Hard Classes vs. Spotless GPA: What’s Better?

You guys seem to like Counselor Buddy, so today you get an extra dose of her! Like me, C-Buddy has acquired over the years a pretty long list of things that students could be doing better to help themselves get into college, and also to win scholarships.

Unlike me, however, C-Buddy works face-to-face with high school students every day (which may be why she has learned to censor all the R-rated language from her posts, also unlike me). So I’ll try to bring her in as often as she can spare the time, because she brings another important perspective to the table about the things you (students) are doing and knows a lot of things that you can improve upon.

Anyhow, here’s Counselor Buddy today on one of my favorite subjects, although I don’t think she knew it was one of my favorites when she sent it to me.

Today is one of those days, so I’m shooting this quick. 🙂

My foolish obsession with GPA eventually crushed the career as a French mime that I was destined to enjoy.

Counselor Buddy comes through in a pinch, even when she’s busy shepherding young people through the college-application process. Or calling Social Services on rotten parents. Or whatever she does all day.

This ties in to students being too preoccupied with GPAs.

Oh God, don’t get me started.

I routinely get students each semester that want to drop a solid, rigorous college-prep class because they are pulling a C and do not want the class to drop their GPA.

You’re going to get me started, aren’t you?

I explain (usually to deaf ears) that colleges and scholarship committees would much rather see tough courses on a transcript with a C versus some fluff class, such as Weights or Student Aide, with an A.

That is 100% right. If it were possible to be MORE than 100% right, then that’s the percentage of right you would be, C-Buddy.

They don’t seem to understand that despite the possible lower grade and lower GPA, the material they will learn in the class is much more valuable to them in the long run.

Yeah, there are two issues in that sentence. 1) The issue of a transcript showing more rigorous courses, and 2) The whole, bigger idea of actually learning useful information that will help you later on. Novel, eh?

Anyhow, not sure if that can be worked into anything, but that’s
another misstep I see a lot of seniors take. 🙂

Oh, c’mon, I once did an entire post on a guy who wants to kill me with bits of ground-up glass. You think I can’t work this in?

Yes, if you’ve been around this site very long, you know I’ve written about this several times, and it’s the topic about which I get the most hate mail, always from students with super-high GPAs. This is despite how many times I explain and clarify that high GPAs aren’t bad or meaningless — but they just don’t mean EVERYTHING, and they aren’t as important to decision-makers as a lot of students think.

This issue resonates with me for a few reasons:

1) As a scholarship judge for many years now, I know that high GPAs in and of themselves are not terribly impressive to scholarship committees. Too many applicants have very high GPAs to make that high number carry as much weight as it used to. Now, again, for the gazillionth time to head off the next round of butt-hurt 4.0 students — YES, you should be proud of your GPA, and NO, it’s not meaningless, and YES, I know how hard you worked for it. It just doesn’t mean EVERYTHING. A high GPA alone won’t win you much these days.

2) Again, as a scholarship judge, take this to the bank: Judges are MUCH more impressed by someone who takes the hardest courses they can take and gets B’s and C’s than they are by someone who takes easier courses and gets A’s. Students who take hard courses are seen as aggressive kids who want to learn as much as they can, grades be damned. Risk-takers, if you will.

On the other hand, if you skate by with A’s as a student aide for your favorite sports coach, then — well, you’re not going to be seen in the same light. Does that mean you’re damned to dig ditches for the rest of your life if you’re a student aide? No, of course not — but academically speaking, you’re just not as solid on paper as the student who chooses a tough academic course instead.

3) I’m not a guy who lives life with many regrets — I’m OK even with most of my phenomenal screwups. You know, the butterfly effect and all. But one of the things I truly DO regret in life is doing exactly what C-Buddy mentioned above — dropping a course because it was going to hurt my GPA. Except I did it in college. And I didn’t just drop a course — I dropped an entire MINOR. I was a double minor in Spanish and French when I was an undergrad, and I was struggling in French 3 and falling behind a bit. Not falling behind to the point where I was going to fail — just falling behind to where I wasn’t going to get an A.

And so, in one of the truly dumbest moves I’ve ever made as an adult human being, I dropped the course AND the minor. All because I was vain asshole who wanted desperately to keep the 4.0 I had going in college. I can actually feel physical pain seeping out of my fingertips as I type this. My fingertips are actually perceiving how stupid I was and are trying to revolt against my body for that display of stupidity back in 1994.

I actually love foreign languages, to this day. I study them still. My children study them, and they’re only 4 and 5 years old. And I absolutely BLEW a chance to be a fluent French speaker because of GPA-mania. I went to Paris on my honeymoon with my wife, and I had to order pizza, French fries and Diet Coke (un Coca Light, s’il vous plait!) everywhere I went because my French skills had degenerated so badly.

Look, man, I can’t say this any more strongly: your GPA is just ONE factor for getting into college. It can’t be terrible because schools are still forcing themselves to look at it and give it some degree of weight in the admissions process, but really, if you’re above the threshhold for the school you want to attend, then let it go and focus on actually learning and understanding the material. (You may find that doing this actually enables you to come out with better grades, but I digress).

If you’re already in college and you’re wanting to go to grad school, then see the above paragraph. You need good grades there, too, because grades are an indicator of how well you write papers and take tests, and there will be more of those in grad school, and they’ll be harder. So if your’e going to grad school, do try and keep your GPA as high as you can.

If you’re already in college and do NOT want to go to grad school, then please, take the advice I gave above and multiply it by 10,000. Stop caring about the holy grail of your GPA right. This. Minute. Instead, focus on learning the material in your courses and as much about the industry you want to work in as you possibly can.

Knowledge and experience are what employers like to see, and neither of those is accurately measured by GPA. I don’t want this to slide into a work-and-jobs discussion that’s a more natural fit over on my other site, GiveMeaResume.com, but just understand that once you’ve been admitted to your last academic program, then there are very few people left in the world who are ever going to care about your GPA again.

Thanks again to C-Buddy for the posting help. I gleefully await your comments below. Have a great day. Go Phoenix Coyotes tonight in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings!!

85 thoughts on “Hard Classes vs. Spotless GPA: What’s Better?”

  1. As a nontraditional student, I see this everyday. I want the harder class 1)because I will learn something 2) I’m not in the same situation educationally as a traditional student still in or just out of High school and 3) The people that award nontrad students scholarships, seem to look at what you you are doing as a whole rather than a narrow slice of it. Do I have a low GPA? No, but I have a healthy one and I am still sane by the end of the semester!

  2. This is all true. In highschool I was the over-achieving scholar-athlete who was GPA and AP classes crazed so that I could get into a good school with some scholarship money. I am now a graduating senior at a highly respected private engineering school. I am by no means the ‘smartest kid in school’, I struggled through all of the hard classes, studied countless hours just so that I can get a decent grade on my exams. I am not graduating with some crazy 4.0 GPA, however, I have had some fantastic internships working my a** off every summer to learn how to be a REAL engineer. I just took a job offer with the company that I have interned with for the last three years that is going to pay me tens of thousands more annually than some of my ‘top of the class’ colleagues who have spent the majority of their career getting that 4.0 and participating in all sorts of activities like greek life, student government, etc. I’m sure that’s a run on but hey, I’m an engineer, not an english major.

    Not that there is anything wrong with any of that, but its going to feel real good to cash those 80K per year paychecks, living with mom, not paying rent, at a ripe young age of 23 🙂 Oh yeah, and doing what I love while being respected by my co-workers for my knowledge and expertise on the projects I am working on.

