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I graduated in 2006 with an undergraduate business degree from an okay school (ranked in 40's last I checked). Unfortunately, my GPA was 3.0.
I transferred into that school after one year of community college, and if I combine the GPAs, it turns into 3.3. Is that advisable?
My GMAT is 720.
After graduation, I worked a little over one year at Freddie Mac in the capital markets division as an analyst who supported management and traders, where I was given a promotion and raise within months. I was also awarded stock options (which soon became worthless) after one year in recognition of my performance.
I quit to start a small business with a friend, where I provided advertising services to primarily Asian small businesses, such as posting ads in newspapers, online, and creating web-sites or Facebook pages and so on. That's what I've been doing the past three and a half years.
To be honest, I regret that I did not follow a proper corporate career path as I was definitely fast-tracking... But at the same time, I learned so much about myself from starting my own business, and became a stronger and more confident person.
I would like to get back into a job in finance related to capital markets. Of course, working at an investment bank is ideal but I know my pedigree is not great.
What are my realistic options in terms of schools? My GPA is low and my work experience is not typical.
I think longhorn brought up some very important questions that you (Corona1) should contemplate about. As you mentioned, you didn't follow the typical corporate ladder footstep and took a less traditional route. However, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that as everyone has different passion. At this point in time, you need to really clarify for yourself who you are, what have you learned, and what can you bring to the table. It's less about what your title is, but more about your experience. B-schools need to know that you can work with people and have the employability post-MBA. With that said, you'll need to come up with strong reasons as to why you think you're able to regain entry into the finance world. Once you have your reasons, then it's all about finetuning and conveying the message on a couple pieces of online webpages of applications.
edit: to answer your question about schools, I'd look at any of the top 8 schools that interest you (i.e. Wharton, Booth, Columbia), granted that any of the top 8 schools will be able to get you to where you want to be in terms of recruiting, so it's really just about legwork. Beyond the top schools, you can also check out Darden, which has a very strong field in finance/ibanking. NYU is another good one for the mere fact of its great location. UCLA Anderson is also pretty strong in the finance field. Your GMAT score is good enough for any school that it's a check in that box for GMAT. Your GPA isn't as strong, but definitely not terrible. I wouldn't harp too much about your GPA, but I'd focus a lot of the energy on conveying your ideologies to the AdComs when you apply.