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How to Overcome a Mediocre GPA

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Summary: Learn how to market yourself to employers and minimize the impact of a low GPA.


Question: I am a student at Cornell University who is considering a career in consulting or finance, two areas that place a great deal of emphasis on grades. Although I have an excellent resume, I’m concerned because my grade-point average is 2.9. My G.P.A. was brought down by one very difficult semester in which I earned a 1.8. Should I include my G.P.A. on my resume?

Answer: Start by playing to your strengths. Showcase your stellar experience and accomplishments on your resume and in your cover letters. Back this up by including an exemplary letter of recommendation with your resume. Although I usually advise holding off on references until after an interview, your situation requires up-front support to offset the lower G.P.A.

To further strengthen your candidacy, do your homework ahead of time. Find out as much as you can about the organizations you’re interested in, get the name of a contact in the division you’re applying to and don’t be shy about using any connections you have to help open doors. Key into how your unique qualifications meet the specific business needs of your potential employer.

As for including grades on your resume, unless you can list a second G.P.A. for your major that is much higher, omit the G.P.A. and hope for the opportunity to dazzle them in an interview. Be ready with an honest but brief explanation of your unusually tough semester and how you grew from the experience. Then, shift the focus back to your assets and potential contributions.

How to Overcome a Mediocre GPA by
Authored by: Andrew Ostler

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