do hiring managers really care about your GPA?

A reader writes:

How important is a college (or high school) GPA, graduating summa cum laude, etc. to hiring managers? I teach college students, and have a number who are convinced that anything other than a 4.0 is a death knell for all their future plans. While I know that my voice alone can’t counteract the stresses of a tough job market and high parental and personal expectations, I’d like to be able to tell my students that most hiring managers don’t much care about your GPA. Is this true?

I know that GPA is important for further education (grad school, law school, med school, etc.), but it seems that demonstrating critical thinking, a narrative of improvement through hard work and problem solving, an excellent cover letter and resume using AAM tips, etc. will do a lot more for you than a 4.0 on the job market. Then again, I’m in academia myself and generally did pretty well in school, so I’m hardly the most qualified person to claim such things from my own experience. I’d appreciate your thoughts, and those of your readers.

This is one of those things where being in school is warping their perspective on what employers care about. I urge you to blow their minds by letting them know that — while it’s true that GPA does matter for a small number of fields (like law and big accounting) — in the vast majority of fields, the vast majority of employers don’t ask about GPA at all or even expect to see it on a resume.

To be clear, good grades aren’t worthless in job hunting. If you have a high GPA, that’s worth including on a resume for the first few years you’re out of school (I’d define “high” in undergrad as 3.7 or above), because it can signal “smart and a hard worker.” But otherwise, you can skip including it at all, and its absence isn’t going to signal “not smart and not a hard worker.” In most fields, it’s more of a bonus than a requirement … although, again, there are some fields where it’s more requirement than bonus, so your students will want to know the expectations and norms in the fields they want to go into it.

And of course, once your students have been out of school long enough to have real-world work accomplishments, their GPA will become pretty meaningless. Its value is as a rough stand-in when they don’t yet have real work experience to point to, in order to demonstrate what they might be capable of. And even then, most employers know that it’s an imperfect gauge; lots of people with high GPAs end up doing mediocre work, and lots of people with unimpressive GPAs end up excelling in their careers. But early in your career when there isn’t much of a track record to look at, some employers will use GPA as a predictor of how well a person is likely to do. But even in those cases, they’re not typically looking for perfect 4.0’s — they’re looking for high 3s.

And high school? High school GPA matters pretty much not at all once you’re in college. 99.9% of employers don’t want to hear about anything that happened pre-college, and the 0.1% exception are weirdos who no one wants to work for.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. Anx*

    Although I believe it is more important in my field (bio, science), I wish I hadn’t been so ashamed of my GPA before. It still haunts me, as I don’t think I’ll ever get into grad school. I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety issues, and a possible disability, throughout college. Every semester there was some other ‘reason’ for my underachievement and I didn’t realize what had happened until after graduation. I threw myself into my work instead of my schoolwork, and prioritized it as well. For most college students school is supposed to come first, but for me it came last because it was an independent endeavor.

    I know my GPA held me back, but I let it hold me back far too much. I was so afraid of applying places. How could I say I had these skills or this knowledge if my grades didn’t reflect that? Well, the truth is that I remember more from the classes I did poorly in than the ones I aced.

    Your GPA does help determine whether or not you get an internship, as those are pretty competitive. I think my school had a 3.0 cut off and then of course a high GPA made you more competitive for them.

    1. frank*

      Not sure if you ever decided to go to grad school. I am a living testimony that God can do all things. I had a GPA of a 2.7 and I thought for years I was never going to get into graduate school. I let fear control me for years. Finally I had the courage to apply and I got accepted! I am currently pursuing two master’s degrees and maintaining a 3.3-3.5. Trying to get that Cum Laude status. You can do it. Trust in God.

  2. HM in Atlanta*

    Note: I’m in high tech/software/ecommerce
    If you’re trying to get into my employer’s special, recent graduate trainee program, I care if you meet a minimum GPA threshold. Other than that single instance, I only care if you have a degree. (And I only care about the degree if you have less than 5-7 years of related work experience).

    1. SL*

      Yes, I think the one exception would be specific programs designed for undergraduate interns or recent graduates where “a track record of academic excellence” matters. I did one of those after graduation and they looked at my GPA then because I only had internships on my resume otherwise.

  3. Dr. Speakeasy*

    Feel free to blow their mind even further – I know plenty of people who sit on grad committees who wonder if a 4.0 is evidence of not having challenged one’s self in college. Yeah, a low GPA is going to be a problem, but GRE matters, and showing some evidence of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking will go far.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think that is an accurate read of the 4.0 GPA actually. I have been in grad programs admitting students and while a high GPA is a good thing for that, it was my experience that 4.0s especially in students with middling GREs (1200 or so) are a marker for dull unadventurous incurious ticket punchers. The most impressive scholars tended to have very high GREs, highish but jagged GPAs and strong evidence of pursuit of some intellectual interest e.g. undergraduate thesis, undergraduate research assistant work, sometimes publications (as umpteenth author) or even cover letters (statements of purpose) that were particularly sharp, specific and showed intellectual enthusiasm for something or other.

      1. Anx*

        This is giving me so much hope if I ever decide to go back to school. Not necessarily because I think it gives me a better shot, but because it gives me hope that other people kind of like me might end up there.

    2. SystemsLady*

      This is also true in the job market with an engineering degree, and, if you don’t have evidence of a specialty, just as much for engineering grad school.

      They’ll usually look for a 3.0 or 3.5 at least, but at GPAs above 3.8, many hiring managers will automatically assume that, until seeing strong evidence or work experience to tbe contrary, you are just taking the bare minimum required to graduate and punching the college timecard. They’ll look for that either way, but a GPA that high will predispose them toward assuming that.

      Engineering degrees include lots of elective credits, both science and (at a good school, if you ask me) non-science. They are designed so that you can branch out, choose something you love to do, and study the heck out of it. On that route, even the smartest students are almost guaranteed to have a busy, difficult semester somewhere in there – or run into a new, difficult topic – that will negatively affect their GPA.

      In the same vein, a GPA below 3 but above 2.5 won’t necessarily be the job killer people will tell you it is…but you’ll definitely need some research, an internship that taught you a lot of skills, or club activity.

      I thought it was just a mean rumor when I heard it, but most of the summa/magnas I knew who didn’t go to grad school had some difficulty finding jobs (though luckily they all were recommended in by friends within a few years) and, at the same time, a decently sized chunk of the people who were going on to grad school weren’t standing up when they called out the highest honors.

      I don’t know what field OP is in (I think the answer depends on the field), but at the very least they should keep in mind that not everybody goes out there looking for all perfect 4.0s.

