One of the most common statements that MBA admissions committees hear from applicants who have rocky academics is, “My GPA does not reflect my ability.” We have cautioned against this before as not quite the ideal.
So then, what is?
We’re reluctant to be too direct in making suggestions for what to say in an essay for any topic because then it becomes EssaySnark writing the essays and not you. Also, in this case, if you say this and you don’t mean it, well…. that’s lame.
It’s important to give REASONS and not EXCUSES when you write about academic performance, and even if you include this exact statement verbatim – which we do NOT suggestion that you do – it’s not going to be enough to convince your adcom reader of your sincerity or your contrition. So take this as information only, and please think about what these words are saying, and what they mean, and whether you believe them to be true for you before you adapt any version of this as your own in a low-GPA essay.
We’re taking the inspiration for this from an unfortunate source. There was yet another race-related incident on a college campus recently, this time Cornell, where a black student was beaten by a white one and called racial epithets. The full story is here in the Washington Post if you’re curious. What we’re focusing on today is actually not those events, but instead, the quite incredible response from the (new) President of Cornell University, Martha Pollack , in particular these words:
The events of the last few weeks are thus deeply painful; and, of course, the pain is magnified a thousandfold for those whose dignity and, indeed, very bodies have been attacked.
I will not tell you “this is not who we are,” as the events of the past few weeks belie that. But it is absolutely not who we want to be. The leadership team and I have been working throughout the weekend, and we will continue to do so, to develop and implement steps to be a more equitable, inclusive and welcoming university.
The tone is the best we’ve ever seen in any type of official response to a bad situation, whether on a university campus or in a corporation.
Saying your low GPA does not reflect your ability is essentially being a racist or a sexist or a homophobe and saying, “But that’s not who I am.”
GPA ***does*** reflect ability — or at least, it reflects your willingness to work hard.
It’s actually WORSE to say that your low GPA does not reflect your ability since by those words, you’re directly admitting to being a lazy bum who does not give a f_ck.
We hope it does not trivialize these important issues of race and equality and the divisions that are being experienced on college campuses and across American society today to use this example as a lesson for how (not) to write your essays. Everything that happens is a teaching moment for the ‘Snark. Character is revealed through actions taken, and perhaps even more so in the words used to explain actions taken in the past. Are you a revisionist historian? Or are you someone who acknowledges mistakes openly and tries to use even bad things that happen to make yourself better?