If there is one thing that stresses all college students, it’s their GPAs. While we have heard from some of our professors and even our parents that college GPA is not important, we have trouble believing them sometimes. When we are applying for internships, jobs or graduate school, the first thing they ask us is our GPAs, and it puts a lot of pressure on us.
As a result, some of us fret over every assignment and die a little on the inside when we receive a B instead of an A on a test. Speaking from personal experience, I am still in that camp. However, our professors are right that we shouldn’t put too much pressure on our GPAs. Just because we didn’t do well on a test or even in a class, our grades don't define us.
Yes, it is true that around 67% of employers look at your GPA on your application. But keep in mind that this is an indicator, not the indicator. There are a lot of ways to show that you are a hard worker, such as internships, clubs, organizations and other curricula. Sure, GPA is used as a defining factor, but it is not the defining factor, so we shouldn’t fret about it too much.
Besides our GPAs, there are other qualities that attract employers, such as our extracurriculars. We learn a lot of content from our courses, but we learn just as many skills by joining a club or organization. According to Western Michigan University, skills that look appealing to employers include time management, teamwork and communication skills.
Whether it's writing for a newspaper or joining a foreign language club, you are going to learn new skills. Just by writing for Technician, I learned how to articulate my arguments in a more engaging manner and improved my communication skills by conducting interviews and asking appropriate questions. Although I am currently taking a news writing class, I was able to develop these skills further just by writing for Technician.
In addition, extracurricular activities can tell the full story behind your GPA. When we are balancing jobs, internships or clubs, we may sometimes slack in some of our classes. Not only is it natural, but it shows that you are very hardworking.
Dan Black, director of recruiting for the Americas at professional services giant Ernst & Young, would rather hire a student with a 3.2 GPA working around 30 hours a week to stay in school over another with a 3.9 and no extracurricular. The rationale behind his reasoning is that he is impressed by students who can juggle multiple responsibilities at once.
Sure, employers do look at your GPA as indication, but they also look at your extracurriculars as well for the whole story. They understand it can be difficult to balance school and work at the same time, but having extracurriculars shows that you have grit and looks a lot more employable.
But one thing to remember is that some employers work closely with institutions. Black says he gets to know the colleges and universities he works with, and he understands how some professors grade harsher than others.
Employers know you are not going to ace every single test or course. We are human; we can’t be perfect all the time. But if you were a member of a club, had an internship, or joined an academic honor society, they might look past your GPA if it doesn’t meet their expectations.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should shirk off your classes and not study for tests. But you shouldn’t obsess over your grades 24/7 either. Not only is it unhealthy, but also unrealistic. GPA is essentially the preface of your career, but your extracurriculars are your story; they show what skills you’ve learned and what you’ve accomplished. That is what employers want to see, not some number to determine your worth.