Getting a good Masters with a medicore Bachelors
August 29, 2007 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to figure out the best way increase my admissibility to a solid Business school. I have about 2 years or so to get my academic CV strong enough to be seriously competitive, and I am trying to figure out what I can do in the mean time to prepare.

I am currently in the military (hence the 2 years delay) and right now I bring to the table a mediocre GPA from an average program (3.0ish in Sociology from Texas A&M). Besides the study hard for GMAT I am hoping for some advice for the future. I've done some research and emailed some potential schools admissions department, but I haven't heard anything yet. I have though about taking some introductory masters classes (getting As in them) to show some more recent work, but beyond that I'm not sure what to do.
posted by aggienfo to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(ianada -- i am not a dean of admissions)

classwork in macroeconomics and statistics, as well as a basic understanding of finance, would be helpful not only for admission, but also once you get to school, as it may allow you to skip some introductory classes.

take a gmat prep course.

you want the people who write your reccomendations to be able to attest, above all else, to your leadership and management abilities, so take advantage of your opportunities in the military to prove yourself as a leader and then have a superior write your reccomendation.

also, in a recent interview with the dean snyder of the chicago business school, he said that top mba programs (hbs, wharton, stanford, chicago, stern, etc.) are actually looking for younger applicants, despite the misconception that you need five years of professional work first. so depending on your age, that might be an advantage for you.
posted by brooklynexperiment at 8:52 AM on August 29, 2007

Seconding GMAT prep course, a high score on that goes a long way. Also don't forget the GMAT has a writing component in it.

It's never too early to either start thinking about relevant business experiences in some field, or creating some. Certainly your application will require an essay or two (University of Washington Business School required three!). Being able to write an interesting and compelling essay on some experience you've had first hand is important. And this is just my experience, but I believe it would be helpful if your essay was something related to marketing or promoting would probably be more interesting to the human being in admissions reading it than a story about how you discovered an inefficiency in the market that you leveraged for a profit.

Getting high marks in the business related courses is key, as you've clearly ascertained. A "B+" in Econ or statistics is worth more than an "A+" in science. Speaking a second language with some competence would be a HUGE asset, especially a language where the US has major business relations (Japanese, Korean, Chinese for example). And not just knowing the language, but having some idea of their business customs is important. If you have business experiences in an overseas capacity then be prepared to write about that in your essay. Many of the students you will be competing with for admissions will be from foreign countries and will have the advantage of being bilingual.

Your application will also likely require a letter or two of recommendation from someone you have worked closely with. Never too early to start thinking about who a good candidate might be.

Lastly, if on your first attempt you don't get in to the school of your choice, get in touch with an academic counseler FROM THE BIZ DEPARTMENT. Find out specifically if you can where you were deficient. See if you can get waived into some business school classes, ace those cold, and reapply.

Good luck!
posted by vito90 at 9:58 AM on August 29, 2007

I work in test prep, and what we tell people to do:

- get a great GMAT score, which involves, often, taking a course. I've seen some amazing score increases. The earlier the better.

- take some classes to push your GPA up. There are lots of legitimate online courses from good schools. Take econ, finance, org. comm.

- have some experience! Most b-schools want you to have worked.
posted by k8t at 11:19 AM on August 29, 2007

Get experience. Start your own small business. Show entrepreneurial tendencies.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:19 AM on August 29, 2007

I'm assuming you're an officer in this answer. If your enlisted, please disregard, as I don't have any idea how b-schools deal with enlisted college grads applicants.

O3 to MBA program is a common path, and one very valued by business schools, who see junior officers as having a real-world leadership experience qualitatively different from that of their typical mid-20s applicant.

While the last weeks of summer and first weeks of the fall term are a bad time to get attention from admissions departments, you should be able to get some solid guidance from them in terms of what they expect applicants from the military to bring to the table. It could well differ in important respects from what they expect from other candidates. (This is not a special accomodation for the military; b-schools are notorious for a "basket" approach to admissions, which can result in meaningfully different criteria for ex-investment bankers and ex-Teach for Americas and ex-officers alike.)

I'd be suprised to hear that they set much store in the grades you earn in post-bac non-matriculated business courses. Whatever doubt they have about your quant muscles will be resolved by reference to your GMAT Math score, making that your clear priority (as mentioned by other posters above). I even wonder if the post-bac courses might backfire: what if you enroll in a couple, get deployed and then have to take a pair of incompletes? You'll be obliged to disclose that on your application.
posted by MattD at 12:04 PM on August 29, 2007

GMAT, GPA, and work experience are the three main drivers of admissions. Your 3.0 will be good enough for a "solid" program if everything else is good, and I don't think additional coursework is really necessary.

Ex-military folks are rare at top schools (except for the academy types). At the 8-20 ranked schools, they are slightly less rare.

What do you define as "solid"?
posted by Kwantsar at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2007

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