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Old 2008-12-18, 01:32   Link #1
solomon
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College GPA: Clincher, Dealbreaker, Hype?

Hey Dudes and Dudettes.


I'm sure this has crossed the minds of many a young person, but they always wondered. Do College GPA matter as much as some say they do? Most would contend that it it factors in at least a little bit no matter what you do, but no one can come to any sort of concensus. I suppose it's because of variying life experiences I suppose.

How bout those of you already working? What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 2008-12-18, 02:01   Link #2
Mystique
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You may also wanna break down the American education system for the minority of the members of Animesuki.
While we can't participate in it if we live, study outside of the US, it's always interesting to lurk/read on social matters outside of our own.
(well, least for me it is, but I've given up on the US election thread or other US dominated threads for now)
I often hear things like SAT scores and grade systems (we go by years and age, so grade 7 means nothing to me), but most of it flies over my head when there's no explaination to how they affect a student in America.

for starters:
GPA (iirc) = Grade Point Average
Something gained via high school, or only at Uni which is then used to apply for full time jobs after graduation?
And out of my own curiosity, how is it calculated anways?
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Old 2008-12-18, 02:47   Link #3
arenine
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Generally, college GPA isn't all the important when you take your whole life into context. It only really matters during your college years and one or two years after you graduate. Here are some things which I think college GPA matters:

1. Colleges use your GPA to determine when to put people into academic probation and ultimately explusion. (gotta keep it above a 2.0)
2. When you want to apply to graduate school, they will take your GPA into consideration.
3. Many car insurance companies will give you discounts if you have a decent GPA (usually 3.0+)
4. When you apply to your first job, employers need to differentiate the thousands of new graduates with little to no work experience.
5. And most importantly, bragging rights.

After you've worked for a while (1 to 2 years), your college GPA practically means nothing except a reminder of how much you partied (or lack thereof) during your college days.
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:03   Link #4
Tommy
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I'm guessing here, but if you have a 4.0 throughout highschool and college aren't academic scholarships pretty much a shoe in?
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:11   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystique View Post
Something gained via high school, or only at Uni which is then used to apply for full time jobs after graduation?
And out of my own curiosity, how is it calculated anways?
GPA is for high school and college (Americans say college, not university).
Usually GPA's are calculated like this: each course letter grade is given a numerical value according to the below chart and your GPA is the average of all your course grades.

A - 4
B - 3
C - 2
D - 1
F - 0

Some schools which use pluses and minuses add or subtract .3 points or so, so a B+ would be a 3.3 and a C- would be a 1.7.
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:26   Link #6
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As far as my experience goes having gone to the University of California, San Diego, grades, GPAs, and scores only mean something when trying to get into a future school. Most employers I've spoken to after college are not as concerned with numerical figures as they are with personal experience, attitude, and commitment that you overlay on your resume. You ask is one's GPA the end all and be all of where you get in life? The simple answer is no.

It's important to understand that, a GPA is still parallel to, say, your criminal or driving record. How it improves or declines during the course of the years says something about who you are, and that contributes to some of the jobs you're seeking or the graduate schools you'll be applying. The audits will be looking.

From a source I've read, it is an understanding that the average person who maintain 3.6 or above (the high A's) consistantly are the hard workers, meticulous, and feel that every little bit counts. They're good with numbers, good with detail, but they may sacrifice a lot to make or maintain that grade - friends, social skills, you name it. But to some employers, that won't matter, cuz they're looking for reliability, people who can put in extra effort for the company.

Others will argue that the A students are too bookwormish, too by-the-rules for their liking, and that is where the 3.0-3.6 group get their shine. People who average upper B's or lower A's have a commitment to education, but had conflicts with the curriculum either institutionally or personally. Examples: maybe you have a different approach to a concept taught by your professor, or maybe you don't understand it fully yet. Maybe your club activities got in the way of acing that test. Maybe a day out surfing with your friends meant a lot to you. Whatever the case, this area of students fall short of perfection, but this is the range that make some of the best candidates: there is a optimal pool for knowledge in you, but you have found time for yourself as well, and there is always room for growth within you.

And of course, and I repeat, this depends largely on what you are trying to shoot for. Some like engineering and the sciences will have a higher bias towards the numbers simply because of their prestigious imperatives. Others like me in the film industry will have those that employ them shove it out the door because, as they'll tell you, "there's nothing you can't learn in graduate school that you could have learned in the field". Grades are important, but your experience means more.

