• C++ Programming for Financial Engineering
    Highly recommended by thousands of MFE students. Covers essential C++ topics with applications to financial engineering. Learn more Join!
    Python for Finance with Intro to Data Science
    Gain practical understanding of Python to read, understand, and write professional Python code for your first day on the job. Learn more Join!
    An Intuition-Based Options Primer for FE
    Ideal for entry level positions interviews and graduate studies, specializing in options trading arbitrage and options valuation models. Learn more Join!

Will an A- affect my application?

Hi quantnet,

I am currently taking calculus 2 and I am pretty certain I just failed a test. I got a 98 on the first test and a 100 on the second. I am pretty sure I got around a 60 on the third test and I don't plan to make any excuses for this failure because it was due to my own bad decisions. I am confident that I can get a 95+ on the final.

What I am worried about is if the A- in this course will affect my grad applications in the future. It seems unfair that one stupid moment will limit me but I also realize that when engineers make mistakes people die or in this case mistakes lose a lot of money.

I don't plan to repeat this mistake ever again but what's done is done. Will this affect my application for grad school if I get an A in everything else? Not sure if it makes a difference but all my math courses are honors courses. All the math courses I have take are completely theory and proof intensive. All of my future math courses will be the same.

I plan to get my phd in mathematics. The reason I am asking on this forum is I hope to apply my phd in some way to finance. What do you think?
 

roni

Cornell FE
-A in Harvard is not the same as an -A in some unknown Asian university.
Same applies for programs, 3.99/4.00 GPA in a biz/econ program is not better than 3.53/4.00 in an eng/cs/math/stats program.

And, -A is a very good grade. People say "you must get straight As in all of your math courses", it's very very hard to get straight As in all of the math courses, espcially if you go to a top school that is known for its hard grading policy and hard classes.
 
Grad schools don't really care about your freshman grades, especially an A-. Just ace the higher level math courses. You're over-stressing about the wrong things. If you're planning to get a PHD in math, then you should be more worried about getting research experience.
 
A-, A+, whatever your concern, it will be a blip in one or two person's mind in the near future. For admission purpose, it matters little.
Planning to do PhD in Math is a serious career choice that will either reward or haunt the rest of your life so that's the more important issue.
Why Math PhD? Why finance? Why Math PhD for Finance?
A lot of people go down this road before and not everything turns out rosy.
Do you have a backup plan or alternative career choice?
 
What I am worried about is if the A- in this course will affect my grad applications in the future. It seems unfair that one stupid moment will limit me but I also realize that when engineers make mistakes people die or in this case mistakes lose a lot of money.

A- = A = A+

No difference. Unless of course you get an A- in many courses.
 
Thanks for the replies everyone.

I attend a large state university in the top 50 according to US News. Not the worst but definitely not Harvard. I also do plan to spend most of my time in the summer doing research.

I really enjoy mathematics and when it comes down to the theory behind it, many times it'll be frustrating like what happened with my test although that is a different story but the ecstasy I feel when I prove a theorem that took me hours and hours of work to figure out can't be compared to anything in the world. No amount of money can buy that feeling. I'm sure everyone gets that feeling from something. If not, please accept my apologies for being blunt and saying that you haven't found the love of your life yet. Math is what gives me that feeling. Why finance? I haven't heard of any other industry in the world that changes as fast. There are new problems to solve everyday. It is my firm belief that all applied mathematics started out as pure mathematics so what could possibly make me happier than to come from a pure mathematics background and see the models that I built being put to real use?

I can't tell the future but I'll be very honest. If I could choose between a tenure track professorship and working at a hedge fund, I would go with the professorship.

Thanks to your replies though I have come to peace with the A-. Frustrating but not the big picture after all.
 
I think you need a lighten up a little man :) I know plenty of people who got into PhD/Masters programs at top schools with GPA's faaaar from a 4.0

You're GPA is one important aspect, yes, but there's a lot that goes with a grad application.
 
I kind of have the same dilemma with my grades too. I assume most of you guys here are studying in universities that follow the US format of course assessment (i.e. roughly 30% homework, 30% midterm tests, and 40% final exams or any combination of the three with final exams <= 50%). In my university, which follows the UK system, grave emphasis is placed on final exams which account for 70% for most of my courses. The university also has a regulation that final exams can't be lower than 50%.

Honestly, I prefer the US format as I earnestly believe that homeworks could help deepen my understanding of the lessons rather than a 70% final exam - 20% 1 midterm - 10% 1 homework mix which means that your grade for the course more or less depends on how you fare during the finals. It's almost an instantaneous measure of your performance for the semester. It is always inevitable that there would be some occurences in which you became careless during the test and it pretty much screws your grade for the course, no matter how much you understood it.

I'm not making any excuses for this but I was just wondering what you guys thought on this matter.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Reminds me of someone being interviewed by my last firm.
She was asked about a "blip" on her academic record, which in itself wasn't enough to stop her getting the job.
She replied that she'd been out partying the night before and her hangover stopped her getting a good grade.