    Honestly, why do we even go to college and spend all that time and effort educating ourselves if its not to get a great paying career out of it? I can think of hundreds of more fun things to do with my free time than go to school.

  3. I don’t know. My daughter took every honors and AP class available, ended up with a weighted 4.0 and still got turned down from every school she wanted to attend. I think GPA is especially important when you are applying to a UC (University of California) school. I think they are all about the GPA, and they only accept 8 semesters of honors or AP weighting. My daughter re-appied as a transfer the next year with a 4.0 as a college freshman and got into the ones she didn’t the year before. She’s now at UC Davis.

    1. I think it’s really not all about GPA because, like this post has mentioned above, they not only look at GPA but also extracurricular activities. So, someone can have a high GPA of 4.0 with no experiences of outside-of-school activities and get rejected, while someone with perhaps a 3.5 GPA with many heavy extracurricular activities can get accepted. In today’s society, there are far too many students who have high GPA and how can scholarship judges just pick any random one of them? It’s quality over quantity. They expect students to enjoy life and not to be focused on school so much because it’s only going to ruin their life.

    2. Yashwant Parmar

      I’m currently a high-school sophomore. I have a weighted 4.0 (might be higher, dunno, don’t care). Now, I got an 89% in Chemistry Honors. You’d think I’d be annoyed that my teacher did not round.

      I do not care.

      I am currently in the process of setting up a volunteer music school at a local YMCA, I have played the violin for 7 years, I play soccer (I plan on going out for the school team junior and senior years), I do Speech & Debate, I did art for several years, I will be on the school Badminton team, I got a 206 on the PSAT w/o studying (sucks that I’m a sophomore and can’t use it), blah blah blah

      Yeah, the 4.0 is helpful. But it’s the rest of the stuff that’s going to make or break my apps. A 4.0 isn’t necessary, but it’s helpful. But a 4.0 alone isn’t nearly good enough.

  4. How does a honors class compare to a non honors class? For instance – Honors Geometry (listed on the transcript as ***Geometry) vs Geometry. You earn a ‘C’ in honors and an ‘A’ in regular Geometry. Is it worth taking the honors core classes.

    1. Yashwant Parmar

      At my school, Honors Geometry isn’t weighted by the UCs. You can go to the UC website(s) to see if your Geo H is, but I’d assume no.

      That being said: A ‘C’ in honors isn’t bad. A ‘B’ would be better

  5. I disagree!!! Taking hard science courses resulted in 5 years of student loans and 1 year of scholarships.
    As a nontraditional student, I agree that nobody outside Academia cares about your GPA. However, it is a different story while you are in school.

  6. I really think this is a BS article. When you apply to highly ranked colleges and you have a 2.5 GPA (B/C average) your application goes in the trash! Colleges don’t care that you got Cs because you took harder classes. They want you to get As in those classes too. You take classes based on your own personal level. If you do 200 level work, you don’t need to take 400 level classes. And if you do 400 level work, you don’t need to take 200 level classes. If you are making a C in a class, obviously it is too hard for you, and that is reflected in your GPA

    Yes, it sucks that GPA matters so much, but unless you go to a nontraditional school, there is nothing you can do about.

    So High School students, if you take hard classes, get As in those classes. Don’t settle for Bs and Cs because you think colleges will see that your a hard-worker. All they will see is someone who can’t perform in college level work. Its better to take lower level classes and have colleges not be sure how you will perform in college, than take and have them be positive that you can’t.

    -College student (with As and easy and hard courses)

    1. Yashwant Parmar

      Indeed, a 2.5 is just not good enough. However, a 3.0 unweighted could be good enough, depending on extra-curricular.

      Getting B’s in honors/AP classes is just as good as getting A’s in normal classes for GPA, but it shows that you’re willing to try.

      Also, many colleges used to go solely on GPA and SAT. That is now being changed (which is great).

      By the way, I have a 4.0 weighted (might be higher, grades are still being entered), and just got back the PSAT, on which I got a 206 (top 1% compared to other sophomores, top 3% compared to juniors). I did not study. So I’m not just defending bad grades because I feel sorry for myself.

    2. Well think about highly ranked schools like the Ivy leagues. In 2010-11, Princeton got over 27,000 applicants and there are thousands among those who are 3.5-4.0 students, valedictorian, AP Students etc.
      So when they see a student who has a 2.5, took hard, rigorous classes and then see that they have another 50 applications with 3.95’s who got A’s in AP Classes then who do you think wins out? Highly ranked schools are extremely competitive so that is not something you should base your opinion whether a GPA matters or not on. Even students who have 4.0’s get turned away at highly ranked schools so it just goes to show that everything is taken into account.

  7. I love your advice. I’m a senior in high school this year and when I was a junior I lost my 4.0 second semester in pre-calc. I was devastated but soon got over it. This year as a senior I have two more A- ‘s which aren’t bad as seeing I got them in honors calculus and honors literature. That advice makes me feel a lot better cause I do work really hard and getting a lower grade doesn’t feel bad anymore because I know I tried my best. Also, I want to go to med-school eventually, so should my GPA be really really good after undergrad? or still do my best even if the grades aren’t top notch? You’re philosophy on the entire GPA versus hard classes is spot on though.

  8. Counselor Buddy

    Bree: I think you hit the nail on the head with “They want you to get As in those classes too.” when you are speaking of a highly ranked college. If you’re applying to a top-ranked school and competing against thousands who took AP courses and got As, then yeah, you’re B/Cs in AP courses may not measure up. But I can guarantee if you pulled As in lower level courses, choosing not to take the AP courses because you will possibly pull Cs, that is not moving you into the competitive pile any faster. The only confusion the college will have is whether you are lazy or incapable, or both.

    I disagree that you should take classes based on your *comfort* level and guarantee of an A. At the same time, I am not advocating a student take an AP or Honor course if they are not prepared and capable. Nor was I implying that you should *settle* for Cs in harder classes and that will make you stand out when applying. The point was that you should not drop a difficult class because you are working hard and only pulling a C and want to save your GPA. If you are applying to colleges that are realistically within your capability then that C alone is not going to get your application dumped into the trash.

    Cassi: Honors or AP classes are typically weighted on a 5.0 scale (meaning 5 points for an A, 4 points for a B, etc. versus the traditional 4.0 for an A, 3.0 for a B…). The classes are weighted because the content level is much harder and more involved, and typically the homework load is significantly heavier. So, if you’re capable of the Honors course then I’d recommend taking it because you will learn a great deal more.

    Arin: Dropping AP Calc for Weights was exactly what I was referring to when I mentioned this to Josh. Our school doesn’t allow a student to drop an AP course and pick up an easier version, so if a student drops a rigorous course it’s often to replace it with an easy elective. But, I also stand by my comment to Bree. If you are capable of the harder course, then don’t take the easy route for the sake of a higher grade.

    Josh: You weren’t kidding about this GPA topic bringing out some butt-hurt people! 😉

  9. This article here just made me feel alot better. 🙂 Thank you for saying that a person’s education they’re learning is more than their GPA is worth!

  10. We were disappointed to find out that none of the colleges that our daughter applied to even looked at her weighted GPA. Yes, the GPA shouldn’t matter, but the truth is (at least in our state), the kids with the top GPA’s get a hefty state scholarship if they attend an in-state institution. In today’s economy with the rates rising faster than a hot air balloon, those scholarships are VERY important.

    1. Yashwant Parmar

      I’m assuming you live in California:

      The UCs do look at weighted GPA. HOWEVER, they calculate the GPAs themselves. A course that says “honors” on the school description is not necessarily considered honors by the UCs. They look at it and think “nice, they tried,” but no extra points (in the GPA) are awarded.

