How much does your GPA really matter after college?
December 12, 2005 6:33 PM   Subscribe

How much does your GPA really matter after college if you don't plan on doing a stint in grad school right away?

Has it stopped you from getting that entry level job? How did you overcome GPA issues? How low is too low? (Ex: 3.0 versus a 2.9 and 3.0 versus a 3.1) Bonus if your experience is related to coming directly out of business school.
posted by tozturk to Work & Money (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That depends on what industry you want to get into. Most of the top management consulting firms, investment banks, financial advisors, etc will have very specific requirements for GPA. Most other industries will not. If you are coming directly out of business school I would say that under a 3.5 will make your job more difficult but not impossible if you are shooting for a top 10 firm. If you are under 3.0 you may have an even harder time. However, there are ways to overcome, it will just take work. Or a friend or relative on the inside. Once you are in, it will never matter again unless you want to go to B school.

If you are not looking at banks/consulting co's, that most likely it will not matter in the least. No one in the history of job interviewing has ever asked me about or commented on my GPA.
posted by spicynuts at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2005

Do you have an internship, co-op, or any relevent work experience under you belt? Because that makes a huge difference in whether your grades matter for entry level hiring.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2005

i was never asked about my gpa in job interviews. (bachelors degree, computer science, programming jobs.)

maybe i was just lucky. if you think your gpa is low, be prepared to explain why it happened.

if it is ever going to be an issue, i would only expect it for your first job. once you have some work experience under your belt, that is generally going to be vastly more interesting and relevant than how you did in school.
posted by jimw at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2005

I spent about 5 years in the financial services industry (investment funds/trust company/big bank) and not once was I asked for my GPA, although I did have co-op experience.

If you're fresh out of school and looking to get experience, you might consider temp/contract work as a way of getting your foot in the door. I find many employers today like to give potential employees a test-run before committing to them permanently--that's how several friends of mine eventually got full-time jobs at some big name companies.
posted by phoenixc at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2005

It's never even come up for me. Three different industry (software) jobs since graduating.
posted by knave at 7:02 PM on December 12, 2005

Best answer: I came out of school with a 2.6 GPA in corporate communications and got a fairly coveted PR gig. I've since moved on to publishing, and my GPA has never ever come up in a job interview. Of course, I had a couple of a strong internships under my belt, but I guess I managed to get those jobs despite the mediocre grades. We'll see how much this hurts when I apply to grad school.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:05 PM on December 12, 2005

Also, the longer you've been out of undergrad, the less of a factor your GPA will play in your grad school admissions--at least that is the case for MBAs. Your GMAT scores, work experience and recommendations will weigh more in your application.
posted by phoenixc at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2005

Never comes up (software trainer / adjunct English instructor). At my last job, I was required to submit full transcripts. Some academic jobs require that. But the transcript is only part of the application. Job experience and interview skills have been far more important to the search committees I've served on.
posted by wheat at 7:20 PM on December 12, 2005

Yes, it absolutely does matter, at least in computer science. A lot of places won't even look at your resume if you're under a certain cutoff. If you're looking at getting a job just out of collage GPA really does matter.

If I'd gotten a 3.2 or higher I probably could have gotten a job right away, and for about $20k more then I am now.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on December 12, 2005

strangely, no one ever asked for my GPA until about 8 years ago, they asked me for both my BS & MS GPAs at this one engineering company that used to be a very large corporation (and was subsequently spunoff). I don't think anyone even looked at the application, but I did get the job.
posted by j at 7:28 PM on December 12, 2005

I meant 8 years into my career, not 8 years ago.
posted by j at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2005

I've always heard 3.0 is the magical cut off for those firms that care. These firms supposedly won't consider an applicant with a <3.0 GPA.
posted by reverendX at 7:30 PM on December 12, 2005

If you're a lawyer GPA is critical for your first job. I would expect the same is true in banking and accounting and probably a number of other industries.

