Is It Bad to Have an F on your College Transcript?

clashdude's picture
Rank: Monkey | 48

I have a 3.7 overall GPA and a 3.95 major, with one F on my transcript. Are adcoms going to look at this any worse than a usual 3.7? Are they even going to look through my transcript or just at the overall GPA number? Just wondering how this affects my chances.

Is Getting an F in College Bad for Wall Street Applications?

While most places will ask for a transcript with your application (for full time), as long as your GPA is high and your classes are substantive - you will not have an issue. One user even shared that they received three Fs during their freshman year and they used the optional essay section of the application to explain the situation that led to those Fs.

If you are asked about this F by HR or during an interview, you should be able to explain the situation and justify the F. For example, if the F came during your freshman year it is easy to explain that when you came to college you became over-involved and let that class slip by. Then you can explain how you retook the class the next semester and got an A.

Overall, this will not be an end all for your wall street applications as long as you still have a high GPA.

You can learn more about this topic in the video below.

Read More About Transcripts and Applications on WSO

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Comments (70)

Oct 1, 2011

How the... hell... That is one freaky outlier. Just tell them it's a typo and theyll prolly believe you lol

Most places don't ask for transcripts. But in the off chance they do, you can have a backup story to cover your ass. Hopefully your "F" was during freshman year or something. Just make sure your story doesnt involve you making excuses or dodging blame.

Aside from that, my best advice is to avoid exposing it in the first place at all cost!

Oct 2, 2011
yhp2009:

How the... hell... That is one freaky outlier. Just tell them it's a typo and theyll prolly believe you lol

Most places don't ask for transcripts. But in the off chance they do, you can have a backup story to cover your ass. Hopefully your "F" was during freshman year or something. Just make sure your story doesnt involve you making excuses or dodging blame.

Aside from that, my best advice is to avoid exposing it in the first place at all cost!

Every single school I have applied to so far this year requests an uploaded transcript. Not sure how you're going to hide that.

Oct 1, 2011

It's not going to matter. Your overall is what matters. They will look through to see what classes you took, and make some subjective determination about the overall difficulty of your course load, so they'll take note of an F, but probably not factor it in very much.

Oct 1, 2011

how you pulled up your gpa to 3.7 despite the f is quite impressive itself imo

Oct 1, 2011

Heh yeah tho it does sting that I would have had a ~3.9 had I not been an idiot freshman year. Retook the class next semester and got an A, thankfully since i didn't get credit for the class it wasn't factored into my major GPA.

Dec 11, 2011
clashdude:

Heh yeah tho it does sting that I would have had a ~3.9 had I not been an idiot freshman year. Retook the class next semester and got an A, thankfully since i didn't get credit for the class it wasn't factored into my major GPA.

Were you caught cheating or anything like that?
That seems to be an all too common reason for people with similar grade patterns.

Dec 15, 2011
FreezePops:
clashdude:

Heh yeah tho it does sting that I would have had a ~3.9 had I not been an idiot freshman year. Retook the class next semester and got an A, thankfully since i didn't get credit for the class it wasn't factored into my major GPA.

Were you caught cheating or anything like that?
That seems to be an all too common reason for people with similar grade patterns.

That's the first thing I'd think if I saw one F on a transcript full of As

"One should recognize reality even when one doesn't like it, indeed, especially when one doesn't like it." - Charlie Munger

Oct 2, 2011

^^^ My experience has been different. I suppose it's dependent on schools or something. Most of the places I applied to through OCR only requested GPA with resume and cover letter. And if they did ask for transcripts, they never had it handy during interviews for all rounds that I've been to, which to me suggests that they do not analyze the transcript too much in detail.
Just my experience

Oct 4, 2011

I'm sure it is school dependent. I can only speak for Harvard, Columbia and Wharton as those are the schools I've applied to so far but each one had a section to upload your transcript. I believe Kellogg has you upload a transcript as well.

Oct 4, 2011

Is it just a single F freshman year?

I don't think it will matter to the adcom whatsoever...

If it makes you feel better, I received 3 Fs my freshman year. I addressed these in my optional essay and the adcom at one of the top schools didn't hold it against me as I've already gotten one admit (still waiting on a decision from 2 other M7 schools.)

If it was just one F freshman year I would absolutely not worry about it at all. It was a long time ago, you were 18, nobody cares as long as you made an upward trend moving forward and you graduated with a high cumulative GPA. If you're still nervous, you could always explain the circumstances in the optional essay if you have a good excuse. In fact, some schools, such as Booth, will ask you to briefly explain yourself if you've ever received a failing grade. But don't think too much into this, 2-3 sentences is all you need.

Oct 21, 2011

Hi clashdude,

You should not be overly concerned about one class on your transcript, although there are ways you can address the issue. Here is a case study of how one candidate addressed his D in one class, and was subsequently admitted into Wharton.