      I was bummed too.

  11. Hey Di — thanks for the comment, and yes, I agree that if there’s an automatic free ride involved and you’re on the cusp of losing it, then yeah, no class is worth screwing up an $80,000 free education for. That’d fall under what I refer to in the post about getting over the “threshhold” — once you’re safely over the GPA that holds the key to some definite plan (in your case, this would be that big state scholarship), that’s the time to stop worrying about the number and pursue the education instead. Thanks!

  12. Hi Judge Josh,
    I have been reading your posts for several months now, and they have changed the way I look at scholarships and college. I am a recent High School Graduate (Jan 2010), and have 24 college credits thanks to my dual-credit days. I have a 4.3 high school GPA, and a 4.0 in college. When I first read that Judges don’t care about my high GPA, I flipped. While I did not want to kill you with shards of glass, I was greatly surprised. For, I previously depended on my GPA to help win scholarships.
    However, after following your posts and tips, I better understand colleges. Consequently, I am taking a hard course this summer, running the risk that I will loose my 4.0 GPA. The Emergency Medical Technician-Basic program ends in a test that many students fail (they let them retake it), but I await the challenge. As you basically said, it is better to be a risk-taker than to obsess over the holy grail of my GPA.
    Thank you for changing the way I look at college and scholarships,
    Have a Great Day

  13. Hey, thanks for the post.

    I’m currently a freshman in college and my senior friends who are going off to grad school actually tell me that the GPA isn’t *that* important for grad school. They’re looking for independence and research experience more than GPA. Just saying.

  14. Neurologically speaking, one class can be worth 80,000$ with the right energetic, entraprenuer minded individual. :-). You see, while getting a 4.o is good, a good idea with roots from divergently applied knowledge learned in classes, (stemming from a deep understanding, having taken the hard course) can be the difference in confidence, thinking speed, and success in an interview. While I’ve yet to find a scholarship, (I did the latter; self taught and said to heck with the grades this is interesting and useful stuff) the better option for competency is to take the intimidating (but not for everyone) classes, you’ll find yourself explaining simple subject specific things with more understanding and people will notice you in that position.

  15. I agree that GPA should not be the priority in a student’s thinking but it seems that GPA rules everything. I am currently a senior in college who studied Biology and for many internships and grad schools I have looked at ask for a 3.5 GPA. Since I was all about the GPA in high school I decided that I was not going to let GPA dominate my college learning experience. I did fine and took tons of very challenging classes and many times did not get an A in the class; however now it worries me because I have not been able to find a job or internship and competition is though. So now GPA has once more enter my life.

  16. No college gpas are much more valuable then rigorous classes. This may not apply to scholarships where Reps have alot of
    time to look through your application but this defintely applies
    to college apps because admissions reps just don’t have a large portion of time to look through your entire app. Yes there is a difference between taking weights and ap calc but if you choose to take regular classes over
    ap and maintain all A’s you will have a much better shot then a straight C a.p student

  17. Take the higher gpa… you can’t put your classes on your resume but you can put your gpa and that’s what people look at. An A (4.0) looks much better than a B (3.0) with the word honor next to it (if that you can put honor next to it) on a white paper of paper.

  18. I see where you are coming from, really I do. But GPA is important when you are competing against other people who might have high GPAs AND extracurriculars and who take hard classes for a few limited scholarships or positions at a college. Don’t you think?

  19. GPA isn’t that important today. If you plan to go into grad school you need research experience to market yourself or you’re basically screwed.

  20. I think that GPA, while it’s not the alpha and omega, is a neccessary tool to weed some people out (in regards to scholarship, university and internship applications). When looking at hundreds and possibly thousands of applications, grades are the first glance to how much effort you put into your classes. They can’t see how much time you put into studying, or how many times you went out of your way to recieve one-on-one time with the instructor (that’s where personal statements and letters of recommendation come in handy!). They can only see if you did whatever you had to do to complete your assignments and do well on your standardized tests. In this respect, it is important to give your all in any class you take (AP or not) – which will, in turn, deliver better grades. Schools, scholarship committees and employers are looking for determined, competitive, ambitious people – no matter what the major, award, or position.

    And because ambitious people tend to give their all in everything, they are more likely to challenge themselves in classes with more substance. An ambitious person who wants to get the most out of their classes (and life in general) will tend to do better, not neccessarily because it is EASIER for them, but because they will put in the extra effort to achieve greater things.

    With that being said, there are ways to round out a less-than-perfect GPA for the critical eyes that will be reviewing your life on paper (or screen – if submitted electronically!). Participate in extra curricular activities and sports. Volunteer. Experience new things like a 5 day back-country hike, or travel across the country – or abroad! Talk about any hardships you’ve overcome. Get some work experience under your belt. Learn a language or two. Act in a play. And when writing about these experiences, be sure to include what you’ve contributed and accomplished at work/school/church as an individual (or to a team, if applicable), what you’ve learned from these experiences, and how you plan to apply the knowledge and skills gained toward future goals. Be specific! Add details! If you’re in Sales, give numbers – how much did you earn the company? For volunteer work at a homeless shelter – how many homeless people did you help to feed? When you traveled, what did you do and learn? How will learning another language benefit you in the workplace or life in general? The same tips could be applied toward making an awesome resume.

    So to summarize – While a 4.0 GPA helps, it really ISN’T everything. While an A in Weights may not mean the same as an C in AP Biology, a judge may wonder why you didn’t do more to get that A in AP Biology. Do all you can to learn the most and do your best, sell it!

  21. I do my best to get good grades (high GPA) in my classes, but I completely support the “your grades aren’t everything” idea. My teachers and my school know that I am a hard worker because I strive for excellence. If my GPA drops a little becuase I am progressing in my education and taking difficult classes, they don’t care. I do my very best and stop worrying over the grade I get.

  22. Alfonso Lizárraga

    Hey there!
    I agree on some points there: in my University, they only ask for a high enough GPA, because what really matters for getting in is passing a (hard) exam. Although my school is almost next to free, it’s one of the most prestigious in my country (National Autonomous University of Mexico), so competition is quite fierce. Nevertheless, I think that afterwards what matters most are the abilities you learned while you where in college, and GPA is only a requisite.

    Anyways, it’s indeed harder for someone with a lower GPA to get scolarships or to go as an exchange student. So, both are important, although experience and knowledge more than GPA!

  23. jing April 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Take the higher gpa… you can’t put your classes on your resume but you can put your gpa and that’s what people look at. An A (4.0) looks much better than a B (3.0) with the word honor next to it (if that you can put honor next to it) on a white paper of paper.

    If you write your resume with grammar like this you’re not going to be able to do anything. It’s important to challenge yourself, and in so doing, you may find you’ve discovered something new that you enjoy more than that split-second relief you feel from passing a class. I took a class in Chaucer this semester and the first day of class was so intimidating that I almost wanted to drop the class. Today I won five hundred dollars for an essay I wrote for this very same class. It was SO challenging, and I was already overloading on credits, but it ended up being my favorite course in college. I am so glad I didn’t drop it because looked like it would be hard.
    I’ve had this experience with a few of my classes, but I think this is the best anecdote I can use to urge you to go to college for the sake of learning. You’ll still go to a great grad school, if that’s what you want. And further, let’s be real, you think you’re going to get a job straight out of college that would require you to have even graduated from college? It’s a tough economy guys, the likelihood that you’ll get some class A job right away is slim to none. You’re gpa can’t protect the fact that you’re afraid to challenge yourself because you might fail.

