My academic transcript contains some of F's grades. Can I explain this in the cover letter?

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Anonym A fragte am 1. Juni 2023

I graduated recently from college, my grades were not good. I graduated with a GPA of 2.0 out of 4.0 because I was working and studying at the same time. I recently applied to a consultant company on the application I uploaded my CV only. I received an email from them saying they need my academic Transcript. Can I send the cover letter now? explaining how my grades were affected because I was working most of the time. if yes what should I write?

I'm really afraid if they see my grades they will reject me although I believe I have the capability to pass every case study they would ask me to solve and pass every step of the recruitment process. 



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Content Creator
antwortete am 1. Juni 2023
#1 McKinsey Coach by rating & recommendation rate

Hi there,

It's really surprising that they asked for the academic transcript. What firm was this, if you don't mind sharing?

Most firms don't really care about your grades. The smart way to write the CV is to actually focus on what you were great / distinctive at. For instance, it could be a specific course that you excelled at and by highlighting this, this is what the interviewer will see. 

A CV review with an expert is one of the best ROI areas from coaching. Not only does it help you get within the top percentile of candidates, but it's also a format and approach that you can then use for future jobs.  


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Content Creator
antwortete am 2. Juni 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) Can I send the cover letter now? Explaining how my grades were affected because I was working most of the time. 

In your case, I would attach a cover letter with the transcripts as well. Without explanation, a 2.0 GPA would look quite bad and most likely lead to a rejection.

2) If yes what should I write?

You can explain you had to work at the same time and could not properly focus on the education part only. At the same time, this allowed to develop X, Y and Z skills and achieve ABC results you would not have had otherwise opportunity to achieve.

For general cover letter tips, you can check this:

▶ How to Craft a Great Cover Letter

Good luck!


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Content Creator
antwortete am 2. Juni 2023
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I my opinion you should not draw attention to it.

Rather, focus on your strengths.

The best thing you can do is:

  1. Make your resume as strong as possible
  2. Make your cover letter as strong as possible
  3. Network a ton

Your best bet to get around bad grades is going to be networking. You don't look good on paper. Period. Therefore, you need to shine in person…get around the on paper judgement by getting your face in front of people…network!

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antwortete am 1. Juni 2023
300+ coached cases | Former McKinsey interviewer + recruiting lead| End-to-end prep in 2 weeks

It's natural to feel apprehensive about this, but it's important to remember that most consulting firms understand that academic performance is just one of many indicators of future job performance. However, it's also true that consulting firms tend to look for candidates with strong academic records. Your situation offers a unique opportunity to showcase how you can overcome challenges, which is a valuable trait in consulting.

Here's how you could approach this:

1. Include a brief explanation in your cover letter:

You can take this opportunity to address the matter directly in your cover letter. Use it to provide context around your GPA, but ensure it doesn't come across as an excuse. For instance, you could say:

"While studying, I chose to work full time, which posed a significant challenge. This decision was pivotal in shaping my professional ethic, providing me invaluable hands-on experience, and taught me resilience and adaptability. However, this demanding schedule did impact my GPA. Nevertheless, I am confident that my acquired skills, determination, and ability to thrive under pressure make me a strong candidate for the consulting role."

2. Highlight other strengths:

Apart from explaining the context of your GPA, focus on your strengths and achievements. This could be your work experience, projects you’ve worked on, leadership roles, or problem-solving skills. The idea is to convince them that despite your lower GPA, you possess the qualities that make a good consultant.

3. Mention your readiness for case studies:

Towards the end of your cover letter, you could mention your readiness and confidence in tackling case studies, indicating your practical problem-solving abilities, which are integral to the consulting role.

Remember, honesty is crucial in these situations. Be upfront about your situation and use this as an opportunity to showcase your resilience and commitment. Best of luck!

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Content Creator
antwortete am 1. Juni 2023
McKinsey & Co. | Mentor & Coach for 4+ yrs | 80+ trainees | Columbia MBA


I would absolutely try to strengthen the application with a cover letter. As you rightly said, not having a top GPA may ultimately deter your application.

However, there is a couple of shots that you can use to gain access to the interviews and demonstrate your skills.

  1. Write a cover letter highlighting the reasons behind your GPA and why you believe you could be a good fit for the company. Max 1 page. Most of the time candidates end up in the mistake of preparing a standard cover letter, quickly replicable for different applications. This is totally wrong. Take your time to really get to the bottom of it and demonstrate to the target company how much you really care about the job offer
  2. Reach out to someone working at the target company and start building your internal network. You may find allies that could who could put in a good word and "smooth out" the edges present in your application that might make it tricky to access interviews

Feel free to ping me to double-click on your situation and prepare together a winning strategy!

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Content Creator
antwortete am 2. Juni 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer with ~5 years of interviewing experience


Some diversity in perspective from the existing coaches on what you should do. Personally, I'm more with Francesco on this one. I'll share my POV and rationale

  1. Grades typically don't matter as much for experienced hires, but as a fresh college grad, it is a significant aspect about your application given you don't really have much else
    • Top firms are looking for intellectual horsepower and intellectual aptitude, so having a ‘good enough’ grade is often the minimum bar - but safe to say a 2.0/4.0 grade is does not meet that minimum bar
    • Of course, your internships/volunteering play a role as well, but this is quite different for an experienced hire profile where typically the work experience becomes the most relevant aspect, rather than education which was further back in the past
  2. Given the above, if the face value metric for intellectual horsepower/aptitude does not show that you have that, then you need to emphasize in other ways that you still have what it takes
    • Part of telling this story then becomes framing why this 2.0 does not mean you are not qualified/dont have what it takes
    • Rather, the story then becomes “[despite the 2.0], I am a great candidate because….” (this has to be tactfully done though in order not to draw too much attention to it but also come up with a strong story on why you are still a great candidate)

All the best!

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antwortete am 1. Juni 2023
Lowest price for Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching


Grades matter much less than most applicants think they do! Consulting companies care a lot more about your work experience, capacity for leadership and teamwork, quantitative skills, and initiative than your grades. If you were working at the same time as studying, it sounds like you'd have a couple of years of good work experience on your resume, which will look great! So don't worry too much about this - as long as the rest of your application is good, a couple of bad grades won't automatically lead to you being rejected.

To answer your questions:

Can I send the cover letter now? 

Send them the cover letter when they request a cover letter (there should be space to upload one in your application)

If yes what should I write?

It's all about the narrative! I wouldn't frame it as “here's why I got a bad grade”. I would focus on the fact that you were working at the same time as studying, which allowed you to gain lots of valuable work experience and skills. I think Emily's suggestion of adding something along the lines of “while this demanding schedule impacted my GPA, I believe it allowed me to acquire a wealth of XYZ skills and experiences outside the classroom that will serve me well in a consulting role” is very helpful! That way you are pointing it out as an explanation for why your grades aren't great, but are framing it in a positive light.


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Content Creator
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