Cheers,

Conrad and the Stacy Blackman Tea

Oct 21, 2011

You can say that you never even knew you were enrolled in the class until you got your final grades that said:

A
A
A
A
F

And you were like WHAT? I have this class?!?!?

Hey, it might work.

Banking.

Oct 23, 2011
MrV:

You can say that you never even knew you were enrolled in the class until you got your final grades that said:

A
A
A
A
F

And you were like WHAT? I have this class?!?!?

Hey, it might work.

that would actually succeed in making you look even more retarded lol

Dec 14, 2011

i don't think so. it will not reduce your chances. over all GPA is 3.7 which is god and your over all GPA is the issue that matters.

Dec 15, 2011

Many schools will allow you to retake the class. The f will factor into your gpa but not appear on your transcript, others will replace the grade in your gpa as well

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Dec 30, 2011

It wasn't for cheating but I'm concerned that adcoms may take it that way after reading the responses.

I was pledging and started doing badly in this course, decided to just accept the F and concentrate on my other classes where I could still do well. An F wouldn't be factored into my major GPA but a C would so I just took it. Is this worth explaining? I feel like its a shitty explanation but I don't want adcoms to think I cheated.

Dec 30, 2011

Why didn't you withdraw from the class if you were having health problems? At my school there is no removing an F from the transcript. I once received an F for a class because it was first semester freshman year and I was being a dumb ass, retook the class and got a B and the grade and GPA got replaced but still shows the F the first time around with a big ass

Dec 30, 2011

Remember that the official transcript will make it your employer eventually so if you put it down as pending make sure you address it or else it will seem unethical.

Dec 30, 2011

I don't think it would be unethical. I do applaud you for your sense of honesty. Most fucks I know in IBD outright lied on their unofficial -shit like 2.9 turns into 3.4. Go figure though, it's been 2 years and nothing has happened. I guess that's life.

Dec 30, 2011

Dont you have to supply an official transcript anyway? The F would show up on that, and you would look like a liar if you hadn't already adressed the issue

Dec 30, 2011

he would not look like a liar. it's not like he's putting an A.

Dec 30, 2011

you have to supply an unofficail. if hired, even for SA, you will have to supply an official. It is a mistake, however, to think that they will scrutinize your transcript. They will look at the two gpas. If, on your unoffical, you put what comes to like a 3.3, and on your offical you actually have like a 3.0, nothing will happen. My 2nd summer of college i worked HR at a bulge. We had many ivy kids, and a few -cornell, yale, princeton- didn't list gpas on transcripts. We just browsed through, and if we saw any Fs, then we took a closer look.

Dec 30, 2011

but exactly how and when should I address it? After 1st round interviews? immediately after an offer is extended?

Dec 30, 2011

Yes i'm also wondering how you would answer a question addressing why you failed the course. I mean anything you say would seem like a lie even if it is the truth. Should you just say I was an idiot and not career oriented during the first years of my undergrad?

Dec 30, 2011

I'm a little confused...

Is the 3.5 the GPA listed on your transcript or your own calculation?

You should probably use the number listed on the transcript and avoid making your own interpretation

Dec 30, 2011
  1. Are you planning to lie on your transcript, it's not worth the risk. But i guess it depends on what you mean by boutique. If you mean Lazard or Greenhill, than they probably will check. If you mean a 5 person IB team, than they probably don't even have an HR team.
  2. I wouldn't bring it up at all.
  3. I think most schools ignore the fail in your gpa calculation on your transcript, and just include the new mark once you retake it (it'll still show the failed course though, just isnt part of the calculation). I would just put on your resume whatever gpa is on your school transcript.
Dec 30, 2011
adapt or die:

I'm a little confused...

Is the 3.5 the GPA listed on your transcript or your own calculation?

You should probably use the number listed on the transcript and avoid making your own interpretation

The 3.5 is the official number.

nyckid:

1. Are you planning to lie on your transcript, it's not worth the risk. But i guess it depends on what you mean by boutique. If you mean Lazard or Greenhill, than they probably will check. If you mean a 5 person IB team, than they probably don't even have an HR team.

  1. I wouldn't bring it up at all.
  2. I think most schools ignore the fail in your gpa calculation on your transcript, and just include the new mark once you retake it (it'll still show the failed course though, just isnt part of the calculation). I would just put on your resume whatever gpa is on your school transcript.

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking smaller boutique so thats good to know. Both the F and the B are factored into the GPA.

I guess in a more general sense my question is, what makes my home university the final authority on what is factored into my cumulative GPA? Different schools seem to have different policies so I am asking the community if my GPA recalculation ideas would be acceptable for a resume. But you two are both probably right in that it's too risky.

Dec 30, 2011

As long as you don't lie, there is no issue.

For example, you could put on your resume:
"GPA (inc. study abroad courses):"

or

"GPA (ex. study abroad courses)"

If you just list "GPA" it must be the number on your official transcript.

Dec 30, 2011
CashCow:

As long as you don't lie, there is no issue.