      …with the possible exception of aerospace engineering, come to think of it. That particular engineering field always looked super competitive at the job fair, so I can’t comment on that. And of course there will also be 4.0 chasers out there in both graduate school and industry – not like those are entirely fair assumptions, anyway.

      1. RG*

        That’s interesting. I mean, I was able to keep my GPA above 3.0 (barely at times), but now that I think about it, I didn’t struggle that much to get interviews. I always chalked it up to going to a private school with a good engineering program but now I’m wondering…

    3. Anx*

      I know someone who after a lifelong love of making chocolate teapots, won’t touch one again because they got a B in the college course for it and it ruined their chance at a 4.0 GPA. They did take academically rigorous courses, but resented anything that interfered with academic success.

    4. Randy*

      I’ve never once been asked what college I went to, either. I almost went to Berkeley, but at the last minute opted for a far less expensive in-state university. My advice? Go to a college you can afford and get the highest degree your mind can achieve. Then, when you get out of school, you finally get to start learning. (geez I sound like a crabby old HM…I guess that’s accurate.)

  4. Pipes*

    Our hiring / college program does require a 3.5 minimum, because we are a very competitive gig that gets a huge amount of applications. Once you get past that requirement, we don’t care what you have. I literally don’t even look. Much more interested in your internships / activities.

  5. Blue Anne*

    A note for the UK:

    If you’re going for the big employers who hire a batch of graduates and/or school leavers each year, it absolutely matters. If they say you need a 2.1 or above, and 5 A-Levels, they’re not kidding. That said, the application process for graduate schemes* isn’t as automated as it might appear. If you had extenuating circumstances that led to your 2.2, etc., PUT THEM IN YOUR APPLICATION. It absolutely does get read and employers will make a judgement call. (All last week, the HR lady dealing with grad scheme applications for our office has been sitting behind me figuring out who she could progress to the next stage.)

    Other than graduate schemes, though, I’m not convinced it really matters. A First looks great and a 2.1 is good and 2.2 is fine, and even if you have a third it’s not like it’s going to keep you from getting a job. I promise. Not if you’re a good candidate in other ways.

    I don’t know how many UK new-grad readers there are on here but I’m happy to give advice on navigating graduate scheme applications if anyone wants it. (I’m a year into a grad scheme at a Big 4 accounting firm.)

    *For the US readers – the word “scheme” has kind of sinister connotations in the USA, but it’s just used to mean “program” here!

    1. Blue Anne*

      I should possibly clarify that I worked with a small employer for few years (including doing some parts of the hiring process) after graduation before joining a graduate scheme, so I’m not talking completely out of my butt when I say the stuff about non-scheme employment options!

    2. Tau*

      I wish you’d made that offer a few months ago! I applied to graduate scheme jobs earlier this year and it resulted in some level of hair-pulling.

    3. Techfool*

      I’m in the uk and been seeing job ads requiring a 2i from a good university plus 70wpm typing. This is for admin jobs.
      I swear, the dumber the employer, the more ridiculous the requirement.
      The more intelligent hiring managers are happy to use their judgement without requiring the safety net of inflated academic requirements.

    4. Pepper*

      Graduate scheme applications are absolutely kicking my butt, but it’s good to know somebody, somewhere, actually did get onto a scheme! My question for you is, how many applications would you say you sent out before even getting an interview? I ask only because I met with a graduate recruiter yesterday who recommended I be sending out six applications a day, which seems excessive. I have no idea how I could keep up that volume while writing strong cover letters.
      I’ve yet to encounter anyone that’s asked for A-Levels, thankfully!

  6. Jubilance*

    I’m an example of how experience can trump a less-than stellar GPA.

    I started college as an chemical engineering major, and after a great freshman year, I scored my first internship at a large corporation. Sophmore year was challenging both in coursework & my personal life, and my GPA took a dive. But because of my excellent work as an intern the previous year, I was invited back to the same corporation for another internship. I then changed my major to chemistry, which was a much better fit, and I was excelling, but my GPA had already taken the hit. I wound up graduating with a 2.7 GPA, though my major GPA was higher than that. My senior year I applied to PhD Chemistry programs, and got into 3 of the 4 programs I applied to, including my first choice, Georgia Tech. I was later told by several faculty that they didn’t care about my GPA at all, and that it was my strong letters of recommendation, and my extensive experience (3 internships and a year of academic research) that got me into the program.

    My graduate school GPA was only a 3.2 but it didn’t stop me from getting my first job out of school, and since that time, I’ve never even thought about my GPA. I know a lot of students are told that your GPA controls everything, but it’s not true. You may have to work a bit harder to find opportunities though. For example, in my first job, I was on the recruitment team and we had a mandate that we could not interview any students that had less than a 3.0 GPA during on-campus recruiting. That doesn’t mean those students didn’t have a way into the company, but they would have to use other means (networking, applying for a specific role, etc) instead of the traditional mass college hiring events.

  7. Anonymusketeer*

    I felt pretty good about finishing college in 4.5 years with a 3.25 GPA while holding down multiple jobs and some small leadership positions. I’m no overachiever, but I did well.

    As it turns out, no job application or HR rep or hiring manager has ever asked for my college GPA in the five years I’ve been out of school. They simply do not care. But some of those jobs and leadership positions came in quite handy as relevant experience.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Unfortunately, almost all online application systems seem to ask for college GPA. But I’m not sure what they do with that information.

      1. SL*

        Huh, I’ve never been asked for mine in any online system. The one time I was asked, it was for a specialized recent graduate program, and I was asked to include the information in my resume.

  8. Susan*

    I was in a writing program undergrad and this guy that was perpetually on academic probation now works for the New York Times. He put all his effort into the student newspaper/internships and showed up to classes only when he felt like it. I feel like he’s a weird example (because he genuinely put a lot of effort into his extracurriculars and his slackerism seemed confined to reading large bits of literature), but the point is that clearly in journalism, experience trumps GPA.

    1. BRR*

      Nobody has ever asked for my GPA when applying for jobs. I know my brother had to put it when he applied for his first job at an insurance company but this was in 2005.

      I just find the GPA vs. work really interesting. I know somebody with great grades but I would place money that she won’t do as well working. Having interacted with her while in school she was full of excuses and said you needed to remind her about things.

