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GPA a factor?

how much of a factor is college GPA in getting the first job?

No BS
Thursday, October 03, 2002

If it is Microsoft you are looking at, GPA is not a factor.

All other companies, i guess it is a factor. how big or how small depends on the company.

Prakash S
Thursday, October 03, 2002

Unless you want to work for one of the big 4, it is irrelevant.

load
Thursday, October 03, 2002

What companies constitute the big four?

Pavel Levin
Thursday, October 03, 2002

I took a year off after 2 years (and my college didn't do intermediate GPAs), and worked as an intern for a year. When I finished the year, the company where I interned said "come back after you've finished your degree" without specifying that I needed anything but to pass.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, October 03, 2002

Unless the job posting specifically states a GPA requirement then it's not usually a big factor.  I personally leave it off as I figure if they really care they can ask and if that's going to be the determining factor of my resume being read then I won't get the job anyways. (Nor want it)

Lucas Goodwin
Thursday, October 03, 2002

Just as a matter of interest, what is a GPA?

Les C.
Thursday, October 03, 2002

General partitioning algorithm.  Or maybe, Gay Pilots' Assocation.

.
Thursday, October 03, 2002

I'll fall for the possible troll and say "Grade Point Average"

Lucas Goodwin
Thursday, October 03, 2002

grade point average, used in american colleges.  from 0.00 to 4.00, 4.00 being best.  occasionally you can get above 4 depending on the college.  these gpas are all relative to the college

anon
Thursday, October 03, 2002

The more boring the job, the more they look at GPA. High GPA shows you were willing to work hard on stuff you didn't enjoy.

b
Thursday, October 03, 2002

Like good manners, a high GPA never hurts.

tk
Thursday, October 03, 2002

It all depends on who's interviewing you.  Interviewers who graduated with high GPAs will look for high GPAs in potential hires.  Interviewers who had low grades won't care.

The whole process of applying for a job is irrational, ridiculous, and generally frustrating.

J. D. Trollinger
Thursday, October 03, 2002

No, it wasn't a troll (!) We don't have such things here in Australia, and I find the concept that you put college grades on a resume interesting...

Les C.
Thursday, October 03, 2002

Les,

That's really interesting!

So you do have grades in Australia right -- but after graduation you don't bring them up again really? No one ever asks you about them again? Would it be considered rude, or irrelevant to ask? Do employers ask for transcripts of your coursework or anything like that? Or is just your experience and interview what's considered important.

Here I'd say it's unusual to be asked for a transcript after a year or two of experience, but it does happen. I've occasionally seen a box for GPA on an application. I put mine down on my own resume but if I didn't see it on the resume of someone I was evaluating, I wouldn't miss it or think much of it unless the person had just graduated and had limited work experience; then I might at least be curious.

I've known some really smart people with a low GPA and I've known very many incompetant people with a high GPA.

I would probably think twice about hiring someone with a 4.0 (perfect) GPA not because of jealousy or spite but because of some personal experiences dealing with those types and how little they are actually able to accomplish -- they only took classes they knew they could pass; they never challenged themselves to attempt to do anything really new or challenging. In other words, it's not hard to get a 4.0 if you stay away from the really challenging classes.

X. J. Scott
Friday, October 04, 2002

To be honest if you are new to the computer industry, a high GPA can get your foot in the door. But in my limited experience, a high precentage of "good" jobs are attained by networking [not the computer type, but the human type ;-) ]. I think managers love hiring friends of good employees.

Mark Brown
Friday, October 04, 2002

X J Scott, the reason Australia doesn't have a concept of GPA is that there's no common marking system across the universities.

However lately, because of the recession, there are some poseur companies who advertise they're only interested in candidates with high distinctions etc etc. In practice though, when they find quality people, they hire them, distinctions or not.

echidna
Friday, October 04, 2002

Wasn't this a problem with many of the accounting firms IT consultancy divisions (and other consultancies)?

They only hired graduates with high marks and ran into trouble from having a lack of developers with experience in the field.

(I would hazard a guess that coming out of an 3-4 year accountancy degree would equip you for the role of accountant better than coming out of a 3-4 year cs degress equips you to be a programmer).

