GPA at grade-deflated schools (UChicago)

KingLear's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 19

Im currently a sophomore at the University of Chicago with a 3.4 GPA. I've had an upward trend in my GPA and hopefully by junior year recruiting, I will have a 3.6-3.7+.

When I look at other threads about gpa's for consulting, nearly all say you need a 3.7, preferably 3.8+ to get MBB. However, I literally know no one that is an economics major with a 3.8 GPA at my school (only pre-meds) and yet I still hear of students getting jobs at some of these top consulting firms. Of course, I dont know every economics major at my school but the average GPA at UChicago is a 3.2 and nearly all classes are hard curved to a B/B-. Graduating with a 3.8 GPA in any major is literally top 1-2% of the class and with many of students aiming to go to grad schools rather than management consulting, I have a hard time believing that I would need such a high GPA.

Is a 3.7+ GPA necessary for getting interviews at top consulting firms from a school like UChicago? I understand there are other aspects of the application to getting an interview, but I am really worried most about GPA. Furthermore, what types of GPA would be necessary to secure interviews at the other consulting firms like LEK or Booz Allen Hamilton? What about firms that are much more focused on quantitative economics like Analysis Group, Cornerstone Research, Federal Reserve, etc?

Thanks!

Comments (20)

Dec 28, 2012

Typically, you'll be getting OCR from the local office, so Chicago in this case. More than likely, the people that come to recruit during OCR will have at least one alumn from your school, if possible. They will understand your position and have an idea about the level of grade deflation, as they are only a few years removed from your position, and will remember what it was like. This is not to say you can do badly, but just that the people that come to recruit/read your apps will likely have an idea about what the GPAs are like at your school, and what should be a competitive range.

Dec 28, 2012

FYI, junior year recruiting means you have basically 1 (2 tops) more semesters of grades to add to your GPA, so unsure how you see yourself getting to a 3.6 or 3.7. Anyways, as was said before, I wouldn't worry about it too much. My school also has pretty high grade deflation (average is probably around a 3.3), and for any firm that recruits from your school or has any sort of alumni base there they will know this and understand. It is definitely frustrating, however, when you apply to a non OCR and they will look at your GPA like it is pretty low (because they recruit from schools where a bunch of kids have 3.9s 4.0 type grades). So realistically it will hurt you at some places, but most will understand.

Also BAH and the Federal Reserve have particularly low standards for GPA so you shouldn't have any trouble landing an interview there with a 3.4.

Dec 28, 2012

Well two years ago when I applied to the Fed for an internship they had a 3.8 min, but whatever.

I only knew one kid from my circle of friends who had a 3.8 at UC in econ, and he was Phi Beta Kappa. I now live in Lincoln park and have 4 other roommates. Two of us are in Private Banking at a BB, one works at a $1bill AUM PE fund, one works in corporate banking, and one does options trading. We all just graduated from UC in June. I think only one of us had above a 3.5. One had a 3.3, two had 3.4's, and one had a 2.8 (good thing they din't ask for transcripts until the first day of training; too late to rescind then). I don't know why so many people on this website say you need a 3.8+ to get interviews. In my experience, if you are UChicago econ, and have a good resume outside of GPA, anything 3.3 or higher should at least get some BB or MBB interviews. Once you get the interview, all bets are off, and it's on you to kill it.

However, fair warning, you should consider IBD/S&T/AM/PB in addition to consulting. UC has a MUCH higher hit rate in finance over consulting. I guess it's just the kinda people that go there, but it is harder to break into consulting from UC undergrad. One place I would look at though is Levitt's consulting firm: http://greatestgood.com/

I feel like being as he teaches an UG class there, you would have a good shot at an interview.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Dec 28, 2012

Come to think of it, definitely apply to Greatest Good. Probably the smartest collection of people to ever work at the same firm in history. And nearly everyone is affiliated with UChicago, so they must recruit there more than any place else.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Dec 28, 2012

close friend just graduated last year with a 3.96 econ from UC, I think you are exaggerating or hanging with the wrong circle of people