      1. Susan*

        Yeah RE: your person with great grades, my guy didn’t have great grades but is a hell of a communicator, proactive, always had ideas, and is honestly kind of a schmoozer (which is helpful for reporting, because you need strangers to warm up to you quickly). I was resentful like the rest of my class at first (because I did the internships while maintaining a 3.8), but I’ve since realized that I feel really uncomfortable interviewing people and he’s just better at that type of role than me. I’m happier as a copy editor. Some skillsets just can’t be graded. Social skills is important for his job. Whereas being hyper-detailed and able to memorize new house styles quickly is important to my job. I think both of our talents are more innate than things that can be taught.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I think that applies in a lot of fields. I have a good friend who is absolutely brilliant, he has that type of numbers genius that makes him absolutely brilliant at math, programming and music… but not ability to concentrate whatsoever if he doesn’t find something interesting. It took him 6 years and 4 or 5 program switches to finish university. Along the way he was building really cool pieces of code for fun, running small businesses, mastering multiple musical instruments, and running a convention with thousands of attendees. Just not, you know, bothering to study.

      Now he works for one of the biggest tech companies in the cities, who gives him obscene amounts of money and let him keep his pink dreads while he plays with fun programming challenges.

      1. Shell*

        I feel like tech is the exception to many rules, but I also think there is a lot of value in being able to put your nose to the grindstone and do a job well even if it’s not interesting.

        Your friend is obviously doing fine, but I’ve always looked askance at the brilliant people who inconsistently apply themselves. I feel like we only hear about the ones who succeed at that, and not about the ones who couldn’t make a living doing things they found perpetually interesting.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Oh, me too. At the same time that he’s doing fine for himself, I wouldn’t want to work with him. I’m very much a nose to the grindstone type and working with brilliant yet inconsistent folks like my friend drives me *nuts*.

          And he’s very lucky that he’s a brilliant musician and programmer rather than a brilliant at, I don’t know, making friendship bracelets.

    3. Artemesia*

      I had a BIL (now deceased) who became a major scholar in his field with a named chairmanship who couldn’t get into grad school because he spent all his time as a lab rat and blew off most of his classes getting by with a low 3.0 GPA. He went to a work in a lab at a major university where his wife was studying and was so impressive building equipment for experiments and running them that they admitted him as a PhD student and he was published before he graduated.

    4. Ad Astra*

      This very much matches my experience in journalism school. I can’t tell you how many classes I skipped because something big was happening in the newsroom. My classmates who focused on grades either had scholarships to keep (though the standard for that was usually just 3.0) or plans to go on to law school.

  9. Just Another Techie*

    In theory we have a strict cut off (3.3 on a 4.0 point scale) for recent college grads. But we do take into account mitigating factors (eg, high GPA in your major, but you took a bunch of really challenging electives; or worked and cared for family members while putting yourself through school; etc). And I can’t speak for everyone at my company, but I definitely hesitate a lot about recent grads with 3.9 and 4.0 GPAs, because it says to me that maybe their priorities weren’t in order. Did they really learn and grow as a person in college? Or were they just chasing grades at all costs? I’d much rather see a 3.5 or 3.6, with internships, leadership experiences on campus, and other evidence of having challenged yourself and pushed out of your comfort zone.

    1. BananaPants*

      My group’s new hire had a 3.98 GPA. It was a little bit weird in the interviews when we asked what he likes to do in his spare time, and he had NO response. Seriously, he didn’t even make something up or say something bland like, “I enjoy reading”, he just said, “I don’t do anything other than school.” OK, then. The hiring manager chose him anyways.

      He was assigned to work on my projects and unless I structure his day for him and tell him precisely what to do and in what order, nothing gets done. There’s no sense of wanting to learn the job – he spends his days lazing around on Reddit and Facebook. My personal theory is that he did well in an academic environment with very clear assignments (with correct and incorrect answers!) and deliverable due dates but he has zero experience in a project-driven engineering work environment where he’s expected to take initiative and run with a problem until we get the solution. The book learning is solid but the ability to function in a team and to change direction on the fly or have an open-ended problem doesn’t seem to agree with him. If someone isn’t telling him what to do and when, he’s totally lost.

      1. Stephanie*

        Interesting. Now to some extent, don’t all new grads struggle with the more unstructured nature of work? Is this new hire just noticeably worse about that compared to other new hires?

        1. BananaPants*

          Yes, he is. Our last several new grads were real self-starters and were excited to be working. If they didn’t know how to use a certain software package, they’d do tutorials or ask for training. If they didn’t know how to do a certain analysis, they’d ask questions until they did understand it. Almost everyone in our group (including me) came up along this exact path of being a new grad in this particular role, and this is the first time it hasn’t seemed to work out very well.

          If he doesn’t understand something he waits until the deliverable is due, then explains that he didn’t get it. I’ve asked him a half dozen times to report data a certain way, and he still doesn’t. He just shows very little enthusiasm for or interest in the job; it’s like he took it because it was offered to him and he was desperate, rather than actually being interested in working here. He had no internship experience, only working in retail, but HR said that was mitigated by his very high GPA – which I think is BS. So that’s another issue; this is his first time in this kind of environment.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, no internship is pretty bad…especially if he was such a stellar student. Granted, I went to college when the economy was a lot better, but if you were even a halfway decent engineering student, you could find an internship or research job. Career Services left a lot to be desired, but for the engineering students, they did emphasize that it’d be tougher to find a full-time job without at least some sort of professional exploration via an internship or research.

            That also just seems sort of odd. I remember being in engineering classes bogged down with equations and theory thinking “Whyyyyyyyy? Why do I need to learn three equations for this one type of friction?” It sounds like schools are getting better, but I do think there was a tendency in engineering school to get very theory heavy and forget to connect what you’re learning in class to a bigger picture. (We did have a capstone project, but not until senior year.) So most of my classmates and I were at least interested in doing something via an internship or research to give some context to the theory.

  10. Eric*

    Where I work is one of the places that does care about your transcript when we hire new graduates. We have very few other reliable indicators of people’s ability to work hard and succeed. But probably more than GPA overall we are looking at grades in the most relevant classes that we work on. So someone with a 3.5 GPA because they got A’s in all of their in-major classes and B’s in all their electives will be looked at much more favorably than someone else who got A’s in all their electives and B’s in all their in-major classes.

  11. len*

    Fifteen years out of college, my resume was seen by someone who I hadn’t even applied to, in the Actuarial field, where generally only specialized exams count. After a useful phone discussion I was asked about my college GPA. Which was dismal. The caller backed off so quickly it was comical.

    I ended up getting a rejection postcard for a position I hadn’t even applied for.

  12. Not Today Satan*

    I find GPAs frustrating in general…. some professors seem to hand out A’s to everyone, and other professors think an A should only go to the best of the best. There is by no means an understanding of what grades mean what. Then people who go to schools with crazy grade inflation think anything under 3.8 means you’re a bum. The worst coworker I ever had–he was lazy, unintelligent, and had no curiosity/desire to learn–graduated summa cum laude from his college. There’s no way he earned those grades. Then others who did very good work in school had a 3.4.

