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Does GPA Matter? How GPA and Performance Aren't That Connected

Does GPA Matter? How GPA and Performance Aren't That Connected

Every year, approximately four million college students graduate and begin looking for jobs. Since they were old enough to remember, GPA was everything. They understood that good grades meant a good life. 

But, that's all changed. Now, these graduates are entering the “real world,” and many of them are asking does GPA matter? More importantly, does a GPA matter for jobs?

Check out the rest of this article to learn more about what’s happening with GPAs nationwide and whether employers look at GPA when hiring someone. The answers may surprise you!

Does GPA Matter Anymore?

Getting admitted into college is more competitive than ever before. And there are more workers in the market armed with advanced degrees, meaning it won’t be easy to land a job either.

Half of all Americans have some post-secondary credits, but only 27% held a college degree, according to the last U.S. Census. That amount has increased to 33% in 2017.  

Some people are avoiding college and going straight to work with a high school diploma or GED. In 2016, there were an estimated 13 million good jobs available for high school graduates. These are jobs with starting salaries at $35,000 a year.

For decades, GPA or grade point average has been a litmus test for success in college — that and standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. 

Parents understand that a good GPA is likely a ticket to success, but the pressure put on students today is wearisome. 

Students aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze. Teachers are also dealing with parents who demand A's for their kids, even if they didn't earn it.

The result? A trend known as grade inflation has been emerging. 

Back in the early 1960s, A’s were only given 15% of the time. This was according to a 50-year national study on college grading. Today, nearly half of college students get an A.

So, what has changed? 

At some point in the 1990s and early-2000s, the philosophy of college administration changed. The focus was less on free exploration and more on “success rates.” Higher education began to follow a business model.

Professors have learned that it’s better to issue higher grades to keep the customer satisfied and college leadership happy.

How Much Do Employers Care About GPA?

With GPA being such a big deal in K-12 and college, it may come as a surprise to graduates that most employers don’t care about GPA. They prefer experience and relevant skills.

There are some exceptions, of course.

Graduates should include their GPA on a resume if it’s over 3.5, if it’s their first job out of school, or for an advanced training degree in law or medicine. 

But, even then, GPA isn’t a make or break addition. Employers only want to find out if you slacked off in college. 

In an interview with the New York Times, Google Senior VP Adam Bryant said the company stopped asking for GPAs or test scores — unless a candidate was fresh out of school — but even then it didn’t indicate success at the company. 

Google figured this out by running the numbers, and Bryant added that behavioral tests were far more reliable than GPA. These are tests showing how you act under pressure or how you work with others. 

While you should be concerned with your GPA, career experts recommend making yourself the “full package” by including work history, internship experience, community involvement, volunteering, and more. 

Believe it or not, a good track record of extracurriculars is more indicative of how you’ll perform in the long-term than a grade point average. 

These activities set you apart from the crowd and show prospective employers that you’re capable of juggling multiple responsibilities, something you’ll have to do in your career and life. 

Tips for Standing out to Employers

Don’t think because we said GPA isn’t the only thing to be concerned about that you shouldn’t care about it. Make every effort to keep your GPA high. You’ll never know when it could help with a job. 

College is the best time to network and try new things. While you’re there get involved in as much as you can, and this experience will help stand out when it’s time to apply for jobs.

The University of California in Davis shared a useful career blog post with its students called “Ways College Students Can Stand Out for Employers.”

According to this post, you can gain a competitive edge by: 

  1. Community Service: Volunteering is a fantastic way to show off your compassion for others and it can help you develop important skills like communication, problem-solving, organization, and teamwork
  2. Campus Clubs & Organizations: Joining a club shows you have interests outside of the classroom and getting involved with an organization helps you network while learning teamwork
  3. Studying Abroad: Spend a semester in a foreign country because global perspectives are highly sought by some employers
  4. Certificates & Workshops: Take advantage of training hosted by your college because they can help you develop soft skills that transfer to the workplace
  5. Professional Organizations: Many majors have professional organizations you can join to learn about the industry, make contacts, and even attend conferences

Remember, there’s a lot more to performance and success than grades. Try out one or more of these suggestions to build up your resume, meet professional contacts, and develop important skills. 

Display Your College Experience With Pride

Does GPA matter? The answer is yes, but not as much as it used to. You're more than a number to a prospective employer. The most important thing to do in college is to experience as much as possible.

We understand how proud you are of your degree and the time you spent in college. Not only did you maintain a good GPA, but chances are you held down a part-time job, sat on the board of a campus club, or volunteered at a local homeless shelter. 

If anything ever happens to your diploma — fire damage, water damage, or you just accidentally misplaced it— reach out to us for a custom novelty diploma.

The college years are the best for so many, make sure you always have something to remember it by.


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