  24. So what do you do when you’re aiming for med school? People tell me to not be so hard on myself over my GPA, but then they say I need to be harder on myself or I won’t get into med school. Is it better to have the mentality of “I want to enjoy my undergrad career”?

  25. I don’t know about this article. I’m a senior at a public university and received most of my funding this year through departmental scholarships. In order to even be eligible for those scholarships I had to have a 3.5 GPA. I also had to have a history of community service, good references, financial need, etc… but just to be considered I had to have a good GPA.

  26. We had an admissions counselor from the Big Ten school in our community come and talk to parents. Sure enough, a parent asked the proverbial question, “Is it better for my student to take an AP class and not get an A or a regular class and get the better grade?” His answer was, “Take the AP class or most rigorous classes offered…and get an A!” Obviously this didn’t quite directly answer the question, but reading between the lines the answer is there. You need to challenge yourself. An admissions counselor is going to look at your coursework, along with your GPA, volunteer work, participation in school activities, etc. They want to see a complete, well-rounded person. If your gpa isn’t in the top percentile, your letter of application should be your next plan of attack. My daughter’s friend was on the lower end of the honor roll, never took any honors classes and finally took 2 AP classes her senior year. She wrote about a personal hardship and got accepted to the U here.
    On a personal note, I think the grade you get from taking the actual AP test should have some bearing on admissions. Too bad they are administered in the spring since many students put off AP classes until their senior year so the class won’t hurt their gpa.
    Hey Di, I’m curious which state school offers a free ride for a high gpa? Our high school does not weigh AP or Honors classes, but when my daughter got into high school they changed the grading system to include plus and minus grades, which was fine. Teachers felt they were giving out too many A’s. Go figure.
    Ann Bannon, thanks for getting on people’s cases about their grammar! (Will you proofread my kids’ term papers? haha) How ironic that Alfonso, in Mexico, can write better than many of the students on this site.

  27. I wish I could agree that no one outside of school cares about GPA… but I have been to an interview that specifically asked for my college transcript to see my strengths and weaknesses. And I still think it is good to have your GPA as high as possible for if you ever do decide to go back to school. Most grad programs only admit students with a 3.0 and above. I never wanted to go to grad school and therefore enjoyed a heavy workload, worked part time on campus, joined a community service co-ed fraternity, and graduated from UC Davis in 3 years with a B.S. in Biology. Now I regret everything because I’m stuck not knowing what I want to do with my life and wishing that I took the time to do that in college.

    My advice: have fun in college and take your time because the real world isn’t any better.

  28. I strongly disagree with the “go for the hard courses and take a hit on the GPA”, to get into college. I have a daughter who don’t test very well…but she’s a brilliant student. Because she took all honor courses during the crucial time during High School (junior year), her GPA took a really hard hit…”challenging courses”. Which made it impossible to get scholarships for college and she was not able to get into the College of her choice, although she’s there now. She transferred after a years at another college. She’s quite an accomplished student, she’s a member of the Honor society at her present school. My advice to High School juniors, take challenging courses, but know you can do well at them. Keep that GPA up at all cost. That determines what Colleges and universities you’ll be eligible to attend as well as any scholarship money you can get.

  29. I graduated from high school with a 2.8 GPA having gone through a very rigorous magnet curriculum. Went into college with 48 transfer credits and the opportunity to graduate in two years. I was denied by my first choice–fair enough, a 2.8 isn’t great–and went instead to my second choice. The difficult high school courses prepared me very well for college, where I found it much easier to get a high GPA (3.5+) than I had in HS.
    Now having graduated in shame with a 2.8 is a distant memory. I have been able to spend the last year in a top European university. I’ll graduate with a load of credits and experience. I decided to take 4 years anyway, as my rigorous curriculum was enough to earn me a full ride.
    Kids, keep hoping and trying. Take the hard courses. Looking good on paper just won’t hold up. The moment you have to convince someone in person that you’ve got what it takes, you’ll be exposed.

  30. If you are a pre-med college student, GPA is VERY IMPORTANT to get into medical school. In fact, the first thing that most medical school admissions departments do with an application is see if the student’s GPA (science and overall) and MCAT scores pass their threshold numbers (as well as making sure the student fulfilled all requirements) before moving on to considering other factors like what university the student attended, how difficult were the courses he took, what the student actually did outside of the classroom (like research, leadership roles, volunteering, jobs, etc.), and carry a certain weight with you into the interview and when the admission’s committee makes their decision. In addition, there are many scholarships for medical school based simply on gpa and maybe an essay requirement, but if the student does not have the GPA, then that opportunity is gone. Don’t get me wrong. Take courses you find interesting that also challenge you, but set a course load that you can handle. Your GPA can hold a lot of weight when it comes to making that next step in your life.

    -2nd Year Medical Student

  31. I’ve always been an A’s student until I got to college. My major: Physics…Minor: Atmospheric Science. Still I manage to get only 2 C’s in my undergraduate level courses and graduated with a 3.71 GPA (and yeah, I did party and had a great time in college). I was very upset at the moment when I got my C’s (which were on Physics’ courses) but at the end if you do good in your other courses and get some experience working in your field as an undergraduate student you will get into Grad School (and will be accepted before other students that have a better GPA but no work/research experiences. That happened to some of my friends!). So my advice is: work as hard as you can to maintain a good GPA but if you are getting a few C’s don’t drop your classes!!! Dropping a class means that you have to take it again next semester (if is offered), i.e. paying for it again, finding a spot during registration period, etc. and if it is a pre-requisite to another class you will be spending at least 1 more year in college. Also there is a high probability you won’t do any better than the first time! (Again, it happened to a lot of people I knew in college as an undergraduate, with some exceptions of course).

  32. Does a GPA matter? Yes. Scholarship applications always ask for your GPA score, so at what level do the judges dismiss you. I have no idea because no one asks what courses were taken for that grade. Had I known throughout high school the importance of a GPA, it would have been easier to enroll in the college of my choice, but, life got in the way and the dream was lost.

    After 40+ years, I returned to college pursuing a Bachelors degree. I knew it would require extra work on my part to make up for lost time and climb out of the hole of a devastating grade from high school. During my freshman year, I didn’t shrug off any classes and maintained a 4.0 until one class set me back with a B. I was heartbroken. Sounds silly, but it is my goal to do the best I can to fill in that educational gap I wasted. A scholarship would surely help with finances, although competing with thousands of other students put me in the middle of the pact as far as my GPA. I’m not striving for a high GPA just for scholarships, I am challenging myself, just me alone. I am here to learn, to absorb everything I can get my hands on so I can proudly hang my degree and smile with satisfaction that I did that, I earned every inch of that paper.

  33. When I was in high school I took full course loads my junior and senior years when all of my friends took only the classes they needed to graduate. I had a high GPA and worked really really hard for it. Once I got to college, I no longer lived at home and had a full time job. Taking Organic Chem, Calc and Microbiology was so hard, I dropped them. ALL OF THEM. Now, I have to retake them all, but that’s ok with me. In my experience, your GPA in college is only a portion of what scholarship and internship panels look at. How well written and professional are your resume and personal statement? People can tell alot about you by what and how you write! Do you have solid letters of recommendation from faculty that you actually know and who know you from previous or current classes? These panels look at how interested you are in their programs and WHY. They probably get tons of applicants with spotless GPAs who don’t know anything about their programs! Bottom line? Everything matters, not JUST your GPA.

