or just the new one?

1. There are variances on how schools will evaluate your GPA. While some will recalculate for your final 2 years/60 credit hours, other schools do not and look at your cumulative GPA. You will want to clarify with each of your target schools to determine if the school focuses solely on the last 2 years or not.

2. The calculations will be done from the grades reported on your transcripts. Thus if you receive a grade in a study abroad course that shows on your transcript, then it will factor into the calculation.

3. Probably some variance on this question as well--There are probably some schools that will count it in the calculation and some that won't. Most schools will probably follow what your institution does in this regard, but you shouldn't count on it.

4/20/09

Hey Stacy, thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. I have one for you. I'm a senior, finance major in college. I really enjoy music so much that I'm thinking about getting an associate degree in music after I graduate. Would this look good when applying to business school? or do they not care?

Also, I'm planning on taking the GMAT as soon as I graduate. I know the test scores are good for 5 years so is 5 years of work experience enough to get into the top MBA programs.

In reply to AgreeWitMe
4/21/09
AgreeWitMe:

Hey Stacy, thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. I have one for you. I'm a senior, finance major in college. I really enjoy music so much that I'm thinking about getting an associate degree in music after I graduate. Would this look good when applying to business school? or do they not care?

Also, I'm planning on taking the GMAT as soon as I graduate. I know the test scores are good for 5 years so is 5 years of work experience enough to get into the top MBA programs.

An associate's degree in music will not strengthen your application to business school. However, if you do pursue that, it will be important for you to have a solid rationale behind why you got the degree and how it is been useful to you.

Your GMAT score is good for 5 years, but you will want to make sure you are applying in the right time range as some schools will require the score be within 5 years of matriculating, not applying. Top MBA programs prefer (some require) at least 2 years of professional, full-time work experience (this means after you graduate with a bachelor's degree). It is not the quantity of work experience that matters, but the quality of the experience. So, it is important to demonstrate a successful track record and career progression in your applications.

4/21/09

Hi Stacy. Just got a quick question about picking classes in my final semester in college. Here are my results from the economics/math classes I've taken:

Math 1A: Calculus (A -)
Math 1B: Calculus (B)
UGBA 101A: Macroeconomics (B)
ECON 100B: Microeconomics (P...I took it pass/fail)

For my last class next semester, I am deciding between:
ECON C181: International Trade
Math 53: Multivariable Calculus

My poor grades in the past were more a result of a bad work ethic rather than a lack of understanding. I like both subjects and am pretty sure I can do well in both courses. I understand admissions committees look for quantitative courses, so I was wondering which course you would suggest? Thanks a lot!

In reply to agpceiahfpaef
4/21/09
Sandwich158:

Hi Stacy. Just got a quick question about picking classes in my final semester in college. For my last class next semester, I am deciding between:
ECON C181: International Trade
Math 53: Multivariable Calculus

I like both subjects and am pretty sure I can do well in both courses. I understand admissions committees look for quantitative courses, so I was wondering which course you would suggest? Thanks a lot!

I think you should take the course that most interests you or makes the most sense for your career after graduating. I think the multivariable calculus course would be a better demonstration of your quantitative aptitude than the economics course though. Regardless of which you take, it will be important for you to do well and end your transcript on a positive note.

4/22/09
4/23/09

What value does an MBA hold outside of the U.S., particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. If you have been working abroad and eventually want to return to an overseas location, how might MBA admissions people look at this, that is if they tend to weigh the potential impact of an MBA on a person and his/her career after school when making acceptance decisions?

In reply to kacryawbnraatbs
4/29/09
Barbara Stanwyck:

What value does an MBA hold outside of the U.S., particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. If you have been working abroad and eventually want to return to an overseas location, how might MBA admissions people look at this, that is if they tend to weigh the potential impact of an MBA on a person and his/her career after school when making acceptance decisions?

The value of your MBA will vary in different world regions as well as by industry. There are definitely industries that value MBAs more than others, and some industries require folks to have a graduate degree to move up past a certain level. There are business schools in many countries throughout the world and there are advantages to going to business school in the location where you want to be when you finish. Business schools do evaluate applicants based on their career goals, how business school makes sense for those goals, and how strong of a fit the school is for those goals. So, the onus is on the applicant to present a strong rationale for why he/she wants a MBA in relation to his/her past experience and future career goals. If you want to be in the Asia-Pacific region, then you might consider business school in that region of the world. There are many options in the Asia-Pacific region now, including some that are partnerships between a US or EU school with a school in the region.

5/2/09

Hey Stacy, someone asked about how bschools average GPAS if you attended two schools and you said "Many schools will use the cumulative GPA from the institution you graduated from as your GPA statistic in your evaluation. Other schools will use the GPA for only your last 60 hours. Then there are some schools who will use the overall, cumulative GPA factoring in your grades from all schools attended." Can you name a few top schools that use the first or second method or were you just generally speaking?

5/4/09

Hi Stacy,

I've seen some discussion of this topic before, but what's your take on taking the GMAT multiple times? Say you take it once in senior year of college but don't get a score you like. 3 year later, you take it and do much better. I assume that should be fine?

And also, is there an option to cancel test scores, and if so, is it ever worth using?

Thanks!

In reply to excelsior
5/6/09
excelsior:

Hey Stacy, someone asked about how bschools average GPAS if you attended two schools and you said "Many schools will use the cumulative GPA from the institution you graduated from as your GPA statistic in your evaluation. Other schools will use the GPA for only your last 60 hours. Then there are some schools who will use the overall, cumulative GPA factoring in your grades from all schools attended." Can you name a few top schools that use the first or second method or were you just generally speaking?

Most schools will indicate how they evaluate your academic history, including the GPA calculation, in their admissions information. If you do not see detail on this, then the best course of action is to ask the school's admissions office directly. Schools do change their methods as new Admissions Directors and/or Deans take over a business school or in response to other factors.

In reply to WHMD
5/6/09
WHMD:

I've seen some discussion of this topic before, but what's your take on taking the GMAT multiple times? Say you take it once in senior year of college but don't get a score you like. 3 year later, you take it and do much better. I assume that should be fine? And also, is there an option to cancel test scores, and if so, is it ever worth using?

Most people take the GMAT at least twice, so there is nothing wrong or negative with taking the GMAT multiple times. Schools usually use the test with the highest total score in your evaluation. You do have an option to cancel your scores during the exam, but not after. I would only suggest doing so if you are confident the score is not going to reflect your abilities.

Accepted.com
5/6/09

Hi Stacy,

My undergraduate performance was fairly decent, but my GPA took a drop in my final semester due to slacking off on a general requirement course, in which I received a C+. How can I best make up for this shortcoming if I plan on applying to the top MBA programs in the nation after a few more years of professional experience? Thank you for taking my question.

In reply to xenowang
5/11/09
xenowang:

My undergraduate performance was fairly decent, but my GPA took a drop in my final semester due to slacking off on a general requirement course, in which I received a C+. How can I best make up for this shortcoming if I plan on applying to the top MBA programs in the nation after a few more years of professional experience?

You can't change what will be seen on your transcript, but it is unclear how much (if any) impact a slide in your last semester will affect your admissions evaluation--especially if it is one class. If you have a strong GMAT score and an otherwise strong transcript, I don't think you should worry much about your last semester or the C+ in the course. Once you are ready to apply to school and know what your GMAT score is, you can revisit your undergraduate performance and determine if you need do something more to address it.

5/11/09

Hi Stacy,

I was wondering what your thoughts were on my position. I plan on applying round 1 this fall to a mix of top schools. Roughly 3 M7 with 2-3 lower ranked schools as well. Profile: M/White/24/2 yrs Tech Consulting/3.4 top State/decent ec's.

My goal is to move into finance, targeting VC/PE space. I was recently offered a position at a boutique financial service firm, in a consulting capacity. The work sounds interesting and fits with my goals, I would be working with a group providing advice to early stage-companies (work would be applicable to VC).

How do you think this type of move would be regarded? I would be there roughly 4-5 months before applications, and a little over a year before matriculation. I would view this similarly to an extended internship to gain experience and perspective to help in gaining a VC/PE role post-MBA.

5/14/09

Hello Stacy,

Would you be able to give me a rough idea as to how an honors degree GPA would weigh against a regular degree GPA. Honors as in separate economics program, where courses are close to the Graduate level and clearly listed on the transcript as Honors Micro/Macro etc... There is significant deflation in my program; in fact it is not uncommon that regular business school students enter the program with GPA >3.6 and either get kicked out or drop out of the program. I was wondering cetaris perabis, how this would be seen for MBA admissions at top programs. Lets say hypothetically you graduate honors, ~2-4% of faculty every year, but have a 3.0 CGPA which in this case would be the strict minimum requirement to stay in the program, how would that look for the admissions committee?

In reply to millerbdog
5/15/09
millerbdog:

I was wondering what your thoughts were on my position. I plan on applying round 1 this fall to a mix of top schools. Roughly 3 M7 with 2-3 lower ranked schools as well. Profile: M/White/24/2 yrs Tech Consulting/3.4 top State/decent ec's.

My goal is to move into finance, targeting VC/PE space. I was recently offered a position at a boutique financial service firm, in a consulting capacity. The work sounds interesting and fits with my goals, I would be working with a group providing advice to early stage-companies (work would be applicable to VC).

How do you think this type of move would be regarded? I would be there roughly 4-5 months before applications, and a little over a year before matriculation. I would view this similarly to an extended internship to gain experience and perspective to help in gaining a VC/PE role post-MBA.

It seems the job opportunity is in line with your future career goals, so if you want to make the move, then you should. There is no reason to be concerned with the timing--you will be there long enough by applications to talk/write knowledgeably about the role and enough time before you enter school to have accomplishments for your resume.

