GPA: Those three, spine tingling, little letters that dominate our lives while we go to college. But why? How much do those f*cking letters really tell you about a person? Does a GPA show you someone’s passions? Their strengths? Interests? How about their overall character? Who knows, maybe I’m the crazy one but I think the whole concept of a GPA is probably one of the most overrated and stupidest things to ever be introduced into the educational system.
Now we probably all know someone that is virtually perfect on paper but duller than a burnt out light bulb. That one guy with the argyle sweater or the girl with glasses too big for her face. They have this flawless resume that Warren Buffet himself would be impressed to receive attached to a job application. Good for them, I am sure they have earned their perfect façade so perfectly provided to them by their oh so perfect grades, but lets not forget, grades are only letters, just like a GPA is only a number.
Like my good friend, Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So why is this concept not taken into consideration when it comes to applying for an internship or even a job after graduation? Why is it so praised to only have a GPA above a 3.0 and so frowned upon if you are even .01 away from that standard? If discrimination in others areas of society is considered unjust, why don’t we take a minute to look at an issue staring us right in the face? GPA discrimination. And yes, it is a real thing.
A real thing with the power to crush and crumble your spirit and dreams upon attempting to enter into the professional workforce for a summer as an intern or even as a full time young professional. Next time you go to class, look around, I’m sure you by now already know those few overachieving teacher’s pets I’m talking about, taking up the front rows of lecture halls and striking up debates with professors in the middle of class (like can you not? I’m trying to listen to what the professor has to say about the topic and not your smart ass. Thanks). Those are the ones that will be on every interview list with every company they spoke to during an intern reception and the first ones with offers from the most prestigious companies.
Now I just want to make it clear that this article is not about envy, at all. Hear me out. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Some are amazing at taking tests, and others are extremely lucky guessing answers on tests, while others get such anxiety they forget their name once they get their hands on a Scantron or blue response book. But these letters contributing to this ultimate number that is your GPA, should not be the deciding factor on whether you get called back to an interview or not. When we graduate, what will we all receive? A diploma. And what will be the difference between the diplomas those overachievers, with phenomenal GPA’s, receive and the diplomas those passionate, struggling kids, who stay up all night chugging red bull and espresso cocktails, receive?
Trick question because there will be absolutely no difference at all. There will be no stamp on the bottom that says “John had straight A’s for 4 years” while “David had 7 C’s”. And do you want to know the best part about that? David could be the most passionate and interesting person, willing to do absolutely anything for a chance to work with Company A; probably getting C’s in subjects that did not matter, do not matter and will never matter. Meanwhile, John with his perfect piece of paper, gets David’s dream job just because of his credentials on paper. Does he like the company? Does he care about them? No and no again. What he cares about is how much they offered to pay him and how much complimentary coffee from Starbucks down the street from the office he will be receiving. This same concept applies to students looking for internships.
I guess what I’m trying to express, is my view of the phenomenon that is a GPA and what I think is that it is bullshit. Everyone should have a chance to do what it is that they really want to do, without a number stopping them or pushing them to the top of a pile of resumes on a recruiters desk. Think about it this way, if someone with a GPA of 2.5 even bothers to apply somewhere aware of a preset GPA requirement, they obviously care about what they are applying for. Their 2.5 can have the capability to one day be head of a project, department, office, or even company. How? Simple, it is because they have passion. I believe that a passionate individual, no matter what GPA they have, will beat out any perfect-papered robots who walks in the door with their perfectly memorized interview question answers. When you are passionate, you will pour your heart and soul into your work, instead of making sure you are out of the office door at 5 PM sharp on a Friday night regardless of responsibilities.
I recently spoke with a very wise recruiting manager at an intern reception. This particular company had a minimum GPA requirement of a 3.2 for their highly competitive and acclaimed summer internship. Knowing this, I doubted myself and considered walking away from the eager students waiting in line to speak with him. But for some reason, I didn’t. I waited for my turn and sat down at the table for what I thought was going to be a quick and embarrassing conversation about how I am not good enough. How wrong I was.
This recruiter spoke to me for a good 25 minutes asking me about myself, why I like the company, what I like about my major, why I chose it and what makes me different from the other 500 students in the room while listening intently to everything I had to say, not once mentioning my GPA that was clearly printed in bold, black ink on the crisp resume paper in front of him. He asked me if I had any questions, which is when I decided to bring up my GPA myself, and to my surprise in response this is what he said, “I don’t care about GPA. Yeah it’s an important number to a lot of people, but you know what? It doesn’t mean anything in the real world, and this is the real world. I care about who you are and what you will be willing to do for my company. Passion is more important than any number will ever be.” That is a conversation that I will never forget and his words come floating back to me every time I feel discouraged or feel like I am not good enough.
So whoever you are reading this, I just want you to remember, if you have a good GPA, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart but please make sure you are more than just a perfect piece of paper; and if you have a bad GPA, remember that if you have true passion and know where you want to be and what you want to do with your life, have the courage and confidence to believe, no, KNOW that you will make it, I promise. Keep your head up and go get what you deserve!