• Go to page :
  • 1 2
  • Text Only
Voting History
rated:
Have to decide by tomorrow!! (Friday, 1/18/2013)!!

After fits and starts, I've returned to school to finish my BS/BA. I'm registered at 2 universities - Carnegie Mellon and the University of Minnesota. I flunked out of CMU due to anxiety/gf dump a couple years ago. Spent 2 years in China (H&B+easy money-$2k in savings/month no tax). I ask the FWF Diaspora for help with one of the most major decisions in my life. Be brutally honest as I know you can be. I've read several other threads on public/private. I know there is no one simple rule.

Me:
Age 27, worked for another major private Univ as IT guy (lvl 2 Helpdesk -$50k/yr salary) for 1 year, taught in China for 2 years
Like Business/Finance/Entrepreneurship - first company when I was 16, investing since I was 12, currently manage my own portfolio (12% for last year)
Love China - interested in Chinese studies - the women are HOT
Don't want to have a nonmarketable degree
Want to work in a multinational somewhere in Asia, or maybe SA - don't want to live in the States post-grad
Will continue Chinese studies - be conversational fluent upon grad
Can pay - does not have to go into debt for this.

CMU:
Prestige (top 25 school), alumni network, amazing career office, on-campus recruiting
low GPA - will finish slightly above 2.0
International Relations and Politics BS - marketable? I have no other options for a degree for the year time-frame. Changing would involve more time+money.
Need to get >3.4 each semester in order to finish above 2.0 - more rigorous
Expensive! Double the cost (no aid available to me)!
Will never have this opportunity again for this tier of school

U of Minnesota:
Will enter under the Continuing Education school for their Inter-College Program - self-designed degree
Concentration in Management, and Chinese Studies (also other options)
Lower prestige, more area-centric for networking opportunities
Assume everything transfers properly, blank slate of a GPA, so graduate with higher GPA (will work butt off for 4.0)
Degree certificate will just show "U of M", not Continuing Ed school. But transcript will say it.
Resident tuition rate - cheap! Ranked well among state schools.

Can finish at either school in one year - same time frame.

Hiring managers - advice, please? What would you do?
I know I will have to explain the gap in my resume.
What's your thoughts good private school (low GPA) vs public school (high GPA)? I doubt I'll have to put my GPA on my resume (after my first job) and most employers won't ask for a transcript except for proof of a degree. I know this doesn't matter so much 5+ years post-grad, as your work experience counts more. But I need to consider how to jump-start my career in the best way possible - is CMU worth it, especially considering networking/internships?

Thank you!

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
I'm with others on the UM choice. CMUs brand isn't good enough to pick up the slack. I had lousy grades at a top tier sc... (more)

BostonOne (Jan. 17, 2013 @ 3:24p) |

CMU is a great school, but it doesn't have the Cache of the Ivy League, even a lesser Ivy like Cornell (not commenting o... (more)

JTausTX (Jan. 18, 2013 @ 11:44a) |

Thank you for all the help. I've decided to attend UM.

LtWaldo (Jan. 18, 2013 @ 3:29p) |

No more Pending Approval on every post.
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

I'm not sure how the networking/internships angle would work out at CMU. However, now adays most resumes are submitted electronically/scanned in and algorithms check for key words. I don't think that CMU would be a key word/phrase that most automated HR Resume scanners look for. I think that most just look for a Bachelor's degree at all, and then slightly more importantly would be a Bachelor's degree in the field that the job requires.

Minnesota.

In general low gpa at any school would look pretty awful IMHO. I'd take a good gpa at a good school over awful gpa at a higher ranked school.


Just my .02

At most schools, F grades transfer over as well even though you receive no credit. There is no clean slate option since you probably need the credits to graduate in one year. Regardless, UofM sounds like the better option.

Wouldn't employers want to see transcripts from both schools and therefore see the older poor grades from CMU?

I'd probably go to Minnesota and start with a clean slate.....not transfer anything. Just forget about the time you spent at CMU since it will not do you any good.

It is not realistic for someone who went from flunking out to getting straight A's. If you go to CMU, your GPA will be less than 2.0 which is basically a worthless degree. Maybe it will have some value after you get significant work experience, but almost anyone hiring RCGs will automatically exclude you.

Minnesota.

Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

2.0 is worse than no degree. Also CMU is only good for engineering. Get the cheap degree then hope that "white guy in china" is enough

To clarify further 4.0 from some school is always better than 2.0 from any other school

When hiring I don't even ask for GPA anymore - experience counts much more. That being said, when you put your resume together, if you decide to go to Minnesota, just leave off the CMU time and put your UM or Major (not total) GPA.