I was engulfed in some personal distractions for a while in college, going to a C average at my worst. And when I realized it, I made the commitment to school again, never missing a class for the major I wanted to learn, not being lazy, going to the library. Yeah, hanging with my collegemates was important, but I set'm aside for the sake of the grade. The result was I graduated a quarter early with a B+ average. Now what does this tell others? I made some poor choices at the beginning but I rebounded and rebounded well. Now that speaks as loudly as anyone with an A to show for it.

To add, I have a cousin who dropped out of college and has found the job and lifestyle she's been looking for. She worked hard for it, yes, sometimes going from job to job in a very short time span, without a grade to show for it. But that's accumulated experience each and every time. Now she's landed the big one. She's in fashion, making the money she's been dreaming of and loving it. What does that say about GPAs?

The answer: she's told me having a GPA on her first resume would've made job hunting a lot easier. But it won't kill you to not have one.
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:28   Link #7
arenine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumn Demon View Post
GPA is for high school and college (Americans say college, not university).
Usually GPA's are calculated like this: each course letter grade is given a numerical value according to the below chart and your GPA is the average of all your course grades.

A - 4
B - 3
C - 2
D - 1
F - 0

Some schools which use pluses and minuses add or subtract .3 points or so, so a B+ would be a 3.3 and a C- would be a 1.7.
To add to that, A+ is the same as an A and there is no F+ or F-. Also, colleges calculate GPA a little differently, they take the course credit into account and use +/- .3. So GPA = sum( grade value * credits) / total credits.

Example:
Math 4 credits 4.00
Physics 5 credits 3.30
Chemistry 5 credits 2.70

GPA = (4*4.00 + 5 *3.30 + 5 * 2.70) / 14
GPA = 3.29
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:35   Link #8
Shadow Kira01
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GPA only matters before entering college and before graduating from a college. It has no effect to your future career or life though. On the contrary, it does have an effect. If you have a low GPA and don't graduate, you will end up working at a career that is not your choice.
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:36   Link #9
Aoie_Emesai
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I base this on no actual data ok?

From my experience, i've yet to discover my GPA to do anything for me other than grant me scholoship or state/government fundings for my college tutition.

From what Zaris said, I would also agree on it.(most of it)

ps: I have 3.5 GPA by the way (Trig sucks >.<)
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:40   Link #10
LynnieS
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When I was just graduating from university, the GPA is always being considered for the top-tier jobs. Read: investment banking and consulting.

Having a low overall GPA will bar you from getting even that first interview, but once you get past that "gatekeeper", it's normally your previous work and educational (class and extracurricular) experiences and presentation that determine if you make it further in the hiring process.

After the first job (and unless you leave very quickly, IMHO), the GPA becomes less important. Replacing it is your work experience, and companies will ask you in interviews how your past work experiences can make you a good hire over someone else. If you get something like a "summa cum laude", you definitely should be putting it into your CV, but having been a hiring manager in different companies, I have to say that I stop paying attention to these - and GPAs - very quickly. Unless it is for a graduate training program, there isn't much point, IMHO, to review them. What's more important, I think, is the project work and/or writing (for non-tech/etc. majors) that show that you actually know how to apply what you taught - even in strictly controlled projects - than can spit back the book's info in exams.

Schools have different educational curricula, and you can also buff your GPA by taking easier classes, say. If you are also looking at people who went to schools outside of the U.S., then their CVs might not even have GPAs - or have numbers that don't translate well.
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Old 2008-12-18, 03:47   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnieS View Post
When I was just graduating from university, the GPA is always being considered for the top-tier jobs. Read: investment banking and consulting.

Having a low overall GPA will bar you from getting even that first interview, but once you get past that "gatekeeper", it's normally your previous work and educational (class and extracurricular) experiences and presentation that determine if you make it further in the hiring process.

After the first job (and unless you leave very quickly, IMHO), the GPA becomes less important. Replacing it is your work experience, and companies will ask you in interviews how your past work experiences can make you a good hire over someone else. If you get something like a "summa cum laude", you definitely should be putting it into your CV, but having been a hiring manager in different companies, I have to say that I stop paying attention to these - and GPAs - very quickly. Unless it is for a graduate training program, there isn't much point, IMHO, to review them. What's more important, I think, is the project work and/or writing (for non-tech/etc. majors) that show that you actually know how to apply what you taught - even in strictly controlled projects - than can spit back the book's info in exams.

