To what degree does GPA matter?


I will be grateful if you took a minute and answer my question.

I am a third year chemical engineering student studying Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Although my college is among the top technical universities of the world, I suck at chemical engineering(GPA just above 6/10). I hear that undergrad gpa matters while you apply for MBA in Insead or any other european business school. I believe i am very much capable of acing GMAT and i have been preparing for it along with my regular curriculum. I went through official sites of many business schools and found that I could actually learn something i can use in my day to day life. Also I don't want to go to America. So is it really worth my efforts? Will my GPA come in my way ? I only want admission in top MBA schools

I will be grateful if you took a minute and answer my question.

I am a third year chemical engineering student studying Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Although my college is among the top technical universities of the world, I suck at chemical engineering(GPA just above 6/10). I hear that undergrad gpa matters while you apply for MBA in Insead or any other european business school. I believe i am very much capable of acing GMAT and i have been preparing for it along with my regular curriculum. I went through official sites of many business schools and found that I could actually learn something i can use in my day to day life. Also I don't want to go to America. So is it really worth my efforts? Will my GPA come in my way ? I only want admission in top MBA schools
quote
Laker7

Hi, Nilay,

I am by no means an expert on admissions but for what it's worth I can tell you what I've learnt from my personal experience so far and from talking to people and reading up online. Not to discourage you but GPA does matter. All forums online and business schools on their websites will tell you that schools take a holistic approach while reviewing your application and that a poor GPA can be compensated for by a great GMAT score and great essays.

My undergrad GPA is extremely poor (decent GRE score and good essays, atleast I'd like to think so :)) so from my personal experience, I can tell you that B-schools in US seem to place a lot importance on GPA and the European schools are slightly more lenient and look at all aspects of your application equally. I don't know about INSEAD specifically because I haven't applied there but INSEAD is a great school, so I assume that they'd expect all aspects of your application to be outstanding.

This is just my opinion. You should take Duncan's and other experts' opinions on this forum. Their opinions will be more reliable :)

P.S. There are some great stories online about people with extremely low GPA / GMAT scores getting into top programs. I read somewhere that someone with a 490 on GMAT (rest of the profile was supposed to be off the charts) got into Harvard. I don't know how far this is true but it does give people like us hope :)

Hi, Nilay,

I am by no means an expert on admissions but for what it's worth I can tell you what I've learnt from my personal experience so far and from talking to people and reading up online. Not to discourage you but GPA does matter. All forums online and business schools on their websites will tell you that schools take a holistic approach while reviewing your application and that a poor GPA can be compensated for by a great GMAT score and great essays.

My undergrad GPA is extremely poor (decent GRE score and good essays, atleast I'd like to think so :)) so from my personal experience, I can tell you that B-schools in US seem to place a lot importance on GPA and the European schools are slightly more lenient and look at all aspects of your application equally. I don't know about INSEAD specifically because I haven't applied there but INSEAD is a great school, so I assume that they'd expect all aspects of your application to be outstanding.

This is just my opinion. You should take Duncan's and other experts' opinions on this forum. Their opinions will be more reliable :)

P.S. There are some great stories online about people with extremely low GPA / GMAT scores getting into top programs. I read somewhere that someone with a 490 on GMAT (rest of the profile was supposed to be off the charts) got into Harvard. I don't know how far this is true but it does give people like us hope :)
quote
Laker7

I forgot to add. All of this was based on the assumption that you're planning to work for a few years before applying to B-schools. If you're planning to apply to B-schools straight out of college, I think a low GPA will kill you. As it is, schools don't encourage you to apply without work exp, so a low GPA will just make it worse.It will be a lot easier to sell your story if you have work exp with some good recommendations.

I forgot to add. All of this was based on the assumption that you're planning to work for a few years before applying to B-schools. If you're planning to apply to B-schools straight out of college, I think a low GPA will kill you. As it is, schools don't encourage you to apply without work exp, so a low GPA will just make it worse.It will be a lot easier to sell your story if you have work exp with some good recommendations.
quote

Thanks a lot Laker7 for your reply.

