Zain K.

Students, relax! GPA does matter (but not for the obvious reasons)

August 3, 2021

I get this asked time and again, does a good GPA matter? In short, yes it does. But answering why that is, might take a few minutes. So read ahead.

What GPA does not do?

  1. It does NOT define your intellect. This is something people have a misconception about. GPA does not define how smart you are. It just shows that you have put in a lot of concentrated effort towards your studies.
  2. It does NOT guarantee a wonderful job. Not even a 4.0 GPA.
  3. It does NOT mean that you are more interested in the subjects compared to your fellows.
  4. It does NOT mean you have retained a lot of useful information. To attain a good GPA, you have to ace tests which are usually at the end of the same semester in which the subject was taught. In order to be able to truly retain information, you need to make use of that information and build links to connect it with the information you already know. That is something the standard tests do not grade us on- how much information has been stored for ‘actual’ real world use.

What GPA does do?

  1. It shows to your potential employer that you have a strong will power and dedicated to put in concentrated efforts towards a goal. This is the main thing that GPA does. It helps to give a hint to your potential employer that you just might be that hardworking dedicated employee they are looking out for.
  2. It shows that you have a knack for optimizing stuff. With so much going on during the semester, including socials and extracurriculars, the only way to maintain a good GPA is to have an optimized system of learning. You cannot just try to learn the whole of every subject, not humanly possible. You have to study in a smart way. This can include summarizing stuff up and then learning it, making use of spaced repetition techniques or mixing up a few things, like I did, to achieve your results. Optimizing processes or systems is a skill transferable across different areas of life, including work. And this is the skill employers are often looking for. A candidate who can find an optimized way to achieve results.
  3. It gets you above the cut-off when applying for entry level roles. This is sad but true unfortunately. Do I think it is the right approach? No. But it is what it is. With thousands of students graduating each year, employers have to be really selective when choosing the next cohort of future leaders. They have targets to meet- including keeping the hiring costs low. So, instead of trying to find a few needles in the a barn of haystack, they take a gamble. They only focus their attention on a small portion of it, in which they have a higher chance of success. Does it guarantee finding the perfect candidate? No. Even the employers are fully aware of it but it does increase their chances, lowers the cost and keeps the hiring time short.
  4. It adds a star on your CV. Its like a feather on a hat. You have this credential under your belt that makes you sound more like someone who might just know their stuff. And how others perceive us does plays a big part in career progression.

If you are a student, you may find this helpful
How to Get a 3.9 GPA in University- Tips From a University Topper

Should you aim for a high GPA?

Definitely. It will help during your early career and make the uphill path a lot smoother. But even if you are unable to achieve it, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world and there is a brighter side to it. Usually, students who have GPAs in the lower quartile are more involved in activities outside the classroom. Debates, soccer, society roles etc. Engagement in these help to brush up your ‘street smartness’- a skill that can prove to be extremely valuable in acing an interview.

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