When our client Irene first started working with her SBC consultant, she brought up an issue that was causing her a lot of anxiety. At the beginning of her sophomore year of college Irene was undergoing personal challenges and was suspended for academic dishonesty. The charges were eventually dropped when Irene returned to school, but she was ashamed of this “mark” on her permanent record and extremely concerned about its impact on her MBA applications.
Irene’s consultant reassured her that she was not alone. Many MBA applicants have something less than stellar on their academic record. While it seems devastating at the time, nearly everything that an applicant is ashamed of can be explained appropriately in an MBA application. The key approach is to offer explanations and evidence of growth when explaining anything embarrassing that needs to be addressed.
Irene decided to take on the issue head on in an essay where she discussed her personal challenges during her sophomore year. She briefly explained the circumstances of her difficulties, which were generally related to a family dispute and an abusive romantic relationship, and focused the majority of the essay on what she did to emerge from the challenge a stronger person. Irene had worked hard to improve her relationship with her family and herself, and proactively sought positive interactions during the remainder of her college career. Additionally, Irene prioritized academic achievement and her career goals, and was able to graduate with a 3.7 GPA and an offer from a top consulting firm.
By emphasizing the positive results of the academic probation, Irene was able to gain admission to two of her three target MBA programs and ultimately attended NYU.
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