For example, you could put on your resume:
"GPA (inc. study abroad courses):"

or

"GPA (ex. study abroad courses)"

If you just list "GPA" it must be the number on your official transcript.

I like the idea. Thanks everybody for the feedback.

Dec 30, 2011

Can you just list your major GPA?

Dec 30, 2011

I have experience with boutiques and I can tell you that (at least in my experience) they will rarely ever ask for a transcript. I would just list your GPA (3.5) on your transcript and not worry about it.

Also, do NOT feel the need to bring it up unless asked. There really is no need to mention it -- it's not that big of a deal, in my opinion. "ABC: always be closing" -- don't shoot yourself in the foot.

Dec 30, 2011

I have a similar question... I transferred schools my sophomore year, but my final school does not count my grades from my freshman year school into the gpa. I did get credit for the classes towards my major.

At my graduating school, I finished with a 3.4 (counting only semesters I attended). At my freshman year school, I had a 4.0.

Would it be unethical for me to recalculate my gpa and list that (3.6)?

Both schools are peer institutions. In fact, my first school is ranked higher and both schools are target. If somebody asked for transcripts, I can show both to prove my grades.

Thanks.

Dec 30, 2011

This type of thing is exactly why a lot of schools give you the optional essay. It's better to talk about why you got the F and what you learned from the experience (almost like turning it into a positive).

The admissions people are going to notice it-- you have the ability to 'get ahead of the scandal' by explaining yourself, and explaining how you learn and improve from failure.

Dec 30, 2011

3.7 is a 3.7... why would you even point it out. You passed the material anyways. Schools care about the GPA for reporting their mean/median and you are well above it.

Dec 30, 2011

Yes, because they will often force you to. A 3.7 means everything else was strong. Keep it honest, factual and expository. Don't sweat it.

Dec 30, 2011

Are you applying for a job or a graduate degree program?

Dec 30, 2011

Sorry I should have specified - I'm applying to MBA programs. For the people saying to address it directly, do you think this will impact my chances of getting in at all? Is a 3.7 with one F significantly worse than a 3.7 without it?

Dec 30, 2011

They'll see the F. Might as well explain it. Use the optional essay but only write a sentence or two about it to keep it short and upbeat. Mention how you retook the class and did well. Don't say you had personal problems. It's not a big deal.

Dec 30, 2011

Thanks for the responses everyone, looks like I will be disclosing this. Anyone have thoughts on whether this will impact my chances at all? Are schools going to discount my GPA somewhat because it has an F?

Dec 30, 2011

The background check company will directly request your transcript from the university mostly - that's why you sign that Disclosure form.
And, no, your offer most probably won't be revoked.

Dec 30, 2011

You'll be fine.

Dec 30, 2011

Yea you'll be fine -- particularly because you already disclosed it in an interview.

Dec 30, 2011

Thanks for the feedback!

Dec 30, 2011

They do the background check to look for huge red flags, such as a criminal record or blatant lying on your resume. Having one F grade won't be a problem, especially when you already brought it up.

Dec 30, 2011

I am currently undergoing background checks. I had a failed attempt in my education history, but passed in the second attempt - I did not put this in my CV since I passed the second time (only had to re-take a couple of courses, but it is still a failed attempt at a diploma). I disclosed it in my background check, but it really worries me that I will not pass my background check now due to this, can anyone offer some advice?

Dec 30, 2011

As long as you enough credits to graduate?? I don't think I've ever heard of a bank rescinding an offer for a lower GPA unless you aren't able to graduate on time, but maybe I'm mistaken...

Dec 30, 2011

Thanks, Patrick. I am definitely graduating. After what everyone's been saying, it seems like I will be OK. Thanks all!

Haters gonna hate

Dec 30, 2011

oh shit

"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."

Dec 30, 2011

No one will care. My associate said he'd be disappointed if my GPA didn't drop..

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Dec 30, 2011
HEBanker:

No one will care. My associate said he'd be disappointed if my GPA didn't drop..

Haha Like that response...whoever shat on you is a douche

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Dec 30, 2011

Yeah monkey shit for answering the question? wtf?

Dec 30, 2011

it's unlikely but you might want to notify the recruiter that your GPA will drop.

Dec 30, 2011

lol our HR told the summers that they don't care as long as we graduate.

Dec 30, 2011

but the drop in GPA will definitely play a role in HF/PE recruiting

Dec 30, 2011

and b-school admissions

"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."

Dec 30, 2011

I knew people who got Fs and still retained their BB offers. Don't sweat it. One F won't kill you in the long run.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Dec 30, 2011

One F won't ruin your chances. Hell, there are people @ top 5 schools with an F or two on their transcripts. Just use the optional essay and if it is a quant class then consider retaking it at a local college or through ucla extension.

Dec 30, 2011

not a deal breaker, especially if you kill the GMAT

Dec 30, 2011

Well I know what your optional essay is going to be about.

Dec 30, 2011

It certainly won't help. Are you still in undergrad? can you retake the class?

I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.

Dec 30, 2011
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