EducationUSA Mentorship Program

What to do if your grades are not perfect?

We can never say this enough – the earlier you start preparing for applying to school, the better. Your first job is to focus on your grades and make sure you get the highest score on the required tests. BUT beyond the test, you can improve your chances of getting into your top-pick schools.


As we say, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES IS THAT THEY LOOK AT THE WHOLE CANDIDATE, NOT JUST TEST SCORES AND GRADE. This is one of the reasons why the application is more complex and long than other countries’ applications. IT GIVES YOU MORE CHANCES TO SHINE.


So what if your grades are not great?


You can a number of things but nothing will compensate hard work and focus now.



So what can you do to make your application stronger.


Compensate for a low GPA


If you have a below-average GPA or low grades, you can consider taking a course to prove that your academic skills have improved. You can take any outside or online class, or read anything that can show schools you have taken interest, and you are able to handle their program, that you’ve taken steps to build skills that may have been lacking, and that you are mature enough to balance academics with other activities.


If you are applying to graduate school, you can consider strengthening your existing career.

You can think of taking on another responsibility at your current job. Or take up a new initiative, or take on more senior responsibilities. Volunteer to mentor a new comer to the job. Ask to be placed on a high-level project. Or take on a job that no one else wants.


Many applicants hope that taking a new job prior to applying will round out their experience. But if it doesn’t make sense in the context of your career goals, it could do more harm than good. You want to show that you’re focused and doing what you can to progress toward your stated goals—not just focused on landing a great job. (


Do Something Meaningful Outside of Work or School

This is a very American-specific piece of the application – candidates with rich interests and activities outside work or school, get usually an advantage. Think of what you like to do? Think of a cause that you care and find people or an organization that does something. Volunteer there and learn more about what they do. Make it meaningful and be thoughtful about your engagement. Can you explain what you do and what has been the impact of your involvement.  There are a number of volunteer and activist organizations in Indonesia. Look them up.


Check schools’ websites and essay questions


Although schools often change essay questions and themes from year to year, reading applications from prior years can give you a good idea of the types of stories you’ll need to write about. For example, knowing that you’ll likely be asked to describe an experience that motivated you to take on a leadership role can help you remember similar events. On the other hand, knowing that you’ll be asked questions about your community involvement may push you finally to get involved.


Start looking at schools that are less known
Many candidates look at the rankings and decide to apply to only the top few business schools. But you’ll be far better off if you do your own research, which means reading websites, writing emails to students or professors ( you can find addresses and forums). Doing this type of research early on will help you understand the schools better. Demonstrating an understanding of what makes each school unique and showing that you are truly passionate about attending will help you stand out from the crowd.

September 17, 2015

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