In reply to glowinthedark
5/15/09
glowinthedark:

Would you be able to give me a rough idea as to how an honors degree GPA would weigh against a regular degree GPA. Honors as in separate economics program, where courses are close to the Graduate level and clearly listed on the transcript as Honors Micro/Macro etc... There is significant deflation in my program; in fact it is not uncommon that regular business school students enter the program with GPA >3.6 and either get kicked out or drop out of the program. I was wondering cetaris perabis, how this would be seen for MBA admissions at top programs. Lets say hypothetically you graduate honors, ~2-4% of faculty every year, but have a 3.0 CGPA which in this case would be the strict minimum requirement to stay in the program, how would that look for the admissions committee?

Admissions offices at most schools are aware of grading differences in honors programs. However, I think it is important for you to also provide a concise explanation in your application--especially if the transcript does not note the difference in your coursework.

5/15/09

Hello Stacy,
I am just wondering what your opinion and experience has been in regards to business students who obtain their undergrad degree from a Canadian university and how it impacts admissions for top MBA programs in the US and Europe.

Thanks.

5/18/09

Hi Stacy,

I am going to build an alternative transcript but am not sure where to do it. I am looking at either taking online courses through UC Berkeley Extension which are equivalent to the classes I've done poorly in (I'm a current UC Berkeley student) versus taking classes at a local community college. What would you suggest?

Thanks.

5/18/09

Hello Stacy,

I am considering retaking an introductory statistics course I got a C- in. It won't replace the grade but I'm confident I can ace the course. What is your opinion of this decision?

Thanks,

Jay

In reply to Ganthor
5/21/09
Ganthor:

I am just wondering what your opinion and experience has been in regards to business students who obtain their undergrad degree from a Canadian university and how it impacts admissions for top MBA programs in the US and Europe.

Graduating from a Canadian school has no impact, positive or negative, with regards to business school admissions. There is not a preferred degree or preferred list of undergraduate colleges/universities by top business schools, nor is there a list of schools that top MBA programs don't like. What does have an impact is how you performed academically, how hard your major was, and how selective your undergraduate school is in its admissions.

In reply to Ganthor
5/21/09
Ganthor:

I am just wondering what your opinion and experience has been in regards to business students who obtain their undergrad degree from a Canadian university and how it impacts admissions for top MBA programs in the US and Europe.

In reply to days150
5/21/09
days150:

I am going to build an alternative transcript but am not sure where to do it. I am looking at either taking online courses through UC Berkeley Extension which are equivalent to the classes I've done poorly in (I'm a current UC Berkeley student) versus taking classes at a local community college. What would you suggest?

Either the Extension or a local community college is fine; there is not a preference per se. However, I do think you should consider timing and take the courses within the year prior to submitting your applications. The idea is you need to demonstrate your ability to succeed in the classroom, so the courses need to be successfully completed close to/around the time when you will be applying to business school.

In reply to jay-z
5/21/09
jay-z:

I am considering retaking an introductory statistics course I got a C- in. It won't replace the grade but I'm confident I can ace the course. What is your opinion of this decision?

Retaking a course and receiving an A in it will certainly not hurt you. If you have done well in other quantitative courses, then it might not be necessary. Whether or not you should retake the class is really a determination you need to make in relation to the rest of your transcript and GMAT score.

6/20/09

With regards to your fees, I'm wondering if you've ever considered an option where an applicant pays a base price, and then pays you a bonus if he/she gets accepted to the school. For example, instead of 2500 for an application, they'll pay you 2000 base and 1000 bonus. This would give incentive to both potential applicants to enlist your service as there is a lower entry fee, and it would also give them the satisfaction that you are providing them the best service given the incentive.

6/22/09

Stacy,

I have a direction question for you. I have been wrestling with a few options on what to do when I graduate in May of 2010 in terms of going to graduate school or employment.

As for my background, I am currently a rising senior at the U. of South Carolina majoring in Finance and accounting with a minor in Econ. I have a 3.65 GPA and am taking the GMAT this summer after intense study. I am the president of the finance club and the president/founder of the econ club. I am involved in several other leadership positions in other clubs and have 4 related internships (state tax, local pwm, SmithBarney, and investment mgmt firm).

I want to work in research or investment mgmt. After about 3-5 years I want to go to a hopefully a top ten MBA school. So my current options are:
1) Stay longer than 4 years at USC and get the required math courses for a MFE or similar.
2) Skip the math and shoot for just a master of finance.
3) Get a master of accounting.
4) Attempt to get a job with weak OCR in FAS of big 4 or attempt finance career.

What option do you think will get me into a decent career the quickest and look best on a MBA app.?
I am open to any and all other suggestions.
Thank you.

6/22/09

Hi Stacey,

One of my biggest goals, if not the biggest, is to go to a Top 5 MBA school. You might find that strange. I realize a MBA should not be the primary focus and our careers/life should dictate if we actually need an MBA. However, for me, the MBA has become the primary focus. You don't have to fully understand me, but just be willing to help.

My main problem is I go to a non-target school, the University of Washington, that is ranked Top 50. My GPA is around 3.7. I am double majoring in Computer Science (UW is #6 in Nation in CS) and Math. I'm a Sophmore planning to graduate in 2011.

So my question is, what kind of work experiences should I aim for after undergraduate to optimize my chances at a Top 5 MBA school? I know it ultimately depends on how well I do at the work, however I was just wondering based solely educational background, which jobs would suit me and optimize my chances at a Top 5 program?

6/23/09

the only way you'll optimize your chances are if you do something you are interested in or passionate about. Chances are if you pursue such a strategy you will do better at your job than if you were doing something just for money, prestige etc. When writing business school applications it will be easier to lay out your story and reasons for wanting to pursue an MBA if you are able to talk about a job you have enjoyed doing. No specific job will give you an added advantage. Business schools seem to have a lot of bankers and consultants from a few select cities in the country which, in my opinion, is not the greatest dynamic for an MBA class. There needs to be more people in fields that actually innovate and produce things of use to society, not a bunch of paper pushers.

6/23/09

Hi Stacy,

I am wondering if you could provide some clarity.
I have recently graduated from a British University with a a high Upper Second Class honours degree (2:1) in Politics.
I interned with a top 5 BB bank within their IBD department in my final year and am starting as an analyst within IBD again at a competitor.

Though I studied higher maths at school, I had no quantitative background at university. I am wondering whether this will be a hindrance when and if I decide to apply to a business school.

I should state that I am very much comfortable with statistics, calculus etc but feel that my resume might not be able to demonstrate this except through my work experience.

In reply to shcresearcher
6/25/09
shcresearcher:

I have a direction question for you. I have been wrestling with a few options on what to do when I graduate in May of 2010 in terms of going to graduate school or employment.

As for my background, I am currently a rising senior at the U. of South Carolina majoring in Finance and accounting with a minor in Econ. I have a 3.65 GPA and am taking the GMAT this summer after intense study. I am the president of the finance club and the president/founder of the econ club. I am involved in several other leadership positions in other clubs and have 4 related internships (state tax, local pwm, SmithBarney, and investment mgmt firm).

I want to work in research or investment mgmt. After about 3-5 years I want to go to a hopefully a top ten MBA school. So my current options are:
1) Stay longer than 4 years at USC and get the required math courses for a MFE or similar.
2) Skip the math and shoot for just a master of finance.
3) Get a master of accounting.
4) Attempt to get a job with weak OCR in FAS of big 4 or attempt finance career.

What option do you think will get me into a decent career the quickest and look best on a MBA app.?
I am open to any and all other suggestions.
Thank you.

All 4 options have potential and none will be viewed more favorably than another when you apply to business school in ~5 years. Aside from getting at least a couple of years of professional, full-time work experience, a master's degree in finance or accounting is not going to necessarily strengthen your application, but it certainly won't hurt you. If you feel one of these masters degrees will be helpful for the type of work you want to pursue before business school, then it might be a good option. Likewise, you can apply to graduate school while looking for work over the next few months and then pick from the options available to you. Basically, you need to take the path that interests you the most as that will be the path where you will achieve the most success.

In reply to ssk13809
6/25/09
ssk13809:

Hi Stacey,

One of my biggest goals, if not the biggest, is to go to a Top 5 MBA school. You might find that strange. I realize a MBA should not be the primary focus and our careers/life should dictate if we actually need an MBA. However, for me, the MBA has become the primary focus. You don't have to fully understand me, but just be willing to help.

My main problem is I go to a non-target school, the University of Washington, that is ranked Top 50. My GPA is around 3.7. I am double majoring in Computer Science (UW is #6 in Nation in CS) and Math. I'm a Sophmore planning to graduate in 2011.

So my question is, what kind of work experiences should I aim for after undergraduate to optimize my chances at a Top 5 MBA school? I know it ultimately depends on how well I do at the work, however I was just wondering based solely educational background, which jobs would suit me and optimize my chances at a Top 5 program?

You need to pursue a career that truly interests you as you will accomplish more if you love your work rather than if you are just doing what you think is the "best choice". There is no preferred industry or type of work, just like there is no preferred list of schools, for business school admissions. With a degree in CS and math, you have plenty of options for your career path. Whatever path you take, just make the most of the opportunities presented to you to gain a breadth and depth of experience. Having accomplishments in your career that you can cite on your resume and in your essays will be the best thing you can to for a competitive application to a top 5 MBA program.

In reply to BrownMan
6/25/09
BrownMan:

Hi Stacy,

I am wondering if you could provide some clarity.
I have recently graduated from a British University with a a high Upper Second Class honours degree (2:1) in Politics.
I interned with a top 5 BB bank within their IBD department in my final year and am starting as an analyst within IBD again at a competitor.

Though I studied higher maths at school, I had no quantitative background at university. I am wondering whether this will be a hindrance when and if I decide to apply to a business school.

I should state that I am very much comfortable with statistics, calculus etc but feel that my resume might not be able to demonstrate this except through my work experience.

