How Low Can I Go?

So I got an offer to summer in investment banking this year. I am really excited. I know that it is premature to be asking this, as I don't know whether I will like banking let alone whether I will get a FT offer, but I am thinking about business school after doing 2 years.

My question is concerning my GPA. I go to a top target (HYPS) with heavy grade deflation, and I have a 3.2 GPA. I have had my fair share of Bs and B+s, and even a couple A-s thrown in there. I am a 4-year varsity athlete. I have other extracurriculars on campus.

Finally, my question. How low can my GPA be when applying to b-school (top 10), assuming I have good recs coming out of a 2 year stint, and a good GMAT (I took a practice test and got a 700)? Will a 3.0 be okay? As long as I don't get anything below a B for the rest of my time at school, will I be okay for bschool? What is pushing it?

Thanks for your advice guys.

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 (32)

Feb 27, 2008 - 9:43am

Have you looked at the US News rankings? While they no longer publish the middle 50% for GPA, suffice to say it's nothing spectacular. The b-school admission requirements are not like law school's, for instance, where a low GPA is an immediate deal breaker. A 3.0+ from a top target is by no means a killer, especially since you're are an athlete. Focus on increasing your GMAT and improving your grades.

Feb 27, 2008 - 10:41pm

"There's no minimum GPA, and there's no grade deflation at HYPS (I went to one of these colleges). In fact, there's massive grade inflation."
..................................................
ok well i think we all know which one u did not attend, bannana_milkshake. only one of these has this infamous grade deflation, so maybe it would be helpful if a "P" kid could comment for the OP.

Feb 27, 2008 - 10:59pm

fafa,
What type of grade deflation are you talking about? To my knowledge there is no grade deflation (while there are still curves and whatnot with really competitive classmates). Are you saying that there is grade deflation in the sense that there is an upward shifting curve? or fewer than average A's being distributed? just curious what you mean when you say grade deflation.

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Feb 28, 2008 - 9:56am

I just read the article fafa posted, and I'm not sure I'd call it a "deflation". Maybe "the most efforts against grade inflation among HYPS" but not really deflation. Even Princeton's grades are still heavily inflated compared to other school, especially state schools.

http://gradeinflation.com/princeton.html

I realize this stat only goes to 2001, but I really doubt they were able to slash it down from 3.4 (average GPA) to 3.0 or something around there. That would be a drastic change in their policies. Some state schools have average GPA's of 2.8-2.9.

Feb 28, 2008 - 10:09am

But at the same time, state schools, for the most part, have a higher dispersion of talent and commitment to school across a graduating class than a place like Princeton. That could be why their avg GPAs are lower, because you will, by definition, have a greater spread in achievement levels.

Feb 28, 2008 - 7:55pm

T73

"I just read the article fafa posted, and I'm not sure I'd call it a "deflation". Maybe "the most efforts against grade inflation among HYPS" but not really deflation."

Well, regardless of what you would call it, the Princeton administration chooses to call it grade deflation, and so do its students.

"Even Princeton's grades are still heavily inflated compared to other school, especially state schools."

Here's some news: Princeton students are more intelligent and more hardworking than state school students. Instead of comparing Princeton to Penn State, try to compare Princeton to its peers, and you'll see a difference. You will find that the median GPA here is

Feb 28, 2008 - 10:06pm

Thanks for providing us with the latest data, that actually proves my point.

3.3 is still VERY high for an average GPA. I never said Princeton students were lazy or dumb, all I said that their grades are deflated compared to other Ivy Leagues, but still inflated compared to other schools. It's a fact that you can hardly disprove that Ivies have a lot higher average GPA's than other schools (state schools included). Princeton might be at the bottom of that inflation-list of Ivies (meaning, the least inflation), but its average GPA is still much HIGHER than at non-Ivies.

Of course Princeton had to start deflating their grades, after such a long period of grade inflation. And that obviously applies to many schools, not just Princeton, or just the Ivies. It's great (and I applaud that effort) that among the Ivies, Princeton is probably doing the most to prevent grade inflation, but I think it's ridiculous to whine about not getting enough A's, because there are only a very few schools in this country that award higher grades than Princeton (it happens to be most of the Ivies in this case..)