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Dec 28, 2012
JustADude:

close friend just graduated last year with a 3.96 econ from UC, I think you are exaggerating or hanging with the wrong circle of people

How math heavy was the curriculum? At my school the econ department goes outside of the textbook most of the time and incorporates linear algebra, differential equations and calc III based topics in the classes (most of the classes are heavy in math). The classes are never a pre-req and the professors do a horrible job of teaching the basics and then ask all the advanced stuff on the tests. In addition, a good chunk of it might be proving theorems on tests. This screws a lot of people. Econometrics is also a b* tch. If the school makes the curriculum easy and curves nicely a 3.96 is possible, else doubt it.

Dec 29, 2012
prudentinvestor:
JustADude:

close friend just graduated last year with a 3.96 econ from UC, I think you are exaggerating or hanging with the wrong circle of people

How math heavy was the curriculum? At my school the econ department goes outside of the textbook most of the time and incorporates linear algebra, differential equations and calc III based topics in the classes (most of the classes are heavy in math). The classes are never a pre-req and the professors do a horrible job of teaching the basics and then ask all the advanced stuff on the tests. In addition, a good chunk of it might be proving theorems on tests. This screws a lot of people. Econometrics is also a b* tch. If the school makes the curriculum easy and curves nicely a 3.96 is possible, else doubt it.

UC econ might be the most math intensive econ (for undergrads) out there. I know people who did econ at other top schools (Wharton, MIT, etc) and MIT was the only curriculum that came close to being as math intensive, and even theirs wasn't quite as quantitative. And personally good for your friend if they got a 3.96, but I would say they were the one hanging out with the wrong circle of people. A 3.96 just simply isn't worth it given the lack of social life you would have to have. The only way a 3.8+ is possible in UC econ is if you are logging 8+ hours a day in the library. I personally liked to enjoy myself in college, so I averaged more like 8 hours a week in the library... on a good week. To each his own though.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Dec 28, 2012

close friend just graduated last year with a 3.96 econ from UC, I think you are exaggerating or hanging with the wrong circle of people

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Dec 28, 2012

I think your one friend is much more of an outlier than anything. Again, classes are CURVED to B, sometimes B-, which means that only the top 50% of students in classes gets B's (B-'s) or above, the other half get B's or below. Thus getting an A is two standard deviations above the average = being in the top 5-15% of your class. Doing this consistently in all of your classes is not easy which is why I think your friend is an outlier. Again the average GPA is a 3.2 (you can look this up and verify) and a 3.25 is necessary for Deans List.

Maybe I am hanging around the wrong group of friends but if my friend group consisted of ppl with 3.8+ GPA's, I would statistically only be able to hang out with the top 1-2% of the class.

Dec 28, 2012

well if you're trying to break into banking you should be at least the top 5-15% of your class to begin with

Dec 28, 2012

Right which is what a 3.6-3.7 GPA is at my school. However, getting top 5-15% for all of my classes is not necessary to being top 5%-15% of my class year.

Dec 29, 2012

From my experience, top strategy consulting firms reject everyone below 3.5 GPA automatically - even if the applicant may have majored in an insanely hard major at a tough school (chemical engineering at MIT).

There are so many HYP kids with 3.7+ GPA's that are dying to get an offer from MBB, OW, Booz, and the like. These firms have no reason to lower their GPA/ other credential requirement because you come from U of Chicago where there is this supposed grade deflation. I am not sure if MBB even recruits out of U Chicago undergrad. Even if they do, my guess is they give out offers to 2-3 kids max from U Chicago. At my undergrad (Yale) the OCR recruiter from BCG told me, at the info session, that typically 300-350 kids from my school apply through OCR each year and they give out offers to 7-8 of them, maximum, in a great economy. So, yeah, the odds aren't that great.

