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How to Explain a Low GPA

explain low gpaSo you are graduating college soon or looking for an internship and you are worried about writing your resume if you have a low GPA. Take heart. You are not the only  person who has struggled with GPA issues and you won’t be the last.

The fact is, your GPA is one of those little facts that employers and others will use to determine your skill level, work ethics or your ability to learn new things. So, bottom line is that it matters.

You earn your GPA; it doesn’t happen to you!

There is a lot of debate about the differences between an “average” GPA from a really “hard” school versus a “great” GPA from an “easier” school. None of that debate matters for the purpose of my arguments here. Ultimately, your GPA, regardless of where you earn it, says a lot about you. Notice I said “earn”, because that is indeed the case.  Your GPA doesn’t just happen to you.  You earn it!

General rule of thumb when you are writing a resume is that you include your GPA on your resume if you have a 2.75 or higher.

I actually believe it is ok to include your GPA on your resume, no matter what it is, UNLESS the employer specifies a minimum GPA requirement. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of the potential employer. What if you were the hiring manager and saw a resume with a “low” (under 2.75) GPA; What are some of the assumptions you might make about the person?

You could be thinking that the student is lazy, has poor work ethic or did not have good grasp of the subject matter. All of which may be true.

However, in my years of experience working with college students, especially our HBCU students, I know that this is not the case in the overwhelming majority of situations.

Explain a low GPA

Now, again consider that you are the hiring manager and looking at a resume, but in addition to seeing a low GPA, you also see that the student:

– changed majors
– had a gap in education and came back to school
– is finishing college in 3 ½ years
– works full time and during breaks
– has great professional experience through part-time jobs or internships
– has a double major

Would all that make a difference? As a hiring manager, I can tell you that “Yes” it would make a difference.

Bottom line is that students need to own their GPA’s – regardless of what it is.

Is the job search easier if it the GPA is higher? In many cases it is.

Do you have fewer choices for jobs and internships if your GPA is below what the employer considers appropriate? Yes.

However, the real key is knowing how to speak to the potential employer about that GPA and be willing to put in all the additional work to have a good overall job search strategy.

If you are just coming up with the explanation for a low GPA in the job interview – it may be too late.

Visit your HBCU career center if you need help finding the right way to dispel employer’s negative perceptions about you or if you want to learn about how develop skills and behaviors employers want.

If you are not a graduating senior you should be doing everything you can to improve your GPA or creating the scenario where a hiring manager will put your GPA in context along with everything else you have to offer.

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