Is the Chinese fluency element important to you? There are government-funded "language flagship" programs for some of the more worldly-relevant but unlearned by Americans languages (i.e., not Spanish and French).

http://thelanguageflagship.org/chinese

I went to University of Mississippi, and one of my friends did the language flagship program in Chinese. He was fluent upon graduation, moved to China, and got an internship followed by a full-time job there. I had a secondary major in Spanish and had studied in Spain, felt fairly fluent, and a bunch of us took an independent, OPI exam from the ACTFL upon graduation - most of the students of Chinese scored higher than what I scored in Spanish.

Then again, if you're conversationally fluent without doing coursework in it, you can get the rest of the way just living there for a little bit.

Double post

An interviewer's first question is going to be why didn't you graduate the first time around. Be honest and make this into positive for you -- say you weren't ready for college the first time around (not everyone is), but now you've gone back and kicked its ass. Personally I find that more compelling in an applicant than someone who did well at a fancy school but has no life experience. I vote for U of M.

I'd go back to China and continue along the path of easy money & H&B, but that's just me.

LtWaldo said:   
Don't want to have a useless liberal arts degree ...
International Relations and Politics BS - marketable? I have no other options for a degree for the year time-frame

If that degree is the only option, then you have only one school to choose.

No one cares about your GPA after your first job (The only exceptions I know of are certain top tier banking and consulting firms, some of whom even asked SATs). If you can really nail a 3.8+ at U of M you could keep Summa Cum Laude on your resume but otherwise you'd be dropping any mention of GPA anyway by age 27.

I'd go with CMU for the name and alumni network, which are all that will matter more than a few years out of school. My opinion would change if there was some special Chinese program at U of M with a really tight program-specific alumni network.

Some thoughts.....

1. It is not possible to wipe your GPA slate clean at Minnesota. They will ask for transcripts from former universities and applicable courses will contribute to your new GPA. You cannot hide these old transcripts. Sorry.

2. International Relations at CMU is a waste of time and money. It is a technical school, so it's name will only appeal to employers looking to hire engineers, programmers, etc. I don't think the name is worth it for the field you're going into. It might be a different story if you could choose a major other than International Relations and Politics.

3. I'm really confused about your choice in majors. Politics at one school and business at the other, and you work in IT. If you have technical skills, then if I were in your shoes I would want to advance those skills. Business and liberal arts majors are a dime a dozen.

Long story short, go to UM but enroll in a degree program that is useful and marketable. Otherwise, you will be no more employable when you're finished than you are today.

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with a lot of the posters and say stick to CMU. As others have mentioned - you can't hide your low GPA. I say turn it into a positive - look at me I went from 2.0 to 3.9 in my final year - I realized my potential at a top tier school. It also shows perseverance and heart both things hiring managers love to see. Your increased cost is only for 1 year, but I'd think a CMU vs U of M degree might pay dividends down the road for awhile. Just my $2 (inflation you know).

self-designed degree
or
International Relations and Politics

What kinds of job can you get with these degrees? Get something more marketable even if it takes you longer to graduate.

Kat009 said:   Some thoughts.....

1. It is not possible to wipe your GPA slate clean at Minnesota. They will ask for transcripts from former universities and applicable courses will contribute to your new GPA. You cannot hide these old transcripts. Sorry.



Sure you can. People do it all the time. You lose ability to transfer in the credits....maybe you can test out of some classes, though. You normally can't transfer D's anyways, and that is what OP is looking at doing.

I also agree that the GPA is not worth a lot once you get first job, but it is hard enough to get the first job with a good GPA. Try finding one with a sub 2.0 GPA. Many firms (mine included) would automatically exclude such a candidate.

Honestly, OP's best choice is probably to quit school and just go back to China. Anyone that gets a sub 2.0 GPA is not really cut out for higher education anyways (doesn't matter where it is from)....I understand he says some things came up which caused him to flunk out......in reality, life happens too......the same lack of effort that caused him to flunk out is going to get him canned if it happens again too.

Kat009 said:   Some thoughts.....

1. It is not possible to wipe your GPA slate clean at Minnesota. They will ask for transcripts from former universities and applicable courses will contribute to your new GPA. You cannot hide these old transcripts. Sorry.

2. International Relations at CMU is a waste of time and money. It is a technical school, so it's name will only appeal to employers looking to hire engineers, programmers, etc. I don't think the name is worth it for the field you're going into. It might be a different story if you could choose a major other than International Relations and Politics.

