Nothing angers the high-ranking students (and their teachers) more than this one, but Uncle Josh has some bad news for you, and you’re not going to like it. However, you do need to accept it because it’s true, and I know it’s true because I write the scholarship checks and your teachers don’t. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? OK, here goes:
Your GPA doesn’t really matter that much. If at all.
It’s ok, I’ll give you a minute to let it sink in.
Now, here’s why this is true:
A nationwide grade-inflation epidemic has killed the significance of a high GPA. Thousands of pages have been written on this topic over the last 10 years, and I won’t rehash them all here. But I’ll summarize:
At some point in the recent past, someone decided that the horror of seeing the letter “D” or “F” on a report card did much more long-term damage to a kid than, say, not knowing how to read, write or spell. Lots of parents agreed, and convinced schools that even though Johnny still doesn’t know what a comma is, he still deserves a B in English..
Anyhow, the point is this: Nowadays, just about everyone has a GPA of 3.0 or above. Everyone. So what, you say? Well, that means if everyone has a similar GPA, then nobody’s GPA matters anymore. That’s it, plain and simple – if everyone’s GPA is the same (or close), what’s the point of even looking?
Yes, but: I can hear it already: “Yes, but today’s students are smarter than ever! Classes are more advanced, students are better prepared, and their achievements get more outstanding every day. It makes sense that the GPAs are higher.”
It’s absolutely true about the students being smarter than ever, and the achievements, and all that. The stuff that today’s top students know and master and achieve is just mind-boggling. Considering the latest generation has been pushed harder than ever – and earlier than ever – by parents to achieve great things, makes it no surprise. But that just proves the point: if the best students are even better today than before, then why does everyone look the same on paper? If it weren’t for the grade inflation phenomenon, the top students would stick out more; but as it is, they simply don’t.
And last but not least, the quality of education in our country varies so widely that a 4.0 student (or, in some cases, a 5.0 or higher) at one school might flunk out at another. It also works the other way; a solid B-C student at a rigorous academic high school may have the brains to blow through the system with a 4.0 or better at a weaker school.
Thousands of students apply for our scholarships annually, and almost every one has a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. That’s fine; it’s certainly better than having a GPA of 1.0 or 2.0. But one phenomenon remains the same: when nearly every applicant shares a particular characteristic, then that characteristic becomes unimportant – and that’s the story with GPA. Are we saying not to include your GPA? Not necessarily, especially since many scholarships require you to report it. But don’t dwell on it in your essay, or expect it to carry you to a scholarship victory. It won’t.