    1. Susan*

      This is a good point. It also reminds me of my high school (I know we’re not talking about high school here), but we were the only school in the district that you needed a 93 for an A. Every other school needed a 90. (And the discrepancy continued for each letter grade.) Things aren’t as standard as we think.

      But there is a lot of grade inflation, I think. Also (and I think employers understand this), some majors are harder than others.

      And another thing, in my case, is I was in a small major where we only had 4 professors in the whole major. I felt like after you took your first class with them, they kind of knew if they liked your work or not, and then you continued to get similar grades (since I was a writer and it was so subjective). I don’t think this was on purpose, but I think I got some A’s I shouldn’t have on papers based purely on reputation. Whole other tangent.

      1. Artemesia*

        When I graduated from a state’s flagship state university 50 years ago the average GPA was 2.4. This was a fairly selective school to be admitted to even then. Grades are on average closer to 3.4 virtually everywhere today. Grade inflation is a pretty ubiquitous phenomenon which is why things like the GRE become so critical for grad schools (and of course have their own set of problems. The test does a pretty fair job of weeding people out who don’t have good math skill and excellent literacy.)

      2. Anx*

        I was kicked out of AP Calc because I had a B in Pre-calc. A 91. Only 1 regular calc class was available and didn’t fit in my schedule. So I went my entire senior year without a math. I didn’t care if I got an A, B, or C in AP Calc, I just wanted to take math. So I skipped it and guess who floundered in math in college for the first time in their life?

      3. Rachel*

        My school district had a similar grading scale. Ours was 92-83-74-65. (We also had weighted GPAs for honors and AP courses, so several people graduated with GPAs above 4.0.) College, however, was the 90-80-70-60 scale.

      4. BananaPants*

        My high school didn’t have weighted GPA; an A in Algebra 1 was worth the exact same value as an A in AP Calculus, even though the latter was quite a bit more challenging to get. The guidance counselors said that on transcripts for college applications they indicated that GPAs and class rank were NOT weighted based on course difficulty. I had a 3.4 in all advanced and AP classes, was ranked 6th in my graduating class (of 200+), and got into two extremely selective universities plus had a full free ride at our flagship state university – the lack of weighting didn’t hurt me at all.

        Our class valedictorian never took a single college prep or advanced/AP course and was in the vo-tech program and did not go to college. The salutatorian had been taking math and science classes at the local college for 2 years and had taken all advanced and AP courses. That situation was a bit embarrassing for the administration. That school district does weight GPAs now.

        1. Stephanie*

          Ah yes. I remember in the neighboring school district (which was way more competitive than mine), there was a lawsuit from the salutatorian against the valedictorian because her higher GPA was due to choir or something. IIRC, the valedictorian from a public high school got a tuition break or a scholarship to our state’s highly regarded flagship university. (But then…I don’t remember if the students in question were even going there. It was just absurd all around.)

    2. Mike C.*

      Yeah, by the time I graduated there were five 4.0 students out of several thousand graduates in the history of the college. No one has ever asked for my GPA, and I get a good reaction when they hear the name of the school.

  13. Dan*

    I was a computer science undergrad, and graduated with a 2.6. I had a lot of doors closed to me because of that. Yes, I went to career fairs, that number would come up, and the conversation would stall.

    A 4.0 makes me wonder if the applicant is an OCD prima Donna who doesn’t know when good enough is good enough.

    A GPA is one of those things that you can’t take back or do over. And while I certainly have a great career “despite” my GPA (I went back for a masters), I’d never tell kids that it doesn’t matter or no body cares. That’s a flat out like.

    I’d also say that in technical fields, the “good GPA” cutoff is about 3.5. Above that, only the most selective grad programs are going to care.

    The other thing is, few freshman have any clue what they’re going to be doing at graduation. I certainly wouldn’t be telling those kids that GPA doesn’t matter. If they’ve got low grades and decide they want to pursue something that requires high grades, they’re screwed.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My message wasn’t supposed to be “nobody cares” but rather “in most fields, it matters way less than the OP’s students think it does.”

      (And even in the small number of fields where people care, thinking that they must have a 4.0 is really out of sync with the reality. OP, I’m so curious about whether that was hyperbole or if the your students really think that!)

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I do agree that for pretty much any field, having a 4.0 matters pretty much not at all.

        It’s just that the op phrased the question as if there are two choices, and that’s not true at all.

        And this advice is too high level to be actionable – how does the student know if they’re in a field where GPA actually does matter, and if so, how much?

        I do think it’s fair to say that GPA above a 3.5 is going to be just fine, but below 3.0 may cause some bumps.

          1. Dan*

            The thing is, few freshman know what they want to do. The corollary is that so many people end up working outside of their “major.” As another poster put it, the best advice is to always try your best, and if you’ve done that, you’ll most likely be fine. I fear that sort of advice that comes across as “don’t worry about it” is encouraging people to not try so hard. Particularly from an English prof who is going to have a wide cross section of students in her class, some of whom will, in fact, major in fields where GPA does matter.

      2. Soyana*

        I’m the OP, and thank you all for your comments! I’m still reading through them and appreciate every one – I will be directing my students to Alison’s answer and this conversation going forward in the hopes that hearing from someone other than me will slowly start to convince them.

        I don’t know for sure if my student’s “really” think they have to have a 4.0 in order to ever get a job/have a good life. I hope not, for their own mental and emotional health, but I’ve had tearstained/angry (the students, not me) conversations with enough of them to suggest that at least some get extremely fixated on high grades and can’t see anything else. Even the ones who aren’t dedicated to a 4.0 seem unhealthily focused on the grade to the exclusion of anything else. I always try to have a conversation in the class about what I hope they’ll learn (how to express themselves, how to make a compelling argument, how to write well, how to read critically – I’m a grad student in literature, so that’s the context in which I see most of my students) and try to make comments on their improvement throughout the semester. The vast majority do indeed improve in those and other areas, but if the final grade is lower than what they wanted many seem to struggle to see or acknowledge their improvement.

        Perhaps I should include an exercise where they work on creating a narrative of “where I most improved in this class” that they can hopefully use in interviews, personal statements, etc. in the future.

        1. Soyana*

          Or least such an exercise would give them a pattern for how to talk about accomplishments, even if they’re not going to use improvement in their ENG 201 class as the example. I firmly believe that literature is life-enriching, that reading widely helps to build empathy, that literature is enjoyable, and a whole host of other philosophical benefits. I also think there are extremely practical things that my field is good at, like identifying arguments, clear writing (usually…), etc. I’d like to include more explicit, clearly tagged practice of some of those very transferable elements, especially since career services sometimes struggles.

