Don’t neglect your GPA
"Pain is temporary but GPA is forever".
One of my biggest mistakes as an undergrad was neglecting my academics while watching my GPA sink lower each semester. Even after starting my PhD at Stanford, I felt the ripple effects of my poor decisions.
Is a high GPA helpful? Well, that depends on what you intend to do once you graduate. If you want a job, your GPA needs to be just high enough to clear the minimum bar (if any) set by the company.
But if you are aiming to apply for an MS or a PhD at a top ranked university, a low GPA can hurt your chances of admission because it raises questions about your suitability to pursue an advanced course of study.
When other applicants have a perfect 4.0 from the world's best universities, you are at a relative disadvantage unless you can convince the admissions committee otherwise.
A low GPA can also make it harder to build a stellar profile. Many foreign internship programs like Mitacs or DAAD require good GPA.
Having a high GPA unlocks many such opportunities which can subsequently be leveraged to boost your chances of getting admitted to a top university.
If you are a student, please don't neglect your grades. If you've already graduated with a not-so-stellar GPA and want to apply for grad school programs, please keep reading because I have some advice for you.
- Getting work experience and developing mastery in your intended field of study will go a long way towards offsetting a low GPA. High impact work will also result in strong letters of recommendation from your managers and you can weave a good story in your statement of purpose.
- Many universities are GPA centric, but many are not. Look at historical trends and apply to those which value other aspects of your profile. You can leverage LinkedIn for this to look up profiles of admitted students and use this information to carefully shortlist universities which are more aligned to your profile.
- Lastly, some online courses can help you to demonstrate academic excellence. The most impactful ones are those which give you a proper transcript with a letter grade which will show how well you did in class. Stanford and some other universities offer such courses, so it may be worth considering them.
It may be hyperbole to say that GPA is forever, but yes, it is important for grad school applications.