Low GPA/High GMAT

Hi Guys.

I want to know my chances of getting into a decent MBA. I am a Chartered Accountant from South Africa (C.A. SA), CFA Level 1 as well CAIA. I was an Equity Sales trader at BNP Paribas, and have private equity experience as an Investment Analyst at a large PE firm in South Africa. I want to do my MBA in the US, and have a GMAT of 730, but am worried that my low GPA will hurt my chances. What schools do you think I can get into, I would ideally like NYU, McDonough, Ross, Fuqua etc. My GPA is 2.6/4

Comments (27)

Jul 16, 2018

I think you can overcome your low GPA, especially with your target schools, given the following:

  • You're from South Africa. You may not like hearing this, but AdCom's love filling their classes with a diverse set of people. There aren't exactly a ton of South Africans running around business schools right now.
  • Your GMAT is in the 96th percentile. AdCom's at your target programs are willing to overlook your low GPA given your performance on the GMAT.
  • Your work experience is impressive, if true. Most people recruiting for investment banking in business school aspire for private equity, long-term. Obviously, the path from MBA - IBD - buy side is extremely difficult.
  • Use your optional essay to explain two things: a) why you did so poorly in undergrad and b) why these schools are specific fits for your learning style and career goals.

Looking at your schools, McDonough will gladly take your 730 with your WE and low GPA. Ross and Stern aren't as quick to bite the bullet on the low GPA, especially given Ross' rise in the most recent rankings. Be sure to emphasize why Ross and Stern are good fits for you in your essays. Finally, Fuqua is a toss up. They love international students. Nearly 40% of the class is international and they can be score agnostic at times. They really sell "Team Fuqua" and being a fit for their program.

Source: I'm at a T10 MBA program.

Best of luck and congratulations on a great score.

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Jul 16, 2018

Hahahaha, 1st of all, thank you very much for the response Perfunctory. It is much appreciated. As for my work experience, it is all true I can tell you. All true, it was hard to get but I did get it. I will certainly take your advice. I took no offence on your comment about South Africans, and now that I know that they will overlook my GPA I am happier. I am suprized that my CAIA and CFA level 1 do not count at all towards my application, as those are pretty decent things to have.

Jul 16, 2018

I think the CAIA will go further than your CFA Level 1 designation. Apologies for not addressing them in my original post. The CAIA will further corroborate your strong GMAT score. I have the American equivalent, and I'm sure if it made a tangible impact on my application.

AdCom's at your programs won't be impressed with CFA Level 1 designation.

Jul 16, 2018

Okay thanks. What is the American equivalent of CAIA if I may ask?

Jul 16, 2018

Apologies. For whatever reason, I interpreted the CAIA as being a chartered accountant. My mistake. No American equivalent.

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Jul 16, 2018

Hey guys. I also wanted to ask, if I wanted to do a MFin as well, would I struggle with my profile? And also what schools can I possibly look at with my profile for MFin?

Jul 16, 2018

I know nothing about MFin programs unfortunately.

Jul 16, 2018

Thanks a lot Perfunctory, I understand

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Most Helpful
Jul 17, 2018

Hey man,

Real talk: your GMAT is not that high, it is decidedly average - that is, within the 80% spread of all the schools you listed. With a GPA that is FAR below the 10%ile of all of your schools, I would seriously give some thought to retaking the GMAT to get above the 90%ile of your target schools.

What you can also see in the source below is the 0th %ile for certain schools like Stern - it's 2.8. I bet if you go back a few years and check, it'll always fall around there. I can also almost guarantee that that score is from an underrepresented minority, so you can see that it is a very uphill battle for specific schools that may not be worth the effort.

Source: https://www.admitbrain.com/top-mba-programs?tab=sc...
You can't think in terms of global GMAT percentile, you need to judge where you are relative to the application pool of your school. To boot, you are absolutely going to be competing with a small but competitive South African contingent who will have higher GPAs - you need to have a higher GMAT than them.

Like, sure, pick a couple top 15 and maybe CBS ED and give it a shot, but I really really disagree with the advice here encouraging you to apply to multiple top 10 schools: I think it is a waste of your time and will spread you too thin when you should be focusing on low(er) ranked schools with strong alumni bases like Darden.

I will say that it should be worth your time to look around for an understanding of how SA GPAs actually translate to US GPA (it isn't always like 7.5/10 abroad = 3.0/4 in the US, sometimes they adjust up, which can help your case). Additionally, you can take some online courses in technical subjects to show you can do the work (UC Berkeley Extension is great) and get As. Furthermore, the farther away from undergrad you are, and the more leadership experience you demonstrate combined with out-of-this-world recommendations will go a long way.

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Jul 16, 2018

Hi jhd

If the GMAT is low maybe I can retake, I think i can add 20-30 points to it. But that aside, thanks for the advice. Just to be sure I understand you, would these count as the lower ranked schools you are talking about right:
Stern,Johnson-it is ranked lower than Darden-, UCLA,Tepper, McCombs,McDonough,
Rice,USC.
I want to go to a hedge fund afterwards, and even though I really can get into one now if i really want to, I want to get into one there in NYC.

Jul 16, 2018

I think it's going to be difficult to recruit directly to a HF from these schools based on employers' on-campus presence. I know Johnson/Ross/Darden/Stern have a very strong finance recruiting process. McDonough not so much. UCLA is isolated to west coast for the most part.

Jul 17, 2018
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