    2. Jubilance*

      I said this upthread, but the traditional college career fairs or on-campus hiring that’s done by the big companies, they all have a requirement of 3.0 GPA. When they are entertaining hundreds or thousands of students, they have to have these hard cutoffs. Unfortunately those traditional avenues may be closed off to you, but that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. That just means that you have to work other avenues instead.

      As for your “good GPA” comment….I think that’s super specific to your area? I don’t think that same rule applies to the physical sciences, which are still technical areas :-)

      1. Dan*

        What would be considered a good GPA in your field?

        Tbh, even “field” is ambiguous, particularly for those with no work experience. I work alongside plenty of physics majors, and we’re certainly not doing physics.

  14. Maeve*

    My resume still says “B.A. with honors in Women’s Studies, June 2010” and I’m not silly enough to think people are actually noticing it or caring but I guess I should take off the with honors five years later? It’s not like graduating with honors is a very high bar…

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      I always struggle with this regional variation on my CV – in New Zealand, the ‘Honours’ year is an extra year of advanced study you can add after completing your standard 3-year undergraduate degree. So when I say “BA in History of Teapots with Honours”, it has nothing to do with the grade (which are first class, second class etc.). It means I did 3 years of History of Teapots, plus an additional year of more advanced learning.

      As I’m now working outside of NZ, it’s difficult to decide how to convey that on my CV.

      1. BeenThere*

        I’d put in brackets (four year degree). I’ve seen variations on degree referred to in year lengths in the US.

    2. Artemesia*

      I worked at a college where latin honors were by GPA and eventually two thirds of the grads were cum laude or higher. They changed it to the way it worked at my university back in the day i.e. a percentage of the graduating class and introduced the change slowly. The uproar was loud. People felt entitled to be guaranteed latin honors with an exactly number they knew in advance.

      1. Maeve*

        I think at my school the cut off for cum laude was 3.7? Something like that…I don’t remember my actual GPA.

        1. Artemesia*

          I can’t know remember the exact percents, but they changed it to something like 1% Summa, 5 % Magna and next 15% Cum Laude based on the GPA spread of the class the year before. It is meaningless based on straight GPA given current grade inflation. When the old GPA cut offs were in force over half the graduating class was given Latin honors.

    3. Another Recent Grad*

      Yeah, at my school, all “honors” means is that I did a double major instead of a major and a minor. It meant I didn’t have any electives because I had to completely two very different majors. But I don’t see it as a high bar either. Probably half the people I graduated with were able to meet the same bar.

    4. Ad Astra*

      My program didn’t have a Dean’s List or any way to graduate with honors, unless you were also enrolled in the university’s honors program (which is based more on your admissions materials from high school than your performance in college). That always bugged me.

  15. Beth*

    I am in the field of international development and work for a multilateral organization, with 18 years experience. I have never once been asked for my GPA. It got me into graduate school but after that no one cared. Good thing too as my grades were just okay ( partially due to working full time with a heavy load of courses) – but it hasn’t affected my career in the slightest.

    1. Beth*

      My message to the students would be, do your absolute best as you never know when you might need a high GPA (particularly if you want to go to graduate school – for example it would be tough for me to get into a PhD program if I decided to take that route).

      If its too late to do anything about your GPA however, don’t panic, plenty of people such as myself have done very well regardless. If your GPA isnt great, try and get work experience or internships that make you stand out in a different way. That definitely helped me, plus the network of contacts I built up.

  16. AnnieNonymous*

    I think this is one of those things that SHOULDN’T matter but actually probably does matter more than it should. A safe bet is to mention GPA in your cover letter, but not on your resume. I’ve been asked about my GPA during every post-college interview I’ve ever had, and this was for generic office work. GPA is a quick rubric when they just need a warm body to fill a chair.

    1. Susan*

      I don’t know. I feel like GPA is so easy to tag onto a resume without bumping anything off. It’s kind of there if you want it, but easy to skim over if you don’t. I feel you might seem like it’s too important if you put it in your cover letter–where you should probably be getting really specific about how your actual work experience relates to their job? I imagine if people are making arbitrary cutoffs, they want that data easy to scan for, and that has to be easier on the resume.

      1. teclatrans*

        Agreed. Plus, the cover letter is for highlighting the things you think are most important for the employer to know, so including the GPA there would make me think an applicant was really out of touch regarding why an employer should want to interview them.

  17. BananaPants*

    I’m an engineer for a Fortune 500 company – we will not hire students into engineering internships or consider new grads for a full time hire with a GPA below 3.0, with a 3.4+ preferred. Those applying online are automatically rejected by the applicant tracking system if they don’t meet the GPA requirements.

    I’ve done college recruiting and worked career fairs for my company. If a student doesn’t have their GPA on their resume, I have to ask. If it’s a 3.0 or higher their resume will be considered further – if it’s below a 3.0 it never even makes it to the desk of the hiring manager and/or HR. It’s unfortunate; I’ve spoken with several great-sounding candidates with solid internship or work experience, only to hear that they have a 2.98 or something due to having a rough adjustment to college academics in a rigorous engineering program. Then I have to make pleasant conversation knowing that they’re going to be ruled out. I always continue the conversation with the student and go back later to cull the sub-3.0 resumes because I don’t want to be discouraging.

    In our field this kind of requirement is not unusual and students with a 3.0 or higher are told by career services to include it on their resumes. 90% of the time when a student at an engineering career fair doesn’t have their GPA on their resume it’s because it’s sub-3.0.

    I’ve said to HR and managers that we could be losing out on promising candidates who are on the cusp, but they don’t care. We have a wide pool of applicants anyways and GPA is a way to start screening them.

    1. Susan*

      I feel a lot of sympathy for those “upward climbers” (who have a bad first semester). I wasn’t a STEM student myself, but I had friends, and I think a lot of people who go into the sciences were quite good students in high school, but then get to college and take 18 units right off the bat (not understanding that taking 12 is totally normal/fine/affects absolutely NOTHING). And then they merrily skip to upperdivision classes since they passed AP exams and take something like Calc 2 and O-Chem in the same semester not understanding that you have to space those kinds of classes out. And then the pain comes.

      1. Dan*

        I can write a book on that. I started college as a freshman with 41 semester credits completed. Long story short, had a 2.6 as an undergrad, and they held me back for awhile.