I forgot to mention that I will have both bachelor and masters degree in Chemical Engineering by the time I graduate (It's a Dual Degree program). Will this help?
Is giving GRE also helpful?
Yes, I plan to work before applying to B-schools but for how many years would I have to work to gain the required experience given my profile?
Will any Research projects help? I am currently working on Waste Water Management which is not at all related

Thanks a lot Laker7 for your reply.

I forgot to mention that I will have both bachelor and masters degree in Chemical Engineering by the time I graduate (It's a Dual Degree program). Will this help?
Is giving GRE also helpful?
Yes, I plan to work before applying to B-schools but for how many years would I have to work to gain the required experience given my profile?
Will any Research projects help? I am currently working on Waste Water Management which is not at all related
quote
ralph

Yes, your GPA does matter. Admissions people generally see it as a sign of how well you do in an academic setting. A poor GPA usually signals that you do may not excel in a classroom setting.

Fortunately for you, application reviews tend to be a holistic process, and you can often times mitigate a poor GPA by essentially overperforming on other parts of your profile. Outscoring a school's average GMAT would help, for example, as would having more work experience than the average cohort of the school you are applying to.

Some applicants with whom I have talked have had success in developing arguments that help them "explain" their poor academic experience with a good narrative. For instance, if you get out of school and then excel in the workplace, a good argument could be that you were just too immature for school at the time, and you have learned from all of these experiences and now have more focus and drive.

In general, you're going to want to work for at least two or three years before even considering an MBA.

Yes, your GPA does matter. Admissions people generally see it as a sign of how well you do in an academic setting. A poor GPA usually signals that you do may not excel in a classroom setting.

Fortunately for you, application reviews tend to be a holistic process, and you can often times mitigate a poor GPA by essentially overperforming on other parts of your profile. Outscoring a school's average GMAT would help, for example, as would having more work experience than the average cohort of the school you are applying to.

Some applicants with whom I have talked have had success in developing arguments that help them "explain" their poor academic experience with a good narrative. For instance, if you get out of school and then excel in the workplace, a good argument could be that you were just too immature for school at the time, and you have learned from all of these experiences and now have more focus and drive.

In general, you're going to want to work for at least two or three years before even considering an MBA.
quote

Hey Ralph,
Sorry to be interrupting in this conversation, but I would be really grateful if you could evaluate my profile and advise me accordingly.
Education - B.Sc. Economics(Major) - 51% (3 year course)
Current GMAT - 660 (Planning to write it again and aiming for a score of around 700-720).
Work Ex- Handling of family business - Manufacture cattle feed supplement. I personally handle the pharmaceutical clients, handle the procurement of raw materials and packaging materials. I handle the pricing of our products too. The company has seen an increase of turnover of over 200% since the time I have taken up the responsibility from my father.Have also stabilised a permanent labour force and increased the plant running time from 5-10 days a month to about 20-25days a month now.
Have been working since 2012 July.
Why MBA - Have minimum or no experience in marketing. Hence, to move from a B2B business to marketing our products directly, would like to pursue an MBA. Hoping to work in the marketing sector of a reputed company for 5-6years before coming back into the family business.
Would appreciate your take on the profile, prospects of an MBA and which colleges to target.
Regards,
Badshah Saha.

Hey Ralph,
Sorry to be interrupting in this conversation, but I would be really grateful if you could evaluate my profile and advise me accordingly.
Education - B.Sc. Economics(Major) - 51% (3 year course)
Current GMAT - 660 (Planning to write it again and aiming for a score of around 700-720).
Work Ex- Handling of family business - Manufacture cattle feed supplement. I personally handle the pharmaceutical clients, handle the procurement of raw materials and packaging materials. I handle the pricing of our products too. The company has seen an increase of turnover of over 200% since the time I have taken up the responsibility from my father.Have also stabilised a permanent labour force and increased the plant running time from 5-10 days a month to about 20-25days a month now.
Have been working since 2012 July.
Why MBA - Have minimum or no experience in marketing. Hence, to move from a B2B business to marketing our products directly, would like to pursue an MBA. Hoping to work in the marketing sector of a reputed company for 5-6years before coming back into the family business.
Would appreciate your take on the profile, prospects of an MBA and which colleges to target.
Regards,
Badshah Saha.


quote
ralph

Generally speaking, I think you need a couple more years of work experience to be competitive at a ranked MBA program. Most accredited MBA programs, at least in the US, take students with on average 4-6 years of work experience.