  34. It doesn’t really matter about grades though, when you go to grad school..though high grades are nice to look at, what they really care for is experience. If you want to be a doctor, but don’t have stellar grades, if they see that you’ve worked as a volunteer in the hospital, they’ll more than likely pick you over a person who as an A average, but didn’t have any experiences. But that’s just what I think…

  35. As far as I see it in a few years no one really cares what your GPA is; they do care what you learned, work ethic, professionalism, etc. Stay off of academic probation. Take classes that interest you; and don’t just stay with the easy peasy ones. Get a good work ethic, and references. Done.

  36. This article may be true for some private scholarships, but GPA really matters for financial aid, and university funded scholarships and grants. Hell, I didn’t get two $2,000 scholarships from my university because I didn’t have a 3.8 GPA. I had a 3.7 GPA in high school, and I took a load of AP and Honors courses. I didn’t get $4,000 because of a fraction of a point. Thats right, a POINT! Good God, you know how much that SUCKED?

  37. This article may be true for some private scholarships, but GPA really matters for financial aid, and university funded scholarships and grants. Hell, I didn’t get two $2,000 scholarships from my university because I didn’t have a 3.8 GPA. I had a 3.7 GPA in high school, and I took a load of AP and Honors courses. I didn’t get $4,000 because of a fraction of a point. Thats right, a POINT! Good God, you know how much that SUCKED?

  38. I agree. In high school, I took all the AP classes I could squeeze into my schedule, and was upset that because I took band, my GPA couldn’t be as high as the other AP kids (band was only on a 4.0 scale, while AP was on a 5.0 scale). However, my leadership positions in band allowed me to grow, which scholarship judges like– as do companies and such for internships. I can honestly say that over half of the internship applications I’ve filled out haven’t even asked for my GPA. Some have asked for a transcript, but mostly they want to know what major you’re in and then go straight to the recommendation letter(s). And that’s fine with me… I’m taking over the maximum number of units and double-majoring and am up to my ears with work, with a 3.66 GPA– the lowest GPA I’ve ever had– and I’m perfectly content to have been granted my dream internship and to be looking forward to grad school. Since when did a B (technically labeled “above average”) turn into a bad grade?
    I’ll never know what internships or scholarships I didn’t get because my GPA wasn’t a 4.0. But if an internship is only worried about GPA, then I don’t want to work for them anyway. Hey– I didn’t even take the AP tests for going through and getting A’s in all those AP classes and I still got into UCSB and into the programs I wanted to get into. And the learning I got out of all those classes was far more important to succeeding in college than worrying about a lousy AP test or GPA-bump.

  39. I have two daughters who attended an academically challenging private school with a reputation for excellent students. One graduated college two years ago and one is currently a junior in college. My oldest daughter took AP classes and all academically challenging classes and graduated high school with a 3.3 GPA. She received some scholarships and got into the college of her choice. My youngest daughter did not take any AP or honors courses and graduated high school with a 3.5 GPA. Both were excellent students but the youngest daughter got more scholarships and colleges were more competitive in recruiting her for her GPA. The higher GPA ended up getting more opportunities than the lower GPA. If I had to do it over again I would have had my older daughter skip the AP and challenging courses and take the easier ones to get the higher GPA and let her be more challenged in college. Colleges look more at GPA despite what high school guidance counselors say. They are wrong!

  40. I want to get into the pharmacy program, but my GPA is not that favourable right now… I was thinking of taking easy courses to improve my Gpa and gain a chance in getting into the program because i;m not sure what I would want to do if I dont get into the school….i was thinking of majoring chemistry if I dont get in…thus i’m taking a lot of hard classes which highly risk my GPA…is this the right choice? or is there a better idea perhaps?

  41. I work very hard for my GPA but I don’t drop classes I am struggling with, I simply work harder. It is very frustrating for me that people who do less work are getting as good of a grade as I am, teachers need to start failing lazy people who don’t do the work instead of letting them float through without handing in the assignments.

  42. GPA matters. But the courses you get that GPA in matter too. If you are trying to get into a hard program, the fact is that you need both…and then some.

    If you have a 3.9 and college prep /AP courses…it’s not going to be a big deal to take an early release. My last semester of HS I took art, aerobics, early release, and aviation. I got into a good out-of-state private school with a scholarship for half my tuition (18,000). The catch-I took bio/chem/physics/college English/precalc etc. all during my first two years of high school, graduated with a 3.98, had a ton of extra curricular activities, and focused on a powerful essay.

    I also didn’t apply to an Ivy League…so perhaps my resume wouldn’t have cut it.

  43. Josh,

    For the benefit of readers, let me reiterate that I am a few days shy of the 44th birthday and have acheived a decorated career through a lot of hard work.

    Students need to learn to think 5-10 years down the road when they plan what courses they want to take. What type of jobs do they want to target? Do they know someone (a mentor) working in that field that can give them the “reality” of the job functions.

    When a graduate applies for a job, the employer doesn’t really give two hoots about GPA. What they care about is “how can you bring value to my company”.

    When you select electives courses, try to think if you have a few courses that will positively differentiate you in the working environment. Just like Marketing 101 with SWOT, your education is a plan to market yourself.

    Suppose you are Business Major studying to be an HR rep. If you have an interest you may want to take some computer programming courses so you are able to “geek speak” to potential IT recruits.

  44. You make a good point, but you glazed over the fact that this article is meant to redirect students who already have a shiny GPA and are looking for easy ways to maintain it. This isn’t the article for the student whose GPA is borderline minimum entry requirements. And it’s not for students who are only beginning high school or college and haven’t built themselves a solid GPA base yet. GPA is not all that matters, but if you don’t have a good one, you’re still kind of hopeless, for the exact same reason that having a good one doesn’t get you very far: half the world has a great GPA. If you haven’t got even that, good luck.

  45. I’m updating my resume, and I’m wondering whether to include my GPA.

    I graduated last semester (January 2010) with only a 3.43 GPA from Rutgers University – New Brunswick. I received a full-tuition scholarship for all eight semesters, and I majored in English and double minored in Philosophy and Economics. Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I held an internship requiring me to work at least 20 hours a week (that being said, I have five REAL internships – not the coffee-grabbing kind – under my belt) and wrote for my school’s newspaper (for two semesters, I even served as managing editor). I also got a full-time job in NYC right after I graduated, so in addition to my five internships, I have an actual job to add to my resume.

    Since my GPA is pretty mediocre, I figured I’d not include it on my resume so that employers focus more on my work/internship experience. Do you think this is a good idea? The only reason why leaving my GPA out would seem like a bad idea is because employers may think that I’m trying to hide something — specifically a low GPA…which is the case, obviously. Then again, I figured the fact that I got a full-tuition scholarship each semester may distract them from thinking this way. What do you think?

    Also, I’m debating whether or not to put an objective on my resume — purely for space reasons. When I include an objective, my resume becomes 1.25 pages (with 0.5 margins on all sides). I figured that since most employers ask for a cover letter to complement the candidate’s resume, I would just discuss my objective in there.

    Let me know what you think, and thank you so much for your help!

  46. I had a difficult time agreeing with this article. I knew a particular man who graduated with a degree in English. He was hoping to get into education and thought that if he took harder courses from a variety of disciplines, he would make a more valuable teacher. However, because he did this his GPA just missed the limit to get into education and they wouldn’t accept him. The school told him that they did not care what classes a person took, it was all about the GPA. Maybe the scholarships might not matter so much, but if a person is trying to be accepted into a master’s program, law school, education etc. then GPA is a central aspect schools will look at. They want the best of the best, and the GPA will reflect that. However, one should not skip the difficult classes. Those are the classes that will assist in getting a degree worth something. Therefore it is important to look at exactly what you want, need out of school and where you are going with it.

