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Will A Poor Academic Record Prevent You From Getting Into A Top Business School?

Cristina Sassot, director of admissions for Full Time MBA & MSc Programmes at ESADE Business School answers your Applicant Question of the Week

Thu Mar 7 2019

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from business school applicant Vibhor Garg (pictured).2

Vibhor is a final year college student from India who is preparing to take his GMAT exam. He has a range of work experience and qualifications but suffers from migraines which have affected his academic scores, however he is hoping that this will not prevent him from getting in to a top business school.

His question is answered by Cristina Sassot, director of admissions for Full-Time MBA and MSc Programmes at ESADE Business School.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause,

Does having a poor academic record in your school or college prevent you from getting in to a top business school?

The Answer:

Firstly, candidates’ academic backgrounds should always be seen as one component of their overall applications. Their work-experience (in the case of the MBA), maturity, extracurricular activities and future career goals are also relevant.

Business schools do, of course, assess candidates’ academic background very carefully. It's an indicator of candidates’ future performance during the program. The transcripts help the Admissions Committee not only to select the best candidates but, also those that can start and finish the program. In this respect, academic transcripts play an important role.

However, candidates’ grade point average (GPA) is not the only factor the Admissions Committee takes in to account. At ESADE Business School, we analyse academic transcripts in depth because they provide other useful information, such as what candidates are interested in based on their choice of specialisations or elective courses, as well as their willingness to make an extra effort depending on the difficulty of those classes and their ability to manage a heavy workload at any given time.

A poor academic transcript does not necessarily mean that candidates will not be accepted by top business schools. When completing their applications, it is extremely important for candidates to discuss any aspect of their transcripts which might generate doubts amongst committee members: Why are their final GPAs low? Why did their marks drop one specific semester? Why did they change university or bachelor’s degree programme?

A coherent and well-argued explanation of any irregular element within academic transcripts may incline the Admissions Committee one way or another.

Given that there is nothing candidates can do to improve their final GPAs once they have completed their undergraduate degrees, we recommend candidates compensate poor academic transcripts with strong GMAT or GRE scores. These two standardised tests are commonly used alongside candidates’ academic transcripts as indicators of their possible academic performance in the future.

Solid scores will help to ensure that the Admissions Committee doesn’t harbour any doubts regarding candidates’ future performance and will make their applications more competitive compared to others’. It is worth remembering that competition to get into top business schools is extremely intense and that every component in candidates’ applications counts.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Sarah Campbell, senior assistant director of MBA recruitment and admissions for Fisher College of Business, anything you would like to know about applying to MBA programs. sarah campbell 2

Sarah has been in this position for almost three years and knows what to look out for in prospective applicants. She also has an MBA from Saint Joseph’s College, so she knows first hand what it’s like to go through the application process.

Got a question you'd love Sarah to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 


Student Reviews





On Campus

Transformative Journey at ESADE Business School

My time at ESADE Business School has been beyond remarkable. From the moment of the application process, the staff has been super helpful and responsive on every single email! The faculty are highly engaging, the peers collaborative and the curriculum cutting-edge, encouraging me to push my own boundaries and broaden my understanding of business. With practical learning at its core, ESADE has provided me with crucial skills for success in the real world. Not only is this school an ideal place to develop yourself; it's also home to so many fantastic opportunities, friendships and growth. If you're ready for change and want to thrive in the business world then this is definitely the university for you!




On Campus

Esade review

As I am just starting off in September, I do not have any hands-on information about the education or the university itself. However, I can tell you about the experience I have had with the admin staff, which was always extremely positive. As I am a scholarship student, I had some hardships with reserving my place as I needed to wait for the result of my scholarship application, otherwise, I would not have been able to attend the university. They kindly offered me to hold my place without paying which was a big help for me. Additionally, any time I had problems with the IT system or any administrative task they would always help me in a day or two.




On Campus

Bachelor Business administration

ESADE University stands as a beacon of academic excellence and innovation. With its dynamic programs, world-class faculty, and vibrant campus culture, ESADE offers a transformative educational experience. From cutting-edge business education to a commitment to societal impact, ESADE surpasses expectations. It's a remarkable institution that nurtures tomorrow's leaders.




On Campus

Excellent education.

ESADE is a quality university, the professors are the best in the area and this is evident in the student's academic progress. Additionally, the university is responsible for providing opportunities to access the world of work. It is a university internationally recognized for its quality and excellence. It is located in the best neighborhood of Barcelona.




On Campus

Excellent teachers and classes and a superb international experience

If you are looking for a law specialization master's degree (LLM) in the non so traditional areas of law, and you are seeking for an international fully enriching experience, ESADE is your best choice. ESADE started as a business school so the MBA and other business degrees are their core. Nonetheless, law education and in particular the specialisation master's (international business law and intellectual property and ICT law) are also on the top Europe's LLM of their fields. They combine an excellent program, with the best teachers available in Barcelona and with a more than enough amount of resources to study and help the student to get initiated in their career field. Also, this is the best international experience out there; personally, I got to share a classroom with other 25 students, where only 6 of them were Spanish, the other 19 including myself were a mixture of different nationalities, especially from Latin American countries.




What an enriching experience!

The program was super complete and touched on all the key points I considered important in a Master of Law, Intellectual Property and Technology. In addition, I was able to take advantage of business, communication, leadership and other disciplines, so important in the training of a complete and multifaceted professional. It is also great that all teachers are lawyers, so they can practice the knowledge they teach us on a daily basis. In this way, they are able to transmit theoretical knowledge to us with a much more practical approach, super useful for our future. In this way, we are able to penetrate the network of contacts in our areas, which can be extremely beneficial for our career. I also believe that the University is really concerned with the students, in helping them in everything they need, which can be demonstrated, for example, in the current pandemic situation, since it has always tried to act in such a way as to harm the students as little as possible, providing the support and compensation that they considered fair. In conclusion, I would like to thank ESADE for providing me with one of the best experiences of my life, in which I have made friends for life, and from which I leave with excellent academic preparation, ready to face the challenges of a professional career.




The online platform and the involvment of students and teachers

The online platform is very agile to work and gives you great flexibility to follow the program. Secondly, I was surprised by the involvement of students and teachers. This has made the program very interesting with links to extensions of the agenda. Quite a good surprise. I would clearly recommend it.




Great class cohesion, superb study location, super professors

I loved the class cohesion with plenty of international students from all over the world. Great to have that mix during a practical business project to do with the local economy of the Costa Brava. Studying in Barcelona is simply amazing, and even though the university is not directly in the center, it is in a really nice part of the city with great views over the old town and the sea. I always enjoyed my walk from the metro station to the school. The professors were nice and motivated, and as classes were small, it allowed a very good learning atmosphere.




Amazing experience!

The professors are qualified, passionate, and dive deeply into the topics while always making class engaging. Hands-on experience with companies to solve real issues - offering a great opportunity to apply the learnings and gain more relevant experience. The study tours and minor class trips are also adding value to the course, along with many career and social events, which help create a good environment. Would highly recommend!