Walter Rumsby
Friday, October 04, 2002

Yes, I think that's true about the accounting firms.

You have to understand how those firms work though. They get the business based on contacts and market standing, so they don't really need experienced developers; the cheaper the developers, the more profit for the partners ( who are usually accountants, not developers.)

And the cheapest reasonable people are new graduates. Pretending they're after high marks is just a way of getting grads at cheap prices.

echidna
Friday, October 04, 2002

Although England and Wales is depressingly headed the US route in educational terms we still don't have a useable GPA.  And when we do you can guarantee it will be intended to be a national standard.

For some kinds of employers who are looking for graduates, that in itself seems a shrinking requirement, they'd likely be more interested in someone with a First or Upper Second degree. 

Coincidentally, I was re-doing my wife's CV last night (it really needs someone else to be the surgeon on a CV), and I moved the whole Education section right to the end it was pretty irrelevant to now, though it does have her Degree qualification on there BA Hons (Law) 2:1.

Since I don't have a degree at all, when I've been recruiting in the past its not something which has swayed me one way or the other.

Simon P. Lucy
Friday, October 04, 2002

"What companies constitute the big four?"

Ed's Bait and Tackle on old Hwy 7
Gina's Aquarium Repair
That company that had the sock puppet
Fred Sanford's Salvage
        

Minimally Informative
Friday, October 04, 2002

Simon,

I'd say the need to be a graduate is now more important than ever.

Not being a graduate myself, I find it closes many doors for me.

However, this may reflect the market I'm in: Financial institutions in London.  Those damn bean counters.

Ged Byrne
Friday, October 04, 2002

GPA in the US isn't consistent. The college I attended actually did its GPA calculations on a scale that ran from 0 to 12 rather than 0 to 4. But the letter grades were standard, so I used those on resumes when necessary.

I'd have to agree with the person who said that a good GPA doesn't hurt. When I'm looking at someone's academic background, the things that really help are (in order of priority): doing interesting research projects, being able to talk about classes that really inspired you, and graduating with honors. GPA comes after all that. If someone has a 4.0 GPA but didn't do any research and has no good stories about their favorite classes then I can't evaluate what they actually got out of their education. I wouldn't hire someone who coasted to perfection instead of taking on the biggest challenges they could handle.

Beth
Friday, October 04, 2002

When evaluating a potential new hire I would think it helps to get all the relevant information you can.  And all other things being equal, I'd say taking a person with a high GPA over a person with a low GPA would be a no brainer.  (Of course, I know, it's pretty hard to say when "all other things are equal").

At the very least, someone commented that "The more boring the job, the more they look at GPA. High GPA shows you were willing to work hard on stuff you didn't enjoy."  Hello? -- What do you think a job is for most people?  If a person with a low GPA was smart but unmotivated (or undisciplined) in school, why am I supposed to  think that person will automatically blossom and show their full potential when I hire them to work at a job they're likely to end up finding boring, too?  Why not hire the person that's demonstrated they can do what the work assigned and do it well?

All this is not to say that there may not be factors that make a student with a C average from Podunk U a better hire than a person with an A average from Carnegie Mellon, but come on, it's just common sense that you want people who have demonstrated accomplishments in the past. 

If a person has a very low grade point, it's something I'd like for them to explain.  And I wouldn't likely to be satisfied by an explanation like, "Assignments were boring and unchallenging to me."  If a person can't jump through a few hoops in school, why would you think they're going to be able to jump through the hoops put before them at a job?

I've seen too many low gpa'ers who simply assert that they're just as smart as the high-gpa'ers (or that school work doesn't test real intelligence), with no evidence to back it up.  I'm sorry, but I do think work in school is at least some measure of intelligence, which is reflected in grades.  And to the extent that it doesn't measure intelligence, school work is a test to see who's willing to work hard. 

So I do think GPA is relevant.  No, it's not the most important thing.  But it is a piece of relevant information.  To completely ignore it in the interview process would be to throw away a valuable piece of information that's easily gotten.  And since getting as much information as you can during the interview process is important, I do think GPA's should be taken into account.