Having little quantitative coursework on your transcript will not necessarily be a hindrance, but it depends on how well you do on the GMAT. If you score well on the quant section, then you should not be overly concerned. However, if you do not score well on the quant section, then that will raise a concern on your quantitative aptitude. Of course, having quantitative aspects to your job will serve you well and demonstrate some aptitude. I think you will need to wait and see how your GMAT turns out before you decide whether you need to take further action.

8/27/09

Hello Stacy,

Im new on WSO and I find this thread very interesting.

I know this post is loooong but please indulge me,

Here is my story...

I am a Nigerian who lives and works in Nigeria..Im considering making an application to Stanford GSB for the MBA programme beginning in 2010, I really need your candid opinion on my chances of gaining admission given my brief profile below.

Undergrad: University of Ibadan (2.1)Second Class Upper Division Geography

GMAT: 740(97%) Q:49(88%) V:42(95%) AWA:6.0 (87%)

Work experience I will have WHEN I BEGIN THE PROGRAMME:

DURING A YEAR OF COMMUNITY SERVICE IN A REALLY EDUCATIONALLY DISADVANTAGED RURAL COMMUNITY IN MY COUNTRY, I SERVED AS THE FIRST EVER GEOGRAPHY TUTOR TO SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS: NOVEMBER 2007- OCTOBER 2008

ZENITH BANK PLC (RELATIONSHIP MANAGER): DEC 08- SEPT 09

KPMG (Business Performance Services): OCT 2009- SEPT 2010

Total experience will be roughly 32months when I begin assuming my application is successful.

Extra Curriculars and Teamwork: Im sorta weak in the Extracurricular area and that is my major concern,I really didn't have the opportunity to engage in all the cool extracurricular projects most of my fellow applicants will undoubteldy have been engaged in. Apart from my community service in which I was able to mentor a number of really disadvantaged and very poor children in Northern Nigeria and encourage them to have dreams that extended beyond their local farming community and tofollow these dreams, I was also head of the Village Christian Fellowship (a very culturally diverse group) and spearheaded a number of initiatives such as a successful fund raising to aquire a plot of land in order to build a new church building. At University, I was a member of a number of Faculty associations but not as a leader. I am also a trader (albeit an absolute NOVICE) in the forex spot markets..Legitimately and not just as a last minute window dressing act,I am in the process of setting up an online forum that will have the sole purpose of encouraging individuals to demonstrate Ambition, Determination and Drive and to follow their dreams despite the odds. Apart from these, I don't really have much else.

For teamwork, I worked in a couple of teams during my undergrad days. At work, I have had a lot of significant responsibilities even though, Ive worked for less than a year. I also won the 'Team Player' award at my Zenith Bank Orientation/Induction course....

Career Aspirations: Im passionate about the Finance Sector particularly Principal Investing and specifically in Goldman Sachs (Just finished reading a 750 page book on the history of the firm; Almost Everyone around me thinks Ive lost it!)

PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS: I will be taking the CFA Level 1 in June next year.

Finally, for what its worth, I was admitted into the Brand New London Business School Masters in Management Programme beginning Sept 2009. Unfortunately, I had to forefeit this programme because I could not afford to pay the tuition and living expenses despite two scholarships. I won two scholarships, one of which is the prestigious London Business School Annual Fund Scholarship which also automatically which automatically conferred on me the status of member of the elite LBS Masters in Management 'Scholars' Circle' I am able to write my heart out when I really want to. The LBS applcation had 6 BRUTAL essays (plus an Interview conducted by an even more brutal Alumnus)

Please give me your candid opinion on my chances at Stanford, I really love what Ive read on the website and think I would love to be a part of that great community. Furthermore, they also offer loans to Int. Students without a co-signer (a funding option I sooo require)...

8/28/09

Hi Stacy, I have a dilemma.

I graduated in May 2009 and I didn't really know what I wanted to do after my undergrad, so I decided to go into finance because that's what everyone seemed to be applying to. I was lucky to get an IBD job at a BB, but it turns out that the bank overhired and I was one of a handful of people who was transferred to back office roles. I know I should be lucky to have a job in this economy but every day I can feel my brain rotting from the boring work. My question is, do you think I should apply for an MBA now, since this job is getting me no where in terms of my professional goals? Or should I stick it out for the 2 year program, save up some cash, and then apply then?

Also, I am interested in entrepreneurship, and I was wondering how much value an MBA degree would add; would it be just better to invest the 100k tuition as seed capital?

Lastly, I don't want to give a typical "what are my chances" question, but how do MBAs look upon nontraditional degrees? I have an engineering degree from a top 10 school with ~3.9 GPA, but I have taken very few business courses.

Thanks for your help!

8/29/09

Hi Stacy,

I am hoping you can give me some insight into how well regarded the HEC Paris MBA is ( As a bench mark you could compare it to say Oxford or Cambridge )

I understand that INSEAD and LBS would be considered to be better but then even in the US there are lots of good schools which are not H/W/S ie Columbia,Stern etc.. Would HEC Paris figure in Europe's list of similar, good non H/W/S schools ?

As background I have a First Class Bachelors in Acc & Fin, completed the CFA Program, worked for 5 years in finance - known names, work ex is decent, broad exposure - lots of good extra curriculars ( debating prizes, active at NGOs ) and sports - national level. GMAT 720.

Which schools would be stretch/reach ?

Many thanks

In reply to JimBeam69
8/30/09
COKERDI:

I am a Nigerian who lives and works in Nigeria..Im considering making an application to Stanford GSB for the MBA programme beginning in 2010, I really need your candid opinion on my chances of gaining admission given my brief profile....

Based on the information posted on your profile and your admission to LBS, I think your chances at Stanford are good, assuming you submit a strong set of essays, good recommendations and do well in your interview. Scholarships to top MBA programs, like LBS and Stanford, are quite rare and not something you should expect. If you had issues with the cost of LBS after scholarships, you should really determine if you will have the funds necessary to cover Stanford in the event you are admitted. While Stanford might offer loans to international students without a co-signer, they are loans which means you must pay them back when you finish. As long as you feel you will be able to have the funds to attend, then I think you should apply and see what happens. You do have quite a bit to offer, so I hope you can work out your financing and be in business school next August.

In reply to is-t
8/30/09
is-t:

I graduated in May 2009 and I didn't really know what I wanted to do after my undergrad, so I decided to go into finance because that's what everyone seemed to be applying to. I was lucky to get an IBD job at a BB, but it turns out that the bank overhired and I was one of a handful of people who was transferred to back office roles. I know I should be lucky to have a job in this economy but every day I can feel my brain rotting from the boring work. My question is, do you think I should apply for an MBA now, since this job is getting me no where in terms of my professional goals? Or should I stick it out for the 2 year program, save up some cash, and then apply then?

Also, I am interested in entrepreneurship, and I was wondering how much value an MBA degree would add; would it be just better to invest the 100k tuition as seed capital?

Lastly, I don't want to give a typical "what are my chances" question, but how do MBAs look upon nontraditional degrees? I have an engineering degree from a top 10 school with ~3.9 GPA, but I have taken very few business courses.

These are all good questions, so thanks for posting. First, I can certainly empathize with your job situation and you will need to determine what the best course of action is for you. More business schools are open to admitting folks with less than 2 years of experience if they demonstrate high academic aptitude (GMAT & GPA) and evidence of leadership potential, maturity and motivation. Whether or not you want to give it a go to enter in fall 2010 is your call; just be ready to answer the "why now" question in your interview and essays.

As for your second question, I think it depends on how ready you feel to launch a business based on your current education and experience. To secure financing from investors and/or banks, you will be expected to have a solid business plan. Many business schools do have some great electives in this regard, but there are also some books and resources out there as well. I have never heard an entrepreneur say he/she regrets getting his/her MBA, so there is value there. You just need to figure out if you think you can successfully launch a business with your current level of knowledge.

Business schools do not prefer applicants with business degrees. They want a broad spectrum of education, experience and backgrounds in their classes. The engineering degree + MBA combo is especially attractive to many industries and quite a nice skill set for many types of jobs out there. Your high GPA in a tough, quantitative and analytical major will be an asset to you in demonstrating your ability to handle the rigors of business school.

In reply to greatgolfer
8/30/09
greatgolfer:

Hi Stacy,

I am hoping you can give me some insight into how well regarded the HEC Paris MBA is ( As a bench mark you could compare it to say Oxford or Cambridge )

I understand that INSEAD and LBS would be considered to be better but then even in the US there are lots of good schools which are not H/W/S ie Columbia,Stern etc.. Would HEC Paris figure in Europe's list of similar, good non H/W/S schools ?

HEC Paris is a strong program with a great reputation in the EU. It is also broadening its recognition on a global scale all the time. I think your analogy of LBS/INSEAD being the H/W/S of the EU is a good one and would agree that HEC would then be seen as a good school on par with Stern and Duke. Based on the limited profile you posted, I think you are a competitive candidate for many business schools. I always suggest people consider applying to a mix of schools that are a good match for their career goals. So perhaps look at applying to 1-2 reach and then 1-3 reasonable-to-safety schools?

In reply to Stacy_Blackman
8/31/09
8/31/09

Hello Stacy,

First of all, thanks for all your advice so far on this forum. I am a prospective MBA candidate with a technology operations background and I am currently pursuing the CFA charter. My questions for you is: If I want to end up getting into IB/equity research position post my MBA, will CFA add value to my B-School candidacy? And if so,how would I justify doing an MBA in Finance with a CFA? Does it sound redundant?

Please advice.

In reply to sunnyrollen
8/31/09
sunnyrollen:

Hello Stacy,

First of all, thanks for all your advice so far on this forum. I am a prospective MBA candidate with a technology operations background and I am currently pursuing the CFA charter. My questions for you is: If I want to end up getting into IB/equity research position post my MBA, will CFA add value to my B-School candidacy? And if so,how would I justify doing an MBA in Finance with a CFA? Does it sound redundant?

