Does My College GPA Matter?

You’ve been accepted into college. Now…does your GPA matter anymore?

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Everybody knows that keeping your GPA up in high school is important.

But exactly how important is your GPA once you’re in college?

The GPA is calculated by averaging your grades together based on a point system, which is usually a 4.0 scale.

There are two types of college GPAs: semester GPA and cumulative GPA. The semester GPA represents the student’s progress for that specific semester, while the cumulative GPA displays the student’s academic standing for their courses since matriculation into the college.

Employers may take into consideration a student’s GPA as they are weeding through stacks of resumes.

How is GPA Calculated?

Most colleges count only courses that were taken at that specific college. There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, Wells College in New York will also count courses taken at an affiliated off-campus program, at Cornell University, Ithaca College and Cayuga Community College, toward the cumulative GPA. This means that if you are a transfer student you leave your old GPA behind to start a new one from scratch.

When calculating a student’s GPA, a college generally does not count grades of F, Incomplete, or Pass/Fail. But this is not always the rule, as Thomas Edison State College recently passed the policy that these grades will be reflected on a student’s GPA.

A report in US News & World Report shows the five lowest and highest GPAs by major. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors have the lowest GPAs - perhaps because professors tend to grade harder or simply because those areas of study are more demanding academically.

Programs in the arts and humanities such as music, English and language have higher average GPAs. This may be because professors tend to be more lenient in grading because the work is often subjective.

How to Raise Your College GPA

Here are some helpful tips on how you can earn a high GPA in college:

  • Learn good study habits. Don’t wait until the last minute to cram. Instead, study in short periods each day. This is half the battle in achieving good grades in your courses.
  • Show up to every class. Attendance can be a percentage of the grade.
  • Be organized. Know when tests will be held and projects are due.
  • Take a full course load. Don’t take only classes that you know you’ll get an A in. Challenge yourself with harder courses that may be weighted differently.

GPA After College

The importance of your GPA after college depends on your plans. If you want to go to graduate school or medical school, your GPA is going to matter, as admissions committees will look at your transcripts – much the same as for college admissions. If your grades were low during your freshman and sophomore years but improved during your junior and senior year, this could help you. Many graduate schools focus on GPA earned as a junior and senior.

According to US News & World Report, maintaining a high GPA is essential to being accepted at top graduate schools such as Harvard Medical School (3.8 GPA), Yale Law (3.9) or Stanford Business School (3.6).

If you plan on entering the job market immediately after graduation, it is advisable to list your GPA on your resume – that is assuming it is a respectable number. Employers may take into consideration a student’s GPA as they are weeding through stacks of resumes.

Don’t worry if you didn’t have a high GPA. This is not the only criteria employers look at when considering applicants. Internships, other work experience, relevant projects in college and other extracurricular activities also weigh heavily on entry-level positions.

It’s rumored that Google won’t hire anyone from any school unless they have a 3.0 GPA. But Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google or Any Top Tech Company, said three out of the eight people she worked with at Google did not have college degrees at all.

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