It makes me laugh to read that "Jennifer Mickel, a Princeton University senior, can't help but look around a class of 10 students and think, "Just three of us can get A's." I go to a top state school and I consider it an easy class if 30% of us can make A's in it. A lot of professors give out 10-15% of A's and nobody has ever written an article about how hard we have to work to make A's.

According to you, GPA is a measure of school's quality. Well here is some news for you: if it really was that way, everybody at Harvard would make a 4.0 (probably the same at Princeton, I'm not gonna argue that Princeton isn't among the 2-3 best schools in the world, because it is), us as top state schools would make an average of 3.0 and everybody at a community college would have to work his ass off to even get above 1.0. That's not the way GPA works. It is supposed to measure your performance compared to your peers at your university. Back when I was a sophomore and my GPA was 3.6, it put me in the top 8% of our student body. It makes me wonder why SO many kids from HYP graduate with some kind of latin honors (I think it was like 70 or 80% at Harvard a couple years ago, before the deflation started) and I can work my ass off, be in the top 10% of my class, and yet have a GPA that doesn't look that exceptional on my resume. Now this is grade deflation, this is what sucks, not what you're complaining about at Princeton.

When a recruiter looks at our resumes and knows close to nothing about grade inflation (and trust me, a lot of them are clueless about this) and sees Princeton 3.5 GPA and my school (think Michigan, UVA, UNC, UCLA, Berkeley...) 3.6 GPA, he's gonna think we perform at about the same level compared to our peers, but he won't know that I was in the top 8% of my class and you were at the top 40%. And that's a hell of a difference. I'd honestly prefer if GPA was abolished altogether. Instead, we could use percentile of class. In combination with the quality/reputation of the school you attend, it would give him a lot better picture of your oveall performance. In this scenario, I wouldn't say a word if someone from Princeton ranked top 50% or even top 70-80% was seen as a comparable candidate to top 5-8% at my school. I recognize the quality of education at Princeton, but I think it's important to see the quality of a candidate relatively to its peers and not relatively to someone who goes to school that awards three times as many A's. That makes GPA's virtually impossible to compare across different schools.

Feb 28, 2008 - 10:25pm

Sorry I didn't reply to your post.

I completely agree with your point that the dispersion of achievement is higher at state schools. But why should I be penalized twice for attending a state school? First time by lower reputation of my school (it's a state school, and as you said, not as many people are gonna be overachievers as at HYP) and the second time by having to work harder to achieve higher GPA?

If I have a 4.0 at a state school and someone has a 4.0 at HYP, they are in a better position because their school is more prestigious, right? If I have a 2.0 and the other kid at HYP has 2.0, both of us were probably slacking off and ended up at the bottom of our class ranks. But what if I have a 3.0 and the HYP kid has a 3.0? How can you see from there that my class rank was top 40% and his was top 70 or 80%? Wouldn't the class rank information make me more competitive compared to him than GPA? I think it would and that's why I don't see why Princeton kids are complaining about anything. The only thing I could understand is that they'd complain about other Ivies grade inflation but not about their own grade deflation. They are to other Ivies in the same position as the state school kids are to Princeton. Class rank would be just so much better in my opinion....

Feb 29, 2008 - 11:42am
T73:
Sorry I didn't reply to your post.

I completely agree with your point that the dispersion of achievement is higher at state schools. But why should I be penalized twice for attending a state school? First time by lower reputation of my school (it's a state school, and as you said, not as many people are gonna be overachievers as at HYP) and the second time by having to work harder to achieve higher GPA?

If I have a 4.0 at a state school and someone has a 4.0 at HYP, they are in a better position because their school is more prestigious, right? If I have a 2.0 and the other kid at HYP has 2.0, both of us were probably slacking off and ended up at the bottom of our class ranks. But what if I have a 3.0 and the HYP kid has a 3.0? How can you see from there that my class rank was top 40% and his was top 70 or 80%? Wouldn't the class rank information make me more competitive compared to him than GPA? I think it would and that's why I don't see why Princeton kids are complaining about anything. The only thing I could understand is that they'd complain about other Ivies grade inflation but not about their own grade deflation. They are to other Ivies in the same position as the state school kids are to Princeton. Class rank would be just so much better in my opinion....