  47. I’m a 3.0+ student and I must say that I actually AGREE with this article.
    I get tired of hearing people complain about not making straight A’s and stuff but at the same time, they are taking the hardest classes possible on top of having a busy life.
    Yes, I know when applying for scholarships, they do look at GPAs..but lets be real. If the stringent requirements for a specific scholarship says 3.5 GPA or higher, why would someone with a 2.3 even bother wasting their time??
    I know personally that alot of schools, medical schools, and scholarship committees look at a WELL-ROUNDED STUDENT. I’m a senior, Biomedical Sciences major at USF Tampa, and I can tell you, it is a chemistry major and is NOT the easiest in the bunch. I also do NOT have straight A’s, but when I apply to medical school, I’m pretty sure that they will look at all that I do in addition to school (of course I’ll have to explain my B- and below). The committees do take into consideration a hard course load, grades, and an active student (such as someone who is working, interning, and/or involved in campus and community organizations.) Many times when straight A students are turned down from schools and etc, its because they didnt do anything else besides straight schoolwork…where’s the variety and personality in their life? None.

    Again, Im not saying just take hard classes throughout high school and college just to show off or say “yeah i’m taking this and this” because honestly, those fluff classes do come in handy! Yeah, they may be GPA boosters, but they keep you from burning yourself out..and many times, they’re interesting and fun. [trust me, those in college know exactly what I mean!]. Also…for those high schoolers or whatever that dont know, many schools, like mine, have weighted scales based on the credit hours AND the grade itself, like B+ (3.33), B (3.00), and B- (2.67), so even if you take a fluff class, it usually wont have that weight scaled I mentioned above, thus someone may have a higher GPA than you with the same amount of credit hr courses.
    In retrospect though, to each his own. I just say that everyone should strive for the highest GPA possible [and avoid dropping classes if possible, please] but also be involved in other activities too than just school. Aim for both challenging and “easy” courses so you wont burn yourself out!

  48. Doesn’t it depend on the major though? For example, I have a friend whose goal is grad school classes in Biochemistry. Since it’s a highly competitive field that typically has hundreds of applicants for 5 positions they screen those below a certain GPA and read the essays of people at a certain level. To my knowledge many courses weed students out based on their ability to get an A in a great class versus a C. So while I may be showing improvement over a lower level course, I’m also showing less ability than my competition in my class.

  49. Grad Student

    If you want to apply to graduate school, medical school, law school, dentistry, etc., you need to be aware that you will be competing with the elite, the best of the best, especially if you want to get into a top school. And remember, every school is looking to better their reputation by accepting more and more successful and competitive students.

    My university is a top 20 North American school for my program, and while there are the rare exceptions…most graduate students accepted for either the PhD or MA have top GPA’s. And, for law school applicants in Canada, I’d probably recommend maintaining a high GPA no matter what. This means that you are better to drop the classes that you know you will receive a poor grade in (before the drop date, of course). Hopefully, there will only be one or two of these!

    Also, most undergraduate programs are structured to not allow you to take only easy courses. More often than not, the program is structured around some required courses, which are usually more difficult, and only then you allowed choose “electives” from a pre-arranged list. So, I say, take whatever classes you want with the true electives that remain. I wouldn’t take pottery, but a course in an area that you know you will be comfortable with is probably a good idea!

  50. Grad Student

    I forgot to mention the importance of extracurriculars when applying to grad school and the like.

    Also, excuse the grammatical errors in my previous post! I’m typing secretly from class!

  51. Argh! To everyone who keeps saying “I don’t agree with this article because I’m in grad school/med school/law school/bunny breeding school, and they considered my GPA really heavily!”, I have a quote for you, from the OP:

    “So if you’re going to grad school, do try and keep your GPA as high as you can.”

    This post is mostly referring to those of us in high school who are applying for undergraduate studies.

  52. I am thrilled reading your posts.
    I have no idea how I end up receiving emails from your website, but hey, I do enjoy reading it, and it is a great encouragement.
    I am looking foward to read more of your posts.

  53. I definately agree with this. I am graduating in June and I am pretty much ashamed of my schedule, but that is because I have taken every hard class my school offers. As a junior I was in AP Calc and Physics and Anatomy. What REALLY gets me, is that all these kids who dont go above and beyond to get their GPA to a 4.0 still walk away with things like Validictorian, I mean, yea it is for the highest GPA, but a hole heck of alot of them at my school, dont diserve it. Life is just funny that way, I say YIPPIE! for the classes that actually teach you stuff 🙂 My GPA is definately not hurt by it, I have a 3.9, one little slip up in freshman year.

  54. If you write your resume with grammar like this you’re not going to be able to do anything. It’s important to challenge yourself, and in so doing, you may find you’ve discovered something new that you enjoy more than that split-second relief you feel from passing a class. I took a class in Chaucer this semester and the first day of class was so intimidating that I almost wanted to drop the class. Today I won five hundred dollars for an essay I wrote for this very same class. It was SO challenging, and I was already overloading on credits, but it ended up being my favorite course in college. I am so glad I didn’t drop it because looked like it would be hard.

  55. Gail Amalfitano

    Bree, I do not think the guy meant get all C’s. Obviously, a student who gets mostly C’s is not a strong candidate for scholarships. I believe he was explaining it is better to take calculus 2 or 3, or College or University Physics than to take these easy read/write classes. Math and the Sciences are known to be harder and require more work and study time. I tell you that I got scholarships from my community college with a 3.86 GPA, and a transfer scholarship with a 3.78. I have 5 B’s and 1 C. My campus activities and community service is what got me recognized again and again! If you have a 4.0 and took no math and sciences and did no activities or community service I am sorry to say you just will not get a scholarship unless you know someone to push for you to get it. It is sad but it is true!

  56. Brittany those same ppl are going to look at what you take. Fluffs will count against you more than 4 GPA offset; fluffs raise the ? about how ambitious, etc you really are. Fluffs show lack of ambition, hard work. Ann, very few employers care about GPA. Aside from degree, your ability to wow them with ability is what counts. Show me you can do the job and your 2.0 beats 4.0 who can’t do the job. 4 GPA and lots of extracurr. activities leads me to question the validity of your GPA. May, they may look at your transcript, but GPA is less important than what you took; how many drops and fluffs, and how long you took to finish will be looked at. They want to see you took courses that should help you do the job. Jonest, students who test poor are going to suffer at “best college” regardless of GPA. Best colleges test hard, or they are not best college. MM good point about need for hard courses. Fluffs wont prepare for college, grad school, or employment.

  57. David, min GPA is one thing and many programs have a min, but other things outweight 4. MCAT scores for med school rank higher than GPA and fluff courses will not prepare you for the rigors of med school or any decent grad program. The whole point of this article is about dropping a course solely to keep high GPA. Angie makes great points even 1 less obvious 1. Better to explain lower GPA with taking hard courses than partying. FYI, fluff courses are not always as easy as you think. I dropped Comm. Coll. Phys. Geog. (degree required) because the instructor thought you needed B.S. level to complete entry level non-science degree. I took it at a different school. Mary, essay + other nonGPA extracurr. are more important to most scholarship judges.
    Grammar and spelling are very important.

  58. JP, for most, better to take some easier courses w/ 1 – 2 hard courses/semester. History + Org Chem. if you are good at History. Karen, I disagree and you would have done a disservice to your daughter if you had done it that way. Monika, taking some fluff to up your GPA to reach the min degree GPA is different than drop course to avoid lower GPA, but try to find fluffs that either enhance your major or that add value by giving broader appeal to grad school/job.Some bus. courses to enhance science program for example.