Schools have different educational curricula, and you can also buff your GPA by taking easier classes, say. If you are also looking at people who went to schools outside of the U.S., then their CVs might not even have GPAs - or have numbers that don't translate well.
I've always been bothered by "grades reflect how a person will conduct in the real working environment" bullcrap.

I have plenty of intelligent friends who sure doesn't act like they would have a higher intelligence of any sort until you start a conservation with them.

It only bothers me because when you judge someone first and loosely by someones grade in school.

But I understand that me and you aren't the only one seeking this position, don't need to state that out for me.
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Old 2008-12-18, 04:00   Link #12
LynnieS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aoie_Emesai View Post
I've always been bothered by "grades reflect how a person will conduct in the real working environment" bullcrap.

I have plenty of intelligent friends who sure doesn't act like they would have a higher intelligence of any sort until you start a conservation with them.

It only bothers me because when you judge someone first and loosely by someones grade in school.

But I understand that me and you aren't the only one seeking this position, don't need to state that out for me.
The way that it had been explained to me is that:

1. Companies can only hire N number of people.
2. Companies can only send M number of interviewers.
3. Each interviewer can only see X number of candidates per day, esp. if you want each candidate to have enough time to present him- or herself.
4. Each school might have Y number of graduating students who are looking to interview for those N number of jobs.

You can't interview everyone who applies, esp. if the company is "popular", and given the number of students that can graduate each year, supply outweighs demand. GPA is a way to normalize that supply population to cut down on the number of CVs that a company has to review.

By the time you start looking for that second, third or N-th job, you are usually dealing with recruiters who will review your CV to see if there is anything in their databases that match your qualifications. Grades in this level become a non-issue usually, and become something like "5+ years of experience in this field", "having an advanced degree in mathematics" and etc.
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Old 2008-12-18, 06:17   Link #13
Thingle
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College GPA matters when you plan on entering graduate school. They usually set minimums for admission. I have no problems with mine though.
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Old 2008-12-18, 13:01   Link #14
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In the USA, its one of the PRIMARY sorters for "in" and "not in", and it becomes more critical in the upper-tier colleges.

If you *EVER* plan on entering graduate school, your college GPA will matter - no matter how many decades have passed. When applying for graduate school at age 50, my college GPA from 1981 *mattered* (it was just under 3.0, BSEE from a top tier school) and it lost me admission to several master's programs before I found one. Never mind those 25 years in areas of engineering, math, and physics.
I was seriously considering a second BS (and an extra two years) just to correct that problem.
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Old 2008-12-18, 13:38   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aoie_Emesai View Post
It only bothers me because when you judge someone first and loosely by someones grade in school.
On the contrary, you can look at things from a different angle...

Especially in the US, society favours individuals with great "people skills" and the ability to think outside the box. These abilities can shine through in interviews and letters of reference/recommendation. Rightly so, of course, but the playing field must somehow be balanced so that the "nerds" who are good at cramming stuff into their heads but utterly lacking elsewhere have a shot at success. That very first job application after college is the only time they've got an advantage thanks to their GPA

Personally, I'm enormously relieved at having secured a profession that won't require me to constantly engage in a popularity contest. As long as I get that bedside manner down...
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Old 2008-12-18, 14:16   Link #16
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Originally Posted by arenine View Post
3. Many car insurance companies will give you discounts if you have a decent GPA (usually 3.0+)
lol whut
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Old 2008-12-18, 14:46   Link #17
cheyannew
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Seeing as I never bothered with college up till next year when I start on my BA/Master's/Phd, I can't honestly say my GPA matters; no one @ work even KNOWS it unless I tell them.

Now if I go to intern at a Psychology office as part of my degree work, THEN my college GPA *MIGHT* matter, but I suspect they're more interested in you knowing your stuff and having the right attitude than some numbers on a piece of paper.
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Old 2008-12-18, 15:58   Link #18
james0246
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Just to add some clarification for college seniors seeking to apply to grad school, the grades for your Major generally matter more than the grades outside of your major field of study (GRE and other such tests do not matter that much unless you are getting into a field of Science, otherwise Hummanities people need not worry that much (still try for at least a cum. 1000, or whatever the Average currently is for the GRE)). So, if you have , for example, an Advertising Major, then you had better have aced any of the classes dealing with sociology, psychology, rhetoric, logic, English (overall), etc, but if you had less than adequate grades in, say, astronomy or other Science classes, then you can explain in your personal essay that you have a 4.0 in your major, but only a 2.5 outside of your major.

