Medical Reasons for Low GPA - Chances?

badsuns's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 44

Hey guys, so here's my situation: I'm currently a senior finance major with a comp sci and stats double minor at a top 100 UG (top 25 UG business school) with a 3.15 GPA, and not a great major GPA either.

Recently, I was diagnosed with hypersomnia, pretty bad sleep apnea, and slight narcolepsy. Thinking back about my lack of ability to focus and think clearly a lot of times, I'm pretty sure I've had these disorders since the end of my freshman year.

My work experience is decent, summer analyst stint at a small international boutique, a startup that I helped lead raised money at a few hundred thousand dollar valuation, and I'm in Asset Management now. I know it's early and I'm still in undergrad, but I don't think I'll be able to network my way into a BB with my UG stats, but do you think grad schools will be understanding of my medical conditions if I finish strong and secure a solid GMAT? I'm thinking of trying to get into a good MSF program, and hopefully a solid MBA program at some point.

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Comments (57)

Aug 3, 2017

Having a good story for why your GPA is below average helps. You do, this is definitely optional essay material. You'll also probably want to get our GPA on the "older" end - 5-7 years work experience so you can get significant distance from your performance and show continued success in your professional life. You should also kill the GMAT. You may also want to take a course at a local university to show you're taking this ish seriously. Retaking something you didn't do well on in college or a quant course is a good strategy.

I don't know anything about MSF. I'm currently applying for MBA with a lackluster GPA and have gotten similar advice. Honestly, things could change significantly in 5 more years, so your focus right now should be succeeding in your career.

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Aug 3, 2017

Since this is only an internship, I'd be truthful if they ask. If this was a full time offer, might be a different story. Wouldn't be good to have word spread across any industry how you lied about a 0.5 difference in your GPA, as that's quite a material change.

Also - You have a great story behind why your GPA slipped, which is good. But please make sure you get a B or an A in both of those classes on the retake. If you get a C, your story automatically turns into shit.

Best Response
Aug 3, 2017

If you have to ask, you should not do it

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Aug 3, 2017

Not sure why you got MS, but I agree with you, man.

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Aug 3, 2017
eagles7:

Finals were last week and I was in the emergency room in the morning of my accounting exam (at night), getting several medications through an IV push, CT scans, etc.I was forced to take the accounting exam even though I was in the ER whole morning because there was no specific document from a nurse that I was unable to take an exam that night. I had thought the miscellaneous ER documents would have been sufficient for the Dean to accept - clearly not. I did terribly on the exam, probably pushing the class grade to a low C, even a D.Would it be inadvisable to list my GPA not counting the accounting class and then explain the circumstance later on? For instance, instead of a 3.4, I put a 3.6.

Why would you not elevate this? If what you are saying is true, and the hospitalization isn't party related, then I would be running this up the flag pole until someone agreed that you deserve a make up exam. Absolutely insane a prof wouldn't accept valid medical reason for a retake.

Aug 3, 2017

I'm going to assume you're talking about Canadian schools? Here is what I know from my personal research (so take this with a grain of salt)

For most Canadian schools they look at your last two years' GPA or some schools look at last year's grades. So if you have a high 3 it should be fine.

For US schools, a lot of them will not list hard GPA cut-offs. It is mostly taken on a holistic basis (high GMAT/GRE can offset low GPA, etc). So they consider other parts of your application and extracurriculars.

But seeing as how you didn't provide details on what program or field of study you wanted to pursue, this may or may not be completely useless. I am referring to MSF for US and similar programs in Canada (Canada doesn't have pre-experience Masters in Finance, most are post-experience)

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Aug 3, 2017

Thank you so much, really helpful post. Rotman/staying in Toronto is definitely high on my list, though I've been considering the top tier US schools as well lately. My GMAT prep score is ~700 (a bit over). Probably a long shot, but any idea which US schools would consider me with that? (I get the feeling Harvard is probably still off the table).

I didn't mention a specific program/field because in all honesty, I'm still not completely sure.

One problem this leads to is my lack of extracurriculars. I have a few, but again, only in my last years of University for the same reason I barely had time for school. I suppose I have to figure out ways to beef up that part of my resume now.

Thanks again for your post, big weight off my shoulders.

Aug 3, 2017

you can demonstrate academic acumen by taking CFA level 1 exam and/or other courses doing internships, working with profs to do some research with them.

One part of your story is Low GPA, fell ill etc, how can you boost the other part of your story .. think about that

Aug 3, 2017

Glad I could help. For reference I'm also a University of Toronto undergrad, going into Vanderbilt University's Master of Science in Finance program this fall.

If you're looking into applying this year, its going to be harder for you as most US schools are in their 3rd and 4th rounds. It is easier to make room for margin candidates earlier on in the rounds. Also many US schools have separate deadlines for international schools, many of which have passed. If you have a solid upwards trending GPA you need to position your story that will highlight this fact. If you kill the GMAT (720+) you should be competitive at many US schools. Look into Vanderbilt, WUSTL, UVA, Claremont McKenna, Villanova, and use the search function on this site to search MSF.