3. I'm really confused about your choice in majors. Politics at one school and business at the other, and you work in IT. If you have technical skills, then if I were in your shoes I would want to advance those skills. Business and liberal arts majors are a dime a dozen.

Long story short, go to UM but enroll in a degree program that is useful and marketable. Otherwise, you will be no more employable when you're finished than you are today.


1. The grades will transfer over to an "internal system" and I will be given non-graded credit for past classes. However, the grades will not show up on my transcript available to employers. I have confirmed this with the admissions office. They will just show the classes I took at CMU.
source: http://admissions.tc.umn.edu/admissioninfo/trans_evaluation.html

2-3. I originally left the Information Systems Major (#2 in the country), because I found that IS work bored me immensely. I like hands-on work, but don't want to be a CS programmer, or a business analyst (as I hate the planning aspect - sitting through my first real IS course was torture). My IT job was basically as a sys admin role - just a monkey who diagnosed windows machines, installed/updated them and helped professors out. I did some server level work, too - but that wasn't my main job. I found politics interesting and it was easy to transfer to this program, so I did - believing at the time that undergrad degree doesn't matter that much (idiot naive kid). I don't have the option of switching to another major within CMU, due to GPA, credit issues and it would be an extra semester-2 semesters in money/time.

raringvt said:   I'd go back to China and continue along the path of easy money & H&B, but that's just me.

....it was incredible tempting. worked <15 hrs per week, beautiful women. But no career...just jobs here and there. It's great when you are young, but I need to grow up sometime. I know 30-40 year old men still doing it, though.

jerosen said:   Wouldn't employers want to see transcripts from both schools and therefore see the older poor grades from CMU?

Because all the classes will be on one transcript, so why would they need to see more?

LtWaldo said:   jerosen said:   Wouldn't employers want to see transcripts from both schools and therefore see the older poor grades from CMU?

Because all the classes will be on one transcript, so why would they need to see more?


How will the CMU courses show up on your Minnesota transcript? I assume they'll show as transfer credits.

Are you including CMU on your resume? If not then transfer credits on your Minnesota transcript may lead to ackward questions.


In any case some employers may ask for transcripts from all college work. If they want transcripts they'll generally want everything. Not just most recent.

I don't know how common it is for employers to actually demand transcripts. Mine did.

If I attend U of M, I plan to include CMU on my resume for the namebrand - how does "Completed 3 years of coursework at Carnegie Mellon" under Education look?

So you've got CMU and Minnesota on your resume so why wouldn't an employer looking at transcripts expect to see both CMU and Minnesota transcripts?

jerosen said:   So you've got CMU and Minnesota on your resume so why wouldn't an employer looking at transcripts expect to see both CMU and Minnesota transcripts?

You're right. If they ask for transcripts, I have a problem. Should the solution to be just not include CMU on my resume? So why are you suggesting MN, since no matter what - my GPA from CMU will show? Isn't it then worth it to do CMU, since I'll have the prestige?

Kat009 said:   It is not possible to wipe your GPA slate clean at Minnesota. They will ask for transcripts from former universities and applicable courses will contribute to your new GPA. You cannot hide these old transcripts. Sorry.

Not true. I attended the U of M Engineering school. Knew many transfer students. They did not transfer old GPA over. This was true for the College of Liberal Arts as well. Don't know about CE school, but I would be surprised if it was any different.

OP, my vote is the U of M if you are getting in state rates. I would transfer what you can from CMU, (damn silly to pay for classes you've already taken).

Employers will most likely just ask for your U of M transcript. Friends who were transfer students who got jobs did not get asked for their previous colleges transcripts either. My employer did not ask me for my GPA (HR did, but as a formality). I work in a technical field though where demand is tight. YMMV.

Kat009 said:   Some thoughts.....

1. It is not possible to wipe your GPA slate clean at Minnesota. They will ask for transcripts from former universities and applicable courses will contribute to your new GPA. You cannot hide these old transcripts. Sorry.



Transfer credits not counting towards GPA is quite common in my experience. A school can't punish an incoming D student without rewarding the A student transfer.

By the way, the CMU courses will not show on your UM transcript. From the link you gave :

http://admissions.tc.umn.edu/admissioninfo/trans_evaluation.html
"Grade records: Individual transfer courses, credits, and grades will not appear on your University of Minnesota transcript. Your transfer GPA is not computed into your University of Minnesota GPA."

LtWaldo said:   jerosen said:   So you've got CMU and Minnesota on your resume so why wouldn't an employer looking at transcripts expect to see both CMU and Minnesota transcripts?

