A student’s GPA is important for a couple different reasons. First off, colleges often require undergrads to maintain a minimum GPA to preserve their status as a student. Certain scholarships, Greek life organizations, and sports teams also require a minimum GPA – often a little higher than that of the university. So is your GPA important? Absolutely. But is your GPA something to stress out about? Well, let’s discuss that a little further.
Other than maintaining a certain GPA for whatever it is that you need to maintain a certain GPA for, that little number between 0 and 4 is actually a really personal number, and it means something different to everyone.
For some, GPA is something to strive for, a motivator, and a goal to achieve. Having a certain GPA is a personal accomplishment. It’s a bar to set for personal success. So, for these students, having a perfect four-point-oh might be really important.
But there are plenty of students that are just as happy getting a C in a class as they would be getting an A. And guess what? That C still earns you just as many credits as an A would have. The importance of your GPA is ultimately defined by how you measure your personal success.
Many times, receiving an automatic A in a class that you skated through easily won’t be nearly as satisfying as earning a B+ in a class that challenged you and stretched your abilities. Over the course of your time in college, you will be taking courses that are harder than you anticipated when you registered for them – but pushing through those challenges by working harder than you expected to, and coming out with something lower than a 4.0, might teach you far more than playing it safe would have.
Up until my sophomore year of college, my GPA was a number that I aimed to increase. It helped keep me going. I motivated myself by understanding that the grade that I would have at the end of the semester was going to be worth the stress and hard work that I put into it if I could just perfect my assignments. But I began to resent this approach because I found that it really wasn’t all that healthy, and it wasn’t working for me.
Don’t get me wrong – my hard work paid off. I made Dean’s List and had many opportunities to join different honor societies and other organizations around campus. And I was proud of myself. I’m still proud of myself.
But there were plenty of times that I stayed up all night to finish a paper or study for a test in a class that I wasn’t really passionate about, and it took a toll on my mental and physical health. I would work for hours on end to make something perfect and still get grades that, to me, just weren’t perfect.
Yet still, trading in five points on an exam for two more hours of sleep wouldn’t have been so bad either, because your mental health is something that you have to prioritize – especially in the stressful environment that college provides. At first, I thought anything below my personally set goal of an A would be insufficient, but after a while, those “imperfect grades” were something I really did become okay with. I was fine knowing that I had done the best that I could.
Focus on doing your best, and understand that sometimes your best might not correlate with what you consider perfect. Perfection is relative.
A lot of students see GPA as a number that will be determinate of the rest of their career – that future employers’ eyes will immediately zone in on that number while looking at their resume and ask them why it wasn’t just a little bit higher. But the truth is, many people don’t even include GPA on their resume, and those future employers don’t ask about it. Sure, if you plan on applying to grad schools after college, your GPA is going to be something that admissions is going to look at – but it’s only one factor among many, and it doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as you might think.
There’s a lot of pressure to have a good GPA. Between hearing your peers talk about their straight A’s and Honor Society, to pressure from your parents to get into a good grad school, your GPA is definitely something that you’ll think about and worry about at some point in the next four years. But at the end of the day, your GPA is a number. And all of your different passions, skills, talents, quirks and habits can’t be found in a number.
So if you’re worrying about your GPA, remember that what other people think is not important – the importance of your GPA is determined purely by how you measure your own success.