Let’s talk GPA.

21 07 2009

Let’s talk about it.  Really.  Let’s just get it out there.

Grade Point Averages.  What the heck are they about?  Do employers care?  Do they not?

When I was in college, I was told:  Employer’s don’t look at your GPA.  I don’t know why they even give you one.  They don’t matter.

Here’s what I know now. That’s not always true. If you’re a new grad applying to jobs, your GPA does matter to many companies, especially the most competitive ones. It’s one of many factors they consider when they are considering you (as a whole package). Here’s why. If you’re a new grad, your GPA can tell an employer that:

  1. You applied yourself the last 4 years in school.
  2. You are possibly intellectually curious.
  3. You were doing other important things that may have affected your GPA.

If you can show that you are all these things without a GPA, then that’s great!  But, the truth is employers do glance at your GPA if you’re a new grad.

Bill Gates (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Bill Gates (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Let’s take Bill Gates, for example.  He does not have a final college GPA, because he dropped out in 1975.  Despite being a college drop out, Bill Gates is the epitome of intellectual curiosity.  As a child, he read the encyclopedia from start to end.  Nearly done with his degree, he said, “I’m over this.  I’ve learned all that I can learn and I need to move on.”  Clearly he won’t have a GPA to offer a “future employer”.  (For curious people, read the WSJ article on his childhood here.)

He moved on to found Microsoft, one of the leading tech companies in the world, valued at $218 billion USD (as of today).  You’d think this man has a sweet life and could just kick up his heels and cruise through life, never touching a book again. FALSE.

Bill Gates is a lifelong learner.  To stay on top of the tech field, he takes an annual retreat (for one month) where he reads all of the academic journals on computing and other interesting topics.  The same things that we moan and groan about having to read for our classes…. Bill Gates reads for leisure (and fun)!

I welcome the Microsofties to add more about this topic.

If I interviewed Bill Gates and said, “Bill, I noticed that you never finished your degree at Harvard.  Tell me what made you decide to leave?”  I bet he would be able to tell me exactly why.

Now, about you.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not trying to be a Bill Gates (You could be, but you should probably start working on your venture, and stop worrying about getting a job!)  The point is, don’t throw away your academics, because you think it doesn’t matter (as Ryan puts it, “Don’t suck in school”). Keep up your grades as much as you can and care about your own success in college.

The REAL point is the learning should never stop. Take extra courses and read books that continue to enhance your knowledge about various subject matters even if you’re out of school.  Take a computer course, buy a book and teach yourself.  Whatever keeps your skills sharp and current (like Bill Gates) is vital for being successful during the interview, in the job, and in your career.

Continue to do well in school and dedicate your life to learning–you’re bright, you’re young, and you should continue to expand your mind!