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What your GPA Really Means

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It comes as no surprise that your GPA can be a significant factor that employers take into consideration. But what does your GPA really say about you? I would say that the answer is different for adult learners compared to their younger counterparts.


Grade Point Average

What's Your GPA?

For the most part a traditional college student can devote most of their time to attending class, studying, reading, etc. For the non-traditional student this may not be the reality. In addition to school there are priorities such as family, work, and many other responsibilities.


A traditional college student who focuses most of their time and effort should be able to maintain a great GPA if they want to. For those who are trying to balance school with work, family, grocery shopping, paying bills, mowing the grass, and other responsibilities it is virtually impossible to pull the same GPA because of the lack of time to devote to studies. Does that mean the non-traditional student is not as hard working or intelligent as their traditional counter-part? Definitely not!


In fact, a student with a full-time job, two kids, and a wife who pulls a 3.0 is probably a better student than the 18 year old you works 15 hours a week and lives at home who earns a 3.3. This isn’t a bash on younger students because they are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by attending school without all of the barriers. Younger students should be applauded for their efforts and wisdom to attend school while they are still young.


GPA isn’t the accurate measuring stick it used to be because the educational landscape has dramatically changed. Years ago college campuses were filled with students directly out of high school. There was no such thing as a “non-traditional student” or an “adult learner.” Over time the community college and the internet have caused a major demographic shift. In fact, the “non-traditional” student label placed upon adults is becoming a misnomer because the number of adult students is virtually equal to those directly out of high school.


So if your grade point average is not where you would like it to be don’t get down on yourself. Take a moment to look at the entire situation in perspective. It’s probably not because you’ve been lazy or that you don’t care about your education. The fact of the matter is you have a lot on your plate trying to balance all of your responsibilities.


If a potential employer brings up your GPA during an interview, which would probably not happen anyway, it is your time to turn it around and show them how you were able to graduate and obtain your degree despite juggling so many other responsibilities. Employers do not necessarily care about your grade point average. What they care about is your work ethic, faithfulness, and ability to handle adversity. So keep on studying and remember that while your GPA says something about you as a student it does not tell the entire story.


What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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13 Responses to What your GPA Really Means

  1. Ray

    You have a good point regarding the GPA of a full time student vs and adult learner with family obligations. But there is lots of competion out there. Firms aren’t stupid they would gladly pay a kid at 1/2 the price and they have the higher GPA’s. A win win for the firm. Adult learners better be prepared to compete academically in a jobless recovery.

  2. Steven

    I agree about the GPA of persons not necessarily being the uppermost thing in an interview. Myself, I have always strived very hard to attain the highest GPA I can for a personal reaon; I like to do the best I can. I have a 3.94 and am in my third year with UOP, work full time and have family obligations. At 59 years of age maintaining a good GPA is, at some times, difficult but not impossible. I use to obsess about my GPA but now am more flexible as employers seldom are interested, they just want to see the degree. LOL! Reading things like this help remind me to not obsess over the GPA issue and help me stay on track. Thanks for posting it.

  3. James

    There is no psychometric correlation between following directions (the adjusted GPA) and creativity and intelligence. there are many barriers to entry (socio-economic for instance, life circumstance) and GPA is a simple metric for simple minds to comprehend. However, its a simple data issue, many schools, requirements, work-loads, efforts (qualitative and quantitative) are completely different. Statistical ranking is completely biased. a Straight A student in the 99.9 percentile of academics, might only score in the 50th percentile on a standard IQ tests. Rule followers are great, most great scientists, philosophers, artists, statesmen, etc. eventually had to evolve beyond human ranking systems and break the status quo. Goog luck with propogating Corporate and Business controlled mass education, we can all watch how great our society becomes when they all begin to think alike because all our leaders were educated and filtered by a socialist metric system.

  4. James

    I forgot to mention I have two Masters of Science Degrees, working on my Phd in engineering, and have had a 4.0 since undergrad, a father of 2, and work for a Fortune 100.

  5. Delores

    A lot of jobs focus on a person GPA and their social status while in college. Some people join sororities and fraternities just to be in the click. These organizations shouldn’t define your character and capabilities. Having a good GPA is a personal accomplishment for me. Look at the successful people who failed many times, but kept trying until they received success. Put “God” first and anything is “possible”.

  6. Ephraim

    I feel society in general measure its people for their general achievements and when 2 people are compared (all other things being equal) the highest performer gets selected. Unfortunately, Gpa doesn’t measure our wisdom, though process, leadership skills, or probabilities to perform well. It is, however, an indicator of which schools we can attend and what jobs we can seek.

