Having a great GPA seems so important when you are school. Teachers, parents, and even your classmates will tell you that having a good GPA will land you a better job…a better life.
Well, I think I am a good example of how that is not true.
When I finished high school, I was still getting over the fact that I wasn’t going to be a professional ballet dancer. Yes, you heard that right…I thought I was going to be one of those people who danced as a career.
So when the time came to apply for schools, I just looked around and did what everyone was telling me to do, apply for the best universities around. Not only did I not know what the “best universities” were, I had no idea what I even wanted to do if I even got into that university.
Should I become an artist? I mean, ballet is like an art and I like to draw. Or should I become a doctor? I like to be around people and I could help them.
To no surprise of my own, I didn’t get into any of the schools I wanted. Barely any schools at all actually. School was never a priority to me and my time outside of high school was not spent volunteering to boost my college application, it was spent dancing 6 days a week.
So I decided to go to a local community college for a year, which was often referred to as “the place where dreams go to die”. People actually said that to me! Right to my face, all the time!
But somehow, I kept my head high while I was there, always reminding myself that it was just a stepping stone. Thankfully, something happened while I was there, that I hope happens to others as well. I found a class that I loved.
Turns out, I really like Chemistry. It was a great mix of art (hello pretty colors and drawing organic structures!) and science.
But I Applied to the University as a Math Major
In order to get into the University I wanted, with a bad GPA, I did something a little different. I applied to the school as a math major because I knew the acceptance rate was much higher than if I applied as a chemistry major. I magically got accepted and on my first day at the school, I switched my major by talking with some of the professors and convincing them that I was a good fit, despite my GPA/class record.
I cannot say this enough, talking to someone in person is so much more valuable than letting them judge you by a piece of paper.
So I started at the university where I was in a major that I wanted and, guess what, my GPA still sucked! A few things affected my GPA, but I won’t go into those, it didn’t matter, all in all, my GPA still sucked.
So I got a Job
After a semester, I had already realized my GPA was going to be an issue. So I made a decision that changed my life…I got a job related to my major.
How can you get a job related to your major with a terrible GPA? Well, “related” is a relative word. I was in a chemistry lab, with other chemists, but I was washing their dishes. Yep, I was an autoclave cleaning b-word.
But it all paid off because, after about 6 months of doing the dishes, someone asked me if I could help them out in the lab with an experiment. Then I started working in the lab as an assistant. AND THEN I GOT MY OWN EXPERIMENTS!
In the four years at my university, I pushed myself in the classroom, but most importantly, I knew I needed to push myself at work. By showing up every day, doing good work, and consistently asking for more work, I was able to gain enough experience that I had a substantial amount of material on my resume.
Employers Really Shouldn’t Depend on GPA
So when that time came in my first, post-college, job interview and they asked me why my GPA was so low, I had the perfect answer:
“Throughout college, I had 2-3 jobs. I had at least one job to help me pay for school and one job related to my career interests. So after four years, I was able to get through college without taking out a single loan. And anything I missed from a classroom, I gained with real-life experience in a working environment. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
And I got the job.
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