When I was in high school one of my teachers told me that I was going to go far, not because I was willing to work hard and go above and beyond what was necessary, but because I, according to him, had mastered creating the best outcome with the lowest amount of effort. “You know what you need to do, and what you don’t need to do. Most people just think they need to do everything,” he told me.
He gave me an A, because I did a great job of doing the bare minimum.
I was in class last week when my professor put us into groups with a list of discussion questions. But it was our third to last week of classes and none of us had done the readings, so instead of discussing the questions, we complained about how much homework we had to do.
I don’t remember exactly what sparked it, probably one of us saying that we were debating just not doing an assignment or skipping studying for a final, but one of my groupmates responded with a chuckle and “Hey, C’s get degrees,” to which I laughed and responded with “and I’m pretty lucky that they do.”
While neither of us were serious, it did spark a much more interesting group discussion than whatever is was we were supposed to be talking about could have.
I’m in the group that, while not necessarily encouraging it, agree that C’s do in fact get degrees. At UFV (and most universities), you need to maintain a GPA of 2.0 to graduate — a C average. But the intent behind the statement isn’t that graduating with a C average means you still get handed a piece of paper when you walk across the stage, it means that you can become a successful university graduate, regardless of the grades you received.
I’ll be the first to admit that I won’t be graduating with a 4.0 GPA, and maybe I should, but I don’t really care. I’ve had multiple jobs that I’ve only gotten because of the program I’m in and the education I’ve received so far, and never has an employer asked me what my grades were in the hiring process. Rather than focusing on the marks I was getting, it was about the hands-on experience I gained — which, coincidentally, was the reason my grades were slipping below the A-average I was originally striving for.
This is obviously different if a masters or PhD is in your future plans, but for those of us that are content with getting our bachelor’s and only need that, unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of a reward in striving for the highest grades possible.
So despite the fear of mediocre grades that’s instilled in us since grade school, does our GPA really matter?
It doesn’t look like it. In an article published by the New York Times, Abby Ellin quotes Sheila Curran, president of Curran Career Consulting, who explains that “the more relevant work experience you have in a particular area, the less important grades are.”
This is dependent on the profession but think about it: your doctor could have been the worst in his grad class, and the person teaching your kids could have completed their undergrad just above the 2.0 requirement. But it’s not something you’re going to ask them, and nobody probably has.
So what’s the motivating factor in aiming for a flawless transcript when after graduation you’ll be the only one that cares? Well, it should be a sense of personal accomplishment, wanting to graduate university knowing that you did the best you possibly could have done, and be able to look back knowing that you’ve put in your best effort. Or you could look back knowing that you stuck it to the man and are now a college graduate although you cheated the system and got by with minimal effort. It’s really all in how you look at it.