Herbert Sitz
Friday, October 04, 2002

Oh, I forgot to say that I do agree that I do agree that GPA loses importance as a factor after a job applicant has real world job experience.

For an applicant fresh out of school, you often won't have much information to gauge how good an employee they'll be; in that case GPA may be fairly important.

But once an applicant has a year or two of on-the-job experience, I'd be inclined to take the references from their prior job as being much, much more important than their GPA.  It's on the job performance that a hiring company is interested in.  For job applicants fresh out of school with little or no on-the-job experience, GPA is a more important factor.  For applicants who have real job experience, their GPA in school loses much or (nearly?) all of its importance.

Herbert Sitz
Friday, October 04, 2002


How nice!

In my country, you don't have anything like a GPA. But "tell me where did you get your grade from, and I tell you how capable you are" measuring system.

In Chile, we have several type of "superior studies" entities. In order of "importance":

a) Public universities
b) Private universities
c) institutes

You can get pretty much the same degree in any of these institutions. But a graduate from an institute have no chance against a graduate of a public university. However, this is changing, and now some private universities have more prestige than some public ones.

Anyways, is common practice here to contract only alumni from your own alma mater :-)

Leonardo Herrera
Friday, October 04, 2002

"What companies constitute the big four? "

Guessing:  Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Sun?

Norrick
Friday, October 04, 2002

I hope it's not a factor considering I don't have one having never went to college and still manage to keep a job in this industry for years. Not because I didn't want to or thought it was a good idea to skip college, but I just didn't have the money.

This of course will not impress those that seek to judge you based on your GPA and what school you went to. So let me tell you a little story from the past - I once consulted  inside a large software company that was on the way to the top like a rocket. Everything was in place for them. They had ivy league management and staff throughout. Their programmers were from the best schools and usually came from the top of their classes. They would look down on my team because we were just lowly coders brought in from the outside with no such credentials. I was even told that I was "an idiot" and "didn't know what the fuck I was doing". I laughed it off (and secretly cried to myself) and continued to work there for two years putting up with the attitude. Then one day the shit hit the fan - the company was in big trouble and all their ivy league degrees, shiny italian shoes, and slick wind tunnel tested hair doos couldn't save them. They were fucked and eventually they had to lay off thousands of employees. I went back to the main office and a week later I was consulting for another ogranization.

So whats my point? Put your money where your mouth is and write software. Anything else in this industry is bullshit.

Ian Stallings
Friday, October 04, 2002

Very good advice Ian.  From my experience even free (But publicly released) software projects stand out far more then any education can.  But as others have said, not having a degree will shut some doors, especially as this industry matures from programmers to Software Engineers.

Lucas Goodwin
Friday, October 04, 2002

Of course GPA is a factor at practically every company. Hiring managers would have to be fools not to factor in a decent proxy for performance in a challengin, diverse environment over 4 years.

pb
Friday, October 04, 2002

In this environment, GPA still isn't much of a factor if you have real world experience.  If you do not, try to relate a favorite project in college to the job description (we've all taken a senior project class, right?).  Especially if it was very difficult to pull off (I know my senior project was).  As for where people have gone to school, it really doesn't matter.  I've been in interviews where the hiring manager is rattling off the names of his developers and saying things like "He went to Stanford, Jim went to Cal Tech, Mike is from MIT", etc.  The whole time I was thinking "Who cares where they went to school?"  So, to me, school doesn't really factor for me...

Tim
Friday, October 04, 2002

[But as others have said, not having a degree will shut some doors, especially as this industry matures from programmers to Software Engineers. ]

Yup. I've learned this from first hand experience. Trying to get hired at a large law firm based in Washington DC I could see the interview come to a virtual end when I stated that I had no degree. If you have the chance then take it, don't pass it up.

I didn't get to jump right into a development position, I started in a lowly tech support job and worked my way up to sys admin then developer. I like all the experience I got from those jobs but if I could go back and go straight to college then jump right into development job I would. I've actually been looking for a chance to go to college and possibly make an exit from business development into something more fun like robotics or Genetic Alg/Agent/Complex Adaptive development. But I'm pushing 30 and starting my own software company right now so my time is thin (In my eyes).