As for Canadian schools, many programs have only one deadline, many of which have already passed. U. Toronto and Western have a Masters of Financial Economics which is similar to an MSF in the US. Their deadline was late Jan, early Feb. York has a preexperience Master of Finance similar deadline.

Anyway, do some research and figure out what you wanna do. This site is primarily for those interested in finance so that's why I'm only offering finance related grad degrees lol.

Good luck.

Aug 3, 2017

Put:

Cumulative GPA (B) in lieu of 2.9
Might be anecdotal but I know numerous people who put major GPA (A-) and cumulative GPA (B+) and never were asked about it.

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Aug 3, 2017

As long as your GPA was significantly and consistenly higher in the following semesters, then yes.

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Aug 3, 2017

This is the correct answer.

You may want to use a phrase like "medical complications" instead of "surgery" just to emphasize that this was not a routine procedure (i.e. something that should not have prevented you from studying).

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Aug 3, 2017

Should I still include cGPA on my resume? or can I just put "Second year GPA"

Aug 3, 2017

I would include both because if you only include the second year GPA, it will raise some questions.

Aug 3, 2017

Edit

Aug 3, 2017

Don't overthink on your answer - go chronological with all relevant information that builds on the exact message you will want the interviewer to perceive. Perception is everything. Don't add any soppy details or screw up the flow of your message so as not to give the wrong impression that you're making up an excuse.

Aug 3, 2017

Break out your GPAs by both years. How complex was your surgery? If it was something relatively simple be careful of using it as a reason, many may see it as an excuse.

Aug 3, 2017

My MDs expect their analysts to perform their own medical procedures while waiting for the print team, so you'd be getting dinged at my group. Good luck elsewhere though!

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Aug 3, 2017

I think a useful way to look at it would be a gradient of accommodative-ness.

The extreme is roughly "we like to hire the type of people who just don't have these problems." I.e., no issues are truily outside of your control, or at least some people are luckier than others. You're not going to get past these folks.

Most others will be accommodating to various extents. From a strategy perspective, you need an opportunity to explain your story face to face, since you may not pass resume screens. The answer there is networking. Tactically, you need to convey that any personal and medical problems (a) won't be considered "character flaws," (b) are resolved, (c) are not coming back (see "a"), and (d) weren't your fault (note: convey this without directly saying "it wasn't my fault"). How you justify this will ultimately boil down to the actual issues you had, how you dealt with them, etc. But you need to have a story down pat, and you need to justify it with tangible things you can point to. Examples might include a marked and sustained improvement in your grades, strong recommendations from former employers from after your issues, etc.

Aug 3, 2017

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Aug 3, 2017

In broad strokes, I think you might benefit from taking step back and assessing your health. I'm sure you've been encouraged to do this by various people; in my experience, developing and practicing ongoing awareness of mental well-being is essential to long-term success. If you are on top of yourself, you maximize and sustain your focus on the tasks at hand.

In particular, when I mentioned letters of recommendation, I was describing a "normal" letter written by an employer, a professor, etc., which would vouch for your story that you are past your issues.

Also, check your private messages.

Aug 3, 2017

Considering the severity of your illness (I am sorry by the way), I would probably not mention it in the cover letter. I would leave your GPA off the resume until you have gotten it back up to probably a 3.1-3.2 or better. Beyond that, I would network my tail off and if the GPA issue comes up, just let them know that you were very sick and couldn't make it to class more than a handful of times - currently you are on your way to much better grades, but unfortunately, you can't change the past. I think the honesty there will help you, coupled with your presumed ability to get your GPA back into the 3s. Beyond the firms that have hard GPA cutoffs, with some solid networking, you should be able to land an internship. Additionally, focus on working with any finance/IB-related clubs to both show your interest in the field and to work towards building an even stronger network. Good luck.

Aug 3, 2017

You can break out your GPA by showing your cumulative (from frosh year) and another GPA starting your soph year. When you do this, include a very short side note saying something like GPA from 200X after medical leave of absence or something along that line. During interviews, they'll probably ask a question about it, so be prepared to give a good explanation (maybe use it to give a good story about how you learned from the experience, etc...).

Aug 3, 2017

i'm not sure what field you're thinking of entering but assuming, since you posted here, you're thinking of IB, you might want to reconsider. without prying into your personal life, it sounds like your illness is rather serious and not only has it already made recruiting more difficult but also might not be a great life plan for yourself to work 100 hour weeks as some bank's slave.

personal decisions aside, another strategy you might want to consider is listing a major gpa. non-major courses are usually frontloaded so possibly those low grades can be omitted in your major gpa? other than that, networking and having someone go to bat for you might be your best bet. otherwise there is a good chance your resume will just get thrown out before a cover letter gets read.

Aug 3, 2017

Happened to me before - just write your avg w/o that term and avg with that term.

Aug 3, 2017

fordhammaster> Considering one of my good friends is working at a BB with a <3.0 GPA, the OP isn't screwed if he can get his GPA to a 3.1-3.3 level. Multiple seniors I know have gotten IBD/S&T offers in that range.

