What’s Your College GPA Worth?

More students than ever are enrolling in college these days, but how much they are learning is continually called into question. Recent reports show that students spend only 14 hours a week studying!  Grading has also become more lax: despite the lack of studying, students are more likely to receive an A than any other grade.

Most recently, about 43 percent of all letter grades given were A’s, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988.

A more consumer-oriented approach to higher education often pressures professors into giving students high grades who may not have earned them. After all, the student is paying a lot of money to attend their university. It’s often easier to bump a student up a letter grade than to risk having an confrontation with the student or their parents. Professors who are easy graders are also usually well-liked and get better reviews from students, helping them to achieve tenure.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be that shocking then that only about 6% of employers even consider a college GPA when looking at job applicants (no doubt they have learned it is no predictor of success in the workplace).  Even more troubling, is that employers find that most college graduates in general are not ready for employment (despite their GPA).  According to one study,

students were lacking skills in areas such as organization, leadership and personal finance, as well as street smarts.

How to Get More Out of College

As students begin to become more job-oriented, it’s important for them to prepare themselves for a career while still in college. Unless they plan on attending graduate school, a 4.0 GPA is often not necessary, and not something that should be obtained at the risk of sacrificing career-boosting experiences.

There are things more important than a high GPA.  One is to choose a major that they are passionate about, and that fits their natural abilities. Students are bound to do much better, and willingly study more, in a major that is a good fit for them.

Students should also actively plan ahead for their future career.  While it’s normal to not know for sure what they should do after graduating, there are plenty of resources to help them narrow their focus.  They can visit their career center for guidance, meet with a counselor if possible, and spend as much time as possible trying different things so they know what they like and dislike.

Real work and life experience are invaluable. This can be done by getting a part-time job, completing an internship, volunteering and participating in campus clubs, organizations and activities.

A recent Forbes article states...

Companies want candidates who can make decisions, solve problems, communicate clearly, analyze data and prioritize their work.

Students should be filling out their resume with examples of the above desirable skills, showcasing their actual abilities to work on a team, collaborate, communicate and fulfill other requirements that employers find valuable.