I'm going to be a reapplicant this upcoming year, was rejected at wharton, columbia, and chicago, 2 years ago.
I did my undergrad at an ivy league school in a non-quant subject. Ended up graduating with a 3.23 GPA because i totally slacked off in my last semester of college (got straight C's). before that disastrous semester, i had around a 3.44. My GMAT score was 700, but i'm planning on retaking it in order to boost my quant score.
is it possible for someone with my gpa to have a shot at booth and columbia? obviously i can't do anything about it now. should i take a summer math course to try to make up for it?
Arbitrageur, I was in the same boat as you in many ways. I graduated from an Ivy with a GPA lower than your's (although in an engineering major) and was rejected by Booth, my top choice, after being waitlisted. I reapplied to Booth this year and got in. So do you have a shot? Absolutely. I'm no admissions expert, but I can tell you a couple of things I did...
If you feel like you can improve on the 700, by all means take the gmat again. I went from a 700 to a 740, and while some may say that it wasn't a significant leap, I beg to differ. I improved my quant score from 67% to 87% and even if it made no difference to the adcom, it made a huge difference for my confidence as I tackled the reapplication essay.
Secondly, I just emphasized all the positives in my profile (work experience, extensive travel, how my WE would prepare me for my career switcher ambitions) while tackling head on the issues with my GPA. No excuses, just explained what was going on in my life at the time and how and why those things will not be an issue over my two years of b-school. I agree that you should concentrate on your essays and your story, but if you have the opportunity to make yourself a stronger candidate via quant classes or a better gmat, you should totally go for it.