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Good Student, Bad Grades

April 15, 2010

Today, I would like to dedicate this post to all the hard-working students out there – but especially the ones who aren’t achieving good grades.

Sadly, I am one of those students. In these past few weeks, my GPA has taken a beating like never before. Maybe I’m not getting enough sleep. Maybe I’m not spending enough time on projects. Maybe I’m so frazzled that my brain isn’t working properly. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’ve never had such low confidence in my skills as both a student and a writer.

A 50% on a test, even a small one, seems unacceptable. A 67% on a cumulative project, one of great value, discounts my progress.  But when I look back on these marks a year from now, will they really make a difference?

Truthfully, your grades in school do not reflect your abilities in the workplace. When hiring, most employers will take a quick glance at your marks. While there are definite exceptions to this rule, depending on the industry, most companies and organizations just want proof  that you have graduated from your program of study.

Employers are more interested in the attributes that make you an outstanding candidate: initiative, self-motivation, willingness to learn, strong work ethic, etc. Of course, some work experience and portfolio material also increases your chances of finding work.

So, the next time you receive a poor mark, try not to criticize yourself. Your marks do not entirely reflect your traits as a person and student. Chances are, if you apply yourself and work hard, you will have the same job opportunities as the straight A students.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 3:54 am

    I got a whopping 25% on that bloody blogging test. That beats your 50 by a country mile.

  2. April 15, 2010 4:35 am

    Don’t get discouraged. I completely agree with you. I am sure that more than 75% of the class feels the same way you do. We have to stick together and push through…and trust me..its not you!!!!

  3. April 15, 2010 4:48 am

    If it makes you feel any better, Paige, I actually don’t think 95% of employers look at your grades at all. I’ve certainly never had anybody ask, and I’ve been on a lot of job interviews!

  4. April 15, 2010 6:24 am

    Thanks for the encouragement Sarah 🙂 I can certainly use it at the moment!

  5. April 18, 2010 1:22 am

    I’ve also been told that’s it’s quite rare for an employer to ask for your grades. They simply want to know you have the diploma.

    At this point in the semester I think it’s important to just try to stay positive and make it through. Looking back at the program a year from now, the marks won’t matter but the fact that you made it will!

  6. kevinatwordpress permalink
    April 18, 2010 8:08 am

    Grades can matter. They can close doors that would have been open otherwise, and change lives for the better or worse. A single grade on a single test is easily lost in the torrent of grades that is education. Still, a single test grade can hurt. I think there was a post somewhere about what can be done when that happens.

  7. Kelly permalink
    April 18, 2010 11:17 pm

    I can tell you from my own personal experience working in communications for the past four years (with three different employers) that NONE of them cared about my grades. What they DO care about is what you did in the program and, most importantly, how you applied what you learned. This is why your portfolio is important in any job interview. Keeping digital files as well as hard copies ensures that you can provide employers with copies of work you’ve done. They want to see the actual results, not the grades. In my resume, I have mentioned the types of communications and public relations work I am capable of and then bring examples to the interview. Those sample newsletters that you’ve created and news releases you’ve written count for a lot more than a 50% on a test. I know it’s discouraging, and I’ve been there too. But believe me, as one who’s been working in the field as long as I’ve been in the PR program, that it’s your creativity, ability to multitask and proven writing, planning and design skills that will allow you to get and keep a job in PR.

    It’s like that old med school joke: “what do you call the guy who comes last in his med school class? Doctor, just like everyone else.”

    You’ll be able to work in PR. In fact, you may succeed even more than those with straight A’s in the program. Because in the real world, it’s how you use the knowledge from the program, not just how you recite it back to the instructor in a text.

    Hope that helps. Chin up!

  8. April 20, 2010 5:07 pm

    Yep, I absolutely agree with the comments by Stefanie and Kelly. Academic stuff has NEVER been my strong suit, hence my low grades on those gosh-darned quizzes and exams and other types of regurgitation stuff. Seems to me that in most work places, there’s references available (company website, policy manuals, procedure checklists, etc) for people to consult with.

    Having been in the workforce longer than most of the day-time P.R. students have been alive, I can tell you that I’ve never once had a quiz. Well, except maybe fun ones after hours over suds and wings, but that’s a different story…

    In my opinion (which is based on the crucible of experience, not classroom theory) there are two reasons why employers value a person with a diploma or degree:

    1. Task completion – it shows you can finish what you start, no matter how long or tedious or discouraging;

    2. Critical thinking – a formal education demonstrates that a person can engage in an independent thought process. Most employers are not looking for sheep or boot lickers, they want people with innovative ideas that can add value to their organization.

    And finally, for some weird reason which I still can’t explain, it’s common that after graduation the classroom braniacs end up working for the “C” or “B” students of the world. Unfair? Perhaps … but that’s life!

  9. April 21, 2010 4:55 am

    Thanks everyone for all the positive, encouraging and informative comments!


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