From the Texas MBA Admissions Team

You Are Not Your GPA

This may come as a shock to some of you. Brace yourself. In the world of MBA Admissions, your numbers are not everything. By “numbers”, we’re referring to the ones applicants tend to obsess over when they submit an MBA application, i.e., their undergraduate GPA, total GMAT/GRE score, quant and verbal scores, percentile, etc.

We’re all human beings, right? But with a large population and coveted seats in education programs, we tend to organize ourselves into rankings and measurable figures to sort out whose best, better than best and champion supreme. But, we’re here to tell you that you are not just a simple sum of your parts. The same way that you are not just your handedness. Left-handed or right-handed, it’s a part of you, but it certainly doesn’t DEFINE who you are. When you enter a room, someone doesn’t say “Oh, hey, there’s Left-Handed-Ricky,” right? Well, they might, but that’s just a lame nickname.

Though, we should say up front that if the sum has parts, it’s important to get those right. That’s why nailing your GMAT and putting your best GPA/foot forward is a no-brainer. In our review of a typical MBA candidate, GMAT and GPA alone do not offer any consistent indication of success in the program. Even if you do have a 780 GMAT, this does not, in itself, indicate to us that you will succeed, make good grades, find an internship, thrive in your study groups, or find a good job after graduation.

It is the combination of strong numbers, your unique story, commitment to McCombs, and many other things that indicate how well you’ll do in the Texas MBA Program.

This blog addresses your NON-Numbers. That is, who you are as a unique person, and how to tell us that story well. This story can go a long way in convincing us that a so-so GMAT or GPA is nothing to worry about in the long run, because you have a clear sense of who you are and what you are capable of. Although, many of you might find presenting this part of your application the most difficult of all.

Let us give you an example. Say you have a 700 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA. Congratulations! Go you! So, you write an essay that is very straightforward. You want to take this class, have this internship, and ultimately end up working at so-and-so company. We can learn a lot about you based on your work history and your academic and career trajectory. But, let’s face it, a lot of people want to take that class, have that internship, and work there. And frankly, a lot of people have a 700 GMAT and 3.8 GPA.

You may ask: What will make me stand out so that I get a spot at McCombs over another applicant with the exact same numbers?

There is no single answer to this question, but here are some tips to help you get started:

1) It helps to conduct an exercise that creates a personal profile. List your work experience, your education, your academic and career goals, and where you ultimately want to see yourself in 10 years. Then, list your personal interests: like writing, traveling, helping with charities, making films, teaching yoga, investing money, sailing, scaling ridiculously high mountains for no reason but to see the view, and/or eating, to name a few.

2) Next, start to connect the dots. What about the various elements of your past, present, and future intersect? Does your drive to reach CEO status have anything to do with your mountain climbing? Does your love of food and travel have anything to do with your unique capabilities to work in diverse team settings and to find accord among very different people? Does your history as a writer impact your ability to draft great marketing communications? Though there are many, (many people love to eat, climb mountains, work in marketing and thrive in diverse settings) it is the particular combination of YOUR interests, history and path that make up your unique story. It is how YOU tell this story that makes all the difference in how we view you as a potential MBA candidate.

If it helps, think about it from an admissions officer’s perspective. Our goal is to find a collection of highly capable people that will not only succeed in this environment (as evidenced by things like GPA, GMAT, work experience and education) but who also contribute something to our community. We want to know who you are as a person. And if we can see you as a person, then we can picture you in our school, interacting with all of the other diverse students, and contributing your individuality to the overall uniqueness of our amazing institution.

Basic case in point: Convince us that you are not only capable, but that you are special and that we will be lacking something without your presence.

So, if you sights are set on McCombs for your getting your MBA, remember that there are multiple human beings on the other end of your application reading your story, looking beyond the numbers. Convey to us your passion and what makes you unique. We are excited to learn more about you! (The NON-Numeric you.)