The CFA can add value, how much is debatable, in the admissions process for business school. It helps to demonstrate quantitative aptitude, motivation, and career focus. It is certainly not going to hurt you if you do not have your CFA, but how much it helps will vary.

The CFA is by no means redundant to the MBA degree, nor are they viewed as equivalent in the finance world. The CFA is a certification for a specialized niche in the finance field earned by passing exams and gaining a set number of years experience in finance. The MBA, on the other hand, is a degree granted from a university that combines a solid business foundation from the core curriculum with the ability to specialize in a discipline, like finance, through elective courses. I encourage you to talk with some managers or managing directors in IB/equity research to get their opinion on if you need one or both to pursue a career in that field.

In reply to Stacy_Blackman
8/31/09

Stacy,

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

9/1/09

Thank you for your feedback Stacy...It was encouraging...I'm aware of the implications of a loan but I think it is a risk I am willing to take (if I can get admitted to a top flight programme like Stanford)..Watching LBS fade away due to finances was heartbreaking..If I get in, I'll do whatever it takes to secure the fundung..

9/3/09

Hi Stacy...thank you for sharing your insight with us. I have been an ardent fan of yours - your website, blogs, podcasts, and articles. I was wondering if you can give me your opinion on my chances of getting into a top 10 business school:

I recently graduated from a state university with a Bachelors degree in Economics but with a low GPA (below 3-owing to several adverse circumstances) and I have an Associate's degree in Mathematics with a 3.6 GPA...I was President of Student Government during my freshman and sophomore years and Vice President of my honors society...I have over the past one year been working for a venture lending/venture debt firm (mirrors venture capital firms) in NYC. Prior to that I worked at a middle market investment bank as an M&A intern.

I'm currently studying for the CFA Level 1 and CAIA Level 1 exams. I blog about cutting edge and disruptive technologies, trends in the VC industry, poverty, sea creatures and emerging economies - my passions.

I have a very diverse background, as a minority - being born in Japan and raised in five countries and speak four languages. I mentored and tutored inner city high school kids for two years and expect to continue my involvement in other community
initiatives.

I have had a brief conversation with one of your associates when I considered your consulting service - which I intend to make use of. But I have been very scared of my chances of getting in...what is your take? I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

In reply to mattigator
9/3/09

Without knowing more about your background and what schools you are targeting, it is impossible to really comment on your chances. Based on what you did post, you have some quality work experience, albeit for only a year, and some interesting life experiences. You will need a high GMAT to mitigate your GPA, but it appears there is evidence that you can do well in college, so that will help mitigate the cumulative GPA also. Top 10 schools are highly competitive and a reach for most applicants, but anyone has a chance if they present a strong, overall application. I think you need to assess your current profile and what you can do between now and the time you apply to strengthen your profile. That will give you the best chance when you do apply.

9/4/09

Hi Stacy,

Thanks for your reply earlier. I wanted to ask about Exchange Programs. If someone from a good european school attends an EP at a top 3 US school, is there any benefit from a recruiting standpoint ? If given full access to the career service at the top 3 school, will the chances at getting a good job ( US or any location ) be significantly increased ? Or is it that recruiters will discount the EP and look at the parent institution ( which might be lesser known ) ?

Thanks

In reply to greatgolfer
9/4/09
greatgolfer:

Thanks for your reply earlier. I wanted to ask about Exchange Programs. If someone from a good european school attends an EP at a top 3 US school, is there any benefit from a recruiting standpoint ? If given full access to the career service at the top 3 school, will the chances at getting a good job ( US or any location ) be significantly increased ? Or is it that recruiters will discount the EP and look at the parent institution ( which might be lesser known ) ? Thanks

The likelihood someone on an exchange program would be given the same access to the career center is small. Even if the exchange students are given access, the recruiters will still be looking at the parent institution as it will reflect that on your resume as the degree-granting institution. However, you can still take advantage of the resources and network of the exchange institution while there if you put in the effort.

9/5/09
9/8/09

Hi Stacy, thanks a lot for you help.

I wanted to know what kind of bschool a student that was a VERY low starter in college (Engineering 6yrs program turned to 9 or 10) and had several(lots of) courses failed in a top (regional) but third world university.
Even if he managed to graduate with good grades(i think he managed to graduate with 1st class honors, not sure about that) and has been a teacher's assistant and also a research assistant for respectable but young and unknown professor (top 10 Ph.D in finance).

The student himself had a Big4 CF internship in 2008 and got a FT offer. He also is managing several job offers from local boutique i-banks. I don't know if those are for FO tho.

As far as I know his coworkers had good degrees (MBA/MSF/Ph.D from top european bschools, think ESADE, LBS etc..)so he could get rec. letters from them.

He had also limited ECs in school due to the fact he was a father and had a part-time job. He has very good social and leadership skills, but you can tell he's a bit unsecure due to his college record. And well he 's a bit old ~28 or so. He was the best student in most finance related courses in college (aparently the job interviews had gone very well until they realize he is older than and start asking questions, he looks very young, i mean like 19y or 20y so ppl don't realize he's old easily).

Thanks a lot for your help.

9/9/09

Hi Stacy,

Thank you for this opportunity. I just wanted to see how real of a shot I would have at either HBS, Stanford, or Columbia.

I just graduated from a state school with a double major in Finance and Ecomonics, with a 3.75 gpa. My GMAT score is a 730 49 Q and 45 V 5 W

My EC's were very business oriented but I held leadership positions in all of them. I worked on campus outside of the business aspect. I have no experience with community service or that type of stuff and have not really found a passion that I would pursue there, but I feel like I have heard that is needed.

I just started working at a BB bank within wealth management, and have begun pursuit of my CFA.

Will I really stand out from the tons of finance workers that apply to b school ? (I will add I am a white american male but have no idea whether that would matter) Also, is there any benefit to me applying sooner i.e. 2 years into worklife versus later 4-5 years into worklife

In reply to Hyped31
9/12/09

Dear Hyped31,

You have the academic numbers (GPA & GMAT) to be competitive at HBS, Stanford and Columbia. Since decisions are made on more than those numbers, your essays, recommendations, resume and interviews are critical to the process. You will need to show progression in your career, gaining breadth/depth of experience, and evidence of leadership potential. On the surface, you will look similar to other applicants with finance experience. Thus you will want to use experiences from outside of work to distinguish yourself. This is where community work or significant interests/hobbies are helpful. Find something (or a few things) in the next few months that you can get involved with.

As for when you apply, it is when you are ready. There is not an advantage to waiting until you have 4-5 years experience unless you will gain some quality work experience to strengthen your profile. If you feel you are ready after 2 years with a solid rationale for going to business school, then you should apply after 2 years. Remember, your GMAT score is only good for 5 years, so you will want to apply within that timeline to use your 730.

In reply to kraken
9/12/09
kraken:

I wanted to know what kind of bschool a student that was a VERY low starter in college (Engineering 6yrs program turned to 9 or 10) and had several(lots of) courses failed in a top (regional) but third world university.
Even if he managed to graduate with good grades(i think he managed to graduate with 1st class honors, not sure about that) and has been a teacher's assistant and also a research assistant for respectable but young and unknown professor (top 10 Ph.D in finance).

The student himself had a Big4 CF internship in 2008 and got a FT offer. He also is managing several job offers from local boutique i-banks. I don't know if those are for FO tho.

As far as I know his coworkers had good degrees (MBA/MSF/Ph.D from top european bschools, think ESADE, LBS etc..)so he could get rec. letters from them.

He had also limited ECs in school due to the fact he was a father and had a part-time job. He has very good social and leadership skills, but you can tell he's a bit unsecure due to his college record. And well he 's a bit old ~28 or so. He was the best student in most finance related courses in college (aparently the job interviews had gone very well until they realize he is older than and start asking questions, he looks very young, i mean like 19y or 20y so ppl don't realize he's old easily).

Many folks matriculate every fall into MBA programs, including top 20, with a nontraditional path to their undergraduate degree. Taking longer due to personal circumstances is not a negative; what matters is how the person grew and matured along the way. Just like any other applicant, his transcript will be scrutinized for performance in college and his work experience will be evaluated to determine if he has gained breadth/depth in his career. Basically, he should not let the nontraditional path to his degree derail him from his career aspirations.

9/22/09

thanks for your earlier advice Stacy...I was wondering what your opinion is on JD/MBA prog at UPenn/Wharton, and at Northwestern and the January late start MBA at Columbia...thanx

9/23/09

Hi Stacy,

Further to your reply earlier, I checked with the concerned schools about exchange students getting full acccess to the career service. Each school came back saying that exchange students do in fact get as much access as regular students.

Now, I understand that the CV of an exchange student will not be in a CV book but will getting full access as described above be beneficial enough for recruiting. I'm trying to assess if being in a CV book is the most important part or is there something else as well.

You mentioned that one could take advantage of the network and resources of the exchange school. In your opinion will alumni be responsive towards someone on an exchange viz-a-viz regular students ?

Thanks

9/23/09

Hey Stace, you making an appearance at that Glocap thingie?

9/24/09

Hi Stacy,

Can I request you to make an objective comparison between the Oxford and HEC Paris MBA Programs. Is there a reasonable gap either way or is it negligible ?
Broadly I would like to remain in the Finance sector post MBA ( Asset Mangement would be tops ).

I deeply appreciate your views.

Thanks

In reply to mattigator
9/24/09
mattigator:

thanks for your earlier advice Stacy...I was wondering what your opinion is on JD/MBA prog at UPenn/Wharton, and at Northwestern and the January late start MBA at Columbia...thanx

The JD/MBA programs at both Penn and Northwestern are top notch, probably some of the best in the country. As for the January entry program at Columbia, is there a particular question you have on it? The only difference between the January entry and the fall entry is the folks entering in January forgo a summer internship; all else is the same in terms of curriculum, resources and programs.

