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  • Low UG GPA

    I graduated uni a year ago with approximately a 2.9 GPA owing to a number of circumstances - mostly, I didn't really know what I wanted to be doing and tried to stick it out in theoretical math and physics.

    I have reasonable grades in my intro math classes (A's and B's) through Differential Equations, but after that things dropped to C's (PDE, abstract algebra..). I never took Probability, stats or any other traditional 'actuarial' classes, but I did ace an intro econ class.

    I have strong recommendations from my advisor and several other professors who are relieved I am finally pursuing actuarial science (they have been trying to convince me for a few years now, I was stubbornly stupid) , as well as admin-type-work employers.

    I'm sitting Exam P in May for the experience, then hopefully Exam P and FM in November to attempt to pass.

    Is it worth going back and repeating some courses, taking some 'actuary' courses, even if it would no longer be as a degree-seeking student? Do I have any chance of trying to get any sort of paid/unpaid internship while studying for the exams?

    I need to do something to earn money, the default would be admin or childcare related but I am afraid that this will hurt my chances of getting an actuarial job in the future. Thoughts?

    If I do pass 2-4 exams, would that be sufficient proof to an employer (along with strong recommendations) that I *can* do it, or will I still have trouble finding work?

    I love the looks of diploma in actuarial science programs here in the UK (9 month programs during which you study for and sit the equivalent of ~exams 1-4 in the US), but I can't get into the programs. Are there similar programs in the US - or online - that might help give me a bit more credibility as I look for jobs?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    I think the more exams you pass the less importance your GPA will play. It's true companies look at GPA but what is more important is exam passing. If you can get high scores on the actuarial exams so much the better. There are seminars out there that may help you pass exams as well. You may still be able to get an internship particularly if you passed an exam. If you come to the US you might obtain the "List of Companies with Training Programs" from the SOA. That list has company names, contacts, and phone numbers for hiring authoriities that look for interns on an ongoing basis. It may be best to look past your low GPA, and move on with trying to pass exams with high scores and beating the pavement to try to get an internship.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by number1
      I think the more exams you pass the less importance your GPA will play. It may be best to look past your low GPA, and move on with trying to pass exams with high scores and beating the pavement to try to get an internship.
      I agree. Grades in college do influence those who are in charge of hiring, but if you can prove that you can pass actuarial exams, the hiring manager has more of a reason to look past your GPA.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by number1
        I think the more exams you pass the less importance your GPA will play. It's true companies look at GPA but what is more important is exam passing. If you can get high scores on the actuarial exams so much the better. There are seminars out there that may help you pass exams as well. You may still be able to get an internship particularly if you passed an exam. If you come to the US you might obtain the "List of Companies with Training Programs" from the SOA. That list has company names, contacts, and phone numbers for hiring authoriities that look for interns on an ongoing basis. It may be best to look past your low GPA, and move on with trying to pass exams with high scores and beating the pavement to try to get an internship.
        I hope I can pass the exams with a lot of studying on my part -- I am just especially worried about a gap in employment. I don't know if it's better to do part-time work while studying that is NOT actuary-related (childcare or admin/clerical), or not work at all!

        I have downloaded that list, and will make some contacts when I am in America this spring. I am also trying to make some very difficult personal decisions about whether to stay in America even though my partner is in London, or to be with him in London for a few years. The SOA exams transfer nicely and co-ordinate with the Faculty/Institute of Actuaries here in the UK ... but it may be an extra hurdle for me to get over!

        I am also worried about potential employers seeing a list of exams passed without any work experience, wondering why, and holding that against me!

        The best thing I can do is just study, study, study and sit the exams and see what happens - but I am trying to get an idea of what the job market is like in the Boston area versus the London area to see where I might have better luck!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by crayolaab
          I hope I can pass the exams with a lot of studying on my part -- I am just especially worried about a gap in employment. I don't know if it's better to do part-time work while studying that is NOT actuary-related (childcare or admin/clerical), or not work at all!

          I have downloaded that list, and will make some contacts when I am in America this spring. I am also trying to make some very difficult personal decisions about whether to stay in America even though my partner is in London, or to be with him in London for a few years. The SOA exams transfer nicely and co-ordinate with the Faculty/Institute of Actuaries here in the UK ... but it may be an extra hurdle for me to get over!

          I am also worried about potential employers seeing a list of exams passed without any work experience, wondering why, and holding that against me!

          The best thing I can do is just study, study, study and sit the exams and see what happens - but I am trying to get an idea of what the job market is like in the Boston area versus the London area to see where I might have better luck!
          Don't worry about having exams passed w/out work experience. Companies don't suspect anything for the first few exams. In fact, they'd rather you have some exams passed before you get there, so don't defer attempts at the first exams until you start looking for a job. If you end up having passed 5-6 exams before applying for a job, then things look a little strange.

          But you've got the idea - just study and try your best. Only then will you know whether entering the actuarial field is for you.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by crayolaab
            I hope I can pass the exams with a lot of studying on my part -- I am just especially worried about a gap in employment. I don't know if it's better to do part-time work while studying that is NOT actuary-related (childcare or admin/clerical), or not work at all!

            I have downloaded that list, and will make some contacts when I am in America this spring. I am also trying to make some very difficult personal decisions about whether to stay in America even though my partner is in London, or to be with him in London for a few years. The SOA exams transfer nicely and co-ordinate with the Faculty/Institute of Actuaries here in the UK ... but it may be an extra hurdle for me to get over!

            I am also worried about potential employers seeing a list of exams passed without any work experience, wondering why, and holding that against me!

            The best thing I can do is just study, study, study and sit the exams and see what happens - but I am trying to get an idea of what the job market is like in the Boston area versus the London area to see where I might have better luck!
            There is one aspect you mentioned that companies will look at. You are in the U.S., your significant other isn't in the U.S. Companies will be concerned that you may want to be together. It sounds silly but companies want long term employees and stability and they do take personal situations into account.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by number1
              There is one aspect you mentioned that companies will look at. You are in the U.S., your significant other isn't in the U.S. Companies will be concerned that you may want to be together. It sounds silly but companies want long term employees and stability and they do take personal situations into account.
              Good point - I missed that. I was told that one of the factors when I was hired was that I was born and raised in the vicinity of my workplace, which signaled my employers that in order to up and leave them, I'd probably be leaving my life behind. They figured there wasn't a large chance of that, so they felt that much more secure about offering me a position.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wat
                Good point - I missed that. I was told that one of the factors when I was hired was that I was born and raised in the vicinity of my workplace, which signaled my employers that in order to up and leave them, I'd probably be leaving my life behind. They figured there wasn't a large chance of that, so they felt that much more secure about offering me a position.
                That's interesting. I was born and raised in NH, spent four years in Washington State for uni and have now been in London for nearly a year (and would like to stay for another ~2 before heading back to America). I don't really feel like I have a home anymore, and location certainly is not an issue - I seem to see my parents about 2x a year regardless of where I am living

                I hope that employers won't hold that against me - I'm certainly willing to relocate for a job, and I may not stay there forever, but I'd plan to stay 2-3 years minimum..

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wat
                  I agree. Grades in college do influence those who are in charge of hiring, but if you can prove that you can pass actuarial exams, the hiring manager has more of a reason to look past your GPA.
                  In my experience a good GPA puts less weight (or none at all) on references and exam scores - a weak GPA makes getting good exam scored much more important. GPA won't kill your chances most of the time, but a perceived lack of effort in the exams coupled with a weak GPA will.
                  "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

                  http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blogger_ar...blogger_id=174 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.

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