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Importance of Grades for Full-Time Recruiting

Anonymous A

Hi everyone,

I am currently a student at a top business school in Canada. In September, I will be going into my final year of university (college, for those in the US). I recently got my final grades back for the year and my average is just borderline a 3.7/4.0 GPA. In Canada, consulting firms view our grades by percentages, so it's 80.27%. I just barely made the 80% cutoff, which is not a bad mark, but it is the competitive average.

I also (unfortunately) did not get a consulting internship as it was very competitve and positions were extremely limited for summer internships.

However, I heard that more positions and firms are available for full-time recruitment. My worry is that since my marks are essentially the same as when I applied for summer internships, I won't get an interview from consulting firms.

Do firms value experience and extracurriculars more when it comes to full-time recruitment? (i.e. less-so for marks?)

As additional info, since summer internship recruitment, I have gotten a President position at a club here at school (extracurricular) and will have internship experience at a well-known firm (not consulting, however).

I know my question is rather open-ended and can be case-dependent. I'm happy to provide more info if needed, but I would like to hear some feedback from anyone who has done screening for candidates at a consulting firm (MBB or not).

Thanks in advance!

(edited)

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Deniz Ahmet
Expert
replied on 05/09/2017
Current BCG consultant and case interview coach in University of Cambridge - here to get you an offer from any consulting company!

Hi,

Let me jump in here, and speak based on my experience with BCG.

Top tier consulting firms typically evaluate the following in order to invite a candidate for an interview:

1. University brand name (e.g. ~top 5-10 universities in the country)

2. University grades (e.g. minimum 3.70/4.00 GPA)

3. Relevant professional experience (e.g. internships, volunteering)

4. Extra-curricular activies (e.g. positions held in university societies)

1 and 2 are typically the hygiene factors i.e. one should graduate from a reputable university with decent grades. It seems that you are already meeting both criteria. Please note that it is uncommon that a candidate from the same school with 3.90 GPA would be prioritized before you purely based on the grades.

3 and 4 are the real differentiators. Thereby, you would need to highlight the relevance of your internship and extracurricular, and how these will help you in your work as a consultant.

Best of luck!

Hemant
Expert
replied on 05/11/2017
Ex-Mckinsey, current strategy guy at Google.

I came into McK (and then Google) with an undergrad GPA of <3.0. Here's how it works.

1. UG GPAs become less important once you are a few years out. Play the long game - if you think 3.7 is the only blocker you have to get into MBB, then wait it out a few years. Do great at your first employer. Apply for an MBA at a top college, then join after. MBBs hire you in at the same level after the MBA regardless of your work-exp years; a 35yr old MBA grad is at the same level as a 25yr old MBA grad who just moved more quickly. You can gain a few years that way.

2. GPAs are just one way to test smarts. GMAT, GRE, etc are another. 3.5+, in my mind, are sort of all the same. Unless you have a lot of well-known scholarships and are leading various univ clubs/programs, I'd think of a 3.7 on par, in intelligence, with a 4.0 all other things being same.

3. Take more difficult courses. A 3.7 w/ advanced courses >> 4.0 with easy ones.

4. When you apply to MBB they ask for 'additional info'. Write a short letter NOT discussing why you have 3.7 vs 4.0 (if you have a 2.8 or 3.0 vs 4.0 that explanation makes sense) but rather focus on various extracurricular and leadership roles you took that were not part of the CV.

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