In reply to greatgolfer
9/24/09

In my opinion, being in the resume book is one small part of the services available from the career centers. I would say other services and access will outweigh being in the resume book. As for alumni responsiveness, you will find variance for any school for any type of student so it is hard to comment here. I think you will find most alumni are willing to speak with current students at their schools and do not think they will treat exchange students differently.

In reply to greatgolfer
9/24/09

Generally speaking, both Oxford and HEC Paris are solid programs with strong reputations in the EU. HEC tends to get a little more publicity, but I would not say that is particularly meaningful. Whether or not one is a better match for you depends on your assessment of how well each satisfies what you seek in a program. Since you desire to pursue asset management, you will want to ensure the curriculum and industry connections are there. Likewise, you will want to evaluate the other programs and resources available. Finally, if you can visit both, it might be worthwhile for you so you can gain a solid understanding of what it would be like to attend either program.

9/25/09

Stacy, you're the best. Thanks a ton.

10/1/09

Stacy,

I scored a 750 on the GMAT (Q47, V47). In terms of nominal score, I look pretty even, but unfortunately a 47 on quant these days only amounts to 79th percentile.

Will this be a hindrance to me for HSW?

Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that I have done top-tier investment banking out of undergrad (top target) and private equity / venture capital immediately afterwards. SAT math was perfect 800.

Is this sufficient to demonstrate quantitative ability?

In reply to qwertykeyboard
10/1/09
qwertykeyboard:

Stacy,

I scored a 750 on the GMAT (Q47, V47). In terms of nominal score, I look pretty even, but unfortunately a 47 on quant these days only amounts to 79th percentile.

Will this be a hindrance to me for HSW?

Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that I have done top-tier investment banking out of undergrad (top target) and private equity / venture capital immediately afterwards. SAT math was perfect 800.

Is this sufficient to demonstrate quantitative ability?

Congratulations on your GMAT score! A 47 on the quantitative section is a strong score and sufficiently demonstrates your aptitude. Your work experience will also demonstrate your analytical ability. I do not think you need to worry about your GMAT score at all. Good luck on your applications!

10/5/09

Hi Stacy,

Thanks for all your answers here.

10/8/09

I am wondering what my chances at a top 15 MBA program are coming out of a 2 or 3 year rotational FLDP program at a Fortune 500 company. I have ~3.5 GPA from a top 50 school and a 710 GMAT. Assuming great essays and some solid leadership positions in a variety of activities, how does my profile stack up? I'm mostly worried about the work experience and GMAT score. I can work on the GMAT but am unsure as to how Ad Coms view the FLDP programs.

In reply to craigmcdermott
10/12/09
craigmcdermott:

I am wondering what my chances at a top 15 MBA program are coming out of a 2 or 3 year rotational FLDP program at a Fortune 500 company. I have ~3.5 GPA from a top 50 school and a 710 GMAT. Assuming great essays and some solid leadership positions in a variety of activities, how does my profile stack up? I'm mostly worried about the work experience and GMAT score. I can work on the GMAT but am unsure as to how Ad Coms view the FLDP programs.

In my opinion, you have a competitive profile for a top 15 school with your current profile. FLDP programs are generally viewed favorably as they are highly selective. What matters most will be the quality of the experience you have gained during the FLDP--what are your accomplishments, contributions, impact, results? Your GMAT score is competitive and right around the average for a top 15. A higher score will not hurt, but you are in a good position with a 710.

10/15/09

Hi Stacy,

May I please ask for your help on an urgent issue. As you know from my earlier posts to you, I've got an admit for the HEC MBA. Some friends on that program say that the career service isn't very good and you're on your own for recruiting. Also, they say for working in France you need to speak fluent french ( which I don't ) and also that HEC is more of a Marketing/Industry School and isn't really known for Finance. All this is a bit worrying for me since I have zero network of my own currently in Europe ( I'm Asian )

I'm hoping you have some info to share on the school. I've called up the career service and they paint a very different picture. However, I've got my info about the career service from several current/ past students on the program.

I spoke with some finance recruiters in London and they seem to speak well about the school. I am totally confused, because on the one hand I have people generally speaking well about the program & school and on the other I have current students who say the complete opposite in terms of recruitment.

I've been through almost every forum on the net and the view seems to be more toward what the students have to say i.e not the best CS, not known for finance.

Linkedin dosen't throw up any info either-like almost none. HEC isn't known in my home country and so returning home from an unknown school isn't a great option either.

What do you suggest I do to get more information to decide ?

Please help.

Thanks

10/15/09

Hi Stacy,

May I please have an objective evaluation based on my profile below?

Age: 26

College: University of Southern California
Graduated 2005
Major: Biomedical Engineering
GPA: 2.93

Grad School: University of Southern California
Graduated 2007
Major: Engineering Management
GPA: 3.27
* I took this right after college mainly to address low undergrad GPA and also to be on the fast track within the medical device industry, not for a career-changer like MBA.

Grad School: Johns Hopkins University
Expected Graduation Date: Unknown
Major: Biotechnology
GPA: 3.7
* Took this to prepare for a potential career in biotechnology equity research

GMAT: 670

Work:

2007-Present (will have 3.5 years of work experience by start of MBA program in Fall 2010)
Process Engineer for a Top 5 Pharmaceutical Company
Handled increasing responsibilities including project manager for couple projects that gave me a good view of how the business works in healthcare

Strengths:

Quantitative skills, project management, technical writing, passion for biotechnology

Career Goals:

Interested in pursuing a post-MBA job in finance, particularly in biotech equity research, then leverage that experience to join a venture capital firm specializing in stem cell gene therapy

What I hope to get out of MBA:

Finance training, soft skills, and the cross-functional mentality for both science and business

Leadership:

2007-Present: served in the Fundraiser position for Stanford's School of Medicine under the Associate Director of Development, on behalf of stem cell research scientist at the same school; gave presentations (oral and written) to potential donors and coordinated speaking engagements with the scientist
-Have gone around the world to assist as a Medical Missionary
-Involved with youth basketball league as a coach

Questions:

- Based on my short profile, I know the chances are slim but are Stanford, MIT, Wharton, and NYU worth a shot? If so, in what order?
- I'm currently enrolled in Johns Hopkins' part-time online program which can be completed anytime, anywhere. I most likely won't finish before I start my full-time studies at an MBA school in fall of 2010. How should I explain my situation?
1. Not mention it at all. (But I think this is a good thing to mention, because it shows I can balance work and school)
2. Explain that I'll somehow finish by the start of MBA. (even though I won't)
3. Explain that I'll delay until finish the MBA.
4. Explain that I'll take it concurrently with MBA (1 class maximum per semester), even though this might be overkill.
* I can also explain that I can treat my unique situation as a dual-degree program.

Your help is highly appreciated.

Thanks!

In reply to greatgolfer
10/16/09

The reality of career services at any school is that the career services office is a facilitator and a resource for you. The career services office is not there to "place" you in a job or act as a headhunter for the students. The office serves to market the school to different recruiters to encourage interest in its students from a holistic perspective, not interest in individual students. Additionally, the office provides assistance to students on parts of the job search process like writing a resume/cover letter, preparing for interviews, helping formulate a job search strategy, and providing warm contacts at companies where the school has a relationship. The office cannot interview for you nor negotiate a job on your behalf; thus your career search is ultimately your responsibility no matter where you go to business school.

There is validity to your concern on what HEC is known for and whether the connections are there with your desired post-MBA industry. It sounds like the school is known with finance firms in London, so it may just mean you need to do more of the legwork. Not all companies have the resources to physically go to different school campuses anymore. Often, companies utilize avenues like posting jobs through the career services office, looking through the school's resume book, and/or leveraging relationships with current students through clubs.

Regardless of what you decide, it is best to make your job search plans encompass many activities, both on-campus and on your own. HEC has an alumni network and a strong reputation--leverage both to your advantage to make your own contacts at the firms you would like to work for and pursue your job opportunities through networking. I think you will find those efforts will pay off much more than waiting for a company to come to campus or sitting at a computer surfing websites.

In reply to redsox890
10/16/09

You might have a chance at getting in to any of your target schools with a strong, overall application. I would say your chances are about the same at all of them. I would encourage you to look at adding 1-2 schools outside the top 10 as well. Many of these programs will provide what you seek and a great education. The main hurdle for you to jump will be your rationale for getting your MBA in relation to your past experience/education and future career goals. Why is another degree necessary and why an MBA? How does the MBA help you achieve your career goals? As for your current degree program, you should disclose it and have a plan for how and when you will complete it. Honesty is always the best policy, so tell them what your plan is.

10/21/09

Thank you Stacy. I agree with your thoughts and I appreciate your help.

10/21/09

Stacy,

I am a working professional (5-6 yrs out of grad school) and I am planning on getting into an MBA program in Fall'11. The primary reason for me to get an MBA is that I want to switch career from Technology & Operations to Mgmt. & Strategy Consulting or Financial Advisory, not sure yet.

I am considering both full-time and part-time options and would like to get your opinion on the suitability of a part-time program in my case. I know NYU, Chicago Booth and a few others have top notch part-time programs in my area of interest(s), but I am not sure how great are the employment prospects after completing those programs, especially for a career switcher like me. Moroever, on a general basis, do employers prefer one type of candidate over the other, considering that the candidate has minimal experience in opted career field, before joining business school?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

In reply to sunnyrollen
10/21/09

Generally speaking, if you are looking to make a significant career change, then a full-time program is the better option. Based on your post, you are looking to make a significant change. It is difficult for IT professionals to transition to a different functional area in a company, even with a graduate degree, if they have never left the IT job. Doing a full-time program will not only give you a break on your resume, but you will have the opportunity to get an internship in your desired career and redirect your resume. Likewise, the full-time program will give you more flexibility and time to devote to your job search. While it is not impossible to make a significant change from a part-time MBA program, it is more difficult than from a full-time program.

