Friday, January 5, 2007

Friday FAQ: GMAT & GPA

This is the first installment of a recurring blog post we'll be doing weekly...Friday FAQ. Each week we will take a question that comes up often on the discussion forums and in information sessions. Topics will vary based on what's hot, but expect us to cover admissions, career services, curriculum, student life, the City of Chicago, etc.

By far, the most frequently asked question is....
"Is my GMAT or GPA good enough to get in to Chicago GSB?"
So it is the first one we'll tackle here. The short answer is: we don't know. And while this may seem like we're dodging the question or trying to hide something, it's the truth and there are many good reasons for it. Your stats are only one aspect of your application. Decisions are not made based on stats alone and there is no magic formula used by the admissions office, so the notion of offsetting a below average GMAT or GPA with something else is a little misguided. The admissions office isn't in the business of admitting stats. They want to admit well rounded applicants and those decisions are made based on essays, recommendations, extracurricular involvement, GMAT, GPA, interview performance (if invited) and overall fit with the GSB. Decisions are made based on a holistic assessment of all components of your application.

At the end of the day, a 'good' GMAT and/or GPA won't get you into Chicago GSB, nor will a 'bad' GMAT and/or GPA keep you out. In fact, what makes a GMAT/GPA good or bad anyway? It's hard to say. If you must measure your stats against some sort of yardstick, the best you can do is the stats of the latest entering class. The Class of 2008 had an average GMAT of 703, with 80% of the class scoring between 640 and 760. They also had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5, with 80% of the class between 3.0 and 3.9. What does that tell you? That 10% of first years scored lower than 640 on the GMAT and 10% of first years had an undergrad GPA less than 3.0. However, it doesn't tell you what the lowest GMAT or GPA is (which for privacy concerns is not publicly available) could be anything because Chicago GSB has no minimum requirements for GMAT/GPA.

A typical follow up question is... "Should I retake the GMAT or take some classes to create an alternate transcript?" And the answer is always personal and entirely up to you. If you feel like you can significantly improve your score or grades, and have the time and the resources to do so, then by all means give it a shot. But don't forget to consider the tradeoff: your time and energy might be better spent doing research on the GSB and writing your essays.

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums