Silva: Getting good grades really does matter

Josh Silva

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or editorial board.

Growing up and throughout high school, students are told that good grades are essential to getting into a good university. In college, during the crunch time of every midterm and finals week, the question of how to study and whether it matters comes up in every student’s mind. After all, people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and Steve Jobs dropped out of college and went on to be wildly successful.

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For more risk-averse individuals, it raises the question: “do good grades really matter once you’re in college?” Heated debate and legitimate arguments can be found on both sides. On one hand is the popular argument that a “2.0 student can know more than a 4.0 student. Grades don’t determine intelligence, they test obedience.” The common response is that 2.0 students just say that to make themselves feel better.

Does getting good grades in college actually matter after admission? The answer is yes, and it depends. 

With the exception of certain opportunities such as graduate school, the answer is not always cut and dry. Some level of academic maintenance is required (a 2.0 at CSU) to stay enrolled, but beyond that, does getting good grades in college actually matter after admission? The answer is yes, and it depends. While grades don’t define you, getting good grades in college is worth it, as long as it does not come at the expense of other opportunities.

As it relates to employment, companies often use electronic screeners to filter out interview candidates with a lower GPA. This form of screening is most common in “big companies who specialize in consulting, accounting, engineering, and investment banking.” A USA Today study found that 43 percent of all companies surveyed have a formal GPA threshold, while 63 percent of larger companies had a GPA threshold.

While GPA, in isolation, intrinsically does not matter, what does matter is what it can reflect to employers.

High grades in college also can be reflective of a student with effective discipline, work habits, and time management skills. A high GPA can reflect a potential employee who is organized, motivated to succeed, and works well under pressure.

In a world where perception is often reality, appearing smart with a high GPA can be appealing. However, a 3.5 with leadership and professional experience is overwhelmingly preferred to a 4.0 with no professional experience. Grades matter to the extent that valuable time that could have been spent on professional development or personal health is not sacrificed in the sole pursuit of a high GPA.

According to the USA Today study, “only 25 percent of employers thought that GPA was the first or second most important factor” in job applicants. Though it may make the difference in a close decision between two qualified candidates, a separate study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education placed GPA on third or below on the list of important factors in hiring.

The reason is because grades often do not reflect the full picture of candidates, as grades are commonly inflated. Additionally, a GPA does not reflect a track record of achievement in another area, such as extracurriculars, athletic involvement, and soft skills.

While GPA, in isolation, intrinsically does not matter, what does matter is what it can reflect to employers. A recent graduate trying to get their foot in the door who has built up positive work and time management habits through studying and attending class on a schedule is less likely to struggle in the professional world.

At the end of the day, though studying (often while sleep-deprived and on a ramen diet) can be extremely stressful, the results are worth it.

Josh Silva can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @jsflix.

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