  59. GPA is not that important. For employers, all A’s is a bad sign. With the grade inflation, all A’s can indicate a diploma mill degree. Schools get so many all A candidates and ignore most of them. Grade inflation, in H.S. and colleges, make all A’s suspect.
    As I mentioned elsewhere, drop too many courses and you risk financial aid,& yes, I have seen people lose FA due to too many dropped courses over A-itis.
    @ Char, all A’s in Grad School is irrelevant. You do have to maintain at least B average in most Grad programs.
    @ Doug, schools may have program GPA minimums. Any school that doesn’t care about what classes you take is not a good school.

  60. @Lil, Minimum degree GPA in some programs is common, but highly competitive 1’s look at the whole picture and all A student doesn’t get more weight than non-A 1 who meets the minimums.
    @Grad, if you take fluflf courses that aren’t remotely degree related, it will hurt your Grad school options. Who you know, or who knows about you, trumps 4+ GPA anyday.
    @Michelisa, leave off GPA as most don’t care how high unless minimum required & I don’t know employers who ask it. Most employers care more about degree than GPA, & w/ grade inflation, high GPA is meaningless. Objective should be on resume, but keep brief & position specific. 0.5 is small margin, 1.0 is standard. How much relevant, or recent, work experience is all needed for most apps unless the employers requires all jobs listed. Also, limit colleges to only degree/certificates completed unless all required.
    Too many jobs raises red flags. Unless required, keep descr. very brief.

  61. @Laura, UC schools dont care as long as mins met. They get so many apps, many turned down.
    @Lee, I disagree w/ you. Few profs care about GPA unless it is a min. for course (B or C).
    All schools/some employers require transcripts. Drop courses = red flag, esp. hard courses. Drop courses add to how long in school + prob. more loans, minuses. Be ready to explain why courses dropped, and be honest.
    @Anon, FA doesnt care about GPA as long as min met. Scholarships can care, but they are often so competitive, you are unlikely to get them on GPA alone. My college offers GPA-based, but are very competitive so your lack of 3.8 may not matter.
    @Bree, in long run, your choices will cost you more than you think. Colleges do care what kind of courses HS students take and <4 GPA w/ hard is better than 4 GPA easy.

  62. The essence lies in how hard you try on the courses you take. Your GPA is inportant but not as inportant as taking the right courses and giving them your best shot

  63. It has been so long since I have been in school that I don’t even remember what my GPA was in High School. What I do remember is that I did my best…most of the time…and learned all that I could. I am now a Mom and looking on going back to school and I am so grateful that GPA isn’t everything. What I am looking forward to is the learning and yes, even the homework. If you are still in High School then do your very best and don’t settle for less than that, if you are in collage you had better figure out what you are doing and do it well…those student loans will need to be paid back. The Major that you decide on needs to be something that you enjoy and that will help get that perfect career for you. Grad students…I take my hat off to you. You must really like learning and whatever it is that you are doing. Keep up the great work…and those student loans do need repaying.

  64. The thing i hate about GPA is kids, and parents seem to get distracting from the goal of education, to learn stuff. Screw Hard class and High GPAs all that matters is that the student learns as much information as they can and learns to apply that information. If thats the goal good grades and transcripts will follow. If building a shiny resume is your goal then you have it backwards. If your goal is master of your field, whatever it may be, then you have it right and what will result from that is a great resume and competance to match. I have met resume booster types, guess what, when it comes to there level of competance they never measure up to thier resume. Do what your capable of well and ignore all the grades and transcripts and people will notice that you have both skill AND maturity.

  65. GPA might not be as important in scholarships but for jobs and school it’s #1. In high school I missed out on a great scholarship because someone else had an average 0.5% higher than mine. And instead of getting a $3000 entrance scholarship I got $2000 because I was 0.5% below the threshold. I was doing coop that last semester so I realised I should have taken an easy course too to raise my average so I could get both. Right now I’m going to a different university and I’m not getting an entrance scholarship because my GPA isn’t high enough. GPA IS VITAL IN SCHOOL. And after you graduate employers will look at your GPA; it reflects your writing skills and how much of the course your professors think you’ve learned so the higher it is the more your possible employer thinks you’ve learned and the better your chances of being hired. USE YOUR BRAIN! A HIGH GPA REFLECTS SUCCESS! Employers don’t know about all the courses and don’t know which ones are harder so they use the GPA to judge. Scholarships might not use GPAs to judge as much. They might look at community service, extracurricular, essays, and all that other stuff, but a high GPA is still vital. It sets you apart and if you show a high GPA with all that other stuff than you really do look exceptional, worthy of the free money. A friend who won a $10,000/year for 4 year scholarship was involved in extracurricular, community service, had excellent writing skills, and A HIGH GPA. The scholarship judges will look at which courses you took to get your GPA, whether it was easy English or Physics and Calculus, but your mark’s going to matter too. But don’t worry, I know from experience that not all scholarships depend on marks because they don’t ask for transcripts, but for the ones that do, they’re going to look at it. If you have a brain then you’ll remember that hard courses AND a GPA are both vital and you can use your brain to get a high one in the hard ones.

  66. Gail Amalfitano

    Honestly, just saying, “I have a 4.0” means very little without the knowledge of what type of classes you took and whether you were full-time, part-time, or less than part-time. Let’s face it anyone can get a 4.0 taking 2 classes at a time if they work at it. Now tell me you got a 4.0, you were full-time, did community service, held office (and accomplished things while in office-like service, events, fund raising, organizing, or other things that holding office allows a person to accomplish by truly leading people to do meaningful things), and you took more than the known fluff easy A classes. Trust me, judges know how hard you work to get an A in specific classes.
    Take History…I love history, it is not my major, however. I love reading about the past, old cultures, traditions, societal norms, and the human progress. I think it is a valuable class. HOWEVER, I consider these types of classes EASY! I do not mean that in a bad way. I think these types of classes are easy because all you must do is this:
    1) show up for class obviously
    2) read your syllabus OBVIOUSLY (so you know the plan, expectations, …)
    3) read your chapters OBVIOUSLY you know open the book?
    4) think about what your reading, think about cause and effect more than memorizing dates, try to put some thought into the reading assignment…and I know for many students THEY THINK IF THEY MUST READ, OPEN THE BOOK, THINK A BIT, AND DO NOT GET A STUDY GUIDE WITH THE TEST QUESTIONS ON IT…WELL THEY THINK THAT IS SOOOOOOOOO UNFAIR AND omg that is just toooooooo much work to expect from a college student who is fresh out of high school and thinks showing up every day = and A in the class, and let’s not forget that study guide with all the test data b/c REALLY, who wants to open a book.
    Sorry I had to rant a bit.

    5) make a true effort to be honest, mature, and responsible when it comes to doing your work, readings, papers, and tests.

    So to me, I see a History class as a break from math and science. To me, it is an easy class. In my History class my 1st semester there were 80 students and after the first test I got a 98 w/o the extra credit question. It was 50 questions plus 2 extra credit questions which I did not do b/c time ran out. Anyway, when he read out highest score, lowest score, avg, and so on, my friend said to me, “Well we know who got the 98” and I smiled and said to her, “SHHH everyone will think I am nerdy”
    Most people failed….came to me to ask me how I was doing it…how was I able to get such high scores. I FELT LIKE SCREAMING, ” DUH, DUH, DUH…I READ THE CHAPTERS AND MADE NOTES, DUH…I OPENED THE BOOK!!!!!

