In our impromptu series on gathering your docs for your MBA app, focusing on what transcripts do you need to submit, we’ll continue today with a question of strategy combined with tactics.
The strategy is that, for some of you, your grades do not reflect your abilities (ugh please do not say that in your essays!!!!!). You know that you did poorly in college and now that you realize the error of your ways and discover that yes, grades in college DO matter after all, you’re figuring out what to do about it so that your Early 20s Self does not prevent your Mature Current Self from getting into bschool.
So you’ve taken a class.
And now you need to know where you tell the MBA adcom about it. That’s the “tactics” part.
Like other things in the app dataset and questions they ask, different schools handle it differently. Some of them (Wharton) explicitly have a section on their app where you can enter it. Others are very vague in the application on what they require in terms of documentation around education.
The rule of thumb is that if you got a degree, then you need a transcript. If it’s not a degree, then no transcript — but offering proof that you did it is still strongly recommended as a way to supplement your profile.
Sometimes this can be listed on the resume, though often, people run out of room there and they aren’t sure quite how to fit it in. Does it go in the Education section? Maybe not, since again, it’s not a degree. But it could fit there, just as you’d include the CFA designation. Or, again just like the CFA, you could include it as a bullet at the very bottom, in the Personal or Additional Info section.
Then, you can examine the school’s application to see if there’s a spot for your particular target program to enter in a file upload. If you took the course for credit/no credit, then we would not bother at all. If you took the course for a grade and it was issued by an accredited institution, then it’s worthwhile uploading something to show it. Unlike the transcripts you include from college or a prior master’s, this can be a download or screenprint from the school’s website. So if you took a course at, say, NYU Continuing Ed, you can grab the screen that shows the course, the date, and the grade, and PDF that and upload to the MBA app.
Again, not all MBA apps have a natural place to include this. It’s probably best NOT to shoehorn it into a spot that does not work (don’t add it to the Education section if it’s clear from the way the school is asking for info there that they only want actual degrees included, which is often the case). A school like Ross or INSEAD often has an extra spot at the very end of the app where they’ll let you send in anything. That’s a good spot, if one is available.
Definitely don’t try to construct your own Frankenstein file by glomming this piece on to the end of an existing transcript for your bachelor’s. If the MBA app doesn’t have a natural place to include this, then just skip it. Note it fully on the resume (and discuss it in your optional essay, which is really the most important place to be covering it) and leave it at that.
If it’s just a MOOC, then this is particularly true. Many adcoms will appreciate that you are motivated to learn stuff through a MOOC like Coursera, or through MBA Math, but unless it’s a course taken at an accredited institution, through the institution itself and not from a third-party or for-profit provider, it’s just not going to add as much to the app. It doesn’t hurt you, of course, but it’s not something they can give much weight to. Some schools invite you to tell them about your MOOC accomplishments, particularly HBS and Wharton where those schools are making a greater push into offering MOOCs themselves. But don’t be fooled; they’re not overly additive to your candidacy in the grand scheme of themes.
If you want some personal input into your exact situation, our Transcripts & Grades App Accelerator is the ideal resource. We also try to offer insights and some tips on academics from a higher level in the Comprehensive Profile Review, though we don’t do any type of transcript review through any service beyond the Transcripts App Accelerator. We also have gobs of posts here on the blahg on these topics, so you can dig into the ‘snarchives and research things for yourself.
Questions? Please hit us up in the comments on this post and we’re happy to help you out!
Update August 2018: The GMAC Researcher folks did a survey of employers — obviously employers aren’t the same as adcoms, but they’re close! Here’s what they found about how companies see MOOCs on your resume.