How Important is a Student's GPA Outside of School?
A student's GPA, or grade point average, provides a numerical average of school grades received to date. There are a few different measuring scales, but as a general rule, the score is based on a five-point scale—with zero being low or weak and four being high or strong. Typically, an "A" is worth 4 points, a "B" is 3, and so on...
GPA is used to evaluate a student's progress through their classes—usually leading up to a college degree. It can be used to determine if the student is eligible for financial aid, whether they will remain in good academic standing, and the likelihood of being accepted into graduate school after receiving a degree. Beyond school, however, GPA plays a different role in the following areas of life.
Most occupations are more interested in a student's college degree than their GPA. They figure that as long as the student graduates, he or she knows enough to do the job. Other employers are very interested in GPA and ask that candidates disclose their cumulative GPA on their applications. According to GPA Calculator, employers prefer to hire recent graduates with high GPAs—in the 3.5 to 4.0 range.
Additionally, in highly competitive positions, a high GPA could be the deciding factor between several applicants. Keep in mind that some employers only care about relevant courses and what GPA you achieved in those classes.
Recent grads may seek professional references from their professors or other academic officials—as they may not have work experience fresh out of college. These professors likely place a high value on GPA, and that could affect the reference they give you.
Similarly, employers who request reference letters or consultations may be influenced by those that criticize an applicant's lower GPA standing. Keep in mind that a GPA reflects your work performance while at school. If you are asking an academic professional to give you a reference, they may be unlikely to speak positively about your work ethic if your GPA is low.
A cumulative GPA, which represents all courses taken by a student, may carry less weight than grades in specific classes that are valued by a potential employer. For example, if a student's GPA dipped during the semester or year in which they began taking engineering courses, and the student is now applying for an engineering position, that could sway the employer's view of the applicant's ability to do an excellent job in that particular position.
Whereas, if a student transitions from an liberal arts degree they were performing poorly in, into business administration where they excel, employers are more likely to focus on the student’s relevant performance. In this case, it’s also important to emphasize your skills, rather than just focusing on GPA.
While GPA can be a major contributing factor to potential employment opportunities, it is not the only contributing factor in finding a job. Try to consider what applicable skills and classes you have taken that you can market to potential employers. That said, don’t neglect your GPA if you can improve it—more opportunities are worth the effort.
To learn more about how education will affect your future or to schedule one-on-one coaching sessions, reach out to us at Student Coaching Services.