Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

A perfect GPA and high grades should not be students’ main focus

By The Editorial Board

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

From an early age, success in school is something we are told is of the utmost importance. At first it was simply gold stars stuck on a poster, then it became a chart with pluses and minuses that our parents would see. Eventually, letters on a report card and a small number known as our grade point average marked our success and defined our futures. Or so we thought.

We've been thinking: how important are grades? Our whole lives we've been told over and over again that our grades and our GPA would make or break us; that without good grades, our futures are dim at best. However, we at The Miami Student are deciding to change the conversation. Grades may have been a defining part of our past, but we don't believe grades will define our future.

Before all the parents and first-year students reading this start an angry mob outside our office, allow us to clarify. The Editorial Board thinks a good GPA can be an added bonus on a resume and a mark of personal achievement. Grades were most certainly important in high school when we were applying to colleges, and are still valuable if students are continuing on to graduate school.

However, for the average college student trying to complete a degree in four years and get a job offer after graduation, a high or low GPA is not something to constantly worry about or place on top of a list of priorities.

Why do we attend school? Why do we go to class? Why do we study for exams? The answer to all of these is the same: to get experience, to get connections and to get a job. But our grades and our GPA will not necessarily result in a job offer. According to a poll conducted in 2007 by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, the number one thing employers look for in new college graduates is an ability to work well in teams, especially with those who are different from themselves.

In this same poll, none of the top ten responses were related to high grades or an impressive GPA. Employers were far more concerned with public speaking ability, creativity, problem solving and global understanding.

These are skills and experiences that college classes can give us. The Editorial Board agrees that attending class and working hard to grasp concepts is vital in being able to understand future problems in the workplace. However, a small number on a resume doesn't tell future employers that someone is a confident speaker or an excellent problem solver.

The other things on that resume - the internship experience, on-campus involvement and leadership experience - are what separate an individual from a group. Regardless of good grades or bad grades, employers and interviewers can sense if someone is intelligent and capable based on their application and interview.

So have we been deceived our whole lives? Have we been pulling all-nighters during finals week for nothing? The Miami Student doesn't think so. Although we don't believe our GPAs determine our future success, we do understand the importance of what grades signify. They allow us to strive for something; it's a way to gauge how well we understand the subject matter with an exact number. Grades give us something to be proud of and something to work towards; something to show mom and dad at the end of the year. The motivation it takes to achieve a solid GPA is certainly beneficial for our future careers and experiences.

There are all types of students - from those who focus solely on grades to those who choose to be involved in dozens of organizations and clubs, but have a low GPA because they're so busy. We should celebrate and be proud of every type of student, and not dismiss someone simply because they didn't get all As. There are plenty of people who failed in school and went on to become leaders of their fields, because grades in a classroom did not define their intelligence or ability.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

So instead of being stressed over having a 3.0 instead of 3.5, remind yourself (and your parents) that grades are not who you are. You are the president of an organization, an athlete on the field, and an intern at a top financial company. The world is at your fingertips, and one bad grade isn't going to change that.