  7. Richard

    Great viewpoint and some really insightful comments. While it is true that today’s employers do not base their hiring decisions solely on one’s GPA, they do take notice of it when glancing through the stack of resumes on the desk. In some cases a relatively high GPA (say a 3.2 or higher) may help take your resume past that first of second cut. Other than showing you are reasonably intelligent, diligent and caring about your education, and that you do well in an academic environment; a high GPA doesn’t answer their main questions or concerns (chiefly, can you do the job better than the other applicants). This is why those with qualified experience and a low GPA get hired over those with extremely high GPAs and little to no qualified experience. For students it is very important to get that experience while in school through work study, internships, job-shadowing, etc. It gets harder once you graduate to find that position in your job field when you feel the breath of all those student loans breathing down your neck. As a recent graduate with an AAS degree with a 3.98 GPA (Valedictorian) and a BS degree with a 3.99 GPA (Salutatorian) I can attest to being passed over more than once for lack of in-field experience. I am not saying getting that first job is impossible with little to no experience, just much more difficult to achieve. So before you graduate do whatever you have to to gain that experience. It will definitely be of far greater help and value than a high GPA. By the way, I am 49 with two grown children, full time job all the way through school to pay the bills, and all the other things one must juggle between work, school, family, relationships, and life. If you want it enough and have the support of your family, gaining a high GPA can be difficult, but it is not impossible for those of us “adult learners” who desire something more that just a paycheck. It is about striving for excellence in all you do, keeping focused on one’s goals, and desiring a better quality of life through educational training and job improvement.

  8. Carlos "Calkcarlos"

    The “reality” or the truth? Well, probably is that the most important step in our material world is to achieve our main goal … the happiness of knowledge and progress.
    in both instances must first recognize what is our purpose in life. As we can contribute and contribute to society in which we live. Working towards these objectives always consider the happiness of our being. Although relative happiness is to look within ourselves and then project it and live it. Someone once said that knowledge is relevant to “power.” I understand that we must constantly seek to acquire formal knowledge as we have life and strength to do so. This knowledge must be based on the principle of the pursuit of truth, how to apply and how they benefit society while achieving material progress.
    I think in the way we have formed has a lot to do with the maturity to understand the issue of the GPA.
    Do not forget that we are formed by at least two major components, matter (body) and energy (our spirit)
    So my recommendation is to live life every day trying to learn something positive, we do not separate from the main goal … to grow both the material and spiritual.
    Currently, I am back in college for my PhD. With a master’s degree in accounting with 4 GPA, with a world full of obligations and responsibilities, at 51 years. And the satisfaction of living to learn, both materially and spiritually …so learn to manage your unlimited needs and desires, with your limited resources, efficiently!

  9. Kelly

    Interesting discussion. What I’ve found to be the case so far is that my GPA did, in fact, weigh heavily in obtaining employment after graduation. It also got me into grad school without taking the GRE. So I feel very fortunate to have had the GPA I did have.
    That being said, there are so many factors behind the GPA that it may not make the criteria it once did. And it’s not just age-related, either. The quality of the instruction counts for a lot. Class size does, indeed, make a difference. Did you get tutoring? How many times did you take that class? Was it online or onsite? Which teaching style suits you? Did you go through a divorce while in school? Death in the family? While a GPA can reflect the results of all these circumstances and more, it doesn’t explain them.
    A GPA makes a nice easy measure for potential employers. But it certainly isn’t the entire story. For that, we need the interview process. And maybe a couple of other ‘measuring sticks’ as well.

  10. Maria

    As a 9th grade dropout with a teenage pregnancy in 1978, I never thought about going to college. In fact, I didn’t need to as my military time spoke volumes to potential employers. When the last of my three children left to join the military, I went through major depression and was offered the opportunity to get my Associates through work. It was a personal goal of mine to have a great GPA because I wanted to be an example for my children and my granddaughters that education is important. I graduated with a GPA of 3.93. During my time at a community college, I served as the President of a Phi Theta Kappa chapter. No, I didn’t join it for being in a click, I did it for the community service that the chapter offered and also for potential scholarships. I received a scholarship for a 4-year college and as a Junior with a 4.0 GPA, I’ve been invited to join Delta Mu Delta. I start in the fall as a senior and my personal goal of a high GPA is still intact. I’m doing it so that I can help others who drop out of school or are a teenage mother to show that anything is possible.
    Opportunities are out there and by staying disciplined, it can be done. I work full-time with a local government where my work is stressful and quite demanding. My plan is to move into management once I get my bachelor’s degree. It I can maintain the 4.0, that would be great, but at least I know that if I take my education serious, than that is an achievement that no one can ever take away from me, almost like my status of being a veteran.

  11. Hassan muhammad sani

    You’re the likemost site i apreciated

  12. Kristy Martinez

    Thank you. I read your messages about “What your GPA really means” and “How to deal with burnout”. This is just what I needed to hear right about now. An adult, nontraditional student needs some encouragement from time to time.

  13. Chandler

    I loved your response Richard. I am in the same circumstances you listed. However as a 43 year old single father raising a teenage boy, working full time and in graduate school tells for itself. My graduate GPA is 3.8 and I just received (2) 4.0 grades in two classes. I’ve worked in my occupation for 20 years now and just want to achieve something to provide for my son on a level of excellence to show him if dad can do it, work full time and raise you then there are no excuses. Very motivational.

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