SBC Scoop: Challenging Academic Profile

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Samita engaged with Stacy Blackman knowing that her undergraduate GPA of 45% from a well-known engineering program in India was one of the largest challenges in her application strategy. Samita was only slightly interested in engineering, and as the program continued she started to spend less and less time studying, and more and more time volunteering. The result was an unimpressive GPA, but quite a lot of extracurricular leadership.

Samita’s additional strengths included work experience and recommendations. Samita had an intriguing career at an NGO working across Asia and Europe, where she had progressed from program coordinator to director of development over four years. She was exceptionally skilled at working across a disparate group of people, and had a strong mentor in her manager, an HBS alum, who had encouraged her to seek a top-tier MBA in the United States.

Because she had limited time in her schedule, we advised an online program to boost Samita’s academic profile before she submitted her application.

When we started working with Samita she was preparing for the GMAT and scoring between 660 and 700 on her practice tests. We knew that her low GPA and potentially low GMAT were challenges to overcome, but we were all surprised when Samita scored a 590 on her first GMAT attempt. Samita was incredibly disappointed and frustrated and thought about abandoning her application. We discussed her options: re-evaluating schools, taking the GMAT again or taking the GRE.

Samita decided to schedule another GMAT session in thirty days and focus her time on putting together an exceptionally compelling application. We mined her experience for evidence of her potential and leadership, ensured her recommendations were stellar, and refined her resume and career goals.

Only a few days before the deadlines for HBS, Yale and Stanford Samita took the GMAT again. She was disappointed to increase her score only to 620. She submitted her applications anyway without much faith that her hard work would pay off.

Samita was shocked to be admitted to HBS! We were thrilled to be part of her success, and gratified that her exceptional accomplishments wouldn’t be undermined by her academic challenges.

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