There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” MBA Applicant: Case Study #1

This is the first in a series of 7 case studies summarizing the challenges, experiences, and success of business school applicants who in recent years have engaged the admissions consulting services of The MBA Exchange. There’s no such thing as a "perfect" MBA candidate, but there are strategic ways to perfect your candidacy.

The featured profiles are:

#1. Low GPA

#2. Low GMAT Score, Qualitative background

#3. Undifferentiated/Technical work history

#4. No international experience

#5. Short work history

#6. Re-applicant

#7. Older applicant

These descriptions confirm that, while most applicants are not "perfect," through well-planned strategies and diligently executed tactics, admission is achievable at schools that they believe are beyond their reach.

If your candidacy relates to any of these case studies, then The MBA Exchange would love to hear from you regarding your business-school aspirations and challenges.

Case Study #1: Low GPA

Applicant Profile for "Wayne" (not his real name)

Academic Economics major at a top 50-ranked university in the US. Graduated with a 2.75 overall GPA
Professional 3 years of experience as an assistant brand manager at a multinational consumer products company in New York City, including a 6-month rotation in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Non-work activities Leads community service initiatives for his employer. Plays in an amateur soccer league
GMAT 690
Post-MBA goal Transition to investment banking, with a focus on South American markets
Target schools Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, New York University

The MBA Exchange’s Solution

Wayne is concerned that graduating from a second-tier university with a low GPA in a qualitative major will be viewed by admissions committees as a major weakness in his candidacy. We agree that top MBA programs may feel that Wayne’s application does not demonstrate his capacity to excel in a competitive, rigorous academic setting.

We reviewed our experience with past clients who had similar profiles and goals, and devised the following three-part strategy to enable Wayne to compensate for his low GPA by demonstrating his ability to handle academic rigor through other avenues:

  • Take a rigorous business class through the extension program from one of the accredited universities on our recommended list.
  • Emphasize the analytical/quantitative aspects of his professional role in essays that focus on career history.
  • Prepare a compelling optional essay that explains the reasons for his modest undergraduate GPA and subsequent actions that reveal his true potential for b-school academic success.

Applicant’s Outcome/Results

Wayne followed our advice, and spent the next several months taking two courses, calculus and statistics. By the end of the summer, he earned an A in both classes.

However, as strong academic qualifications alone cannot guarantee admission, we worked diligently with Wayne to help him develop powerful recommendations and essays communicating his personal and professional accomplishments and rationale for an MBA. We helped him align his strengths with the selection criteria at his targeted schools. Wayne was ultimately offered admission to Wharton, Columbia and NYU.

In order to capitalize on our experience and advice as Wayne did, prospective clients are invited to contact us for a free, preliminary evaluation LINK TO FREE EVAL before applying to business school. Engaging us for a Comprehensive Consultation will allow you time and proven strategies to strengthen your candidacy and then to prepare more compelling applications that miximize your chances for admission.

Client Comments

My working with The MBA Exchange made all the difference in the world. My numbers were weak, but my determination was strong. I listened to and followed their advice about the extension courses. I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy balancing studying and working full-time, but I believe it made the difference for me. And this Fall, I’ll be more confident than ever taking those first-year classes in managerial finance and accounting — thanks to The MBA Exchange.