Another thing I noticed is that consulting firms tend to care more about your GPA, test scores, and your raw intellectual horsepower more so than I-banking firms, who give more leeway in your GPA but care more about work experience. You don't need a previous consulting internship to land an interview with MBB, but you'd better make sure you have at least 3.7+ GPA to be competitive. In contrast, you probably don't need 3.7+ GPA to land an interview with banking firms, but you probably need relevant internships to land the interview in first place.

Many ppl on this site seem to not know this, but getting top consulting straight out of undergrad is arguably the toughest job search there is. MBB firms hire way less analysts than associates out of MBA programs. This means it's easier to get top consulting coming out of a top MBA, compared to getting top consulting coming out of a top college. Due to such limited slots for analysts, I think it's actually easier to land BB IBD compared to MBB consulting. BB's hire way more analysts than MBB even if we are talking about IBD and S&T alone.

Dec 29, 2012

We do have on-campus recruiting for UC undergrad. It's not exactly a "target", but it does have its own recruiting effort.

Difficulty of school and program are absolutely taken into account when evaluating GPA. For UC, there will almost certainly be a few alum evaluating the resumes, so they should have a good idea of what's good and what's not.

That being said, GPA is not nearly as big of a deal as some of the people above are making it out to be. It's one part of an evaluation process that includes overall academics (GPA, major, test scores, scholarships, etc.), extracurricular experiences (internships, clubs, non-profit, etc.), and leadership (managing people, leading/starting a club, etc). I've given interviews to numerous undergrad applicants from my school with GPAs under 3.5.

Dec 31, 2012

I'm a senior at U of C, and I agree that you're exaggerating the grade deflation here. I know a few Econ majors with 3.75+ just in my circle of friends. With something like 20-23% of the school majoring in Econ, you're going to get quite a number of kids with 3.75+, whether there's grade deflation or not.

With that said, you don't need a 3.8 from U of C to get MBB. I didn't have that, and I'm headed to MBB. I'd say 3.5/3.6 plus strong resume and networking will get you an interview. For U of C kids especially, because of its anti social reputation, firms care much more about the personality component than at other schools. At least that's what most recruiting leads told me.

Dec 31, 2012
pnb2002:

I'm a senior at U of C, and I agree that you're exaggerating the grade deflation here. I know a few Econ majors with 3.75+ just in my circle of friends. With something like 20-23% of the school majoring in Econ, you're going to get quite a number of kids with 3.75+, whether there's grade deflation or not.

With that said, you don't need a 3.8 from U of C to get MBB. I didn't have that, and I'm headed to MBB. I'd say 3.5/3.6 plus strong resume and networking will get you an interview. For U of C kids especially, because of its anti social reputation, firms care much more about the personality component than at other schools. At least that's what most recruiting leads told me.

Hey pnb thanks for the response.

Could you give me a breakdown of the GPA's your typically see that go into BB IBD, econ consulting, trading, and other finance related fields?

Dec 31, 2012

Apply to the Greatest Good, but don't make it your priority. The firm's going through something, with the interns not getting return offers this year.

Finally, I'd recommend F500 instead of banking internships if you want to do consulting full time. When I look at the people with consulting offers (and everybody knows who got which offers because consulting is relatively small at U of C), most did strategy internships at F500. In fact, people with IBD/S&T/PWM internships at BBs did terribly. Some kids with GS, JPM, and BX on their resume didn't even get first round interviews at some of the forms.

Dec 31, 2012

That's not really a tight curve... more like what grades are supposed to be to get to around a 3.0 mean. I definitely hear what you are saying about the Ivy grade inflation though. Remember, they review applications school by school, so you will be looked at alongside your peers, not other schools.

Dec 31, 2012

aspiringmonkey has a good point - your academic performance is often relative, since recruiters look to take a certain number of students from specific school. It's a tough call because everyone knows about Ivy inflation (except at Wharton) but at the same time it's not often explicitly considered. Law schools, for example, don't really factor that in. For now, take comfort in the relative competition for banking positions.

Dec 31, 2012
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