SBC Scoop: Unknown Undergraduate Degrees

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All GPAs are not created equal. It’s well known that some schools are far more academically rigorous than others. But you probably made the decision about where to go to college as a teenager, years before you even considered applying for an MBA program. You may have decided to attend the nearest state school because of cost or convenience, or you ended up a smaller and less well-known program because you valued small classes and a close community. If your undergraduate institution doesn’t have the caliber of a top tier University, how do you showcase your academic achievement?

Sean attended the University of Maine for one year and then transferred to Bates College, also in Maine, where he graduated. He performed well at University of Maine (3.3 GPA), and extremely well at Bates (3.8 GPA). Even with strong academics, Sean was concerned that he couldn’t compete with his peers who had attended Ivy league programs.

When we started working together one of the first steps was to analyze Sean’s transcripts and look for any strengths or weaknesses in his academic record. Sean had started out as a Biology major at University of Maine, but he found the large program not as engaging as his small classes during high school. He decided to transfer to Bates, and he also transitioned to a Political Science major in the move between schools. Therefore his transcript showed a mix of hard science and social science classes. Sean’s grades were strong enough in the math and science courses to assure an MBA program he had quantitative ability. Most of his classes at Bates had a participation factor to the grading, and his extremely strong performance showed that he would shine at case discussions in business school.

Overall Sean’s academics presented a case for academic achievement in an MBA program. We decided to add a short optional essay on why he transferred and changed majors to smooth out any concerns about his multiple undergrad institutions.

In the end Sean did not need to be concerned about the name brand factor of his undergraduate degree. He was admitted to Columbia, Kellogg and Darden, and decided to pursue his MBA at Darden because he preferred the case study academic approach.

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