Everyone may have their own reasons to go to college, but most do it for the educational experience and the diploma. While not all prospective employers care about your grades, having impressive grades on your resume can help you stand out amongst a sea of applicants. This is where your GPA comes in handy.
Your GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a way of grading and measuring how well you performed in your courses. It can refer to your final grade on any course, or it can refer to your cumulative GPA (also known as CGPA), which is the average GPA you’ve earned after taking all the courses to earn your diploma.
While grading systems across the world can vary, the most commonly used one is on a scale between 0.0 and 4.0, with four being the highest GPA you can get. But what do you need to know about this grading system, and what are a few good tips to gaining a higher GPA? Here’s what you need to know.
How does the GPA System Work?
Just like the way an A is equivalent to a grade of 94 to 100 or an F is a failing 65 and below, GPAs correspond to a certain grade. Again, this can vary between countries and institutions, and some professors tend to practice grading on a curve, but here is the general equivalence:
However, this is not always the case. In the university I studied in, there were only eight possible GPAs. We also did not practice the letter grade system but instead used descriptions to gauge how well we performed.
Your university’s grading system may be available for viewing online or in your handbook. Upon enrollment or during orientation, your university might have informed you about their grading system. While failing one or two classes in college may be possible depending on your circumstances, it does not automatically mean the end of your stay in the university. However, if the university or the degree program you’re majoring in has a limit to the number of failures or GPA you have to maintain, you may have to think about raising your GPA.
Your GPA is based on your academic performance in your academic institution. Non-academic courses and extra-curricular activities do not affect your GPA. High exam scores, participation in class recitation, and overall good performance can bring up your GPA, while class failures and poor academic performance can drop your GPA.
How to Calculate Your GPA
At the end of the term or semester, your professor will calculate your final grade out of a possible 100 percent. This, in turn, corresponds to a certain GPA point shown in the tables above. Assuming all your college courses have the same number of units, you simply have to calculate the average of all your course GPAs. However, because it’s normal for some courses to have more units than others, the weight of some courses on your GPA can be bigger or smaller.
One of the easier ways of calculating your GPA is through a GPA calculator. Some GPA calculators base your grade on letter-grade systems while others are based on actual percentage grades. Use whichever that applies to your grading system in your university or college.
There are two good reasons why many people track their GPA even before they graduate. First, it is to determine their cumulative GPA which is often a criterion or standard for financial aid and scholarships. Students who have these may need to have a minimum GPA; knowing one’s GPA ahead of time can help them determine how much better they have to perform in the following semester or term to stay ahead or increase the gap between the minimum GPA and their actual GPA.
A second reason people track their GPA is if they are running for graduation honors. This is something I was guilty of doing in college. By my second year, a bare minimum passing grade from one of my courses pulled my GPA to a 3.1. After taking all my remaining courses into account, I found that I could not afford to get more than a handful of 2.5s and 3.0s and had to study hard to earn those 3.5s and 4.0s if I wanted to graduate with honors.
Why Are High GPAs So Important?
It may just be a number, but earning the highest GPA you can possibly achieve in your college stay can open plenty of doors for opportunities. For one thing, universities award students with Latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude) for their academic distinction. While not all companies and employers pay attention to Latin honors, having it in your resume can help you stand out from those who only graduated without any awards.
You may be asked to provide your GPA in certain organizations, job opportunities, or if you’re planning to take post-secondary education like graduate school or law school. In some cases, applications can be very competitive, so a high GPA can help you stand out. A high GPA is an indication of how well you can perform in an academic setting, which makes it an advantage on your resume.
At the end of the day, though, while your GPA doesn’t define you, having a good one can increase your prospects in the future. The only way to boost your GPA is to do well in all your courses and aim high for those 4.0s.