Low GPA: how flexible are UK b-schools?


aexl
I have been looking into MBA program options in the UK, and I have run into a bit of an issue... It seems that schools in the UK are a bit less forgiving than those in other regions in terms of low GPA. For instance, Cambridge (which is a school I am very interested in) says that you need to have graduated with either 1st class or upper second-class honours - (or a 3.3 GPA/top 25 percent of class.) Cambridge doesn't seem to have any flexibility here, at least according to their website.

Cass has similar requirements but says that "appropriate professional qualification" can be substituted, and I'm not sure what that means. If you have six years of work experience you can waive the degree requirement altogether, which is kind of interesting.

I'm a bit concerned about my profile, if only because of my GPA. I grew up on the east coast but moved abroad to do my undegrad and partied a bit too much. My GPA is the equivalent of about 2.7.

I now have 3.5 years of work experience in sales now and feel like I'm on a pretty good track but want to try to pursue marketing roles. I took a practice GMAT test and I think I could comfortably score in the 740 range, which I hope will help me appear better than my GPA would suggest!
I have been looking into MBA program options in the UK, and I have run into a bit of an issue... It seems that schools in the UK are a bit less forgiving than those in other regions in terms of low GPA. For instance, Cambridge (which is a school I am very interested in) says that you need to have graduated with either 1st class or upper second-class honours - (or a 3.3 GPA/top 25 percent of class.) Cambridge doesn't seem to have any flexibility here, at least according to their website.

Cass has similar requirements but says that "appropriate professional qualification" can be substituted, and I'm not sure what that means. If you have six years of work experience you can waive the degree requirement altogether, which is kind of interesting.

I'm a bit concerned about my profile, if only because of my GPA. I grew up on the east coast but moved abroad to do my undegrad and partied a bit too much. My GPA is the equivalent of about 2.7.

I now have 3.5 years of work experience in sales now and feel like I'm on a pretty good track but want to try to pursue marketing roles. I took a practice GMAT test and I think I could comfortably score in the 740 range, which I hope will help me appear better than my GPA would suggest!
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ralph
I always suggest contacting the schools directly and asking for a review of a candidate's profile. They should be at least willing to let you know whether or not you stand a chance. In my experience, these standards tend to have some flex, regardless of whether a business school states that in their application materials.

Particularly, schools will care less about your GPA the further you are away from your studies, and will instead look at the quality of your work experience as an indicator of your fit in an MBA program. So, make sure you highlight your successes and career progression in any communication with the schools (the initial reach-out, for example, and application essays, if you get that far.)

Your GMAT is strong, and that should help ease the adcomms' worries as to your ability to do an MBA program.

Are you aiming for 2015 or 2016? The latter would give you a better shot, considering you'd have close to five years of work experience at intake. Maybe keep that in mind.
I always suggest contacting the schools directly and asking for a review of a candidate's profile. They should be at least willing to let you know whether or not you stand a chance. In my experience, these standards tend to have some flex, regardless of whether a business school states that in their application materials.

Particularly, schools will care less about your GPA the further you are away from your studies, and will instead look at the quality of your work experience as an indicator of your fit in an MBA program. So, make sure you highlight your successes and career progression in any communication with the schools (the initial reach-out, for example, and application essays, if you get that far.)

Your GMAT is strong, and that should help ease the adcomms' worries as to your ability to do an MBA program.

Are you aiming for 2015 or 2016? The latter would give you a better shot, considering you'd have close to five years of work experience at intake. Maybe keep that in mind.
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aexl
Thanks so much for your advice, Ralph. Much appreciated.

I was aiming for 2015, but I think I may have missed the boat for this year. At least with next year, it would give me some more time to advance my career. I'll contact the schools for more info about their flexibility on GPA.

One more question: How do you rate my chances at LBS with another year of work experience? From their website, it looks like they don't have any specifications in terms of an undergraduate degree, which strikes me as odd, considering the caliber of the program.
Thanks so much for your advice, Ralph. Much appreciated.

I was aiming for 2015, but I think I may have missed the boat for this year. At least with next year, it would give me some more time to advance my career. I'll contact the schools for more info about their flexibility on GPA.

One more question: How do you rate my chances at LBS with another year of work experience? From their website, it looks like they don't have any specifications in terms of an undergraduate degree, which strikes me as odd, considering the caliber of the program.
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ralph
It's a competitive school. Your work experience will still be a bit under the average, but assuming you can hit your projected GMAT score, that should make up for it to some degree. My sense is that you'll be reasonably competitive.

It will come down to other aspects of your profile: how well you can alleviate their concerns about your poor GPA, as well as the quality of your recommendations and the interview, plus what else you bring to the table.
It's a competitive school. Your work experience will still be a bit under the average, but assuming you can hit your projected GMAT score, that should make up for it to some degree. My sense is that you'll be reasonably competitive.

It will come down to other aspects of your profile: how well you can alleviate their concerns about your poor GPA, as well as the quality of your recommendations and the interview, plus what else you bring to the table.
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aexl
Thanks again for all your help! I've got a GMAT exam scheduled, so here's hoping I can hit my targets.
Thanks again for all your help! I've got a GMAT exam scheduled, so here's hoping I can hit my targets.
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Bertie
Cranfield says that applicants should have a "good degree and/or professional qualification..." But what does that mean qualitatively? I did my undergraduate in the US and my GPA was 3.1.
Cranfield says that applicants should have a "good degree and/or professional qualification..." But what does that mean qualitatively? I did my undergraduate in the US and my GPA was 3.1.
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Duncan
If you hit a GMAT of 700 or higher and have useful work experience then I think you will be fine, and actually should consider better schools.
If you hit a GMAT of 700 or higher and have useful work experience then I think you will be fine, and actually should consider better schools.
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