You're right. If they ask for transcripts, I have a problem. Should the solution to be just not include CMU on my resume? So why are you suggesting MN, since no matter what - my GPA from CMU will show? Isn't it then worth it to do CMU, since I'll have the prestige?


Well the way I see it if you go to CMU then you'll have a poor GPA no matter what.

If you got to UM to finish then you may get great grades there and have the opportunity to brag about those grades at least.

An employer may discover your poor previous CMU grades but those exist no matter and thats a risk in either case.

jerosen said:   LtWaldo said:   jerosen said:   So you've got CMU and Minnesota on your resume so why wouldn't an employer looking at transcripts expect to see both CMU and Minnesota transcripts?

You're right. If they ask for transcripts, I have a problem. Should the solution to be just not include CMU on my resume? So why are you suggesting MN, since no matter what - my GPA from CMU will show? Isn't it then worth it to do CMU, since I'll have the prestige?


Well the way I see it if you go to CMU then you'll have a poor GPA no matter what.

If you got to UM to finish then you may get great grades there and have the opportunity to brag about those grades at least.

An employer may discover your poor previous CMU grades but those exist no matter and thats a risk in either case.


On the flip side, if I get good grades at CMU for the last year, couldn't I brag about those, as well? (as one poster mentioned)

LtWaldo said:   ...

On the flip side, if I get good grades at CMU for the last year, couldn't I brag about those, as well? (as one poster mentioned)


How would that work exactly? "good grades my senior year" "3.x for senior year" ? I think any employer would make the obvious conclusion that you got poor grades otherwise.

You're likely best not mentioning GPA at all.

LtWaldo said:   jerosen said:   LtWaldo said:   jerosen said:   So you've got CMU and Minnesota on your resume so why wouldn't an employer looking at transcripts expect to see both CMU and Minnesota transcripts?

You're right. If they ask for transcripts, I have a problem. Should the solution to be just not include CMU on my resume? So why are you suggesting MN, since no matter what - my GPA from CMU will show? Isn't it then worth it to do CMU, since I'll have the prestige?


Well the way I see it if you go to CMU then you'll have a poor GPA no matter what.

If you got to UM to finish then you may get great grades there and have the opportunity to brag about those grades at least.

An employer may discover your poor previous CMU grades but those exist no matter and thats a risk in either case.


On the flip side, if I get good grades at CMU for the last year, couldn't I brag about those, as well? (as one poster mentioned)


That is what I did. I messed around for 3 years at college and just didn't care. I failed a couple courses literally due to attendance. I didn't show up to the breakout sections and thought they would never fail me since my exam score were still decent. They apparently meant it. After my GPA bottomed out, I took a year off and got my head back on right, and went back to finish up. I was on Dean's List the last two semesters and graduated.

So when it came time for a resume, I wanted to frame it as well as I could. Thankfully much of my garbage grades due to not caring were in general education classes I had no interest in. My major GPA was halfway respectable, and I could say I "finished strong" by showing dean's list for the last year. So "Major GPA" went on there where some people put overall GPA, and those two semesters on Dean's List went on there. Really the biggest consequence was I couldn't apply with the bigger companies that required a certain GPA as a requirement for qualifying for the entry level position. Maybe I could have applied anyway, but I didn't want to waste my own time with it.

With that said, it didn't matter. My resume ended up getting the attention of a manager 6 hours away from me, and they ended up paying for me to relocate. One day when I was talking with her after staying late, I asked a few questions about the decision to hire me. I'm in Virginia and I went to a state school in NY. If you work in Manhattan you may have heard of it, but not typically in the DC area. I worked with a bunch of U.VA and Virginia Tech grads there.

So, I asked if she had ever heard of my alma mater. No. Did she look it up online for a ranking or something. Nope.

Did she care about the grades? No.

Ultimately it was the degree and coursework I put down as being relevant to the job, the fact I sounded like I really did take that coursework during a phone interview, and then again during a few live interview with her and senior managers. I wasn't full of crap and demonstrated a grasp of what I needed for that job. She also liked how I had included that I had work experience dealing with angry appliance, electronic and furniture customers at my part-time job in college, and framed it as having the ability to deal with less than reasonable clients. Ultimately in my hiring experience, the actual content of my resume got me in the door rather than the name of my school or my GPA. Six and a half years later, when I mention to my current co-workers that my undergraduate GPA was less than impressive, they are shocked. Oh, and no one has ever asked for proof of my degree or a transcript. I don't even know where it is at the moment. If someone asked, I would have to probably call the school and get a copy sent. The owners of my current company want me to "commit" by letting them pay for a graduate program, so we'll see how my awesome undergrad GPA hurts that effort.

