Does your GPA matter?

Your GPA may not be as important as you think

When you Google “does GPA matter?” you’ll get approximately 2,600,000 results. Figuring out and understanding the answer to this question can be overwhelming, especially given all the information, opinions and statistics available to you. 

College students are constantly being told different answers to this question by employers, professors, club presidents, career coaches and even peers.

It can be difficult and stressful when trying to assess your post-grad options. One out every five college students reports feeling stressed most of the time. Thus, the answer to this question not only influences our futures, but our mental and physical health as well.

Whether or not GPA matters for your success is a complicated subject, with a complicated answer. However, the best brief answer is: Yes, but it will not solely influence your future. GPA is an indicator to employers and grad schools of how well a student performs under pressure and how much they apply themselves.

Kayla Weimer of Off Madison Avenue, a local advertising firm, explains her holistic approach to hiring.

“We are usually looking for indicators that students can balance both school and work, as well as a solid GPA to indicate that the individual can successfully manage those responsibilities," she said.

GPA is rarely seen as an indication of natural talent or intelligence unless the GPA is considerably low. A high GPA signifies focus, perseverance through stress and pressure and long-term commitment. These are qualities employers look for when hiring. The good news is GPA isn’t the only indication of these skills.

Although GPA is an important facet of your self-brand, it’s not the only indication of your ability, talent and intelligence. Employers and graduate schools tend to look for well rounded, multi-faceted applicants. This means if you have a high GPA but no experience or involvement under your belt, that 4.0 won’t get you far.

“We’d be more likely to hire a student with an average GPA but who has significant experience," Weimer said. “The person will have demonstrated that they can handle multiple responsibilities at once. This is important for succeeding in an ever-changing business environment.” 

Employers and grad schools don’t just want to see numerical evidence of your potential. They want to see a demonstration of leadership, initiative and other experiences and roles that have prepared you for the position.

The top skills employers look for in any given field are: communication, leadership, team work and problem solving. No matter how high your GPA is, your transcript will never signify theses skills. 

In a job market where performance-based interview questions are becoming increasingly popular, it’s essential to have held some leadership role, and/or have had some experience related to your industry. In fact, most grad schools won’t look at you twice without at least two years of experience in the bag.

Weimer described her philosophy when picking and choosing resumes. “Unless we are hiring for intern positions, it is extremely important to be able to hit the ground running in a mid-size agency like Off Madison Ave. This is a very fast-paced working environment and while there are many opportunities to learn and grow, it is important to have foundational skills already in place to be able to jump right in and get work done.”

Internships, jobs and executive board positions tell the interviewers that you have developed and implemented these skills and have applied yourself outside of the classroom. Employers don’t just want to you represented as a number, they want to know who you are as a whole person. 

Their main goal is to understand if you’ll be an asset to the company or school. Without much experience or involvement on your resume, you’re a risky bet, and most employers and schools won’t bet on you.

Ultimately, employers and grad schools are looking to make an investment. They’ll give you their resources, talented professors, opportunities for growth and valuable experience if they believe you’ll follow through and use those resources to their fullest potential. They want your name to reflect positively on their image. 

Your GPA won’t make or break you, however how well you build your personal brand will.


Reach the columnist at sljorda4@asu.edu or follow @skyjordan15 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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