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Navigating The MBA Application Red Flags

MBA applications have several components. One of the key elements is the undergraduate GPA. It is an important factor for admissions committees since it can serve as an indicator of your academic ability to handle the intensive MBA. But what do you do if your undergraduate GPA just isn’t up to the mark? The hard truth is that there is no way to reverse time and improve your GPA. However, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate this issue.

Since a lower undergraduate GPA may comment on your dedication and/or academic ability, having a master’s degree with a good GPA is the ideal solution. However, a degree cannot be acquired at the last moment. Hence, the next best thing is to take up additional courses. This will not only highlight the value you place on education but also give you a second chance to showcase that you do indeed possess the ability to tackle a rigorous MBA program.

Some business schools also offer an optional essay. You should take this opportunity to explain the reason for your poor undergraduate performance. It could be that you were not as focused on grades at that point or faced extenuating circumstances or were just plain immature. The idea is to put forth the facts and reiterate that you do understand the importance of education and perhaps demonstrate it through connecting it with your career progress.

The other dreaded red flag that often pops up is a gap in your resume. While a gap of less than three months isn’t going to be of much concern, anything beyond that will stand out. We should also state here that if the gap isn’t one that has been forced upon you, it’s not a good idea to inflict it upon yourself. A gap will not only be detrimental from an admissions perspective but will also be something that you will carry during your job search later.

If you do have a gap that goes beyond three months, it’s something that can be addressed in the optional essay. Perhaps you were laid off (and we have seen this happening due to the recent pandemic) or there was a medical reason or perhaps you decided to take some time off; whatever the reason, it’s important to be forthcoming about it. Simply ignoring the gaps and hoping that the admissions committee will as well is not a good strategy.

Life doesn’t always proceed smoothly. The admissions committee knows about that. So the best way to tackle a gap is to be open about it. However, what the admissions committee would like to know is what you did during the gap. Did you take an extra course? Or do volunteer work? Or have an interesting cultural experience? The idea is to show growth during this period. In fact, if properly handled, a gap can add another dimension to your profile.


LemonEd can help you with all elements of your MBA application.

Call today for a free consultation.

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