As far as the value of "prestige" to this hiring manager, I don't really value it. My field doesn't necessarily have some superstar program out there cranking out winners. If your resume just had an impressive alma mater and a flashy GPA, I wouldn't select you over a state school resume with no GPA listed but relevant experience/coursework. I don't care if you got A's in a particular course. A lot of people can be book smart and do well on tests. I care if you can answer my questions, which would prove to me that you learned something in that class and know how to apply it. Maybe that is my own bias, which brings up the point that it definitely is subjective. I know people who think other graduates from their alma mater are clearly the best choice without ever meeting them. Personally, I interviewed someone from my alma mater and was harder on her than anyone else because I studied in the same program around the same time. It is amazing we never crossed paths.

So I guess my answer is whatever program equips you better for what you want to do. If your goal really is China, the "brand" of Carnegie Mellon may help with those multi-national firms. In my experience, the big companies are more likely to care about GPAs, but "prestige" could possibly get you in the door despite it. If you were staying in the states, I would be more likely to say Minnesota may not hurt your prospects. The gap in school shouldn't be a problem. I explained my year off as time to "figure out what I wanted to do" and framed it as more job experience dealing with a unique customer environment (selling cars for a period of it). It would be different if it looked like you dropped out to smoke grass in your mother's basement. The China experience should be good if you are trying to relocate. It will show you actually know what it is like to live there and won't flake out after 3 months and realize you miss home. Hope this isn't too long winded. Good luck.

As someone who has spent the last 10 years of my life in "higher education" and will likely spend the rest of my working life in it as a professor, I think the choice is really easy here. The University of Minnesota option is best overall, its not even close. I say that for the following reasons:

(0) Overall, school prestige is I think one of the most important factors to consider. However, that prestige is concurrent with cost. You should try to get a degree from the highest ranked institution possible for the lowest cost possible. Especially since we are talking about worthless majors here (social science/liberal arts are worthless without graduate school), the cost is important. CMU is a good school but its not Ivy League and the name brand won't carry you as far as you think, and given that you have to pay out of pocket full price for this there is no reason to do so.
(1) I work closely with a lot of International Relations academics and its close to my own field - its generally a worthless degree on its own. Its useful for working for international organizations, but only if it comes from a top school (CMU is a good school, but by top I mean ivy league) and those type of jobs require that you already have connections to the place you want to work through mommy/daddy/internships/etc. Management and "Chinese Studies" is equally as worthless as International Relations in terms of actually getting a job, but you can apply management to a broader range of careers.
(2) If you want a career separate from your current job, one which requires a BA/BS, then your GPA will matter - at least for getting your foot in the door. This is especially true when you are doing these types of generally worthless degrees. You will be going against legions of people with the same majors, most of whom have really high GPAs due to grade inflation. You need to be competitive in terms of GPA to get that foot in the door.

All other things being equal, bad GPA/worthless major/good school is BETTER than good GPA/worthless major/no name school. However, this is NOT a case of all other things being equal, because you are paying out of pocket. UM is the winner.

LtWaldo said:   If I attend U of M, I plan to include CMU on my resume for the namebrand - how does "Completed 3 years of coursework at Carnegie Mellon" under Education look?

That would look terrible, it send an immediate red flag up to anyone reading the resume - you attended but could not complete a degree. Not an experience you want to highlight on a resume. Also, I think you vastly over estimate the prestige of Carnegie Mellon. It is a good school, not a great school. I'd rank many public state universities as much more prestigious, particularly in liberal arts and social science degrees (UVA, UNC Chapel Hill, etc.). This isn't a name brand ivy league we are talking about here.

Also, while its true your real grades from CMU are "hidden" when you transfer because they won't record the grade at UM, most employers will ask that you include transcripts from ALL institutions attended. So you will have to include those CMU bad grades.

dude lets hang out in dinkytown that pasta place i am your neighbor homeslice

I feel it's you, not your degree, that will determine your success. I kind of futzed around, but finally got my degree from what you might consider a non-prestigious California State University. My degree isn't in any IT related field but I ended up in a well paying IT position. I am still glad I did finish my degree.

Thank you for the post, magicka. It sounds that even if the money wasn't an issue (I'm willing to pay the premium), you would recommend UM.

Skipping 34 Messages...
Thank you for all the help. I've decided to attend UM.



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014