In reply to Stacy_Blackman
10/21/09

Thank you Stacy. I have one last question- Considering that I have been to a decent grad school and have a perfect GPA during my Masters vs. a mediocre GPA-under 3.0 during my undergrad, I would like to know if schools even consider academic performance @ grad school while making admission decisions?

In reply to sunnyrollen
10/24/09

Your academic performance from any institution is scrutinized. It is important to realize that grading on the graduate level is different from the undergraduate level. Likewise, that admissions reporting standards require schools to report the average undergraduate GPA of their incoming class; as such, that is the GPA that receives attention and focus. So, your performance in your master's program will demonstrate your academic aptitude and classroom ability which should then help mitigate your undergraduate GPA.

10/26/09

Stacy -

I'm starting to think about business school apps but am not sure if I'll be a competitive applicant. I've been a i-banking analyst for the past 17 months @ J.P. Morgan but am thinking pretty seriously about switching into J.P. Morgan's HR practice for the next 18 months or so - I am just ready for a change and want to do something more strategic.

My GMAT is very strong (740) but my undergraduate GPA is pretty weak (3.4 from Northwestern).

My argument for why bschool will likely be that I wanted to move away from banking and into something that was more strategic and that while the move to partially fulfilled that desire, it's still not exactly what I want.

In any case, just trying to determine if a move into JPM HR will hurt my chances at a top 10 bschool. Was hoping for (ideally) HBS but would be happy with Columbia, Tuck, Kellogg, Booth etc.

In reply to srr636
10/30/09

Your GMAT and GPA are both strong and will be assets in your business school applications. As for your career change, I think you need to determine if the move to HR makes sense for your overall career plan. You note you want to be more strategic, but strategic in what way? Will the move to the HR practice give you experience that will be an asset for your future career path? As long as you have a solid rationale for why you moved to the HR practice and will gain some experience/skills that will be helpful to you going forward, then the move will not "hurt" your chances at any school.

11/7/09

Hi Stacy,

I will be graduating with a M.S. in engineering this December and have just accepted an offer with a Tier 2 consulting firm. My goal, in 2-3 years is to apply to a top 10 business school so I can get a job with a strategy firm or within business development at a corporation. My question deals with external organizations and activities outside of the workplace. I have my eye set on 2 well known junior boards in a large city. However, I am worried that even having leadership and a number of accomplishment while on one of these boards won't be "unique" enough for the admission committees. I have also been toying with the idea of starting a non-profit. I have developed a business plan for the organization in a course I took and it will be fairly easy and inexpensive to launch. I was wondering what your opinion was on which activities I should pursue when I graduate...a junior board, starting the non-profit...or both?

I know that GMAT scores, excellent performance at work and GPA also play big parts in admissions. I asked the above questions because my undergrad GPA is low 3.0 (my grad degree is competitive 3.7) and I know I will need as much material as possible to mitigate it.

Thanks!

11/9/09

Hey Stacy -- want to get your perspectives on my chances at a top b-school. My ideal schools are H/S/W, MIT and Columbia

Personal Background:

- Kenyan (came to the States from a brief schooling stint in London when i was about 12 years old)
- Varsity D-1 Athlete (Soccer)
- Ivy Undergrad
- Psychology Major
- 3.0 GPA
- 730 GMAT
- Really involved in extracurricular activities in undergrad (including being head of several organizations)
- Currently pursuing the CFA and CAIA
- 1.5 years work experience thus far working as an analyst at a long/short hedge fund in NYC
- Volunteer extensively at a food shelter in New Jersey and in a mentoring role at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I am looking to apply next year or the year after (2011). So I will have either 3 or 4 years full time experience at matriculation.

Assuming I make some progress with the CFA and take an additional 2 or 3 classes in business-school type classes at Columbia or NYU at night, what are my chances at getting into H/S/W/, MIT or Columbia? Would they be improved by waiting an extra year and applying in 2011?

11/9/09

Hi Stacy could you give me some advice please.

I am a senior at a top 20 U.S. university majoring in economics and have a 4.0 GPA. I will be working at BB IB next year. I recently took the GMAT and scored a 710 45Q (74%), 42V (95%). If my goal is H/W/Chicago/Kellogg after 2-3 years of working do you think I should spend the time to study to try to raise the quant score, or do you think my grades in quantitative classes (all As in accounting, econometrics, stats, etc) are enough to compensate for the lower quant score?

Thank you.

In reply to ChiTex
11/14/09
ChiTex:

Hi Stacy could you give me some advice please.

I am a senior at a top 20 U.S. university majoring in economics and have a 4.0 GPA. I will be working at BB IB next year. I recently took the GMAT and scored a 710 45Q (74%), 42V (95%). If my goal is H/W/Chicago/Kellogg after 2-3 years of working do you think I should spend the time to study to try to raise the quant score, or do you think my grades in quantitative classes (all As in accounting, econometrics, stats, etc) are enough to compensate for the lower quant score?

Thank you.

Congratulations on your GMAT score! Your quant score is not low, and when combined with your performance in your undergraduate coursework, the admissions committees should not have any concerns on your quantitative ability. You can certainly retake the GMAT as a higher score will not hurt you, but I'm not convinced it is necessary. What will be important, however, is the quality of work experience you gain between now and the time you apply to business school.

In reply to Bryant24
11/14/09
Bryant24:

Hey Stacy -- want to get your perspectives on my chances at a top b-school. My ideal schools are H/S/W, MIT and Columbia

Personal Background:

- Kenyan (came to the States from a brief schooling stint in London when i was about 12 years old)
- Varsity D-1 Athlete (Soccer)
- Ivy Undergrad
- Psychology Major
- 3.0 GPA
- 730 GMAT
- Really involved in extracurricular activities in undergrad (including being head of several organizations)
- Currently pursuing the CFA and CAIA
- 1.5 years work experience thus far working as an analyst at a long/short hedge fund in NYC
- Volunteer extensively at a food shelter in New Jersey and in a mentoring role at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I am looking to apply next year or the year after (2011). So I will have either 3 or 4 years full time experience at matriculation.

Assuming I make some progress with the CFA and take an additional 2 or 3 classes in business-school type classes at Columbia or NYU at night, what are my chances at getting into H/S/W/, MIT or Columbia? Would they be improved by waiting an extra year and applying in 2011?

You have a solid foundation for a competitive application to your target schools based on your post. Whether to apply in 2010 or 2011 depends on you and when you feel you are ready to go. If you are ready to enter in fall 2011, then apply in 2010. If you believe you will gain some quality work experience, as in an opportunity to broaden/deepen your industry and functional knowledge, then it might be worth waiting. To wait a year just to have another year for quantity's sake is not worth waiting for, in my opinion.

In reply to eightyeight
11/14/09

Extracurricular activities are important and are a way for business school applicants to demonstrate leadership and others skills they might not have an opportunity to demonstrate in the workplace. However, there is no activity that is preferred or looks better than another. You should pursue the activities that are of most interest to you, where you will be committed and where you will have an opportunity to make an impact. Keep in mind, that you will have the demands of your new job, which should take precedence, as doing well in your job and having solid accomplishments in the workplace, in addition to a solid GMAT score, will mitigate your GPA more than extracurricular activities. Pursue the activity, or activities, that you feel you have the time to do well and that are of most interest to you--all are good options from my perspective.

11/18/09

Looking for some insight on my timeline:

Stacy,

I am a '08 HYP grad
poli-sci 3.5 GPA
700 GMAT
College D-1 (Ivy at least) athlete
some casual volunteerism

Current work experience:

Working for a large global insurance company doing financial risk management. Completed the corporate "leadership rotational program" and received 1 promotion.

Looking to do IB after MBA, so the usual suspects would be my target schools.

Is it too soon to apply to b-school? is 2-3 years of work experience enough?

*********************************
"The American father is never seen in London. He passes his life entirely in Wall Street and communicates with his family once a month by means of a telegram in cipher." - Oscar Wilde

In reply to veritas14
11/20/09
veritas14:

Looking for some insight on my timeline:

Stacy,

I am a '08 HYP grad
poli-sci 3.5 GPA
700 GMAT
College D-1 (Ivy at least) athlete
some casual volunteerism

Current work experience:

Working for a large global insurance company doing financial risk management. Completed the corporate "leadership rotational program" and received 1 promotion.

Looking to do IB after MBA, so the usual suspects would be my target schools.

Is it too soon to apply to b-school? is 2-3 years of work experience enough?

If you feel you are ready for business school, then it is time. Only you can decide if you are ready based on knowing what you want to do post-MBA and if you have reaching a crossroads in your current career path. Most business school prefer applicants to have at least two years of experience by the time they enter business school. So, if you are at 2-3 years, then you are right in the mix with a large number of business school applicants as over half apply with between 2-7 years. Recently, the number of years of experience is starting to trend down slightly with some schools now seeing their average years of experience at 4 years instead of 5 years.

1/26/10

Hi Stacy, I am planning on building an alternative transcript at a community college to make up for poor grades during my undergraduate years. Does it matter if I take the courses online or should I take them on campus? Thanks in advance.

In reply to hapfuehpfhe
1/26/10
egg mcmuffin:

Hi Stacy, I am planning on building an alternative transcript at a community college to make up for poor grades during my undergraduate years. Does it matter if I take the courses online or should I take them on campus? Thanks in advance.

Most business schools are indifferent about whether you take the community college courses online or on-campus these days. Online courses are so prevalent in the undergraduate space. What matters most is that you do well. I think you should pick whichever mode of delivery works best for your schedule and your preference.