To the OP> I had major surgery (think joint replacement) and my GPA dipped to that level freshman year. Got it up to a 3.1 now (as a junior) by pulling a 3.6 average the past 3 semesters. l am still working hard to maintain upward trajectory.

You got dealt a bad hand but don't listen to naysayers. Study, schedule your courses properly, and take summer courses to get that GPA up. While doing that start networking and get involved. Considering you are at a target you should have plenty of alumni. If you are in a frat/sorority/team leverage the graduating seniors connections. Otherwise, contact your career center for access to the alumni database.

Aug 3, 2017

couldn't someone please ban fordhammaster? his trolling is just annoying as hell and everyone seems to hate it. why is he still around?

but to the OP, I think you should really reconsider working 100 hours a week for a bank if you have serious health problems. it's probably really bad for your health regardless

Aug 3, 2017

Great advice from above. Either leave it off or show the GPA with an side note indicating leaving school or something. You want to be delicate with the medical reason just because it could hurt you in an interview (even though it shouldn't).

Monkeyman2010 hit on a good point. If this is reoccurring and serious (which it sounds like it is) you might want to think about something other than IB. Sometimes life throws curve balls and I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing something less demanding, stressful, etc. Good luck!

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Aug 3, 2017

I agree, IBD is not for everyone and they stress that a lot at info sessions internship this year.

Aug 3, 2017

Fordham has had 150 monkey shits thrown at him ... i think he's the only person with a negative banana point score on WSO lol

Aug 3, 2017

Just explicitly list your major GPA on your resume and leave the overall off.

If HR requests your overall GPA during interviews, then supply it with the full explanation of the illness.

Do not mention the illness on your cover letter.

Aug 3, 2017

just to be clear i don't think anyone here was [nor should be] discouraging you from doing IB but as many people have noted, there might be careers that better fit your lifestyle while still giving you similar experiences and challenges. of course this is completely up to you own personal judgment and we were only suggesting you think about this factor.

Aug 3, 2017

Are you a sophomore or junior?

If you're a sophomore, I say fail it. A C would be a hard hit to your GPA, unless you're gonna get all As until you graduate . And then you can just do something less GPA - dependent this summer (but still relevant to banking).

If you're a junior, then you really need to try and get that internship this summer imo. What would your GPA be if you kept the class and got the C?

And of course, you have tried speaking to your professors, right? Most professors are very understanding and helpful. If you have proof that you were so ill, they might be willing to let the final replace your midterm or at least weight it more heavily. It is certainly worth a try.

Aug 3, 2017

I'd take the C/C+. If you do decide to fail it, double check to make sure the failing grade won't be factored in. Back in my day, both the failing grade and new graded were included in GPA.

Aug 3, 2017

Medical withdraw this semester

Aug 3, 2017
kidflash:

Medical withdraw this semester

This is the correct answer. Especially since it looks like your school is on a quarter/trimester system, it would be easier to earn back the credits.

Aug 3, 2017

Medical withdrawal is the right answer here. You have legitimate reason, it negates any negative effect on your GPA, and if you are on the trimester system, you can make up the classes before you graduate.

Trust me, your GPA sticks with you forever. It is a major factor in summer recruiting, full-time recruiting, lateral recruiting, buy-side recruiting, and graduate school admissions. You can compensate for weak grades in a number of ways, but given that you have the option to eliminate the need to ever compensate for it down the road by wiping this term's grades clean, this is a no-brainer.

Aug 3, 2017

I'm actually in a really similar boat. I'm looking at D or F in two classes due to recurring sickness that hurt me throughout much of the semester. I say just make a note of it on your resume if it hits your gpa hard and just take the C.

Aug 3, 2017

Medical withdrawal. Best way forward if you want to give yourself the best shot for recruiting in any field.

Aug 3, 2017

I can't med withdraw or do pass/fail.

In terms of SA recruiting how different is a GPA of 3.6 looked at compared to 3.8?

Aug 3, 2017
monkey_business:

I can't med withdraw or do pass/fail.

In terms of SA recruiting how different is a GPA of 3.6 looked at compared to 3.8?

if you network, you'll still get interviews with a 3.6 (from my personal experience), but you'll be fighting an uphill battle unless you're a math/engineering, etc major.

a 3.8, your GPA won't be an issue at all.

Aug 3, 2017

Ask b2. He's failed at everything: grades, school, women, life, etc. He will probably give you more insight.

Aug 3, 2017

In my [somewhat limited] experience, I have never been asked for a transcript before actually getting an offer, so up til that point the only data point they have is my GPA without anything more detailed. I would think, think, that once you have gotten to the point where you have an offer, something like what you described wouldn't make a difference. Not as if they discovered you lied about something. If however, you are asked to submit a transcript prior to interviewing, then all bets are off. Common sense leads me to think it shouldn't matter (much) but if there's one thing I've learned in the past few months it's that things that seem like common sense don't tend to be too common.

Aug 3, 2017

Yes, my question pertains to post-offer. In this world, I don't like to take anything for granted. Anyway, thanks for your reply - it was very useful.

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