August 13, 2020

GPAs

Are the Big 4 Starting to Demand Higher GPAs From New Recruits?

Ed. note: Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Hi GC,

I am a longtime reader of this website and it has never failed me so here I go once more – some Big Four positions just got posted to our school’s résumé submission website here at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. PwC internship and full time positions have a minimum required GPA of 3.4 while EY is 3.2 and KPMG is 3.0. Deloitte’s have not been posted. I know our school isn’t the greatest in accounting [Ed. note: huh?]and the public accounting profession pales in comparison to investment banking and management consulting but a 3.4 MINIMUM GPA to apply??

Last year’s minimum GPA was 3.0 to apply which was understandable but this new recruiting team from PwC increased the GPA by 0.4. Do they feel like someone is throwing out GPA points like Bernanke is throwing out dollars? Would it be kosher to change my 3.37 GPA to 3.4/4.0 on my resume to qualify for on campus interviews?

Best,
Drinking Beer in Champaign

Dear DBinC,

I’m always glad to throw a loyal reader some freebie advice. Thanks for checkin’ in with us.

First of all, forget that last year’s GPA requirement was 0.4 points lower; last year is irrelevant. Put your game face on and rise to the challenge.

Yes, absolutely round your 3.37 up to a 3.4. That’s fair game. In fact, this is a non-issue.

Also, take two minutes of your time to figure out what your major-specific GPA is. Should that be higher than the 3.4 cumulative GPA, add it to your résumé as well. There’s no reason that Intro to Woodcarving should hurt your chances of interning with one of the Big 4.

Why are the GPA requirements rising? To weed out résumés, obviously. Why look through 500 when you can whittle things down to 400 by cutting out the bottom? If you fall into this range, beg, borrow, and NETWORK your way to an interview. Circumstances are individual – if you have a story or reason as to why you’re on the cusp, track down the recruiter (not a audit/tax professional) at the career fair and state your case. Hard work can be rewarded in cases like this.

How Should an Academic Zero to Hero Approach Recruiting Season?

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Going Concern,

I’ve been worrying about this for so long, I’m hoping some people in the profession can shed some light on my fears. When I was 18, I was an idiot. I attended a school far away and I literally never attended class. I also never dropped any classes. Needless to say, I flunked out with many Fs on my transcript (almost a full year’s worth). Later on, I went to a community college and remained an idiot. I did the same thing. My GPA was ~0.9.

Fast forward a few years in a new location, and things are a different story. I went to a community college down here and after screwing up yet again in the first term, I had a 4.0 GPA for the remaining 18 classes. I matriculated to a 4 year school (automatic admission in Florida for AA graduates) and continued. My last 64 credits have been straight As, and I have taken some of the hardest accounting classes – including Cost and two Theories.

I am absolutely dreading recruiting. My institution tells me that my “real” GPA consists of the grades I’ve earned at the school – which would make my GPA a 4.0. However, my transcript is going to have my overall GPA of 2.6 on it. To make matters worse, my actual coursework from the newer community college won’t be on the transcript so they won’t even notice much of an admirable grade trend.

I am also not a member of Beta Alpha Psi. To be an accounting major at my school, you need a 3.0 GPA – I was ineligible my first semester. Since I did not have an accounting GPA before last week, I have to submit my application in the next few weeks. I hope their admissions process isn’t so slow that I miss out on any of their opportunities. OCR is next month.

I know this is a scattered story that very few people can relate to. I don’t know what happened in those years and can’t understand it either. If anyone has some direction for me I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you and I love the site. It’s easily my favorite place for shameless mental masturbation when I’m feeling anxious.

– Zero to Hero

Dear Z to H:

Whatever you did to break out of the unfortunate streak of bottom feeding failures in the classroom and get yourself up to a 4.0-GPA-earning level, please tell me. I would like to make it, bottle it, and sell it to the masses.

The way that your college calculates “real” GPAs is standard for the industry; realize that this is absolutely to your advantage. The 4.0 you are currently carrying should be reflected on your résumé. Also on your résumé should be the time you spent at the community college. The time there launched you to where you are now.

Do not be afraid to approach recruiters. That said, I recommend talking to every firm regardless of size. Some might be turned off by your unconventional path to Dean’s List. Be prepared to be honest with the recruiters about your first attempt at college and the years you took off and when you began to right the ship. Honesty is absolutely the best approach here, because come offer time you will need to provide a transcript of your academic history. You want the transcript to be confirmation of your story, not the bombshell. Good luck.