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What your GPA actually represents

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What your GPA actually represents

Illustration by Katherine Kurz Photo credit: Katherine Kurz

Illustration by Katherine Kurz Photo credit: Katherine Kurz

Illustration by Katherine Kurz Photo credit: Katherine Kurz

Illustration by Katherine Kurz Photo credit: Katherine Kurz


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Most college students attend classes in hopes of passing with a decent grade. In fact, a student’s entire college career is judged almost solely on their cumulative grade point average.

Students are taught to get the best grade possible in a course in order to be considered successful in their academic pursuits. I do not find someone’s GPA to be an actual representation of their intelligence. There are many ways someone can get an A in a class that doesn’t come from just studying hard and understanding the concepts fully and accurately.

There are many factors that contribute to the grade a student is assigned. I know plenty of people who are quite intelligent but have a poor GPA. Sometimes it’s due to rough semesters and classes or personal issues and stretching themselves thin among all their commitments. Sometimes, it’s just being lazy and not putting the full effort into getting a decent grade.

What I do think a GPA is an actual representation of is someone’s work ethic. How much effort a student puts into getting a good grade shows how much they care about their success.

Although some subjects are easier for some than others, putting in effort and staying consistent with class attendance, participation and assignments can and shoud be done by every student. When graduate schools and potiential employers look over transcripts and grade point averages, they are looking to see how committed a student was to their studies.

When an employer or graduate school sees bad grade after bad grade they will assume the candidate did not make school their first priority. A GPA does not show all of the factors that contributed as to why a student got the grade they did, all it shows is what they got.

Passing a class with an A shows that you made that class a priority, you did what was asked of you accurately and sometimes even went above expectations. Each letter grade below that reflects that, as a student, less and less of that one factor was put into that class.

Obvious? I think so. Since GPAs are what are taken into consideration the most when looking at a student’s college career, it is important for students to get the best grade they can. And the more effort you put in, the more you show you care about suceeding in school. Showing you care reflects back on your work ethic and shows employers and graduate schools that you can multitask, either between all your schoolwork or between school and other obligations, and are willing to work hard while in school.

Although a GPA won’t show how intelligent you are, it will show the effort you put into creating a successful end result.

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @kristinacsuc on Twitter.

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