For MBA programs that are good for marketing, I would start with this list:

http://www.find-mba.com/specializations/21/marketing

It's really a broad range of schools, HEC Paris, Rutgers, Nanyang, etc. But for most, average cohort work experience is typically 5-6 years. To some degree there might be some flexibility if you can get a higher GMAT score: a 720 would go a long way to be competitive at Rutgers, for example, where average work experience is closer to 4 years.

Generally speaking, I think you need a couple more years of work experience to be competitive at a ranked MBA program. Most accredited MBA programs, at least in the US, take students with on average 4-6 years of work experience.

For MBA programs that are good for marketing, I would start with this list:

http://www.find-mba.com/specializations/21/marketing

It's really a broad range of schools, HEC Paris, Rutgers, Nanyang, etc. But for most, average cohort work experience is typically 5-6 years. To some degree there might be some flexibility if you can get a higher GMAT score: a 720 would go a long way to be competitive at Rutgers, for example, where average work experience is closer to 4 years.
quote

Dear Ralph,
Greetings.
A small update on my profile from last time. I have taken the gmat again and scored 710 - Q:50; V:34. How do my chances change? And would also like your views on applying to 1.Cornell-Johnson; 2.UNC- Kenan-Flagler; 3.Carnegie Mellon-Tepper; 4.Rice-Jones. Do I have a chance with my profile and a 710? Would also like your suggestions on any other college you would think is good and in which I have a chance.
Regards,
Badshah Saha.

Dear Ralph,
Greetings.
A small update on my profile from last time. I have taken the gmat again and scored 710 - Q:50; V:34. How do my chances change? And would also like your views on applying to 1.Cornell-Johnson; 2.UNC- Kenan-Flagler; 3.Carnegie Mellon-Tepper; 4.Rice-Jones. Do I have a chance with my profile and a 710? Would also like your suggestions on any other college you would think is good and in which I have a chance.
Regards,
Badshah Saha.
quote
ralph

I think that since the average work experience at all of these schools is around five years, you should still consider these reach schools. However, I do think that your chances are better with that GMAT score.

Of course, the other parts of your application, especially convincingly explaining why you need an MBA at such an early point in your career in your essays, will be absolutely important.

I would still consider applying to one or two "safety" schools, in the range of Rutgers - or maybe Northeastern or Howard, for instance - just to hedge your bets.

I think that since the average work experience at all of these schools is around five years, you should still consider these reach schools. However, I do think that your chances are better with that GMAT score.

Of course, the other parts of your application, especially convincingly explaining why you need an MBA at such an early point in your career in your essays, will be absolutely important.

I would still consider applying to one or two "safety" schools, in the range of Rutgers - or maybe Northeastern or Howard, for instance - just to hedge your bets.
quote

Dear Ralph,
I would like your take on my chances of getting in these colleges/Universities corresponding to my profile stated above with a 710 GMAT score.
University of Rochester ; Texas Christian University; Rutgers; Northeastern; University of North Carolina (Kenan Flagler) ; Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) in the US.
SMU; HKUST;SP Jain in the APAC region
WHU in Germany.
RMIT and University of South Australia in Australia.
I have shortlisted these colleges for now. Would like your opinion on which are ''reach'' colleges/highly aspirational and which are ''safety'' schools. Would be glad if you can suggest anymore colleges in which my profile might fit.

Regards,
Badshah Saha.

Dear Ralph,
I would like your take on my chances of getting in these colleges/Universities corresponding to my profile stated above with a 710 GMAT score.
University of Rochester ; Texas Christian University; Rutgers; Northeastern; University of North Carolina (Kenan Flagler) ; Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) in the US.
SMU; HKUST;SP Jain in the APAC region
WHU in Germany.
RMIT and University of South Australia in Australia.
I have shortlisted these colleges for now. Would like your opinion on which are ''reach'' colleges/highly aspirational and which are ''safety'' schools. Would be glad if you can suggest anymore colleges in which my profile might fit.

Regards,
Badshah Saha.
quote

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