I think what you're getting at is merely a fact of life. Reputation matters in the world and Ivies have spent centuries building them. Employers and grad schools just trust the quality of a candidate coming from an Ivy more than someone from a state school, because there is little perceived doubt that a competitive Ivy candidate does not have the qualities you are looking for. Conversely, with state schools, it's more of a perceived risk. Finally, class rank is a BS statistic because you are comparing two totally different datasets.

Feb 29, 2008 - 12:39am

"Back when I was a sophomore and my GPA was 3.6, it put me in the top 8% of our student body."

T73, either you are BSing, or your student body really is that stupid. 3.6 at one of those other state schools you listed is top 30ish%. If you are really that smart and you want people to know what ur gpa means, go ahead and get urself voted phi beta kappa and stop complaining.

T73's post shows just how jealous he is that you are at P and he is not. For Ivy league kids, this is a serious issue. Lets hear from some of them and stop abusing the OP.

Feb 29, 2008 - 2:07am

Average GPA at my State U is around 3.2, this includes Music majors and football players, among others. In Engineering, most classes have a C or C+ average, making 3.0 a workable GPA for most.

Array
Feb 29, 2008 - 2:14am

"I can work my ass off, be in the top 10% of my class, and yet have a GPA that doesn't look that exceptional on my resume. Now this is grade deflation, this is what sucks, not what you're complaining about at Princeton."

Yes, we both agree, grade deflation sucks. The point is, Ivy kids usually aren't compared to state school kids. I am going to be compared to my peers from Harvard and Yale. If you see a 3.6 from Yale and a 3.3 from Princeton, which looks better? Like you said, Princeton does have grade deflation compared to its peers. And I can tell you it is not fun. Like fafa said, this is a serious issue for us, and Princeton kids have every right to be angry about it.

Yes, it is respectable to be in the top 10% of your class in a state school. I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that a 3.6 is top 8%. The fact is, if you were at Princeton, you would probably be hovering around the 50% mark at 3.3, or lower. And you would not be happy that your peers at Harvard and Yale were hovering around 3.6. If you are upset that you don't go to one of these schools, that is another issue.

We are both experiencing grade deflation, and we both agree that it sucks.

Now can anyone address my original post?

Feb 29, 2008 - 11:48am

randomwalk0909, I'll throw you another bone. I think the key for you is to really make the most of your work experience and get to know the people in your group who got their MBA's from places you are considering so that they can write you good recs. If they're active alumni, all the better. Like I said earlier, stats don't matter as much for b-school, so you should really focus on developing a well-rounded application. That includes ECs. Really just focus on making yourself the best candidate you can be. GPA at this pt is something that pretty much is what is, so focus on things you can control more.

Feb 29, 2008 - 4:34pm

I am glad we both agree on that. Princeton is grade-deflated (as we both said) compared to other Ivies and top state schools are grade-deflated compared to most private schools. As you said, sucks for both of us.

One thing I'd like to note though is that I'm not jealous of kids at HYP :) I said that I recognize the quality of education there and I never said things like some other implied that Princeton kids are lazy or whatever. I actually applied to Yale but didn't get it, well too bad for me, I'll have to compete with a degree from an institution that's not as highly recognized.

Also, I understand your point that you have to compare yourself with kids from other Ivies, but on the other hand, I have to compare myself with the same peer-group. I assume we both go to same kinds of interviews and thus I'm competing with Ivy league kids a lot more often than I'm competing with state school kids.

Back to the original question though. I don't know enough about b-schools application process to give you any advice on this, but coming from a such a good undergrad institution, having BB experience, good recs, and high gmat score, I don't think 3.0 would hurt you that much. If the average at HBS is around 3.6, then there obviously must be people with 3.0 as well. So I'd say it's possible... Good luck!

