The straightforward answer to this question is that your undergraduate transcripts are very important to an MBA admissions committee.
They will look at your college grades to assure themselves that you have the intelligence, discipline, and study habits to thrive in their program.
MBA programs count on the interaction of engaged, intellectually curious students; if your undergraduate grades raise questions about your ability to contribute to the academic vitality of the program, then you have your work cut out for you.
Get a Copy of Your Grade Reports ASAP
Regarding your university transcripts, MBA Prep School’s first piece of advice is to obtain a copy of your grade reports and review them carefully long before the admissions officers do. Don’t rely on your memory because you might discover too late that the 3.1 GPA you remember earning was actually a 2.9 – or that you repressed the memory of that “D” in freshman psychology.
Take Additional Coursework to Counterbalance Poor Performance
We say “too late” because, given sufficient lead-time before applying for an MBA, you may be able to take steps to counterbalance poor performance with additional coursework. If you have red flags in your academic history, the sooner you know about them the better. There are a number of ways to mitigate weaknesses in your academic transcripts. For example, if you performed poorly in quantitative courses in college, you could take a college level calculus or business statistics class to convince admissions officers that you now have the quantitative skills needed to excel in an MBA program.
Volunteer for Community Service Projects Requiring the Skills in Question
Another strategy that we’ve seen work is to volunteer for professional or community service projects that require the skills in question. For example, if your grades in quantitative courses are lackluster but you’ve demonstrated that you have mastered those skills on the job, then the admissions committee might be convinced that your weaknesses in that area are a thing of the past.
Use Your Academic History to Differentiate Yourself
Looking for skeletons in your academic closet isn’t the only advantage of reviewing your transcripts carefully. Look at your academic history to identify ways to differentiate your candidacy from other applicants. For example, if you excelled in a foreign language or studied abroad in college this might be something to emphasize in your application.
Address Academic Shortcomings Directly in an Optional Essay
Finally, we think it’s best to address academic shortcomings directly in one of the optional essays. Ignoring weak spots in your undergraduate grades and hoping the admissions committee does too is not a good approach. If you do write an optional essay, then be sure to accept responsibility and avoid making excuses. You’ll want to supply the admissions committee with convincing reasons that you now have the maturity, discipline, and aptitude to excel in an MBA classroom.