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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)

  • dipset1011's picture

    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

  • chjon's picture

    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 dipset1011
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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 chjon
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • CCme's picture

    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 CCme
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • PaperTrail's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • IB1's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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

  • LBJ's picture

    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!

  • doingfinance07's picture

    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

  • california's picture

    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!

  • RexMundi's picture

    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.

  • monkeyinasuit's picture

    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?

  • mcds's picture

    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

  • lionheart's picture

    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.

  • youngmoney's picture

    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.

  • waltersobchek's picture

    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?

  • BigBear85's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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 lionheart
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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).

  • In reply to youngmoney
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • JZ's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • Kikuichimonji's picture

    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.

  • brucekane's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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!
  • jay-z's picture

    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.

  • jay-z's picture

    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?

  • apcpaehfaef's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • jay-z's picture

    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.

  • apcpaehfaef's picture

    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)?

  • Beast Mode's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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
    Stacy_Blackman's picture

    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.

  • AgreeWitMe's picture

    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.

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