My GPA is low: how do I help my odds of career success?

I am often asked, whether or not career success is achievable with a low GPA. The answer is: of course! It may not seem like it, since the world does have a bit of a preoccupation with GPA. The good news is that there are tons of examples out there of people who either didn’t graduate, or didn’t have stellar marks. Now, that’s not to say that marks are not important whatsoever. However, there is definitely hope for those that are not in the top 40% let alone the top 10% of the class. Here’s my perspective.

I had a previous post on Career Success = Results x Relationships. And I stand by that. But what if you started breaking down the parts

Results with a low GPA

You are might be competing against the “cream of the crop” or just the crop​. And in either case, you need to know that Results are made up of a few things: GPA + volunteer + clubs + recognition/awards + work experience. So, if your GPA is low, everything else has to be higher to compensate.

You should still work work to get your GPA up. There is an understanding that your GPA translates in some part to being able to do the work. Another way to think about GPA is that it could be an indicator of how well you are able to meet expectations in the future. Now there is no causation between good grades and good performance in a professional environment. However, in a good majority of cases, there is some correlation.

Otherwise, if you are able to compensate by getting experience and being a practitioner. You demonstrate your ability to do the work through volunteer work, clubs, and work experience. Then often times your GPA can be overlooked. Also add a few awards or recognition from non-academic areas and they can also make you look more attractive. Of course, they do need to demonstrate that you can actually do the work (not just the chicken wing eating contest you are so proud of). If you’re doing the volunteer, club or other work anyways, you’ll want to make sure you are making the most out of your experiences and hopefully translating what you do into achievements.


If you are like most people, you are networking like a credit card. Turn your networking into BMC and become a debit card. Start adding value to the person before you ask favours from them. Doing so for the right people becomes a multiplier for your results.  Now keep in mind that if you don’t have good results, then you’ll need to find someone to take a bet on you. Having them make a bet on you means that you might not need results overall, but would probably need to produce results for them specifically. That’s another reason why adding value to the other person is so important.


Keep at it

At the end of the day, a low GPA can be overcome. However, you need to take the time to make the most out of the experiences you have. All experiences, be they at school in your academics or outside of your classes!


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