This may seem like a silly distinction, but it can make a difference during the application process.
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Old 2008-12-18, 16:04   Link #19
Aoie_Emesai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnieS View Post
The way that it had been explained to me is that:

1. Companies can only hire N number of people.
2. Companies can only send M number of interviewers.
3. Each interviewer can only see X number of candidates per day, esp. if you want each candidate to have enough time to present him- or herself.
4. Each school might have Y number of graduating students who are looking to interview for those N number of jobs.

You can't interview everyone who applies, esp. if the company is "popular", and given the number of students that can graduate each year, supply outweighs demand. GPA is a way to normalize that supply population to cut down on the number of CVs that a company has to review.

By the time you start looking for that second, third or N-th job, you are usually dealing with recruiters who will review your CV to see if there is anything in their databases that match your qualifications. Grades in this level become a non-issue usually, and become something like "5+ years of experience in this field", "having an advanced degree in mathematics" and etc.
I know. GPA and resumes are a good source to explain that person in a single paper for employers to to decided on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukinokesshou View Post
On the contrary, you can look at things from a different angle...

Especially in the US, society favours individuals with great "people skills" and the ability to think outside the box. These abilities can shine through in interviews and letters of reference/recommendation. Rightly so, of course, but the playing field must somehow be balanced so that the "nerds" who are good at cramming stuff into their heads but utterly lacking elsewhere have a shot at success. That very first job application after college is the only time they've got an advantage thanks to their GPA

Personally, I'm enormously relieved at having secured a profession that won't require me to constantly engage in a popularity contest. As long as I get that bedside manner down...
For my profession, people skills are pretty much a must along with good to great communication skills. I doubt i would fail in either category, but it sure is hard to speak clearly to anyone I don't know, lol ^^
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Old 2008-12-18, 21:30   Link #20
Ledgem
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It depends on the context and also on the person evaluating you.

To take it further, if you're thinking about how it impacts your work, then it depends on the job. In engineering we were told that your GPA didn't matter for too much (although being below certain numbers could keep you out of internship opportunities). On the other hand, the programmers (computer science) would have some issues if they had poor grades - rumors say that nNVidia will not look at an application if the GPA isn't near 4.0, and a friend of mine had to explain why he received a "C" in a class when he was interviewing with Google. (Google took him.)

I've heard mixed things from employers. Some claim that grades represent a person's committment to work through things that they may find pointless - a valuable asset. Others claim that grades do not reflect on a person, and that work experience (and recommendations) count for more. I can't say what the majority think, but it's clear that having good grades won't hurt you.

In academia at the undergraduate level your grades matter, but there are other considerations. What school you go to tends to influence how impressive your GPA is. A 4.0 from a small, largely unknown school will not have as much of an impact as a 4.0 from an ivy league school, for example (which is slightly ironic, given that it's been shown many ivy league schools engage in GPA inflation. On the other hand, having taken summer classes at a relatively small school and comparing it with my university, the classes were much easier - or maybe the professors were just better - so there may be some merit to that idea.) Unfortunately, it seems rare to find people from an admissions committee who understand the other factor, which is course of study. I mean no offense to the English and History majors out there, but a 4.0 there is not as impressive as a 4.0 in Engineering or some of the sciences. Many admissions committees are merely responsible for showing that "the numbers of our admitted students just keep going up - we're more competitive now!" which explains why they're more interested in the number than in the coursework itself.

Going back to your question and title of the thread, GPA is overhyped in many situations, but it's a deal-breaker in many aspects of progressing through academia. Of course, it doesn't have to be. Experience and charisma count as well. (A bit of luck also helps - knowing the right people in the right places and contacting them at the right times.) People like numbers because it presents a one-sided view of people, which makes it easier to evaluate them. Life is much more variable than that, though, and it shines through quite frequently.

I'm currently in a graduate program in the biological sciences, and the academic environment does change pretty drastically.
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