        1. Research Assistant*

          Yes! I came into college with 31 credits (AP classes and one college class in high school.) I got good grades in high school with minimum effort and assumed I could do the same in college. I did things like put myself in intensive Latin (designed for people who’d taken it before) instead of regular Latin because I was really good at French and thought it would carry over to Latin. I had a 2.59 my first semester. My GPA went up every semester and I was on the dean’s list my last two years of school, but it still couldn’t erase my bad start. I graduated with a 3.31. Four years post-graduation I still haven’t found a regular full-time job, although I don’t think my GPA is the main cause of that now.

      2. Anx*

        And the thing is, even if you get straight A’s later on, it is VERY expensive and very time consuming to counteract a few bad semesters. Basically, if you want to make any mistakes in life, make them in high school or after college. Having a rough few years in college is so hard to shake, if your GPA is going to matter.

        1. BananaPants*

          I’m one of those students who had a difficult adjustment to college academics while being an NCAA Division 1 athlete, and wound up with a 2.8 at the end of my freshman year. In the fall semester my grades were OK, mostly Bs with an A or two, but in the spring semester everything went to hell with Cs in most of my courses. I was one of those people who got good grades in high school pretty effortlessly, even in advanced/AP courses, but college was an entirely different animal and I didn’t adjust my study habits before getting a very rude awakening. I did get a good internship that summer but it was only by sheer luck that they didn’t ask for my GPA.

          I quit the team at the start of my sophomore year when my coach “strongly suggested” to the engineering and nursing majors that we all switch to less-demanding options. I wasn’t on scholarship and wasn’t ever going to be, and I’d already lost an academic scholarship because of the drop in my GPA. I got my stuff together academically and started bringing in As and Bs but even after a solid sophomore year I just barely got it over a 3.0. I got internships for those summers based on the internship I’d lucked into after my freshman year. Junior and senior years I was making the Dean’s List for the School of Engineering but it still was only enough to get me up to a 3.26 by graduation. I got a job offer from the company where I did my 2nd and 3rd internships and turned down my alma mater’s offer of a full graduate assistantship to enter the workforce full time (this was well pre-recession!). 12+ years into my career no one cares about my GPA anymore, but it was still a tough lesson to learn.

          When our kids are old enough to go to college, my experience is going to be a cautionary tale to NOT screw up early in college – even a couple of rough semesters can be tough to bounce back from, especially in a field where GPA can matter or if you’re looking to go to med school or another competitive grad program. Or they should go to MIT, which grades pass/no record for the entire first year.

      3. Tau*

        Reading this I feel very, very lucky that I went to university in the UK, at a place where the first two years didn’t count towards your final result and it was relatively easy to balance out bad marks if you were doing maths and very good at most of your courses. I had a very rough transition to university, mostly involving struggling with the unexpected symptoms of a disability I only barely even realised I had, and almost failed first year. I managed to pull things together after that and graduated with a First despite the bad start… which would’ve been a lot harder if I’d had to counteract the bad marks I got starting out.

      4. Sam*

        This was so me. I was a 3.8 GPA in high school and I was overwhelmed with my engineering courses which hit my college GPA big time. I was never able to recover from 2.0-2.5 GPA semesters and ended up getting it to only a 2.75 once I graduated. But I put in work doing multiple internships to make myself marketable and was able to land a job right out of school that pays above the national starting salary.

      5. Aquaria*

        Agreed about the too many classes/too advanced classes taken too fast problem. It’s better to take four classes a semester, with a manageable mix of easy/hard courses than to take five or six super hard courses all at once.

        My first semester, I took only three classes, to get into the groove of college again after a long absence. Since then, I’ve taken four classes per semester, and then I’ll take a couple of core courses in the summer like history or government, to stay on track for graduating in a reasonable amount of time.

        Of course, I did the crazy of switching majors at the end of my freshman year, from Asian History to a double major of Japanese (language) and math. So now I’ll graduate in six years, not four, but that’s not the end of the world. With my majors, mastery of the material definitely matters for subsequent classes, and even for life after graduation. It makes sense for me to slow down and make sure I fully understand what I’m learning before moving on to the next level.

        My stress levels compared to those of my classmates are almost hilariously low thanks to how much easier I’ve made it on myself by taking a slightly lighter load.

    2. Mike C.*

      Yeah, you’re missing out on a ton of great candidates from schools that don’t engage in grade inflation.

      1. Aquaria*

        Don’t assume that it’s always grade inflation with every high GPA. Some of us actually do college-level work.

  18. Rachel*

    I posted about this in the Friday open thread, but it bears mentioning here too. I recently saw an application that required you to provide your college GPA for a _non-entry-level_ position. (They required 5-7 years of experience in the field.) This wasn’t your standard boilerplate Taleo everything-but-the-kitchen-sink application, either – this was in a list of questions specific to the position. Needless to say, I didn’t apply.

    1. LeRainDrop*

      After 7 years of practicing law, I was applying to lateral to another firm, and one of the partners there wanted me to submit my law school and college transcripts! I had to go order the stupid things. Then I withdrew from consideration anyway because I had a colleague who had previously worked for that jacka** and warned me so severely away from ever working with him.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        Oh, I guess I should mention that I went to a top college and top 10 law school, all higher ranked than the requesting guy. It wasn’t like I needed to make up for the names of my school or anything.

  19. AdAgencyChick*

    I don’t even remember what mine was, except that it’s somewhere in the low 3s. I was kind of a slacker in college.

    It might matter your first job or two out of college, and after that, at least in my field, no one is going to ask.

  20. neverjaunty*

    In law, it really only matters for hiring out of law school; which law school you went to is also important.

    I believe Google finally dropped asking for GPA, which they used to require to matter the position or work experience. Probably they got savvy to how it lent credibility to age discrimination claims.

  21. Stephanie*

    I think it might matter for your first job out of college and not after that (of course, the first job could set you up for other jobs down the line).

    In college, the engineering internships at big companies all had cutoffs at 3.0. As long as you had at least a 3.0, you’d get interviewed whether you had a 3.01 or a 3.99. I think of one of the big oil companies had a 3.2 cutoff.

    My first job was at a government agency. All new hires with no experience or just a bachelors were hired as a GS-5. If you had at least a 3.0, you’d get hired instead as a GS-7, which was about a $15k pay increase.

        1. Stephanie*

          I got a contact from a recruiter for one of those firms. They were looking for experienced candidates. She directed me to a form to fill out…that asked for my SAT scores. (I do not remember my SAT scores at all.)

  22. Dan*

    Oh, one other thing… The op references a lot of aam tips like a great cover letter and resume. Tbh, in a vast majority of cases, those things are hard to do straight out of college. They become easier with a real career and progression after college.

    The one aam tip the op left out that is relevant are internships.