On the other hand, I've been working for the same company since before I had either my BBA or my JD and they've never even asked for any proof that I graduated. This is a Fortune 100 corporation and I'm in a relatively high responsibility position. My point is that a few years out they are much more concerned with results than what you did when you were 18. (Of course the best case is to have the great GPA and follow up with results.)
posted by Carbolic at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2005

I get asked about my GPA all the time in interviews. I've even been asked to bring in my transcript. I think this is because my undergrad was in English. I thought getting an MBA would help, but I have even been asked about my grades from that program. (I had very good grades in both programs.) In my experience, some people, especially engineering types, tend to think English majors (and BAs) are stupid. THey want to make sure they're not getting the 2.0 English major, which, to them, suggests a greater degree of stupidity than a 4.0. In the case of the MBA, I think they're checking to see that it's bona fide or that I'm not lying about my grades for that. At least, this is my guess. I don't know anyone else who's ever been asked about their grades. About seven years ago, one employer even made me bring in my BA so that he could photocopy it and put it in my file. I don't come across as stupid, inarticulate, flaky or uninformed, so I am at a loss as to a real explanation of the circumstances.
posted by acoutu at 7:46 PM on December 12, 2005

I should add that I've been in professional roles since 1993, so it's not as if my experience has helped!
posted by acoutu at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2005

Do you mean "how much does my GPA matter if I'm just coming out of an undergrad business school?"

Or, how important is my GPA for getting into business school or a job?

Because I read it the second way, but I'm not positive that everyone else does?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:15 PM on December 12, 2005

Best answer: I held several significant roles for major companies in my chosen profession (journalism), and not once did the subject of GPA come up. There were many other factors that were considered deal breakers, and grades weren't one of them. As long as you had talent and skill, you could've come in off the street, which was pretty shocking to me at the time. Now, not so much. I wish I had seen it beforehand, otherwise I would've spent less effort in many classes.

When I switched fields, the same was true -- in fact, in my current field, time in college is most often considered time wasted.

I won't completely frown on it, though -- I think GPA is vitally important for many things -- medicine, law, grad schools, flight school, etc.

But rather than raw GPA, the main question to answer is, "What did you do while you were in college, besides the normal book stuff? If anyone works hard, they'll get an A. Now, what else can you do?"

For example, if you want to be a writer ... did you, you know, write stuff?

Computer science degree? What tools and applications did you actually make?

Psychology degree? Tell me about all that extra time spent doing volunteer work at the state hospital.

Your GPA will take up exactly seven character spaces on your resume. What's going to take up the rest of the space on the paper?
posted by frogan at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

I graduated with a CS degree this past May with about a 2.95

My school had a fairly large job fair. Large companies didn't return my attempts to contact them. A woman from a national science lab actually laughed at me when I told her I had "around a 3.0".

I interviewed at a job at a 100-125 person software company and near the end of the interview they grilled me for awhile about my GPA and its breakdown (in-major/out-of-major, etc). I ended up getting a job offer a week later but was really put off by how much they cared about the GPA during the interview, the strict dress code there, etc.

I interviewed a few weeks later at a 20-30 person software company and during the 4 hour interview I was subjected to numerous logic problems and brain teasers but was never asked about my grades or what kind of student I was. I was offered a job on the spot for a few thousand dollars more than the first job, and informed about the lack of a dress code and fun office culture.

There ARE cool employers out there who care more about the applicant than the applicant's GPA.
posted by adamk at 9:00 PM on December 12, 2005

Best answer: Depending on your profession and the potential employer when you're trying to get that first job, some might care. I graduated very near the top of the class. I can honestly say I wish I'd got the just ok degree and allowed myself to spend less time taking things too seriously and studying and more time doing other fun things in college instead. After you've got that first job out of college, nobody cares or asks.

Also, be aware that college performance is a very poor, if not completely useless, predictor of professional ability or career success in the long-term.
posted by normy at 2:12 AM on December 13, 2005

I've never asked a candidate about their GPA, or been asked about mine.

The problem with that gamble is that if it costs you even $5k/yr on your first ever job, you will lose that money for the rest of your career.
posted by I Love Tacos at 4:21 AM on December 13, 2005

Oh, and I'd put an asterisk that some of the grade concerns vary by school. A 2.0 at Yale looks a lot better than a 2.0 at Arizona State.
posted by I Love Tacos at 4:28 AM on December 13, 2005

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