Yall may remember that my little brother graduated High School this year (and my little sister is graduating next year). With back to back graduations and my husbands siblings graduating a couple of years behind mine there has been a lot of chit-chat about grade point average lately. I also do a good amount of college recruiting for a technical company and we basically only consider students with a 3.5 or above, so we are always talking about GPA at work as well.
Ten years ago when I went to college no one told us to have a good GPA, they just told us to get our degree (I guess I didn’t even listen to those instructions). You may think that sounds silly and having a great GPA should be a given, but I think it should be emphasized to students that it’s expected. I cannot begin to count the students I’ve had to talk to at career fairs with less than a 3.0 GPA that seem totally shocked that it is a dis-qualifier (after all you don’t have any work experience, how else am I supposed to gauge what you are capable of?). Some of our kids must be getting the wrong message for this to still be an issue!
At annual conference (#SHRM14) we were so graced with the presence of Tom Friedman (my least favorite general session speaker) and he harped on the idea that average is disappearing. Hopefully he cleared this up during the details, but I kept losing focus. First, it’s mathematically impossible for average to disappear. Average will always exist. Second, we will always be redefining average. Getting a degree (or some technical certification, etc.) used to be encouraged, now it’s required. It’s a tool to prepare you to do a job/enter a career. It is not a tool to set you apart from other applicants anymore, they have a degree too. This doesn’t mean average is disappearing it means expectations are changing. Now to set yourself apart you must have a great GPA along with some other accomplishments. I actually interviewed a candidate this week that is looking for at least 14k more than what he makes now because he believes “his degree should be worth that.” No. It’s not just the degree, it’s the grades, it’s the previous experience and so on. It really irked me that he thought his degree alone was a sufficient explanation.
Maybe I’m too hard on folks.