Jobs, Student Life January 23, 2020
Is academic success more than grades and GPA?

Is academic success more than grades and GPA?

When you enroll in a bachelor’s or master’s program, your GPA quickly becomes one of the most important numbers to keep track of. 

Your GPA is a number that shows how well you have achieved in your courses. It is designed to measure you (usually on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0) during your studies and to show if your grades were generally high or low. 

This number determines whether you meet the requirements set by the degree program or the university you intend to study at.

However, is the GPA the only measure of academic success? Can the GPA assess everything with regards to educational goals and potential performance at work?

Photo by Weston Eichner 

To answer these questions, let’s look at the basics of the grading system.

How Does a GPA Work?

Professors and lecturers give you an assessment of your progress or success in your course. Your Grade Point Average (GPA) is the same as the one used to assess your success throughout your degree course.

Your GPA is the number that shows what you usually receive in class during the term, semester, and year. Your GPA can increase or decrease throughout your time at university. It can also vary according to how much your overall grades have improved. Or, in some cases, how much you have fallen behind.

Grading Systems and GPA Scores

A GPA is the accumulation of average grades for an entire degree, usually at a college or university level. It is an essential indicator of your success in high school or college. 

A GPA is a quick and straightforward way for employers and postgraduate schools to create an impression of you. A GPA is a clear indicator of your academic performance. It can also demonstrate whether the applicant is intelligent, has good work ethics, or takes his or her role as a student seriously.

A GPA just one variable that plays a role in decision making. The skills that students demonstrate on their CVs through coursework, internships, extracurricular activities, and additional projects are equally important.

However, it is quite confusing whether your GPA matters when you apply for a job. Every company and industry has a different attitude towards your GPA. Some pay special attention to your GPA, while others pay more attention to your work experience.

However, many employers tend to view a strong GPA as a sign that the candidate will be able to handle the pressure. Sixty-seven percent of companies report that they select candidates on a GPA basis.

There are generally accepted methods that universities use to evaluate and assign scores to students. However, to make these grades translatable, i.e., readable for other countries and universities, they often use an averaging system.

How to calculate a GPA?

Each grade you receive, whether in a numbering system, a symbol, or percentage system, corresponds to a quality grade. Almost always, the quality score is on a 4.0 scale between 0 and 4, or a multiple of 4. The highest grade that you can achieve (A, 10, 5, 100%, etc.) is the highest number on the scale.

For example, in the USA, “A” is the highest grade you can get in your classes. The grade “A” is either a four or a multiple of Four (e.g., 8 or 16), depending on the school. After several classes, these grades are summed up and divided by the total credits to get the average from all the courses you have taken. This number will be your GPA. 

Let us use an example to make things clearer. We will assume that you have taken three courses: Biology (2 credits), Mathematics (2 credits), and English (3 credits). Your grades for these subjects:

  • Biology – C (C – 2.0 on the GPA scale).
  • Mathematics – B (B – 3.0 on the GPA scale).
  • English – A (A – 4.0 on GPA scale)

If you multiply your grades by the number of credits in each subject, we will see that you have 4 points in Biology, 6 in Mathematics, and 12 in English. In total, you have 22 points. 

To calculate your GPA, we divide this number of grades by the total number of credits in the subjects you have studied (2+2+3=7). This way, we know that your grade point average is 3.14.

The GPA is usually calculated on an unweighted scale of 0 to 4.0. That means that the complexity of your subjects will not be taken into account. Whether you get an A in an easier class or an A in a more challenging class, it will always be 4.0.

A weighted GPA is a more accurate measure of your academic effort.

They also use a scale from 0 to 5.0 that takes into account the complexity of your subjects. 

For example, a five on an easier class will be graded as 4.0 and 5.0 in a more complex class.

These calculations seem a bit complicated. That’s why it is easier and faster to use a GPA calculator

Why is the GPA so Important?

Throughout your university education, your GPA is the only indicator that shows how well you are doing during your degree. Although you know if you have studied and succeeded in your studies, your GPA provides a broader picture of your overall grades.

When do you need a GPA at college

During your undergraduate or graduate studies, you will be asked to provide your GPA in certain situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Application for a scholarship 
  • Club memberships 
  • Any extracurricular activities
  • Application for a postgraduate course or a master’s degree

As you can see, in many ways, your GPA is key to discovering other exciting things during your studies. When organizations try to make a judgment, they rely on your GPA. Organizations, scholarship committees, clubs, and universities want to have highly professional, hardworking students. A high GPA indicates these qualities.

Why does an employer ask for GPA

The main reason why your employer may ask you for your GPA is to give him an idea of your character, your habits, and what interests you. By looking at the list of all the subjects that you have studied in school with your grades, the employer can see if you are likely to succeed in more “technical” roles, or if you have higher social and communicative competencies.

A GPA is a good indicator for companies to determine how an applicant will perform when faced with a difficult task. It is proof of how well they did when faced with assignments in college. If his grades were mediocre, or worse, he either didn’t have the mental capacity or didn’t want to work and achieve his best.

GPA’s Contribution to Academic Success

Academic success is the ability to complete the required courses in a subject while maintaining the minimum grades and GPA, defined by the college and university. Meeting all these requirements will result in successful graduation from college.

Time management, learning skills, and other qualities are vital elements of your ability to succeed in a sophisticated learning environment.

Most professionals who succeeded in college tend to view a strong GPA as an indicator that a potential employee can handle pressure, learn quickly, and is motivated to succeed. Employees who have proof of continued focus, effort, and patience in achieving their long-term goals are often the best bet to hire.

Is GPA Just a Number?

Academic assessments rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership, and teamwork skills, as well as social, emotional, and political intelligence. 

Students learn information and regurgitate it in exams. However, career success rarely comes down to finding the right answer to a question. It is more about finding the right solution to the problem.

You do not retain the knowledge that you get into your head the night before an exam or test. Most tests do not come close to measuring what they should. They’re hacker tests. Hacking is the standard for any test imposed by authority. The reason why the tests you are given are so bad is that their creators did not make much effort to prevent them from being hacked.

Just because you have a low GPA doesn’t mean that you’re unreasonable, or that you’re not a hardworking student. A low GPA can mean that you have taken more challenging classes. It could also mean that during some semesters, you were too distracted to do your best. 

Now you might have finally come up with a way to learn. Either way, your grade point average is not an accurate indication of your performance or whether you are smart enough to go to college or not.

A high GPA can open up new opportunities for you, but keep in mind that employers are also looking for skills, qualities, and experiences that the GPA does not always master. 

Leadership, special projects, related work, or internship experience, is what will also help you maintain your lead. Make sure that you do not rely only on a high GPA to get you a job.

Photo by Sean Pollock

To sum up

Academic research shows that academic (duh) excellence is not a strong predictor of career success

Research across industries shows that the relationship between academic excellence and performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial in a few years after that. For example, on Google, once employees are two or three years out of university, their grades have nothing to do with their work.

Your grade point average is just a number. Employers and universities know this fact. So when you apply to study or are looking for a job, you will not only have to submit your GPA, you will also have to submit your resume, references, writing samples, and test scores. 

These are other ways to show your achievements and abilities as a student and a possible employee.


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