Ian Stallings
Friday, October 04, 2002

If you're applying to some kind of "program", (grad school, intern program, etc)  then they may use GPA to filter out people.  If you are simply applying for a job, GPA rarely matters.  MAYBE they may expect you to have over a 3.0 

I always thought that was a crock of @$#%, b/c is a 3.0 from a Harvard Science major "less" than a 4.0 from a community college Education major?

Bella
Friday, October 04, 2002

"But I'm pushing 30 and starting my own software company right now so my time is thin"

Seriously? I'd say you have 12 years of work experience and 40 years until retirement, so you've got plenty of time.

anon
Friday, October 04, 2002

High scores at college can mean the student was part of a group that did a lot of cheating and re-use of other people's work, or that spent weeks practising on past exams instead of actually learning.

It can also mean the student has wealthy parents and never had to worry about working, and thus will have limited life skills, and possibly a dangerous arrogance as well.

Marker
Friday, October 04, 2002

It could also mean that he was abducted by aliens and implanted with test results.

no, really
Friday, October 04, 2002

Of course it goes without saying that where you earned your degree has a significant bearing on how the GPA is interpreted.  Harvard may be a bad example though.  They are well known for grade inflation. 

Just do the best you can, let the details sort themselves out.

no, really
Friday, October 04, 2002

Personally I find a candidate's choice of school quite helpful in learning something about his(1) attitude towards technology, operating systems, etc.  CMU, MIT, CalTech, UMich, and a few others attract and encourage people who are passionate about (or at least interested in) unix, distributed systems, and general hacking and innovation.  Not that it can't happen elsewhere, but it is less likely.  I have no interest in talking to someone who spent his undergraduate career doing such MIS-ish stuff as scripting Access.  Better a non-technical degree from a challenging school than BSCS elsewhere.

GPA, not a big deal.  I regard a 4.0 with suspicion--it ain't natural.  At least one hard-nosed professor is sure to set the ceiling at A-/B+.  It's easy to route around them, which action does not suggest resolute perseverance.

(1) The singular pronoun, gender-indefinite.  EEOC and whatnot.

Steve Kradel
Saturday, October 05, 2002

Ged,
I'm not sure its ever been a barrier for me.  But then I've never been able to break into front end financial contracts because of other conditions, like not being involved in financial systems :-).

I have been misrepresented as having a degree, or its been assumed I've got one. 

On one trip into Thailand customs stopped me and my boss at the time, and  starting going through all our stuff.  When they started pawing through his underwear (that was a revelation in its own small way), he started remonstrating with the customs official that I was an important professor giving seminars in your country (in a large aggressive American hand waving sort of way), I took my cue and remained entirely silent.

Eventually they let us through without even taking a bribe.

Simon P. Lucy
Saturday, October 05, 2002

The original poster asked about "first job", folks. School attended and GPA matter in most situations, I'm afraid.

pb
Sunday, October 06, 2002

To those of you who think that a 4.0 at a community college is just as good as a 4.0 from Harvard...  get real. I've taken courses at Harvard, and I've taken community college courses. There is a difference, folks.

Anon
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Nope not really peeps.  Depending on the type of jobs you are applying for.....they could care less about your GPA if you already got some damm good work experience.  You can graduate 4.0 top of classs blah blah blah....but what you learn at school is not neccessarily what you would do at work. Why would an employer want to waste time training you while they can hire someone else who already knows what they're doing? Of course unless they're hiring you for a low paying salary....then you're in luck mister 4.0.

Not saying that GPA is not important. It wouldnt hurt to have to a good GPA......but most of those who do are the ones who are really good at cheating....or have rich parents who pay for all their expenses so all they have to do is just focus on schools....while the rest of us struggle with two jobs and full time school.

But in the end, job experience will win over. Thats why internships often open the door to landing some good careers. Tough way to go...but thats the way the world turns these days...

Rikaino
Monday, June 21, 2004

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