No job offer was made.
 
I kind of have the same dilemma with my grades too. I assume most of you guys here are studying in universities that follow the US format of course assessment (i.e. roughly 30% homework, 30% midterm tests, and 40% final exams or any combination of the three with final exams <= 50%). In my university, which follows the UK system, grave emphasis is placed on final exams which account for 70% for most of my courses. The university also has a regulation that final exams can't be lower than 50%.

Honestly, I prefer the US format as I earnestly believe that homeworks could help deepen my understanding of the lessons rather than a 70% final exam - 20% 1 midterm - 10% 1 homework mix which means that your grade for the course more or less depends on how you fare during the finals. It's almost an instantaneous measure of your performance for the semester. It is always inevitable that there would be some occurences in which you became careless during the test and it pretty much screws your grade for the course, no matter how much you understood it.

I'm not making any excuses for this but I was just wondering what you guys thought on this matter.

I agree but I am very biased about it at the momet. My average is dropping 10 points thanks to that one exam. To me it always seemed like in the US as long as you worked hard you'd be rewarded for it while in many other parts of the world, you actually have to excel.

Reminds me of someone being interviewed by my last firm.
She was asked about a "blip" on her academic record, which in itself wasn't enough to stop her getting the job.
She replied that she'd been out partying the night before and her hangover stopped her getting a good grade.

No job offer was made.

That is... crazy.

I wasn't partying. I'm a workaholic but if I go into any more details I'd feel like I am just making excuses for what happened.
 
As an CS/Math major, i think it is very true. Also i was a Finance major initially but switched from Finance to Math


There are classes you can take in Economics that can be very difficult, speaking as an Economics/Physics major - well, I graduated. Advanced Macroeconomics was almost as WTF to me as Quantum Mechanics and required just as much work to both understand. Depending on the school/program you go to, you can make an Econ degree as difficult or a easy as you want it to be.
 
Hi quantnet,

I am currently taking calculus 2 and I am pretty certain I just failed a test. I got a 98 on the first test and a 100 on the second. I am pretty sure I got around a 60 on the third test and I don't plan to make any excuses for this failure because it was due to my own bad decisions. I am confident that I can get a 95+ on the final.

What I am worried about is if the A- in this course will affect my grad applications in the future. It seems unfair that one stupid moment will limit me but I also realize that when engineers make mistakes people die or in this case mistakes lose a lot of money.

I don't plan to repeat this mistake ever again but what's done is done. Will this affect my application for grad school if I get an A in everything else? Not sure if it makes a difference but all my math courses are honors courses. All the math courses I have take are completely theory and proof intensive. All of my future math courses will be the same.

I plan to get my phd in mathematics. The reason I am asking on this forum is I hope to apply my phd in some way to finance. What do you think?


This post reminds me of one my roomies back in the college days in electrical engineering. He was a straigh shooter, every course he took he had "A" grade on it. The ones he got an "A-". he would repeat the class to keep a perfect 4.0. He was a perfectionist, who graduated with top honors but lacked social skills. Today about 7 years out of college he works full time at a gas station.
 
This post reminds me of one my roomies back in the college days in electrical engineering. He was a straigh shooter, every course he took he had "A" grade on it. The ones he got an "A-". he would repeat the class to keep a perfect 4.0. He was a perfectionist, who graduated with top honors but lacked social skills. Today about 7 years out of college he works full time at a gas station.

Thats a very sad ending. I acknowledge the fact that I am a perfectionist and being a perfectionist it is hard to imagine another perfectionist living such an imperfect life. It is a little hard for me to accept the fact that he willingly took that job without some untold drastic change happening in his life. If the lack of social skills is enough to wipe a person completely of their potential then this is a very unfair world.

On the other hand, I don't have the time to repeat classes and even if I did have the time I wouldn't have the money. Balancing a 35 hour work week with full time classes would become extremely overwhelming if I started repeating courses that I already took.
 
I kind of have the same dilemma with my grades too. I assume most of you guys here are studying in universities that follow the US format of course assessment (i.e. roughly 30% homework, 30% midterm tests, and 40% final exams or any combination of the three with final exams <= 50%). In my university, which follows the UK system, grave emphasis is placed on final exams which account for 70% for most of my courses. The university also has a regulation that final exams can't be lower than 50%.

Honestly, I prefer the US format as I earnestly believe that homeworks could help deepen my understanding of the lessons rather than a 70% final exam - 20% 1 midterm - 10% 1 homework mix which means that your grade for the course more or less depends on how you fare during the finals. It's almost an instantaneous measure of your performance for the semester. It is always inevitable that there would be some occurences in which you became careless during the test and it pretty much screws your grade for the course, no matter how much you understood it.

I'm not making any excuses for this but I was just wondering what you guys thought on this matter.

Wow, I would love that...

For most of my math courses it's simple: 1 final exam, 100%
 
Top