A Comforting Thought During Finals Week: Your GPA Doesn’t Matter

Do you want to know a scary fact? I can’t even remember my college GPA.

I can recall my high school GPA, but only because I agonized over it to the point where my family started calling me by it whenever I did something dumb. But that’s another story. My college GPA: I just can’t remember it. It sits somewhere on a few resumes buried in my hard drive, along with a lot of papers about Paradise Lost and Norma Desmond’s face (Liberal Arts student, guilty as charged).

When I started interviewing for jobs after college, I quickly realized that the only thing employers wanted to know about my college career was what I actually did. Not what I studied or how I scored, but what I was physically doing for four years. They wanted to know about my theater productions, my job editing papers in the writing center, the project I helped a professor with, even the blog I carefully maintained. Everything I learned in school mattered, but real experiences were the only way to prove that I could use what I had learned in the real world.

But really, does your GPA matter?

Contrary to what the title of this blog post might have made you think – I’m not going to go ahead and declare the GPA dead.

If you’ve got grad school aspirations or are planning to apply to a big company where recruiters only look at resumes that meet a certain GPA criteria, your grades do matter. Even if you don’t fit into either of these two buckets, you should carry on with your studying because you’re paying a hell of a lot of money for a college education.

What I’m trying to illustrate is that for the most part, in the big scary outside world, your GPA quickly loses its clout. And it’ll hurt you if you think otherwise.

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A few months ago, I was talking with a just-graduated someone about constructing her resume. Let’s call her Jennifer. Jennifer felt strongly that her academic background (re: Name of School on degree + GPA) was the most impressive thing about her and should get the best real estate on her resume. This was my advice to her: nothing screams “I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE” like putting your education before your experience on your resume.

Show, don’t tell.

Your degree and your grades do not tell employers whether or not you can do a job. The only thing employers care about is what you can do with what you’ve learned, so prove your value with your actions. Let your degree and your GPA be a nice little treat at the bottom of your resume, but don’t let them define you. Your experiences, your projects, your passions, your three off-campus jobs, even your tour as the intramural flag-football team co-captain – these are all a much greater predictor of job success than your report card.

Grit over grades, as some would say.

So study hard, but don’t get attached to the name of your school and a perfect GPA. Because you might get beat-out for a job next year by someone who has neither.