What to Do If You Failed a Class in College and Want to Apply to Business School

Oh no, you’re preparing your MBA application to get into business school and there’s an F on your transcript! 

Don’t worry (too much), because there are ways to get into a top MBA with low grades, and many graduate applications have been successful with one or two F’s lurking within them. The trick is to address those poor grades properly, which is exactly what this week’s video is about! Angela Guido will talk you through some tips on how to strengthen your MBA application if you failed a class in college.

#MBAMondays #ApplicationAdvice 

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript.

Hello, welcome back to MBA Monday. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, and today I'm going to answer the question “What do I do if I failed a class in college?”.

This question comes up a lot with people I speak to who are applying to business school, and it's completely natural to be freaked out about every mistake you've ever made in the past when you're applying to business school or a job, because all the past ghosts seem to come back and haunt us in these moments. So failing a class in college is a surprisingly common occurrence. We were all young. We all had competing priorities. We didn't always know our own limitations and we made some bad decisions. It's completely normal.

So having failed a class in college – one class, failing more than one class, two classes, three classes, if you get a lot of F's in there, then we then we might have a problem. But failing one class in college is not the end of the world. You can still get into a top MBA with a low grade! Hopefully, at the time you either retook the class or you figured out some way to compensate for that low grade with the professor or through the school's academic reconciliation system. And so hopefully it's not this big black mark on your record to this day. But even if it is, that's a blemish that that can be forgiven. It definitely doesn't help, but it's not the end of the world.

Face Your Poor Grades Head-on

So here's how to tackle it in your MBA applications.

The first thing to understand is that the MBA admissions committee will have your whole transcript. So you're not going be able to hide this. You're going to have to upload your transcript and they'll see the grade on your transcript rather than just let it sit there like a big turd on your application. I recommend addressing it in the optional essay. Now, how you do this is very important. Under no circumstances do you want to make excuses for your bad past decisions.

However, if there was a circumstance, if there was a legitimate reason why you struggled a little bit more in that semester or you misunderstood the rules or how the grades were calculated in that course and you got sick and missed the midterm, or perhaps you were dealing with an illness or a challenge with a family member or any number of things could impact your performance during your undergraduate education. And all of those things make a failing grade a little bit more understandable. So you don't want to excuse the poor grade, but you want to explain the context that created it in a very matter of fact way. Again, not to excuse it, but just to help them understand the broader context in which the F occurred and then point the admissions committee to all the other elements of your profile that show that, in fact, you're not an F student. You got A's in all of these classes. You got, you know, whatever GMAT or GRE score, you can even point to work achievements that demonstrate that you're able to do the work that relates to the subject matter in the class that you got the F in.

Let’s Face It, We All Make Mistakes

So, the idea here is just to show the MBA admissions committee that you're aware that the F doesn't look good, let's be honest, but there there's a little bit more context to it, and to hear all the other things that are strong about your candidacy, academically. And if you do it this way, it increases the likelihood that they'll understand, OK, you know, it's it was a it was a small blemish. It happened a long time ago. It doesn't reflect this candidate's potential or their academic abilities and thusly, they'll be willing to forgive it and accept you anyway. So if you have a blemish like an F on your transcript, don't worry, stay calm and just take a very transparent and open approach to addressing it with the admissions committee and you should be good. 

This has been #MBAMonday. I'll see you next time.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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