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Is a High GPA the Silver Bullet for Success?

October 1, 2017

 

Q: Is my university/college Grade Point Average (GPA) important?

 

A: Sure it is! But how important really depends on the context.

 

Your GPA is important academically. It serves as a basic admission qualification for many degrees and specializations. Some programs even require you to maintain a certain GPA in order to stay in the program. Your GPA could also affect your course planning (higher GPA students get first pick), and scholarships and awards are usually dependent on your GPA as well. If you are considering furthering your studies in graduate school, your GPA will play a big part in your grad school application, and could easily be the deciding factor between admission and rejection.

 

On the other hand, if you are wondering how your GPA impacts your career outlook or future success, the truth is that most employers don't place nearly as much weight on your grades as you, your parents, your teacher and professors have all these years! Relatively speaking, it's of minimal importance for most jobs, excluding co-ops and internships where schools or employers sometimes require a minimum GPA, and big name consulting firms (i.e. McKinsey) and technology companies (i.e. Google) that only hire the top business students and engineers, respectively, of each class. A high GPA indicates to an employer that you have book smarts and are capable of doing well in your studies, but says very little about what knowledge or skill sets you have that transfer to the real working world. You don’t need a high GPA to be successful at running a business. You don’t need a high GPA to create the next AirBnB. Take business mogul Richard Branson for example. Higher education and good grades are not silver bullets for achieving success. There are many approaches one can take to get on a path to success.

 

In the real world, employers rarely care about your GPA unless you are really THE top of your class. Generally, only fresh grads put their GPA on their résumé because they lack content (job experience, other achievements, etc) that they can incorporate into their résumé to make themselves stand out. The truth is that even if you are the top of your class, you can still be overshadowed by the candidate that completed three marketing co-ops. They will probably get that marketing job you were going after.

 

In short, if your goal is to pursue graduate school or higher learning of any form, your GPA should be a priority. If your goal is to have a prosperous career in sales (for example), you shouldn't be tied down by your GPA. Instead, you should probably be meeting people, building connections, and gathering experience where possible.

 

Take a minute to reflect on what is it that you are really pursuing and what you need to do to achieve it. Is your GPA really that important for you?

 

 

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