  23. Melissa*

    I came across a job posting the other day that required 5-7 years of administrative assistant experience and some event planning knowledge and looked like a great opportunity. They required not only my official college transcript, but my HS transcript as well. They were $75 each. (And they had to be mailed via USPS from the school). The HR rep said it was to verify I graduated. How about I tell you where the school is and you Google it and call them. My resume couldn’t be considered until my transcripts arrived. (I have been out of HS for +20 years.)

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      My college was weirdly possessive about transcripts too – you couldn’t just get a copy in-hand. They require you to submit a request, and you send them wherever you designate. So I requested that they send digital copies to my email address, and now I have them whenever I need them.

      It’s a pain and a bit expensive, but you might want to have your school send your transcripts to your home address. Then you can make copies and send them out on your own time.

      1. Melissa*

        But for it to be considered “official” it had to come directly from the university, in a sealed envelope, via USPS. Anything else and they didn’t consider it official.
        I have only needed my HS transcript once and that was to apply to college. Even when I transferred colleges, I didn’t need HS transcripts.
        Some companies choose odd things to use as a weed out. This place chose people to wanting to spend money on transcripts.

        1. blackcat*

          Ugh, that’s awful.

          Even when I applied to grad school, everywhere happily accepted *unofficial* transcripts. Official ones were to be provided upon enrollment, so the money was only spent once. GRE scores on the other hand had to be sent directly to each school, so that cost $$.

          Because my colleges charges per order of transcripts (and not for each transcript), somewhere I have a stack of like 10 sealed envelopes each containing a copy of my college transcript. Just in case I ever need one!

    2. neverjaunty*

      It is also, at some workplaces, a way to find out information about you they really shouldn’t be relying on, like your age.

  24. Macedon*

    Right — but also wrong. Most hiring managers for actual jobs tend to prioritise experience over studies, particularly as you advance in your career (making it doubly absurd that some employers adamantly discriminate against people who lack degrees but have copious work experience in similar positions), yes. In industries like mine, attaching your GPA to your resume/cover letter would actually be viewed as bizarrely disconnected from the work culture.

    But high GPAs tend to factor a fair deal in internship recruitment, so unless you are in an industry that’s craft or practical science-based and dismisses academic assessment at all stages, you technically still need high grades to reach your job.

  25. Rebecca M*

    I graduated with a 2.8 ten years ago. I’ve never been asked about my GPA, even when applying for my first job out of college. I’m in Pharma and most of my coworkers have STEM degrees. I didn’t aim very high out of college, starting in assistant positions, but I was promoted several times pretty quickly and then got into graduate school based on my work experience. I think it only matters in a few professions. It’s not really an indicator of how good someone will be in a position unlike internships.

    1. Dan*

      It also matters less when you have a graduate degree. You have to have a 3.0 to graduate most programs anyway, so there’s less of a point in asking.

  26. Sam*

    I just recently graduated with my BS in Mechanical Engineering in May and I did not have a great GPA (2.75) and had a job lined up right after graduation. They never once asked me for my GPA nor did I list it on my resume so it was low. But I did have 3 internships that I was able to fill up my resume with.

  27. Laura*

    I used to do career fair recruiting for a former company. I was instructed to look at GPA, but only as one piece of the puzzle. If the GPA wasn’t on the resume, we usually assumed it was very, very low and would only progress the person further if they really stood out in terms of work experience/internships. On the contrary, if someone had a 4.0 GPA we would only progress them further if they showed evidence of having some sort of life outside of school – extracurriculars, work experience, leadership roles, etc. Otherwise we assumed that all they did was study and were not a very well-rounded person.

    Once someone has their first job after college, no one cared at all about their GPA only about work experience.

  28. Another Recent Grad*

    Hmmmmmm… my GPA is a lukewarm 3.0/4.0. I was leaving it off, but was told to include it because “they’ll assume it’s a lot worse than that” if they don’t see a GPA on there. Its absence was noted in one interview and the interviewer pointedly asked me, “What was your GPA? It’s not on here.” I said “3.0” and he said, “Oh, that’s not bad, don’t leave that off or employers will assume you barely got your degree at all.” However that was about 2 years ago — I got a job and have been working for the last 2 years since I graduated from college. Do you think my lukewarm GPA ought to stay on my resume anymore?

    1. Stephanie*

      I’d take it off. I think the “it’s omitted, so it must be bad” rule is only really applicable for new grad jobs. But at this point, you’d be looking for experienced hire jobs anyway, so it’ll just look weird (especially since it’s not anything impressive* and not adding anything to your candidacy.

      *Not meant as a knock! My GPA was similarly lukewarm. I just don’t include it.

      1. Another Recent Grad*

        Thanks, yes, I will take it off. It’s definitely unimpressive. It’s just “not awful” haha. I did get into a graduate program right out of undergrad (go figure) but thankfully I decided not to go. Someday I will go for a master’s and wipe that undergraduate GPA off the face of the earth :)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Unless you’re in a field that expects it, take it off. (Also, don’t be overly influenced by a single interviewer. There are interviewers with all kinds of preferences out there, but that doesn’t make them general rules — which I know if very hard to tell as a recent grad.)

      1. Another Recent Grad*

        Thanks. Doesn’t help that I only had 3 interviews, 2 years ago, so I have a rather poor baseline for what general expectations are like. My field definitely does not expect it. :) Yay

  29. Anonymousterical*

    When I applied as a paralegal at a law firm around 2009-2011 (right out of college, as it were), the boss at the law firm I ultimately got hired at told me that s/he almost didn’t interview me, because my GPA wasn’t on my resume and they automatically take that to mean it’s low. (I had a 3.9.) Four years at that firm, and s/he was still mentioning the GPA thing until the day I left.

  30. Persephone Mulberry*

    There was a HUGE kerfluffle at my university among the adult back-to-schoolers last year…a faction of them wanted the GPA for Latin honors (cum laude, etc) in our program to be calculated on in-school credits only, and not any transferred-in credits. Why are we being penalized for being half-assed students 10 years ago, blah blah blah. The other side (myself included) figured that if GPA is that important to you, you can pony up the dough and the time to retake the class. Not to mention the point of this article, i.e. that no one except you cares what color shoulder braid you wore at commencement, *especially* considering that you’ve already got 5, 10 or more years of work experience on your resume.

    I’m a little ashamed to report that the GPA-obsessed group actually won.

    1. Anx*

      I can see why it may be unfair to not to include transferred in classes, but there are so many reasons for a poor GPA, and it takes an incredible amount of effort to go back to school. First of all, there may be no more options for financing. If you have a C in Calculus from 10 years ago and you get an A the second time you take it (and paid for it), you still don’t get an A in Calc. You have a B. So you’d have to retake a class several times (which may not even be allowed) to undo that old GPA.

