Your GPA Doesn’t Define You

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You’re bound to run into a handful of Rory Gilmore’s while making your way up the educational ladder. You know the type—she’s class president and captain of multiple sports teams all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. The popular choice for valedictorian and accepting the honors of summa cum laude, this student graduates high school with multiple accolades. This overachiever begins four years at Harvard or Princeton and continues to maintain a perfect grade point average. I’m here to tell you not to feel undermined by the type-A folks’ school grade perfection.

Once upon a time, a girl named Kristen relished in the smoothness of her education from kindergarten to high school senior. Oftentimes, she remembers the moment in first grade when an assignment asked her to draw her environment. No other peer knew what to draw, but Kristen did. She sketched out the details of her classroom and proudly handed the drawing back to her teacher. What a day.

From that moment on, Kristen accepted A+ after A+, steadily increasing her GPA. Decorated in high-honors cords, she graduated high school with a chip on her shoulder.

With her nose in the air, Kristen arrived at Florida State University to start college. She courageously welcomed another four years of education. Breezing by in high school, she believed her college years would resemble her past.

Throughout the first semester, Kristen slowly snapped back to reality, realizing college requires much more work than high school. Christmas break arrived, and she nervously checked her grades. Let’s just say ouch. She’d never felt such a feeling of devastation. In her mind, her life was slowly ending.

Breaking the news to her parents, Kristen solemnly swore to work much harder in the spring. January came all too quickly and she began a fresh 12-hour class schedule. Hitting the books more often and devoting more than a day to study for a test, she began to develop a studious persona. Spring semester ended and her grades jumped drastically. Two A’s and two B’s. Kristen believed her studies were looking better.

Ever since that dreadful freshman fall semester, Kristen maintained excellent grades. However, her GPA still falters, even today. GPAs fall so easily, yet remain difficult to rise. Achieving A’s and B’s up until now, she continues to face the ugly, low number that is her grade point average. Not letting a simple detail keep her down, Kristen remained involved and active outside of school with a part-time job and an executive position within her sorority.

That girl is me, but also, that girl (or boy) can just as likely be you. The unleashing of my past probably sounds like an all too familiar story. I failed miserably my freshman year, kicked ass every semester after that all while continuing to strive within my sales associate job and my public relations position for my sorority.

I’m here to tell you GPAs aren’t everything. Glancing at my GPA wouldn’t tell you I excel in multiple aspects of life other than my education. My GPA doesn’t allow you to learn that I courageously ran for president of my sorority. A GPA resembles only a number, that’s all.

The aspect of your education that truly resonates with future employers revolves around the experience you achieved and the lessons you learned. Florida State alumna Christina Palmer explained, “The company that hired me, Techtronic Industries (TTi), didn’t even ask for my GPA…their biggest concern was [my] personality, goals, social skills, etc.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Vice President of Sales and Operations at U.S. Pipe Holly Porter explained, “The letter of the grade or GPA does not determine if they would be a good candidate for any position that I would be looking for.”

A three-digit number won’t land you a job, but the ability to work in group settings, taking initiative and understanding your weaknesses will impress your future employer. “It is the individual that determines their destiny, not the grade…we are looking for employees that are willing to work, looking to strive to be better and make something of themselves,” said Porter.

Regardless of my (still) low GPA, I’ve managed to grow into a mature adult who very soon will carry the ability to succeed in the real world. Mourning over a number only results in a future lack of perseverance. Palmer added, “Looking back I think students should focus on internships and relationships with employers, mentors and teachers…I’ve always been told its not the grades you make, but the hands you shake.”

In the words of T-Swift, shake it off—you’re headed for good things no matter your GPA.

Senior at Florida State University studying Editing, Writing and Media. Lover of good lighting and Nicholas Sparks. Small town girl with a big city mindset.

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