From a Low GPA, and 1.5 Year work experience gap to A US Top 3 Business School: How Ashish cracked Columbia?

When an applicant comes to us with a dream to get into some of the most selective business schools, you would expect them to have a pristine profile. But that’s almost never the case. Applicants generally have one or two roadblocks but we know that with enough effort put into their applications, they can convince the schools to offer them an admit.

Ashish’s story was similar. However, his roadblocks were significant. Ashish had a low GPA in his undergraduate course and had a running work experience gap of more than 1.5 years.

Even with a low GPA, and a Work gap in his profile, Ashish managed to crack Columbia.

Here’s how.

Ashish’s background

When Ashish approached us for MBA admissions consulting, he had not yet given his GMAT exam. His target GMAT score was 750, and he ended up scoring a 730 on the actual test. Ashish also had a significantly low GPA in his undergrad. Thus, having a good GMAT score was a relief.

He used to live and work in England for over 4 years and had been on a sabbatical from work since his return to India. This was a major roadblock since a gap in work experience is a major red flag for business schools.

Ashish had worked as an Investment consultant during his stint in England and wanted to move to an Investment research role at a Value style fund.

After going through all the setbacks in Ashish’s profile, what was going to work in our favor was an upcoming class visit that he had planned to Columbia, his dream school.

Ashish’s class visit to Columbia

Due to the various roadblocks he had, Ashish had to jump on any chance to sway the admissions committee’s decision for the positive. One chance appeared when he decided that he was going to travel to New York for a class visit to Columbia Business School.

We understand that not all applicants are able to afford a class visit but if you can, we highly suggest it.

To prepare him better for his class visit, we provided him with various relevant essays and videos to make sure he knew which things he needed to pay extra attention to. We even provided him with an in-depth analysis of Columbia’s essay questions and how he can use his experiences in his upcoming trip to New York to strengthen his answers.

Just like an interview, an applicant must always prepare before making contact with their business school. be it class visits or networking calls, having a list of questions to ask, and subjects to explore is only going to help you in accumulating data that will help you answer your essay questions better.

Ashish’s Essay analysis

A huge problem with Ashish’s essays was that they weren’t personal. Since he had such a clear picture of his short-term goals, he kept circling back to those no matter what was asked.

Thus, the first thing we asked Ashish to do was pick up more stories from his personal life rather than his professional life. He was told to stay away from incidents that were present in his essays and to write about moments and experiences that have in some way shaped him into the man he was.

We wanted the Columbia admissions committee to see what Ashish was other than his professional accomplishments.

Being prepared before going for his class visit did help him as his answers for “Why Columbia?” were more authentic and not brochure. A brochure answer is something that a school adds to its admissions brochure. It’s highly generic as it is supposed to attract a large population.

When applicants write such answers, the admissions committee is quick to judge that they have no solid reasons to be at the school and are trying to use flattery as space fillers on their essays.

Ashish’s class visit, however, helped him come up with strong and convincing reasons to be at Columbia’s MBA program.

It also helped him a lot by answering Columbia and New York city-related questions during his Columbia interview.

Ashish’s diligence helped him crack Columbia even after a low GPA and 1.5 years of gap in work experience.