In Indian society, marks are considered sacrosanct, whether it is to secure admission into the desired stream, a good college, or simply for prestige. When you enter college, your percentage scores evolve into a GPA, which is calculated as the average of your academic performance in college.
However, how important is your college GPA in the real world? Should you focus solely on studies instead of enjoying activities during your college years? What if your college GPA score falls low?
Here, I will address all of your concerns.
How Important is Your College GPA?
As famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once said at a college address, “Your grades, whatever is your GPA, rapidly becomes irrelevant in your life. I cannot begin to impress upon you how irrelevant it becomes,” adding, “Because in life, they aren’t going to ask you your GPA. … If a GPA means anything, it’s what you were in that moment — and it so does not define you for the rest of your life.“
In general, of course, a good GPA will be beneficial for you, especially if you are considering further studies or a career in academia or in core technical fields such as engineering, chartered accountancy, medicine, pure sciences, economics, etc. Since occupations in these fields are based on theoretical knowledge your marks will matter more.
A high GPA score shows that you know the course material, are dedicated and responsible and that you can multi-task.
If you are interested in joining the general workforce, applying for an internship or attempting a competitive exam, your GPA score will not matter as much as your skills, training, and attitude will.
What If You Get A Low GPA?
The actual market value of your GPA is based on several parameters, for example, the field of study, your institution, and even the country where you studied. There is no generalized score of what number is considered a ‘good’ GPA, but typically, any score below a translated 60 percent can be considered low.
If you are still in college and you consider yourself at risk for a low GPA, focus yourself into studies, in an attempt to boost your marks.
If your studies are over and you have a low or average GPA, all is not lost and you still have plenty of opportunities, keep in mind these points:
1. Identify Reasons for your Score
Your low GPA may be due to a variety of reasons, and in order to succeed in life, later on, it’s important that you be able to identify why your GPA was low. Once you know the factors that influenced your low marks, you can explain the reasons to your prospective employer or admissions counsellor.
If the subject was difficult for you to understand or if you faced a personal issue, such as health difficulty or family problem, explaining that to recruitment teams will help. Remember to be honest, and present your issue as a solvable problem. For example, if your choice of subjects was incorrect, you can say that studying them helped you identify your main interest areas, in which you can perform well.
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2. Plan Out Your Next Step: More Studying or Job?
Now that you are finished with college, consider what your next step in life is. Do you want to pursue further studies, study a different field, attempt recruitment exams, apply for jobs or launch your own business? Talk to people to understand what the next step for you is. You can also try career counselling, and consider how you want to continue a career path which matches your interests and talents.
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A. Pursuing Further Studies
If you are interested in pursuing further studies, whether in the same field or a different field, a low GPA may cause difficulties. In this case, you can attempt entrance exams such as GMAT or CAT for MBA, or GATE for M.Tech, or other entrance exams based on your interest. You can also take up a short-term course which has easy entrance requirements and score well in that course.
Build your portfolio of work and compile all your projects so you can present them to admissions counsellors as required. Also, meet with your former professors to take their advice and get their referrals.
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B. Pursuing a Job
If you are interested in joining the workforce, there are several methods you can follow. While securing a job from campus placements may be difficult if you have a low GPA, definitely partake in the process. You will gain experience and possibly form contacts that can help you later on. In the workforce, your skills and ability matter more than the scores you have academically.
Reach out to multiple companies, register yourself with job hunt websites such as Naukri.com and build your network on LinkedIn. Have your portfolio ready, which will display your practical skills. You can consider freelancing on websites such as Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com to further add to your portfolio.
Another great option is to pursue government jobs, whether with the Central government or respective state government, as these jobs are generally available after a recruitment test such as the Civil Services exams. A short-term certificate course to enhance your technical skills or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are other good options to pursue to give a boost to your career.
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3. Be Positive!
Of course, scoring low marks is not ideal, but it is also not the end of the world. More than academics, colleges help groom your personality and by participating in activities, you will further develop yourself. Confidence and a positive attitude will help you in your future path, so it’s important not to succumb to worry and depression.
Good marks and a college degree are not always indicators of potential. There are numerous college dropouts who with the right idea and passion became billionaires. Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is a dropout from the illustrious Harvard University who is one of the most successful billionaires in the world. Another famous college dropout is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In India as well, there are numerous examples of people scoring average marks and going on to secure great success. One of the most famous examples is the former president of India, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. In his school years, Dr Kalam had average grades and missed out on his dream of becoming a pilot, only to become even more famous as a scientist and subsequently the president of the nation.
Although your college GPA is important for certain career paths, at the end of the day, it is simply a number which will not mark you for your entire career.
A low GPA may make it a bit more difficult to get a job or admission in further studies directly after college, but at the end of the day, it only matters how much hard work you put in, whether in college or after it. Recruiters will focus on how well you will perform in the job and admissions counsellors will focus on how well you will perform in the course.
To be surer of your career path and how your marks fit into the picture, you can always consult career experts.