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The Real Differentiator For MBA Admissions: G.P.A.

Eric Allen
Want to know how to be a competitive MBA applicant? How to stand out in your applications? The real differentiator for MBA admissions: G.P.A.

Now that we have your attention: No, we don’t mean Grade Point Average. We are talking about a different kind of G.P.A: Great Impact, Persistence, and Aptitude. It is these qualities that make an MBA applicant competitive.

Great Impact

(Okay, we admit it — we took the easy way out and cheated on the “G”. Hiding “impact” behind “great” is kind of like choosing Kentucky in your bracket, but we couldn’t think of anything suitable for “G”... so Great Impact it is.)

Impact is one of the key components that admissions directors are looking for in MBA applicants. What makes the admissions directors’ job so tough is that they are trying to predict future success based on tiny nuggets in your short history of academic, professional, and personal experiences. 

The admissions committee tends to believe that if you’ve made a solid impact so far, you are bound to make even more of an impact once equipped with an MBA. In general, we think this thesis is spot on. Most people don’t just flip the switch after b-school and suddenly become “Type A” personalities who are actively involved in their community, go the extra mile at work, and make significant contributions to society. The true global business leaders are special people who tend to have always shown that type of behavior. Your job is to show the admissions that you have what it takes to be a global business leader by demonstrating the impact you’ve made so far and discussing how you plan to make an impact in the future.

→ How to communicate the impact you have made/plan to make in the future:

1. Share your skills and how they will contribute to the program.

          Business schools are looking to build a diverse student body and accept students with unique qualities and experience. To demonstrate this in your application, analyze your past accomplishments and identify the skills you’ve demonstrated. Clearly state these skills in your essays and share how they will contribute to the program. 

          2. Explain why the program is best suited for your goals.

          Once you have shared your past accomplishments, you must articulate your plans for the future. Give specific reasons why the MBA program to which you are applying is a vital part of your life trajectory. This is an opportunity for you to show you have done research about the program and explain why you feel it is a natural fit for your skills and goals.

          3. Create a cohesive link between your past, present, and future.

          Again, this is a chance for you to demonstrate your knowledge about the program you are applying to. Give specific ways you plan to continue your impact while pursuing your MBA. Discuss the school’s clubs, specific courses, and other extracurriculars and provide logical reasons why they will allow you to further your impact and prepare you for the future.


          “Anything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you”. Remember that from grade school? If you participate in business long enough, you will fail. People will tell you that you can’t do it, and how you react to failure is a testimony to your character. Being able to demonstrate your persistence in life is an important trait for top business leaders and, frankly, one of the differentiators as you rise to the top of the business world. 

          When we first started Admit.me, we had a lot of people who didn’t believe in what we were trying to do – we were told “no” more than a one-year-old in an antique shop, but we persisted. It’s not always the smartest who make it in life – sometimes it’s the ones who just keep showing up with the lunch pail ready to work! Show the committee that you have that “lunch pail” mentality and you will work hard to be successful.

          → Areas to practice persistence while applying for an MBA

          1. Test Scores.

          Trust us, not everyone nails their GMAT the first time. Achieving a score that falls within the average of your target school could take a few attempts. While you can take the GMAT as often as every 16 days, you can only take it 5 times in a single calendar year. If you are working to improve your score, spend the necessary time studying between takes rather than hoping your results will improve simply by taking it repeatedly. 

           2. Acceptance.

          Sometimes hearing back from your target schools can take awhile… especially if you’ve been put on the waitlist. While many students use this waiting period as a chance to show the school their persistence with frequent contact, it’s best to channel your persistence into remaining patient while keeping a positive attitude. Get in touch if you have a legitimate question, otherwise focus on keeping your spirits up and hoping for the best.

          3. Going another route.

          We’ll be honest, denial stings. If you weren’t accepted to your dream school, it’s okay to feel disappointed... but don’t let this rejection destroy your MBA goals. Show your persistence by attending one of your backup schools or put business school on hold and apply again next year. You are bound to experience disappointment in the business world so consider this experience preparation for your future and keep moving forward.


          Part of the evaluation process is about aptitude. When many MBA-hopefuls hear this word, they immediately think of the numbers on their application. Sure, schools look at grades and test scores to get a perspective on how you can perform in an academic setting. Even though they have shown to be predictors of success in business school, the numbers on your application aren’t the end all. 

          In addition to academic aptitude, work aptitude is also important. Create a concise personal brand that shows who you are as an applicant and the unique qualities you have to offer. Your personal traits have the ability to seal the deal on your acceptance, so you should never underestimate the value of the recommender in providing confirmation of your strong work ethic and attitude.

          Your MBA application should be well-rounded by both showing sufficient numbers (GPA and test scores) and relevant experience (work and extracurricular). If one of these areas is lacking, make sure the other sufficiently overcompensates. Be sure to show the admissions committee your wide-range of accomplishments in order to truly differentiate yourself.

          Eric Allen


          Eric Allen

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