Specific Factors to Help Override a Less-than-Ideal GPA
There are some broad factors that the admissions committee will take into account as reasons that can justify a lower-than-ideal GPA (and hence the admissions committee might not be looking at your lower-than-ideal GPA as a problem at all). These factors can vary from what we at MBA Admit.com call “extreme extenuating circumstances” to “reasonably acceptable explanations.” When trying to override a less-than-ideal GPA in order to gain admission to a top MBA program, it is often helpful if you have one of these extenuating circumstances or reasonably acceptable explanations as to why your GPA was lower. Let’s consider some examples…
Major event that explains the lower-than-ideal GPA: Did you lose a very close relative and your grades suffered for a while? Did your parent lose their job, causing stress on the family and anxiety for you, causing your grades to drop? Major events like these can help explain a lower-than-ideal GPA to the satisfaction of the admissions committee.
Challenging circumstances to overcome: Were you the first in your family to attend college and it took a little adjustment in your first 18 months before your grades reflected your abilities? The committee will often take circumstances like these into consideration.
Working your way through school financially: In many cases such as this, the committee will realize you were juggling work with your academics and may be more understanding if your GPA is slightly lower.
Medical or physical: If you had to overcome some major medical or physical challenge, the admissions committee will sometimes give you leeway on the GPA.
Learning challenge: If you had to overcome some major learning challenge (dyslexia, ADHD, etc.), the admissions committee will sometimes give you leeway on the GPA.
Highly competitive college: If your school was a top-ranked college in its country, your GPA likely can be lower than the GPA of a candidate who attended a much lower-ranked college.
Very difficult undergraduate major: Some majors are known to be very difficult, and so what might look like a low GPA in a “softer” major may be perceived by the admissions committee as a relatively high GPA for your major.
Switch of majors: Sometimes candidates choose the wrong major or were pressured by family to pursue a major for which they had only lackluster interest. Their grades reflected this, but the candidate ultimately found their passion and switched majors, finishing college with multiple semesters of strong grades in the new major. If explained well, the admissions committees sometimes weigh more heavily the GPA associated with the new major.
Participation in a varsity-level sport in college: Most admissions committees will realize that you were diverting a lot of time to the sport, and they might cut you a little slack on your GPA. Representing a school in a varsity-level sport is generally seen as very admirable, as an indication of commitment to your college and as evidence of your multifaceted talent.
Rough introductory college year, but your grades got better: In many cases, if you can demonstrate much higher grades in your latter years, the committee will tend to weigh that performance a little more than your initial year grades.
Long commute to college: Some candidates who had special family circumstances or came from poorer economic backgrounds had to commute long distances to college on a daily basis – as much as two hours each way. When the admission committees are aware of such difficult circumstances, the admissions committee will sometimes give you some leeway on the GPA.
Caring for a family member: Some candidates had an ailing family member they had to care for or a sibling they were helping to raise. Therefore, they faced great demands on their time, which affected negatively how much time they could devote to their studies. If you explain such circumstances well, the admissions committee sometimes gives candidates some leeway with regard to their GPA.
There are, of course, other variations. The take away: a less-than-ideal GPA is not always a deal-killer in MBA admissions. If any of these circumstances above apply to you, or if you had comparably difficult circumstances, then the admissions committee may still consider your GPA – while lower than the matriculating average – to still be acceptable.
Feel free to reach out to us if you would like a free profile evaluation or assistance with the MBA admissions process. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is http://mbaadmit.com/.
Dr. Shel and the Team at MBA Admit.com