The GPA absolute threshold?

College Monkey's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 278

Certainly, GPA can be one of the most crucial aspects of a resume and you can certainly spark some interest with great grades. But does it really matter? After talking to many recruiters about this topic, an overwhelming number are in agreement that GPA does matter, but only to an extent. Firms set cut-offs, for example at a 3.5, but once you hit that threshold, they don't care whether it is a 3.51 or a 4.0. Furthermore, many have stated that grades will get you in the door, but experience and knowledge is the only thing that matters from that point on.

Hearing this time after time, I continue to wonder if this is actually the case and whether or not the same rule of thumb applies within the entire financial world or is more prevalent in some sectors. In my personal opinion a 4.0 is a measure of extreme dedication and outstanding academic success, but is that how it is viewed in practice?

To those out there who have professional experience: What was the most impressive resume that came across your desk and what about it was so exceptional?

Nonetheless, I would like to open this discussion up for opinions regarding an absolute threshold for GPA (if it exists or not) and some feelings toward the importance of GPA vs. internships and work experience for college students seeking full time positions.

Questions to consider:

  • Do firms set different cut-offs depending on target vs. semi-target vs. non-targets?
  • What are some of the common cut-offs for BB IB, PWM, CRE, etc.?

Comments (23)

Apr 20, 2014

I always think that you should do the best you can in terms of grades, work experience, etc. I bet 3.5 is the threshold to get your foot in the door, but I bet it's hard to get a BB job with a 3.5 or 3.6 from a non-target, or even semi-target. The competition is fierce nowadays.

Yes, a 4.0 isn't necessary. The difference between a 3.8 or 3.9 and a 4.0 is simply like a few B+'s and A-'s vs. straight A's. A kid with a 4.0 isn't necessarily "smarter" or "better" at the work than the 3.8 student. I would say, sure, if I guy has better work experience and a lower GPA he might be the better candidate.

At the end of the day, do your best and forget the rest. Put yourself in the best position to succeed. Don't "aim" for a 3.5 because it's the cut-off. If you constantly are aiming for a specific mark lower than the best, you won't know your full potential.

Cheers.

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Apr 20, 2014

I would say that the tiers are grouped into:

Tier X: 4.0 (a perfect GPA is a perfect GPA. This deserves respect)
Tier 1: 3.8~3.99 (we get it you are darn hardworking and clearly excelled in your academics)
Tier 2: 3.7 (Did pretty well in school)
Tier 3: 3.5~3.6 (Did well enough)

Anything

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Apr 20, 2014

GPA doesn't mean anything without context

Apr 20, 2014

Totally agree. If you got a 4.0 by creating your own major and took only the easiest entry level classes then you do not much respect, if any at all IMO. A person with an engineering degree who consistently took graduate level courses in rigorous mathematics but "only" has a 3.4 deserves FAR more respect. They are not a "fail". They have actually learned something with their degree instead of using it as a placeholder on their resume.

BTW, no shame in creating your own major. However, the system can easily be taken advantage of.

Apr 20, 2014
monkeyleverage:

I would say that the tiers are grouped into:

Tier X: 4.0 (a perfect GPA is a perfect GPA. This deserves respect)

Tier 1: 3.8~3.99 (we get it you are darn hardworking and clearly excelled in your academics)

Tier 2: 3.7 (Did pretty well in school)

Tier 3: 3.5~3.6 (Did well enough)

Anything <3.5 is a fail in my opinion

I certainly agree with your tiers, but do you think that there is some variance depending on school (target, semi-target, non-target)? Is it safe to say that a higher GPA is expected of student from non-targets who want to break into IB?

Apr 26, 2014

Which brings us to the point - what pussy goes to college to learn?

Wake up kids... internships, finance 3.5, and networking are all that matters. The only things you need to know are found in WS Prep guides.

Apr 27, 2014

So true, making the right connections (at least in NA) beats out everything unless you set out wildly unrealistic expectations (i.e. non-target, no exp -> BX SA).

Apr 26, 2014
College Monkey:

...

To those out there who have professional experience: What was the most impressive resume that came across your desk and what about it was so exceptional?

...

From a resume collection from bb and non bb 1st rounds..

The 1st places in a known hard subject and known scholarships were "exceptional".

Awards that go to top % in a subject and in the year. 4.0s don't mean very much if a lot of people get it so this seems to set people apart.

Other than that, those that got first rounds were in the ballpark GPA and had the usual leadership positions in college things that you cant really make up... Like sports teams and school awards.

From those schools not usually recruited at... Just seem to have a bigger gap to jump... Good luck

Apr 26, 2014

It's all predicated on the relative mean of your institution (ie, the kids dropping apps in OCR). If a healthy amount of prospects 3.8+ are dropping resumes, your 3.65 isn't going to cut it. At my school, it was rumored that no one below a 3.75 got a first round interview this last recruiting cycle.

However, as per my original point, this would obviously be different at a school with notorious grade deflation.

Apr 27, 2014

I know around 5 people in my school got in top IB with 3.2 GPA. It doesn't matter that much as long as you network.

Apr 27, 2014

@"KingKongVodka" Agreed, GPA shouldn't be the end-all-be-all and in many cases it isn't. But I'd say it's probably easier to network yourself up (to make up for a lower GPA) at a target school versus a non-target or semi-target. Do others agree with that and to what extent does school prestige matter?

Apr 27, 2014

Top 25 school (non-Ivy). IMO my school's location largely limits its networking opportunities.

Apr 27, 2014

ivy and/or target?

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Apr 27, 2014

@"matayo" Yeah that's what I was thinking...I'd imaging it's a target if 3.2 is getting top IB. And even at that, they must have networked like crazy...

Apr 27, 2014

Also, not a target to any Ibanks. only a target to PwC

Apr 27, 2014

You overrate how much your potential employers think about each resume they look at.

It's mainly about filtering. They have better things to do with their time than hypothesising about how someone generated their GPA. Like making money doing what they are paid to do.

As long as you get a decent looking GPA (say, >3.3), it's only likely to be relevant if you and some other candidate are running equal based on interview performance, ceteris paribus.

Apr 27, 2014

"What was the most impressive resume that came across your desk and what about it was so exceptional?"

All looked like shit created by people who had speculative ideas based on what they thought would impress IBers.

Most impressive - not based on GPA; those who had work experience that didn't look manufactured for resume purposes like the CVs of everyone else.

Apr 27, 2014

@"SSits" do you have any suggestions on how to word a resume so that it will stand out in the review process (i.e. types of language, key phrases, format, etc)?

Apr 28, 2014
SSits:

Most impressive - not based on GPA; those who had work experience that didn't look manufactured for resume purposes like the CVs of everyone else.

lolololol

Apr 28, 2014

@College Monkey - I posted a thread on resumes. f you can't find, let me know and I'll see if I can dig it up.

Caveat: The views I expressed in that thread are fairly harsh and may not represent everyone's view on resumes.

Apr 28, 2014
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Apr 28, 2014