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What is your GPA really worth?

Xavier Burgin

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I’m a resident advisor on campus. The majority of students have dealt with my kind for at least one year during their time at Alabama.

While most free themselves of my administrative tyranny once they’ve finished two semesters, I always have a new batch of doe-eyed freshmen entering college with this urge for reckless abandonment I will never understand.

A few days ago, a couple of rapscallions were clogging up the hallway. Since they were impeding on my avenue to walk, I impeded on their conversation.

Their talking points were pretty standard – girls, parties, football, how terrible financial aid is, noon in the Ferguson Center and the quantum mechanics of neutrinos.

Somewhere in the bustle I heard a resident complain about their grades. He wasn’t doing very well.

The response to his problem was quite nonchalant. Your grades will pick up. Your freshman semester doesn’t matter. You have three more years to buckle down. Overall, the sentiment seemed to be enjoy now, fix later.

That’s when I had to join the discussion. I was flabbergasted, stooped and downright confused.

I asked the group as a whole where they got these opinions from. Some said older students. Others said brothers and sisters. One of the kids said his high school teacher (I truly hope that was a lie).

I took a step back and asked if they realized the gravity of their statements. Do they honestly realize the severity of the pitfall they are currently building to trap themselves in later?

Most of them were confused at this point, so I forced them to sit on the floor and listen.

Your first semester as a freshman is your most important semester. That’s not a joke. Don’t let someone tell you otherwise.

If they tell you otherwise, they have no grasp on the dynamics of scholastic endeavor, which they should’ve picked up around kindergarten. Your GPA is like a girl’s reputation on campus. Everyone says it doesn’t really matter, but they always check just in case.

In the real world, no one cares about your GPA if you do your job well, but until you leave college, it will always be a major factor in your collegiate decisions. A GPA can also be your glass ceiling for scholarships, internships and your choice on graduate schools.

I believe people want substance over fluff, but there is a measuring rod for any position, competition or grant. You may be a qualified individual, but (more than likely) there will be someone just as qualified with a stronger GPA.

Visualize this example: An administrator is given two resumes that are identical in strength. Both show drive, dedication, passion, and work ethic. This administrator who governs XYZ Scholarship has never met you in person (and most won’t). The only factor separating each resume is a 2.6 GPA and a 3.3 GPA. Who do you think they are going to choose?

When is your GPA created? Your first semester freshman year.

Let me make this clear. Your GPA for your first semester will probably be the highest overall GPA you have your entire collegiate career. It’s like the difference between a 100 and a 0 on a test averaged into your overall grade.

A 100 won’t really bring you up much if you already have a decent grade, but a zero will destroy your grade average. A GPA works similar to this.

Getting a good GPA for a semester will boost your average a little, but never much. A bad one will destroy it. It’s possible to make high GPAs each semester. But should students expect to do well in higher-level classes when they’re flunking out of computer science 101?

 

Xavier Burgin is a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies and film production.

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What is your GPA really worth?