    Anyway, my point is teachers, educators, scholarship judges, past college students, and other students KNOW, they KNOW by the classes you took whether your 4.0 is just fluff with easy intro classes, or fluff b/c you took 2 classes at a time or if it is a hard earned 4.0 plus extras.

    I know a girl who had a 4.0 when done with the community college and when she transferred to the University the adjusted her GPA to a 3.5 because of the classes she had been taking.

    Many of us work jobs, have families, do service, get academic awards, take the harder sciences, go full-time or above full-time and may only have a 3.86 or a 3.78, but we get the nominations, awards, and the in-house scholarships. I mean don’t forget if the students know a teacher for a certain class is a push-over/easy A….then everyone in the school knows that too;-)
    GPA does matter but there is so much more to your academics than seeking out classes/instructors that will not jepardize that GPA.
    You need a “GOOD” GPA and must be a well-rounded student.

    If I think of these things….wonder how many judges think that way too…

  67. -whew!!. What a relief. Making my GPA higher is a constant nagger, although my GPA is pretty darn good despite my extra-curricular activities. I’m now a senior in high school and i’ve been in honors and accelerated classes since 9th grade. I was told that a C in a AP Biology class is a B average (or higher) in a regular Biology class. I didn’t believe it at first but i definitely do now. Colleges, as well as universities, look at GPA’s, but they also look for ‘well-rounded’ students. I will be taking Dual-Enrollment College Algebra at a local community college and with this advice behind me, I will no longer be having ‘GPA nightmares’ the day before taking a test. Honors Math (algebra I, II, etc.) isn’t my strong point and my grades haven’t been the best, but the weight of them determines my GPA..,,,thank goodness for the weighing scale!!. It’s a known fact. Putting in the time to study for harder classes just to get a B or a C is better than taking a class to get an easy A!.


  68. Thank you so much i have two ap classes and my gpa went down alot but now i am relaxed a little knowing that all i have to do is try my best

  69. I’m a true believer in one thing: BALANCE. When I was in high school, one of the things that impressed admissions and scholarship committees was how mature I was. They based their thoughts on my maturity off of my explanation of two “down time” courses in a schedule otherwise packed chock-full of AP courses. I said, “The addition of non-academic and non-rigorous courses to my schedule gives me the opportunity during the day to decompress, destress and to express myself through means other than academics.”

    So really, students should remember that admissions and scholarship committees are also looking for maturity, balance and well-roundedness. They aren’t looking for a student who took all non-academic electives, but they also aren’t looking for a student who does nothing but study. The mark a truly mature individual who can handle college life and academics is know WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK. I graduated the top of my class in high school and the top of my class in college.

    I dropped one course in college because I just couldn’t wrap my head around the subject at that time and although I would not have failed the course, I just felt that it would be better to give it another go the next semester. And I was right–where I would have been able to achieve only a D and would never have truly understood the material, I made the mature decision to forgo the class and try again with a clearer head. I placed the course between two “decompression” courses the next semester and ended up with a B and a clear understanding of the subject matter.

  70. I think that it really depends on what you want to do. I am actually taking 3 courses this year that I took very similar ones to in highschool. Yes, I am doing them to boost my GPA, because I have always been about getting high marks (trying to prove to my dad I’m smarter than he is, teehee) Though I do need to get a high GPA in order to get into the program I want to get into at another university. (where I’m transfering to next year if I get in) so for me, my GPA is important, and if in order to get it higher it means I take easy courses, that’s what I’m going to do. Luckily I’m also interested in the courses I’m taking that I’ve done already, or else I wouldn’t be taking them again. Also one of these courses is in the subject in which I’m majoring, and the other two will definitly help me later in life.
    I think that as long as you’re taking courses that are going to benefit you in any and every way possible (keep your GPA up, and if they are interesting and needed to graduate in your specific field) then go for it!

  71. This reminds me a lot of my high school. It’s so college oriented that everyone looks forward to the high GPA and going to college. The question wasn’t Are you going to college? but Which college are you going to? Everything was based on your GPA. One of my best friends was a very smart person and had a great GPA. However, she couldn’t deal with other people to save her life. She had no experience with people or life outside of high school. She tended to be extremely self centered and immature at times. Many times I felt like I was best friends with a smart child. I found that the best part of high school was living and learning life as well as getting into hard classes. Makes a better combination than having just good GPA’s.

  72. I agree and both disagree with this article. I am a sophmore transfer student at Northeastern University in Boston. We have the #1 Co-op program in the country, but when you start searching for jobs through the school network, many jobs have GPA requirements just to view them. Additionally, in high school I took all AP courses and as many honors courses as I could and I did not achieve any spectacular GPA. I graduated high school with a B+ weighted average, which means my unweighted is somewhere around the lower B range. Granted I did not work to my full potential due to procrastination and sheer laziness. Even with my heavy work-load I was rejected from many colleges I wanted to attend. It was a punch to the stomach, but I have an optimistic personality and just did really well my freshman year in college joined the honors program and transferred with a 3.9. So in these instances gpa IS important. I also have the highest scholarship a transfer student can receive and must maintain a 3.4 to keep it.

    Now, I agree with this because at Northeastern University (finance/accounting major) I take all the required classes and am currently pushing my hardest ones out of the way. I have a 3.5 gpa, but also I am on the Squash Team and various investment clubs. These extracurriculars have helped me land an interview with Merrill Lynch who only chose about 20 students to interview. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job due to a lack of experience. So in this instance they value REAL work-experience.

    In the end, it all depends on your goals. If you want to go to grad school (I want to attend Harvard Grad for Business =] ), you NEED to maintain a high GPA plus exhibit leadership qualities and be an active member in your community. If you plan on starting your own business right after college, who cares about your gpa, that’s pure self-motivation.

    Good Luck in your endeavors

  73. I’m a post-secondary student right now (for those of you who don’t know, it means I’m a senior taking college classes at an actual college) and I’ve managed to keep a realitively high GPA, not by taking easy classes, but trying to do my hardest and actually learning the material and what the teachers tend to put on the tests.

  74. Thank you for your advices, Judge Josh!
    Since I moved to the United States two years ago, the scholarships became new challenge for me, but, actually, helpful challenge.
    I moved during my sophomore year, so the school had to “translate” my old grades into GPA system. The Latvian school system and US system are totally different, but I still got pretty high GPA.
    Being an ESL student it is hard to take honors classes. But they are more interesting and suppose to be more helpful in college. Right now, I have C in FST (advance math) class, mostly because I am not getting it because of language barrier. So I came to the point when I need to decide what is better for me, to keep this class in transcript as C and “kill” 3.8 GPA, or make it as “pass” class. I decided to make it “pass/non pass class”. Now reading this article, it seems not the best idea…but I got accepted to Portland State University because of my high GPA. So now I feel unsure about my decision.

  75. So I have an issue:
    I am graduating from high school a year early and am taking 5 online courses on top of four AP Classes. I also have a job and am heavily involved in extra-curriculars. My GPA isn’t spotless but it’s a 3.94 which I’m proud of but in my AP Chem class I am struggling, even though I love the course, (I have never taken a chem class beforehand) and even with all the after school/weekend/holiday study sessions I don’t think I can pull out better than a B or at the very worst a C+. I’m not giving up but right now I’m at a C+ with a week and a half left of the semester. YELP! I know GPA’s don’t matter extremely but how detrimental will that affect me in the eyes of my colleges, especially since I want to major in biomedical engineering?

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