Can a person with a low GPA but a very high GMAT score (of 760) get admission to top B-schools like HBS, Wharton and Stanford?

Admission to top B-schools like HBS and Stanford?

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Yes you certainly can. You need to get the story right. Look at the following:

  1. GPA Conversion: Always start your assessment with the GPA conversion. Do not do the conversion yourself. Instead, reach out to renowned bodies such as www.wes.org (World education Services). They have tools to convert your Indian percentages into international GPA’s. 65% in graduation has different connotation for Engineering, English Honors, BSC, Law, and Humanities. In order to compare apples to apples, you need to get those converted to an internationally accepted number. Get it done by professionals (Such as the one above). Just as the schools accept your GMAT Scores, they also accept the GPA Transcripts from some of these professional bodies. After the GPA conversion, if your 58% in BA translates into a 3.3 GPA (It might), it is not as bad as you thought.
  2. Performance in Maths, Statistics, Accounting, Finance, and related subjects: If your overall GPA was low, but you faired well in some subjects that are of more interest to the school than the others, highlight those in the optional essay. Tell the school that you were not driven by the absolute numbers and were not a part of the rat race, but you did exceptionally well in the areas that should matter to the school. As long as you can prove your mettle, you will be able to assuage the concerns of the school.
  3. Other Activities: Imagine you walked into your graduation college in India and decided to work on skill sets other than academics. You can highlight that started actively participating in the club activities, or played an integral role in managing the annual fest, or were a part of dramatics club, or were managing budgets, or the placements of your college, you need to highlight those. The schools need to understand your reasons for being excellent in the academic areas. As long as you can highlight the other transferrable skills that you picked up in your graduation experience, you will do fine. Most of the schools will have optional essays. Use them as blank cheques, and talk about these experiences. Remember: Just do not elaborate on these experiences. Schools are more interested in knowing why were these important for you.
  4. Pick up Relevant courses now: Visit Coursera (Google it) and identify some of the international universities such as University of Pennsylvania (Wharton school of business), University of Michigan, University of Virginia (Darden Graduate school of business). Pick up courses in Finance, accounting, statistics, and showcase your performance in those courses. Most of these courses are not very expensive, and are of international repute. Pursue them before apply and highlight them in your application. Schools will gauge your seriousness and your low performance in graduation will drown out to a great extent.

More importantly, your GPA isn’t the only thing that Stanford or HBS cares about. Your story is much more important that you might think. Your story also isn’t just your past and your present. It also consists of what you believe your future to be like. They want students that can really make a change and an impact as future leaders.

Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Stanford, Kirsten Moss explains the diversity of the accepted applicants beautifully in this video.