Stanford GSB | Ms. Decision Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Low GRE
GRE 314, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Ambivalent Applicant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. Reinvention
GMAT 780, GPA 2.3
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Green CPA
GMAT 690, GPA 3.96
Harvard | Mr. Infantry Commander
GMAT 730, GPA 3.178
Stanford GSB | Mr. Latin American
GMAT 770, GPA 8 of 10
Columbia | Mr. Brandless
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tier 2 Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Mr. Latin International
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Indian Deferred
GMAT Will take next month but expecting 750+, GPA 8.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Immigrant Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Media Tech Hopeful
GRE 321, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Wharton | Mr. Biotech Social Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
NYU Stern | Mr. Indian Data Guy
GRE 325, GPA 7.06
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. HR To Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 7.65/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
NYU Stern | Mr. Brolic Bro
GRE 305, GPA 3.63
Tuck | Mr. Running To The Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5

How To Get Accepted By A Top Business School — The Best Of Jon Fuller

GPAs: How do adcoms weigh GPAs from tougher majors and programs? 

James

Do adcoms give any GPA discounts to tougher curriculum? My GPA is a lower than the average (by 0.2) at my target schools but I double majored in two tough engineering disciplines in my undergraduate. I also have a M.Sc. with a very high GPA.

Jon 

Not all GPAs/degrees are created equally, and that’s part of the reason why schools put emphasis on the GMAT . . . the GMAT is a great equalizer that allows schools to more effectively assess candidates who come from a huge variety of academic backgrounds. Overall, though, a 3.5 in engineering is not going to be evaluated the same way as a 3.5 in medieval literature. Similar tale if you went to Stanford versus Podunk University…

When adcoms look at transcripts, they obviously start with the high-level presentation – things such as school, major, and GPA. They’ll get some insight on you based on the reputation of the school, the rigor of your major, and the strength of your GPA.

But then they’ll also dig deeper into the transcript in many ways . . . is there relevant coursework to consider, such as business-related courses or anything else generally quantitative in nature? What pattern in performance is there – were you strong across the board? Did you start slow, finish strong, or vice versa? Did you have any singularly bad semesters or courses? How much did you challenge yourself? Did you double major (plus to you!)? Did you take a heavy course load? Did you push hard until the end?

[Check out Average GPAs at Top 50 U.S. Business Schools]

Extracurricular Activities: Do schools give extra points to helping the less fortunate? 

John

I have been involved in extracurricular activities since my graduation…The thing about my extracurriculars, though, is that they’ve all been fairly one dimensional with no social impact towards the less fortunate. Will this look out of sorts or is something better than nothing?

Jon

Based on questions I’ve been getting from future candidates, it seems there’s a lot of concern about whether your ECs are “save the world” enough. Having that focus is fine, but I don’t see it as a must-have when it comes to this part of your profile. When you think about activities, there are a few key things to focus on:

Depth in a few is better than dabbling in many. And depending on your situation, not everything you do might warrant a mention in your app.

Good to show consistent, active involvement over time.

Group-oriented activities are usually better than solitary ones. Example – being a dedicated distance runner is fine but doesn’t show much sociability. Participating and/or leading a running group would be even better.

Typically, the most ideal ECs are those that show that you’re engaged with a community and/or show leadership skills. It’s also great to have activities/hobbies that can be extrapolated to the MBA community through student clubs/orgs that are also tied to that activity/hobby. This provides some insight into what you have to offer the program and your classmates.

I like that you’ve had some mentorship/coaching experiences as the work likely checks a lot of the above boxes, and I don’t see you getting demerits if that work has been focused on the privileged…All that said, if you want to hedge your bets and add something that has more of a social impact dimension to it, I’d try to find something that is in a similar vein to your existing activity – a variation on an already established theme. This will help it stay in compliance with my second bullet point.

[Check out Why Clubs Should Factor Into Your B-School Decision]