2/3/10

Stacy,

I'm wondering your thoughts on which schools I should target. I have worked in the advisory/valuations practice at one of the Big Four accounting firms for nearly three years. I know that this position isn't a good long term fit for me and feel that to transition into "real finance" I will need an MBA. A lot of the partners at my firm have degrees from Chicago (sadly not the one I work under). Additionally I know that my firm has a relationship with Wharton.

I haven't taken the GMATs yet. My GPA was a 3.50 (more like a 3.75+ if you ignore freshman year).

Given all this, what schools are realistic targets? Geographically I would like to be either in Chicago or on the east coast. My top picks personally are Chicago, Wharton, and Stern/Columbia/Sloan. I currently specialize in real estate, if that matters, so I would also be partial to Haas. (I know that Wharton and Columbia have well regarded RE programs as well.. not sure whether my specializing in RE gives me an edge.) Do you think these picks are realistic?

Additionally, I feel like I'm sort of an "average" candidate, even though from an objective perspective I've done well professionally and academically. What advice do you have to someone on differentiating one's application and building one's narrative when my background, to me, doesn't seem so attention grabbing?

Your advice is much appreciated.

In reply to prnz
2/4/10

Dear prnz,

Without knowing more details about your background and your GMAT score, it is quite difficult to comment on what schools are realistic targets for you. Your GPA is competitive for any school. Likewise, you appear to have some solid work experience. It will be key to show you have progressed in your career, gaining a depth of experience in your field. It is also important to show that you have been active outside of the office in either the community or other extracurricular activities. In terms of school selection, it is imperative you identify schools you feel are the best match for your career goals with regards to curriculum, resources, and industry connections. Thus if you know you plan to continue your career in real estate, then you will want to target schools that have a real estate focus.

I encourage you to continue doing some research on the MBA application process, careers and schools. It will be helpful to you as you start to build your applications and develop your target school list.

Good luck!

2/8/10

Hi Stacy,

I am in tech position in a top IB at NYC. . I'm thinking to apply for MBA and jump to FO IB in Asia. So suppose I have these background:

Work: Tech Associate, Small team leading experience, good RL from supervisor
Education: non-us undergrad, top engineering school master, good gpa (>3.7), high GMAT (>760)

Is it possible to get into top 5 b-school like Columbia or Wharton? How about top 15 like Yale?

I actually have a lot of useful experiences for b-school application in my undergrad such as leadership and entrepreneurship. But I don't know if it matters for MBA application because I already have 3+ ft working experiences.

Thanks.

In reply to diablo2man
2/9/10
diablo2man:

I am in tech position in a top IB at NYC. . I'm thinking to apply for MBA and jump to FO IB in Asia. So suppose I have these background:

Work: Tech Associate, Small team leading experience, good RL from supervisor
Education: non-us undergrad, top engineering school master, good gpa (>3.7), high GMAT (>760)

Is it possible to get into top 5 b-school like Columbia or Wharton? How about top 15 like Yale?

I actually have a lot of useful experiences for b-school application in my undergrad such as leadership and entrepreneurship. But I don't know if it matters for MBA application because I already have 3+ ft working experiences.

All of these aspects of your background matter in your evaluation as an applicant for an MBA program. You are evaluated holistically and not one component is weighted heavier than another. Your GMAT and GPA are high, so that is competitive for any school. You have enough experience from a quantity perspective, but the question is more around the quality of your experience. In other words, during your 3+ years at the bank, what have you done? Have you progressed during that time? Have you gained a breadth/depth of experience? Have you been given more responsibility? Do you have some tangible examples you can write about in your essays of your leadership and teamwork experiences? Additionally, what have you been doing with your time outside of the office? It is important to have extracurricular activities like community work or social organizations that you can include in your application. These activities also serve as another way to highlight your skills that you might not get a chance to use as much in the workplace if you are early in your career like leadership and project management. Finally, it is important to have a mix of schools that you apply to for business school as a means of hedging risk, if you will. Top 10 schools are highly selective and are not a guarantee for any profile, so it is prudent for any applicant to also apply to a few schools outside the top 10 as well.

2/12/10

Hi Stacy:

I am graduating from college and my goal is to get into managing assets at a top firm. However, I don't think I will be able to do that right out of undergrad.

Right now I have an offer from one of the top financial institutions to work on the operations side of their AM division. Total back office gig. I also have an offer from a highly quantitatively focused small-mid sized consulting firm. Not a big name, but seems like they are doing very well and I would get client contact almost immediately.

Which work experience would give me the best chance of getting into a top MBA program? My GPA is excellent and I'm highly confident about the GMATS.

Also, do you think I could transition into the front office of AM post-mba with a background in operations or quantitative consulting?

Thanks very much, and I appreciate any insight you have to offer!

In reply to Lookingforinfo
2/14/10
Lookingforinfo:

Hi Stacy:

I am graduating from college and my goal is to get into managing assets at a top firm. However, I don't think I will be able to do that right out of undergrad.

Right now I have an offer from one of the top financial institutions to work on the operations side of their AM division. Total back office gig. I also have an offer from a highly quantitatively focused small-mid sized consulting firm. Not a big name, but seems like they are doing very well and I would get client contact almost immediately.

Which work experience would give me the best chance of getting into a top MBA program? My GPA is excellent and I'm highly confident about the GMATS.

Also, do you think I could transition into the front office of AM post-mba with a background in operations or quantitative consulting?

Thanks very much, and I appreciate any insight you have to offer!

What matters most is what you do in your career tenure--the quality of your work experience--prior to applying to business school. Thus there is not a preferred type of work experience for MBA programs in terms of industry or function. Both opportunities sound like great options for you as they are relevant to your future career goals. I think you need to pick the opportunity that interests you the most and where you feel you will have the best opportunity for progression. You will excel in a job where you are highly interested in what you are doing, believe in the company, and have a great manager(s). If one of these opportunities seems to stand out more in this regard, then that might be the one to seriously consider.

2/17/10

Hi Stacy, I would be most grateful for any guidance that you may be able to provide regarding my situation.

Profile:
GMAT: 740 (49Q, 42V)
GPA: 3.8 (Magna cum laude)
Majors: Finance, Accounting
School: ~50-75 Ranked midsized state school

At time of business school application, I will have had 3 years of experience at Deloitte Consulting in the Strategy and Operations group. While I recognize that Deloitte doesn't have the same brand cachet that MBB and the elite boutique consulting firms carry, I still think that it is a valuable experience. I have had solid performance reviews and believe I can show significant (if not absolutely amazing) responsibility, success and promotion.

Additionally, I have had several extracurricular activities that I have been involved with since shortly after graduating (non-profit foundation work, volunteer in youth sports activities).

I would be curious to hear your thoughts regarding my candidacy at the following schools: H/S/W, Booth, Columbia, MIT & Northwestern. I would additionally consider UVA, Yale and Tuck. Are some of these schools represent the impossible or safeties, or somewhere in between.

Thanks!

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."

In reply to BlueHorseShoe
2/19/10
BlueHorseShoe:

Hi Stacy, I would be most grateful for any guidance that you may be able to provide regarding my situation.

Profile:
GMAT: 740 (49Q, 42V)
GPA: 3.8 (Magna cum laude)
Majors: Finance, Accounting
School: ~50-75 Ranked midsized state school

At time of business school application, I will have had 3 years of experience at Deloitte Consulting in the Strategy and Operations group. While I recognize that Deloitte doesn't have the same brand cachet that MBB and the elite boutique consulting firms carry, I still think that it is a valuable experience. I have had solid performance reviews and believe I can show significant (if not absolutely amazing) responsibility, success and promotion.

Additionally, I have had several extracurricular activities that I have been involved with since shortly after graduating (non-profit foundation work, volunteer in youth sports activities).

I would be curious to hear your thoughts regarding my candidacy at the following schools: H/S/W, Booth, Columbia, MIT & Northwestern. I would additionally consider UVA, Yale and Tuck. Are some of these schools represent the impossible or safeties, or somewhere in between.

Thanks!

I think you have the foundation for a competitive application at any MBA program based on the information in your post. Since decisions are made on more than a profile, your essays, recommendations and interviews will be critical to the ultimate decisions though. In my opinion, the regular top 10 schools are never a guarantee for any profile, but you certainly have a chance at any of those schools that are a good match for your rationale to do an MBA. UVA, Yale and Tuck would be schools where your chances are more reasonable, but definitely not safety schools as their applicant pools are still large and competitive. Good luck!

2/27/10

Hey Stacy,

Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone's questions on this forum. I have two questions, one that relates to my story as a whole and one that relates to my future application timeline. About my story. I graduated from a top three state school with a relatively low GPA, 3.1. After taking a "year off" to work in the finance department of a ski resort, I secured a position at a regional investment bank, although it technically operated as a merchant bank as we participated in many of our own transactions. Due to the structure, I was gained traditional ibanking experience as well as a private equity experience. I worked there for 4 years, 2 as an analyst and 2 as an associate. Last year, due to terrible market conditions, I decided to move on and get some life experience. I joined the Peace Corps as a small business development volunteer. Currently, I'm trying to determine if I want to go back to Bschool. Due to the astronomical costs I only want to go if I can get into a top program. Programs that I'm interested in are UCLA, Cal, Columbia, NYU, Duke, Texas, Stanford, UPenn, Dartmouth, and LBS. My application essays would probably be something along the lines of how I want to pair finance and strategy into international development work, where most professionals are trained in academics not management. For the sake of argument lets say I can score in the 700 GMAT range (680-720), because if I don't I'm sure it would basically eliminate my chances. My PC service is scheduled to end at the end of August 2011. I'm currently torn as to when to apply. After PC service I want to travel for a significant amount of time to experience the different cultures of the surrounding countries. Also, I think it would be a very hard transition going from PC life to Bschool life with only a 1-2 week adjustment period. With all that being said my two questions are as follows:

1. Based on this small sampling of info do you believe I can gain admittance into one/some of the aforementioned schools?

