Help me make a hard decision (USC vs Michigan, with some important details)

Quick summary for the tl;dr crowd -- After getting a bad GPA at my third school (yea I transferred a lot), I'm retreating back to one of my original two schools, where my third GPA won't factor in to the calculation. The choices are Michigan (Econ/math minor, non-Ross) vs. USC (Business, no minors). My Michigan transcript will mention my third institution (without grades) whereas with USC I can pretend my third school never happened. Will banks tend to ask for transcripts from every school? Or just the one you graduate from?

I have a tough decision to make in the upcoming weeks, between USC and Michigan. If I were just a freshman with a chance to get into Ross, this would probably be easier, but sadly that is not the case. I have a somewhat unusual situation.

Situation so far:
I started out as a freshman at Michigan, then transferred to USC. I was and still am a non-business major. After one semester at USC, I left school for a while doing various things like living in China, then coming back to America to help the family business as well as starting another small enterprise. During that time, I also attended yet another school for three semesters, where I got a very mediocre GPA, as opposed to good GPA's at Michigan and USC. I've spent 2012 back home working on the business again and regrouping from the various problems that caused my drop in school performance. I've gotten back on my feet and I know that excellent grades will not be a problem from here on out, but I'm still in somewhat of a situation.

I started reading about IB/finance careers in general a few months ago, and I realized that I might still have a shot at getting into something, at least a boutique or a mid-market if the BB's are closed off to me. Because I already attended the two schools mentioned above, I can get back into them without having to apply as a transfer again (this is lucky, because I wouldn't get back in otherwise with my grades at my most recent school).

My GPA at both umich and USC won't be affected by my third school's GPA, which is part of what inspired me to start scheming about how I can undo some damage.

So before I keep rambling, here's what I'm looking at in terms of options. It will take me 5 more semesters starting next January to graduate, with expected graduation in 2015.

Michigan -- non-Ross, but a major in Econ and a minor in math (or I can choose another minor at this point but I think math is a good one to set myself apart from just a vanilla Econ degree). You can get access to most of the recruiting events/information sessions at Ross as an Econ student at Michigan, so I could at least still get some of the networking, although I wouldn't get the online resume drops and stuff like that.

However, there's an important complication here that might make USC more attractive: my Michigan transcript will mention that I attended the third school (though no specific grades), whereas my USC transcript will not. Let's say I had a 3.7 from courses at Michigan, good EC's, etc., and got an offer. Would banks tend to ask for only the Michigan transcript, or would they want transcripts from all three of my schools that I attended, no matter how far back in the past that was (I'll be in my mid-20s when I graduate from either one, a much more focused and mature person than the idiot 20 year old who messed up his grades, but I know this is an unforgiving recruiting process)

As for USC:
I would end up having just enough time to graduate with a Business/Finance degree, no minors or anything else, and only one summer for an internship due to spending one summer taking classes to graduate on time. But that might be better than a non-business degree from Umich. However, I get the idea that Michigan tends to get somewhat better recruiting opportunities (but correct me if I'm wrong). But my USC transcript would mention only Michigan and USC, and I'm not ashamed of my grades at either of those schools. Because of the scattered nature of my time at the third school, I can omit that time on my resume and let everyone assume I was just building my business during that time (which would still kind of be true).

I have no idea how much luck generic USC business majors have with breaking in. Do they ever end up at BB's? If not in NYC, they might end up at BB branches in LA or something? Or at least get chances at MM's. I tried searching for answers to this but got all kinds of conflicting stuff.

So help me out good people of WSO, if you have some guidance.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (6)

Nov 18, 2012 - 11:51pm

Unless you disclose everything clearly, you might have some trouble getting through background checks especially with all the weird stuff going on... people on this board are going to say it depends where you want to work. both schools have similar opportunities, but a lot more opportunities out in the Northeast versus the West Coast

Nov 19, 2012 - 12:15am
I've heard great things about USC, but it probably does depend a lot on where you want to work. Shooting for the Northeast? Michigan is likely your best bet then.

I might be wrong, but I've heard that Mich places heavily into the Chicago offices akin to Rice/UT placing into Houston and that NYC is a long shot even from Ross. This is based on one friend that goes there, and on linkedin observations.

Nov 19, 2012 - 12:11am

I'd go USC tbh, Michigan is considered a tiny bit more "prestigious" due to OOS selectivity but when comparing public vs private (and considering your situation in regards to the third school) you'll probably be helped out by more reliable alumni and more opportunities with boutiques going to a private school.

Nov 19, 2012 - 12:11am

I guess one other question would be, if I just go ahead and be clear about all my past academic history and all that, how would banks view the pattern of "good start, then terrible middle at another school, and then very strong finish"? Would revealing a 2.7 GPA slump at one institution make any banks change their minds if they had seen a 3.7 (hypothetical) at the my final school? I do have some good explanations for why my grades sucked, if it ever comes up, but I'm afraid that it still would end up hurting me beyond recovery. Any chance that it could be spun favorably as someone who addressed his problems and after stumbling a bit, and then sprinted for a strong finish?

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

July 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (36) $363
  • Associates (209) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (119) $152
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (28) $146
  • Intern/Summer Associate (100) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (439) $132
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (354) $82