When getting an education, GPA isn’t everything
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I have often heard the phrase “pain is temporary, GPA is forever.” The phrase circled my head last week as I studied for midterms at 2 a.m., running on highly caffeinated coffee and little sleep. Now that the exam-ridden week is over, I wonder if GPA truly does follow students around forever.
Throughout my educational career I’ve noticed that higher grades are typically commended while those on the lower end of the spectrum receive less praise. This is typical for an educational institution, but outside of this space, does it actually affect how someone is treated by potential employers or those surrounding the person? I understand that it might be a way for prejudgment to take place in instances when it’s one of the few things people know or get to know about a person. In such case, this leads to the assumption that if this person has a high GPA, then this person is smart, or vice versa for someone with a lower GPA.
That can change when the individuals become better acquainted. I could find out that someone with a low GPA is highly knowledgeable in the field of auto mechanics, or some other practical skill that isn’t tested in schools. I could also find out that someone with a high GPA might be unfriendly and self-absorbed due to their numerical standing.
It really depends on the individual as GPA is only a fraction of the whole individual. GPA is simply magnified in the educational setting since learning is the objective. In that sense, grades can be taken as the scores on the understanding and application of concepts related to a particular field.
There is a plethora of reasons as to why someone may not get a certain grade according to their actual ability. It is only assumed that the student applies their full understanding of concepts during and exam, when in reality that process of coming to understand can be interrupted by outside obstacles like work, family, and responsibilities that require immediate attention. Surely professors understand this issue and attempt to work with it on occasion. However, this is a major obstacle that deters students from applying themselves entirely. So, it may not be that students don’t understand the things covered, it may be that responsibilities outside of school take up study time.
With that being said, it should be mentioned that the university does provide assistance to students via different programs on campus. It is just the responsibility of the student to take the initiative and work with the tools given by the university to handle these obstacles.
In relation to the job market, it’s understandable that employers look for recent graduates with high GPAs. This person is supposed to have spent the past four years (if we’re talking about a bachelor’s degree) learning the skills and theories associated with the field they are going into. If they don’t have the knowledge, how are graduates going to benefit the employers that hire them? In that sense, GPA likely does have an immediate impact on employability.
As graduates gain experience, going from one job to another, the GPA they graduated with might be less of a determining factor in finding employment. Experience is something that has been stressed for as long as I can remember because it’s what those hiring look for. It is one thing to know the job on paper, but it’s another to apply the skills learned.
Even though GPA is magnified in the academic setting, its actual importance may vary outside the realm. That isn’t to say that GPA should be disregarded, but rather that it should be taken into account with other factors. No matter what, it shouldn’t be used to treat people differently. Yes, GPA is important at the moment, but its importance can fade as time moves forward from the date of graduation. It matters now, and it will in the immediate future, but it shouldn’t dominate a person’s entire identity or life in general. Keep studying, but know that GPA (in the grand scheme of things) is relatively temporary just as the pain taken to study is.