2. How would schools view the huge time gap if I were to wait and apply in 2011, basically leaving myself unemployed from Sept 2011 to August 2012 when classes begin. Would it be a factor or are the more understanding due to the unique circumstances of the PC?

Thanks in advance for your help.

2/27/10

Dear ke18sb:

I think your target list is a possibility for you, assuming you score 680+ on your GMAT and have a strong overall application. As for when to apply, I think you have to decide when you feel you are ready and make sure the timing will work for the end of your assignment and the start of school. I actually think you might be better off applying in fall 2011 for entry in fall 2012 for a couple of reasons. First, many programs start in early to mid August which might not work with your scheduled return from the Peace Corps. You really need 2-4 weeks to get set up in your new city prior to starting business school there. Second, if you wait to apply in fall 2011, then you would be able to visit the schools and do your interview in person rather than only being able to do research from afar and trying to do interview by phone which might be an issue depending on where you are for your assignment. I do think having the 11 months in between would be fine, but you do need to have a bit of plan for that time--it can't simply be downtime. You can travel for some of it, but then for the remainder, you might consider an internship or volunteer role related to what you wish to pursue post-MBA. What is critical is that you are doing something and that it is relevant to your goals during this time.

3/3/10

Hi Stacy,

Thankx for all the great work!
Im from a Canadian Uni, UT/UBC-ish (not a finance powerhouse uni)

I am interested in a career in IB,
I don't seem to be able to land a good gig in the front office, but i've always wanted to do more school.

So my plan now is to start as an auditor in a big 4 in once of the asia office.
How does big four experience in asia help for schools like Chicago, NYU, Columbia?
I will be starting in audit, i hope to make the transition to Financial Advisory, and I intend to get my CPA along the way.

I've heard mix stuff about accountants going into top B school... many told me its common as long as you work hard, some say they don't like accountants blah blah blah and I've even heard that theres a cap on how many accountants they take in.

Whats your opinion on this? Given if I work hard and get great recommendations, how many years of work exp do big 4 folks usually collect before they apply to B school?

Thank you!

In reply to J15
3/4/10

Dear J15,

There is no standard or preferences for folks applying to b-school from big 4 accounting firms. Audit experience with a big 4 is great experience as these are competitive jobs that offer plenty of opportunities to develop solid teamwork, analytical, and communication skills. Likewise, schools do not generally have quotas on any particular background, but they do like to have a diverse mix of students in any class. What is important for you to do is to maximize your time in your job and do all you can to build a competitive profile between now and the time you apply. Seek opportunities to broaden and deepen your skill set as well as leadership opportunities--you can also seek leadership opportunities in your community and extracurricular activities as starting out in a big 4 you won't have many available to you for the first few years. Spend time preparing and do well on your GMAT so you have a highly competitive score. And, build those solid relationships with your supervisors so you will have great recommendations. When you feel you are ready to return to school, then that is when you should apply, but ideally you want to work for at least two years first.

3/5/10

Dear Stacy,

Really appreciate your help in answering our questions. Unfortunately after reading through everyone's posts I haven't come across my question (wasn't expecting to). I graduated from an Ivy with a computer engineering b.s., but my gpa is 3.2 and I have two D's in major-related classes. My question for you is: am I automatically out of the running for Top10 Bschools? Assuming that the rest of my app - GMAT, work experience, essays, recs, etc - remains competitive.

Although I'm very happy with my career right now in IT consulting, I always knew that this would come back to haunt me. What should I do if my goal is to get into a Top10 Bschool at some point?

Thank you!

3/6/10

. no longer necessary. im good.

but i will still say stacy, that ive done a months of tedious hours of online research with regards to bschool and that IMHO, your website/blogging/article contributions have been exceptional by comparison. not that my endorsement means anything!, but KUDOS.

In reply to Brink
3/8/10
Brink:

Really appreciate your help in answering our questions. Unfortunately after reading through everyone's posts I haven't come across my question (wasn't expecting to). I graduated from an Ivy with a computer engineering b.s., but my gpa is 3.2 and I have two D's in major-related classes. My question for you is: am I automatically out of the running for Top10 Bschools? Assuming that the rest of my app - GMAT, work experience, essays, recs, etc - remains competitive.

Although I'm very happy with my career right now in IT consulting, I always knew that this would come back to haunt me. What should I do if my goal is to get into a Top10 Bschool at some point?

Having a small mis-step on your transcript does not result in an automatic rejection from any business school. There is no reason to think that having two D's on your undergraduate transcript will hold you back. In most cases, if an applicant is rejected, it is for more than one reason. So, assuming you score well on the GMAT, have solid work experience, great recommendations, and well-written essays, then you should be a competitive applicant for any program. Your cumulative GPA of 3.2 is right about the average or slightly below, so scoring in the 700s on the GMAT will mitigate the GPA. Likewise, you will want to present yourself in your applications as a mature, thoughtful person committed to going to business school and have a solid rationale for why you need an MBA in relation to your career goals.

4/23/10

I am working for the top M&A team in India. I graduated in finance from the top business undergrad school in India with an average score (65%, GPA 3-3.2) in 2008 since I was too busy with ECA in college (Headed the student debating body, organised annual college festival, social service group head etc)

The score is lower in quant subjects. But also, my school is the top ranked business undergrad course in South Asia with a cut-off score for admission above 96 percentile after school.

QUESTION: What is a better way to solve the low GPA issue - CFA L1 and L2 or a PG Diploma in Finance? I mean the PG Diploma will give me a GPA and I will ace it since I know it is important.

The ECA in college is very decent - Headed College Festival (15000+ footfalls), Organised India's largest debating event, youngest at Asia's largest management summit at IIM Ahmedabad etc.

I am ready to postpone my application to 2012 just be sure of getting a Top 10 call.Kindly advise!

In reply to Tagore
4/25/10
vaibhavsingh:

I am working for the top M&A team in India. I graduated in finance from the top business undergrad school in India with an average score (65%, GPA 3-3.2) in 2008 since I was too busy with ECA in college (Headed the student debating body, organised annual college festival, social service group head etc)

The score is lower in quant subjects. But also, my school is the top ranked business undergrad course in South Asia with a cut-off score for admission above 96 percentile after school.

QUESTION: What is a better way to solve the low GPA issue - CFA L1 and L2 or a PG Diploma in Finance? I mean the PG Diploma will give me a GPA and I will ace it since I know it is important.

The ECA in college is very decent - Headed College Festival (15000+ footfalls), Organised India's largest debating event, youngest at Asia's largest management summit at IIM Ahmedabad etc.

I am ready to postpone my application to 2012 just be sure of getting a Top 10 call.Kindly advise!

Your GPA is not going to keep you out of contention for a top business school, in and of itself. Your 3-3.2 will put you right below to right at the average. What you do need to do is research to determine if your current degree is equivalent to a US four-year degree as many B.Comm degrees in India are not and you would need the PG diploma to reach equivalency. You cannot change your GPA, but you can make sure you score well on your GMAT and the rest of your application is strong. To have the best chance for admission at a top program, your application will need to be stellar, distinguish you from the competition, and make a compelling case for your admission.

4/29/10

I have a couple of quick questions, feel free to give brief responses.

How many classes are recommended for an alternative transcript, does it depend on gpa? Mine was 3.1 over all but 2.7 in major (econ).

Is it better to wait an entire year until everything is perfect, ie, a sufficient amount of alternative transcript classes are taken, or is it better to apply and if I don't get in add a few classes for the next go around.

What's you opinion on R1 vs R2, and even more so when you apply within the respective rounds? I know schools say there isn't a difference but I feel that sometimes that's what the need to say. I think everything I have, gmat, work experience, volunteer experience would make me competitive at any top 10 school, I just have the kink of the GPA. I'm batting 3 out of 4. Due to this, I'm looking for any advantage I can pick up that are within my control, application timing being one of them. Or is this an irrelevant point.

Thanks

In reply to ke18sb
4/29/10
ke18sb:

I have a couple of quick questions, feel free to give brief responses.

How many classes are recommended for an alternative transcript, does it depend on gpa? Mine was 3.1 over all but 2.7 in major (econ).

Is it better to wait an entire year until everything is perfect, ie, a sufficient amount of alternative transcript classes are taken, or is it better to apply and if I don't get in add a few classes for the next go around.

What's you opinion on R1 vs R2, and even more so when you apply within the respective rounds? I know schools say there isn't a difference but I feel that sometimes that's what the need to say. I think everything I have, gmat, work experience, volunteer experience would make me competitive at any top 10 school, I just have the kink of the GPA. I'm batting 3 out of 4. Due to this, I'm looking for any advantage I can pick up that are within my control, application timing being one of them. Or is this an irrelevant point.

Thanks

There is no minimum number of courses or standard for alternative transcripts. It is what you feel is necessary for you. Most folks take 2-4 courses depending on how many quantitative courses they previously took in college. Your 3.1 cumulative GPA is not that far below the average for most schools, so a high GMAT and quality work experience will also do quite a bit to mitigate that as a potential weakness for you. Based on your post, it sounds like you have a competitive foundation for your application. The key will be putting together a compelling, strong overall package. Your essays, recommendations and interview are critical to your ultimate decision--use them to your advantage to make your case for admission. As for when to apply, you should apply when you are ready and the earlier the better, in my humble opinion. Most schools review applications as they come in to some degree, so submitting early in the round will get you in the queue sooner and demonstrate you are motivated. It won't necessarily result in your decision being released sooner though. There is not a statistically significant difference between R1 and R2 in terms of competitiveness or chances. However, if you can submit a quality application in R1, then why wouldn't you? It shows you consider this school to be a top choice, you have been thinking about applying for quite some time, and you are committed and motivated to getting your application in as soon as possible.