Don’t include your GPA

You read that correctly: I said you can leave your GPA off your resume. Slowly back away from the screen, breathe deeply, calm yourself down, and re-approach the computer at the next paragraph.

Hey, you’re back! Good. Here’s the deal about GPA: As far back as you can remember, classroom grades have been the only standard measure of intelligence, so naturally, we’ve been taught to treat them as important. I won’t rant and rave here about how your GPA predicts absolutely nothing about your intelligence, common sense, ability to succeed, etc – but it’s true. And even if it was ever a good predictor of anything (which it wasn’t), the last 10 years so have seen a new problem arise: grade inflation. Grade inflation can be summed up as follows:

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. Consequently, if you want to get a D or an F in 2005, you pretty much have to shoot your algebra teacher in the back with a rocket launcher while he’s balancing equations and the chalkboard. Either that, or keep Tylenol in your locker. Then you’ll be expelled for sure.

Anyhow, the point is this: Nowadays, just about everyone has a GPA of 3.0 or above. Everyone. So what, you say? Well, it 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.

My advice is to omit your GPA from your resume altogether. I’ve beaten the grade inflation reason to death already, but it’s not the only reason to exclude it. There’s also the fact that a high GPA, influenced by grade inflation or not, indicates very little about your suitability for any particular job. That’s because the things you have to do get an “A” in a college class are completely unlike the things you have to do at a job to be successful. Let’s look at this a little more closely, shall we?

Generally speaking, there are three principal tasks you have to perform in any given college class. They are:1) Tests; 2) Papers & Projects and 3) Showing up. Occasionally you’ll have a class that gives you extra points for discussion or participation, but for the most part, how well you do each of these three things determines your final grade in any particular class. Now, let’s work backward:

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