      Also not every adult back-to-schooler has an impressive resume. Those students will have to compete with students much younger than them without much more experience.

      I’m not saying that they should automatically get do-overs, but that it’s so difficult to overcome a low GPA.

  31. Bostonian*

    What about grad school GPA? I’m about to start looking for my first post-masters job, and I’m not sure whether to put my 4.0 grad school GPA on my resume. Grad school grade inflation is so rampant that I kind of wonder if it really signifies anything or if anyone cares. I feel like it looks weird to include the undergrad one but not the graduate one, and I’m not sure if I should just leave them both off at this point (Undergrad was a 3.7.)

  32. Richard*

    Agreeing with many comments. Most big companies I’ve been with trash-file resumes without graduation dates or GPAs on the resumes, unless there’s a lot of good experience. I’ve worked with more than a few people who didn’t complete or barely completed degrees, but had good experience (usually military) after that point that balanced it out. I did have one company, but only one, that gave me some grief, although I have a BA and Masters, at not having a high school GPA (I was homeschooled, and at the time/place, we didn’t do GPAs. We should have.)

    Even for the recent grads, other than using it as a part of the picture, GPA didn’t matter much at most of those companies. The exception is those that have a lot of academics, scientists, or similar people in charge. At those, I’ve had them put (unwarranted, in my opinion) weight on GPA for recent grads, not being willing to even allow interview of people with below certain targets.

  33. De Minimis*

    My former employer had an absolute cutoff of 3.0, but in reality it was more like 3.4-3.5, and most candidates had higher GPAs. It was simply a quick way to weed out resumes. They’d consider 3.2-3.3 with extenuating circumstances. And as others have mentioned, a candidate who had a 3.4 but also was juggling work and extracurricular activities probably had a better shot than someone with 3.9 but had nothing else.

    I am probably going to start leaving off graduation dates for my resume. My graduate school was seven years ago, and if I put it there it points to gaps in my resume [long term unemployment from 2009-2012.] It’s also led recruiters to think I had more experience than I actually have, and wasted their time along with mine.

    I definitely leave off the date of my bachelor’s whenever possible because that was in the mid-Nineties and it’s basically saying “Yes, I”m in my 40s and applying for jobs that are entry level or just beyond entry level.”

  34. AW*

    Several commentors have mentioned grade inflation and I’m wondering how we’re supposed to know this is a thing. Are there surveys/studies where professors admit to padding grades?

  35. Mena*

    In my 27 year career, I’ve had one organization ask me for college transcripts as proof of my GPA. This request came to me 10 years after graduating (under Grad). I laughed to myself and removed myself from consideration from the position – a silly request coming after 10 years of very productive work experience. The request told me how foolish this company’s thinking was and I very happily moved on.

  36. ThursdaysGeek*

    I graduated summa cum laude with s GPA around 3.88. And no-one (except me and my mother) has ever cared. A lot above are mentioning that the low GPA hasn’t held them back. The high GPA doesn’t help either, once you’re out of school and past your first job.

  37. Rebecca*

    Alison, I’m curious if you’re familiar with, and what your opinion might be, of the interview technique Topgrading. It’s an official interview approach, and my company uses it to vet all candidates. Part of the process is that no matter the age of the candidate, they ask you questions about all of your academic and work experiences starting in high school, including your high school & college GPA. (Although my interviewer told me beforehand that while he asks the question, he doesn’t actually care what my GPA was.)
    So it sounds like my company as well as anyone else who uses the Topgrading method might fall into that weirdo category!

  38. Melissa*

    It’s shameful to admit this but I failed 2 semesters in a row. Mind you, I had a 3.5 GPA in high school among being very involved with after-school activities. I was in school full-time and had a part-time job. I was living with my parents at the time and they were in the midst of a horrible divorce. Combine that with elementary school siblings, my grades suffered in the worst form possible. Every time I left class to drive home, I was constantly screamed at to make sure I picked up the kids from their bus stop. It didn’t matter I was driving or if police were around, my parents expected me to pick up. I was told to focus on taking care of my siblings to feed them, assist them with schoolwork, and even taking them to doctor appointments. It eventually got to the point where I was being controlled what work shifts I was allowed to work. My parents went into extreme helicopter parent mode from the stress of the divorce. Eventually, it became too much to bear on a daily basis. I dropped out and quit my job. It took years to move out of that toxic environment. Thankfully, my relationship with my parents drastically improved since moving out. It’s not great but far better than what it was.

    Ironically, hardly any employers asked for my GPA and never asked about my college situation. I never let my horrible GPA stop me from getting work and got crafty to make the best of the situation. Since then, I’ve hardly had an issue finding work and even rose to management (before being laid-off). I have learned so much about myself from working in all types of fields. I know the reality that I’ll never be accepted in any STEM fields despite my interest in them. I wouldn’t mind going back to school once I’m able to afford it.

    In short, no. Most places won’t care about your GPA unless you’re aiming for top companies or a very competitive field.

  39. Jeanne*

    I find it very frustrating that so many online application systems ask for GPA. It’s been over 25 years and I have no idea what my GPA was. But you have to fill it in or not apply and you don’t know if they’re automatically rejecting you based on a lower GPA. You can work for 30 years and not get a job because of a bad year in college.

  40. Hollis*

    The students likely believe this because their parents have drummed into their heads that grades will make or break their future. When I was in high school I had an honest misunderstanding of a deadline that caused my grade in a course to drop a full letter grade. Even at the time, I knew that getting a B+ in one semester of honors English in high school was probably not going to destroy my life, but from the way my parents reacted, you’d have thought I’d killed someone. Now that I’m two years out of college with a job I like, I wish someone had told me sooner that in most fields, most employers care more about your experience outside of school than anything you did for class. Of course, that might not make life any happier for college instructors — students might go from thinking their grade in your class is a matter of life and death to thinking that their grade in your class doesn’t matter at all and therefore they need not make an effort.

  41. Jblaw*

    I had a 3.98 gpa at a tier 1 university…I haven’t found it helped at all in job stuff…nobody cares. Academics would have cared and I always wonder if I should have gone in that direction instead. Super high gpa is often a bad fit for corporate work as you see all the stupid stuff that goes on…and many jobs might not be intellectually challenging.

    Many people making much more money than me at my work went to unknown schools, weak gpas….I’ve found corporate America better suited to people who network and frat type people…where who you know, back stabbing and kissing up gets you ahead…

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