Feb 29, 2008 - 4:42pm

I agree that it's a fact of life. As I said in my previous post, too bad for me I didn't make it to an Ivy League school. I either didn't work hard enough in high school or maybe I'm not smart enough, but in either case I am the only one to blame for the fact that my diploma won't be looked at with as much respect as the of the kids from HYP.

I have to disagree though that class rank would be a BS stat. It'd have to be used in combination with the name/recognition of the institution. Top 50% from Princeton would obviously be more attractive than top 20% from my school. But at least you'd know what datasets you're comparing (despite of them being different). In current situation, you don't know what that GPA represents, because some schools are deflating/inflating more/less than others. That's what makes it ambiguous and not very representative and makes kids like randonwalk or me feel like we're treated unfarily.

Feb 29, 2008 - 5:10pm

I was a little off in what I said previously. I couldn't remember it exactly to the last decimal, but I looked it up for you on my transcript and it is 3.66 GPA and 8.8% class rank. I'm not sure if everybody at my school is that dumb since it's one of the top public schools in the country and I am pretty sure I'm not BSing, because I got these numbers from my official transcript. Yes, it surprised me too when I saw it the first time. In fact, when one of my friends heard this, he went to request his class rank just out of curiousity. His GPA is 3.94 and he is ranked 22nd out of a few thousand (it's a pretty big public school). So that puts him in at least top 0.5% of his class (all of the schools I listed except for UVA have more than 15,000 undergrads). I honestly thought there were more people than 22 who had at least 3.94, but I guess not.

The grade scale here really is that deflated. I have never complained about this to anyone, but hearing someone from Princeton complaining about their grade-deflation, I thought I should speak up and point out that it can be even worse at other schools. But oh well, it's not a huge deal, once you get an interview your GPA doesn't really matter that much anyways...

Mar 4, 2008 - 5:44am

I agree with T73. I went to the top public university and ended up with a crap GPA. It hurts in the job search, and it hurts in grad school apps.

During high school, i was surrounded by future ivy leaguers (my HS sends over 50% of the graduating seniors to Ivies). My high school GPA was around a 3.9 ish, and i know i'm at least as smart as my HS classmates on average. I went on to the public and got killed (2.8) and they went onto Ivies and most got over 3.5 easily.

So yea, it is much harder at the top public to get a good GPA, even comparing people of equal intelligence. And its rather unfair. Unfair not in the sense that there's anything wrong with Ivy's grading (hey, you're smart, got into ivy, pay a good amount of money, you deserve a good grade, i got no prblem with that) but unfair in the sense that my public school graded WAY too tough. In a competitive class i think only 15% got A's, and trust me ppl were smart at my school. I think my school's grading system sucks ass, I wish i went to an easier school.

BTW, its not just top publics, some privates like MIT, Chicago, maybe a couple others are known for killing your GPA.

Mar 4, 2008 - 5:00am
randomwalk0909:
So I got an offer to summer in investment banking this year. I am really excited. I know that it is premature to be asking this, as I don't know whether I will like banking let alone whether I will get a FT offer, but I am thinking about business school after doing 2 years.

My question is concerning my GPA. I go to a top target (HYPS) with heavy grade deflation, and I have a 3.2 GPA. I have had my fair share of Bs and B+s, and even a couple A-s thrown in there. I am a 4-year varsity athlete. I have other extracurriculars on campus.

Finally, my question. How low can my GPA be when applying to b-school (top 10), assuming I have good recs coming out of a 2 year stint, and a good GMAT (I took a practice test and got a 700)? Will a 3.0 be okay? As long as I don't get anything below a B for the rest of my time at school, will I be okay for bschool? What is pushing it?

Thanks for your advice guys.

Hey man I give you mad props if you got into HYPS, but come on buddy, there ain't no deflation going on at those schools. It's the opposite, they're known for INflating the grades, meaning it's easy to get good grades there.

However, that been said, just having HYPS as your profile is more than enough as long as you have OK grades. Your 3.2 is prefectly fine (of course try to bring it up if you can and don't go lower), especially considering you're an athlete. MBA programs LOVE athletes (leadership potential, team player, bla bla). Anyway, you're fine. If you get 700 GMAT and execute your app well, i would say you're a lock for top 10.

