Why Your GPA Isn’t That Important
Don’t stress out so much about one subpar grade on your exam. Your GPA isn’t that important.
Certainly, throughout your high school lives, you were taught the massive importance of your GPA. A good indicator of college acceptance involves maintaining good grades while you tackle High School. Suddenly, you get to college and all of the rules are different.
I find that more often than not, people stress the most in college when it comes to their GPA. Students wear it like a badge. High GPA students take great pride in their high intelligence while low GPA students doubt themselves and potentially consider themselves to be less than their high scoring peers. But is this the case? Personally, I don’t think so.
The common belief that circulates among college campuses is that a high GPA will set the path for a bright future in the form of a good career. Now, to an extent, that may be true. If your plan is to obtain a professional degree having a GPA within a certain range could potentially be important. But what about the rest of us with no intention of achieving professional degrees?
From what I’ve gathered through various books, observation, and through speaking with various others, it seems as though GPA isn’t extremely vital for most students in the grand scheme of college and life thereafter. In fact, many students that land highly successful careers directly after college seem to focus less on grades altogether.
But how can that be the case? Isn’t your GPA a measure of your intelligence and your credibility?
Well, not necessarily. For many majors, employers care little if anything about your major. Sure, if you have an extremely outstanding major (such as a 4.0) then it may be noteworthy to mention it in a resume but keep in mind that if it’s the only thing you can list on a resume after 4 or more years, you’re essentially at a huge disadvantage. Now, let’s say you have a basic GPA of 3.0. While it’s not bad, it’s also nothing extremely special. However, consider that in the meantime you were the head of 3 important organizations at your university, you were a collegiate athlete, worked a part-time job during the entirety of your college life, attended various seminars to supplement your knowledge-base, and have developed skills in two different internships during your Sophomore and Junior year summers. Suddenly, you seem like a highly valuable student despite having an unimpressive GPA.
The point I wanted to emphasize is that employers seem to be more interested in your skills rather than your grades. While grades are decent in some scenarios, high performing students realize that it’s what they bring to the table that makes the difference.
The best students don’t necessarily focus on GPA but rather a combination of hard and soft skills. I’ll touch on this in a future article but hard skills are, essentially, skills that can be learned and taught relatively simply such as mathematics, reading, perhaps even different processes used in a classroom. They’re easily quantifiable (typically by a grade in the classroom and are typically standard throughout a group). For example, there is no best person that can solve the Pythagorean theorem. You simply know it and apply it or you don’t. In contrast, soft skills are less easily quantifiable and perhaps require a more practical application. For example, soft skills include understanding social cues, communication, active listening, and managing one’s own EQ (Emotional Intelligence).
These are skills that need to be adjusted while in contact with various individuals and need to be practiced in a different manner—what may apply in some circumstances with one may not apply to others and that makes mastery of soft skills a bit different for some.
Arguably, having a high GPA demonstrates a great ability to follow instructions, which is a great skill to have to a certain extent. However, in the long run, being able to follow instructions doesn’t foster innovation, which is a trait associated with high performers and successful individuals.
Being able to memorize and regurgitate information doesn’t foster a high level of problem-solving skills or the ability to successfully communicate with others and form relationships (which many argue is far more important than anything when it comes to success).
Understand, this isn’t an excuse to not care at all about your GPA. It’s possible to still score too low or to not apply yourself effectively. However, it’s important to merely keep in mind that GPA isn’t as important as many students might think it is and it’s certainly nothing to excessively stress out over.