Walking? Check. Talking? Check. Reading, writing, and doing math? Check. Off to college? Check! Raising children can feel like one daunting challenge after another. Having survived the college admissions process, you (and your kids) may be tempted to coast through the next four years, confident that a degree will buy some measure of job security regardless of GPA. But time once spent answering SAT or getting ACT prep help to gain college admission may not transform into time spent asking, “What grade do I need to get a job after I’m done with college?” And that could be a serious problem.
Here’s why: about 90% of companies will immediately reject candidates with a GPA lower than 3.0. While a candidate with a 3.2 GPA can differentiate him or herself from a candidate with a 3.7 GPA through volunteering, internships, and demonstrable job skills, someone with a 2.8 GPA is unlikely to survive the initial screening process to earn even a cursory look from prospective employers. GPA is never the sole reason a company accepts or rejects a candidate, but it remains one of the top selection criteria that companies use to compare and weed out applicants.
Employers value GPA not only because it is one of the more objective and comparable measures of previous success and future potential; studies have shown that it may be an important predictor of other valuable skills and character traits. One 2017 study found that GPA is also highly correlated with how likely a person is to “engage in voluntary, helpful behavior in the service of co-workers and the organization.” GPA becomes even more important if it can help predict not only cognitive and critical thinking skills but also soft skills such as cooperation and helpfulness.
The widely observable trend of grade inflation gives employers additional motivation to require higher GPAs from candidates. This trend has become more dramatic over time. While C’s were the most commonly awarded grades at colleges in 1960, A’s and then B’s became the most frequent by 2008. If the GPAs of all students have been inflated over time, then employers have every incentive to raise the bar for candidates to increasingly higher levels.As you prepare to send your child off to college, be sure that that academic performance through good study habits, not just textbooks and the right meal plan, is on both of your checklists.