Mar 4, 2008 - 6:28am

In my engineering program at a top canadian school I was in top 20% with a 3.3GPA. I hope that they look at class rank otherwise I will look less than average when I apply to B-school in the US.

Mar 4, 2008 - 3:54pm

Stop bitching. Fact: there is grade deflation at P in comparison to the other Ivies which is the only comparison that matters. Stop making dumbass comparisons to state schools. Stop complaining about college admissions - you could have worked ur ass off and transferred to an Ivy - I have friends who did it. And high school doesnt matter anymore. The only person in control of your success is you. At the end of the day its your fault you didnt work harder to rise where you are or to transfer to where you could have been most successful. And dont tell me $$ held you back because there are lots of stud loans out there and if you are planning to go into finance, you clearly would have the means to pay them off. There are state targets like Texas/Michigan/Virginia that are expensive out of state but not as bad as private institutions and you can get in w/o a ridiculous gpa if ur test scores are strong and vice versa.

Mar 4, 2008 - 4:13pm

i mean...i have a lot of friends at p, and i go to another of the hyps cohort, and quite frankly there doesn't seem to be really that much difference in grades between me and my friends (and we were all roughly the same in hs, and have taken roughly comparable courses in college). so i don't really buy the grade deflation argument at all. your grades may be shitty, but that's probably more a function of you than the school you're at (and i'm not saying that i have stellar grades). at any of these schools, there are stupid kids with high gpas becuase they take primarily easy courses--if you can't cut it, this may be a good strategy.

Mar 4, 2008 - 4:27pm

No offesne fafa but you're the one who's bitching. Me and aceman weren't the ones who started complaining, we were just replying to randomwalk's complaining. So the Princeton kid is the one who was complaining first, not us. We were just pointing out that it can be the same if not worse at other schools too. (see the kid from Canada..)

It's also ridiculous how you think that only Ivy League schools matter in this. Obviously if you don't go to a an Ivy you must be a dumb fuck. All i-bankers went to Ivies and I don't see how anybody from a state could ever make it. It's not possible. We shouldn't even try. (note the sarcasm)

It might be hard to understand for you but some people can't take student loans. I come from a poor country and by taking a loan, I'd be risking that if I don't get a work permit in the US, I'd be forced to go back to my home country and I wouldn't be exactly pleased with having to pay off a 50K loan and making 10k a year. I had to do my best with what my parents were able to pay for (and trust me, even a state school was a stretch for them) and fortunately it worked out well. My education cost me 1/3 of what it would have cost at an Ivy and I am still going into i-banking next year.

Your argument is ridiculous. That's like me saying that Princeton kids could have worked harder and go to Harvard instead and they wouldn't have to face any grade deflation. Not everybody can make it to Harvard and not everybody can make it to Princeton. I am not gonna lie, if I did make it there, I would have tried to find a way to fund it somehow (although I doubt I would have found a way, given my situation described above). Grade deflation exists at Princeton, it also exists at state schools, it might be arguable where it's worse (IMHO at state schools). End of the story.

Mar 5, 2008 - 3:52pm

It's also ridiculous how you think that only Ivy League schools matter in this. Obviously if you don't go to a an Ivy you must be a dumb fuck.
................................
why would i call myself a dumb fuck? The kid is being compared to other ivy leaguers as has been pointed out before, not to state schoolers. you can debate the merits of this but its life.


That's like me saying that Princeton kids could have worked harder and go to Harvard instead and they wouldn't have to face any grade deflation.
....................................
Its not like that at all. And um H is not better than P academically and certainly not socially. ever been to these schools?


I am not gonna lie, if I did make it there, I would have tried to find a way to fund it somehow (although I doubt I would have found a way, given my situation described above).
....................................
false, if you made it to P they would pay for your education, you would not pay tuition, it would be free. its called loan-free finaid. P was the first to implement, other top schools have since followed suit.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (202) $234
  • 2nd Year Analyst (115) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (97) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (420) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (338) $82