As promised in our previous post on What transcripts do you need for your MBA apps, we’ll go into detail on a situation that can cause much consternation for certain BSers:
What if you enrolled but you did not graduate? What if you (eek!) dropped out of a program? What if you started at law school or medical school and you decided not to continue?
Applicants should scan and submit PDF versions of transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate institution from which they have received a degree.
That’s a change from what it used to be:
Applicants should scan and submit PDF versions of transcripts from each college and university they have attended as a registered student.
Whoohoo you’re off the hook!!!
Not so fast, Brave Supplicant….
Should you still disclose the fact that you attended and then left?
EssaySnark says YES.
Because you’re going to have an unexplained gap on your resume if you don’t.
You can’t hide this. And even if you dropped out because you were failing miserably, it is MUCH better to own up to that, and explain to the adcom what was going on with it rather than have them wonder and guess.
What you could cover is:
A. Why did you think that this educational path was right for you in the first place? Why did you start to pursue this degree? Give them some insight into your thinking and plans. What was the motivation originally?
B. What happened? What changed? Why did you quit?
Make it real. Show them how your experience was not what you thought it would be. ‘Fess up to not doing as well as you thought. Tell them that you were in over your head, or that it was way too technical than you expected, or that you simply weren’t prepared in whatever way that it’s true.
Dropping out of school is ALWAYS a source of shame — the one exception perhaps being a Mark Zuckerberg where he dropped out because he had this fabulous thing take off beneath him and he went on a rocket ship ride instead. If you dropped out to go build a company — even if that company did not then succeed — it’s still a valid reason to share with the adcom. If you dropped out because someone in your family (or you) got sick, also a reason to share.
WHATEVER the reason, it’s worth telling the adcom.
Don’t keep them guessing.
Now, if they don’t require those transcripts, yet you’re disclosing that you started and quit, should you still include the transcripts anyway?
Yeah, maybe. It depends. We’re going to talk further on this topic in our discussion of MOOCs and supplementary classes that you want to tell the adcom about. Stay tuned (or look for that post here on the blahg – try searching for the term “MOOC” and you should be able to find it if you’re reading this post after it was originally published.) Some of that may apply to your situation too.
What we definitely advise though:
Despite Columbia’s change in policy as we’ve captured here, some other schools may see it differently. To play it safe, you’ll want to examine the requiremenst and the application itself for each of your target MBA programs, and in cases where it’s not crystal clear as Columbia has made it, then you’ll want to CONTACT each school’s admissions office directly. Ask them how you should handle this situation.
Each school has its own requirements. Just because one school wants it one way does not mean that that’s a set-in-stone universal rule that all other schools will abide by. Check.
And don’t overstress on your special situation. Everybody has weaknesses in their application profile. Everyone. If you have some difficult situation to explain in your apps, then simply explain it. The adcoms WANT to admit you. Handle it transparently, with maturity, and you’ll be helping not hurting your chances.
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