This is a guest post from Jon Morrow, who is 25 years old. His blog is On Moneymaking.

By Jon Morrow – I nearly killed myself in college to get straight A’s. Well, almost straight A’s. I graduated with 37 A’s and 3 B’s for a GPA of 3.921. At the time, I thought I was hot stuff. Now I wonder if it wasn’t a waste of time. Let me explain:

1. No one has ever asked about my GPA.
I was told that having a high GPA would open all kinds of doors for me. But you know what? I interviewed with lots of companies, received a total of 14 job offers after graduation, and none of the companies asked about it. They were much more impressed with stuff like serving as Chief of Staff for the student government and starting a radio station run by 200 volunteers.

I suppose a college recruiter from a Fortune 500 company might ask, but honestly, I can’t see any employer hiring a straight-A student over someone with five years of relevant work experience. It might tip the scale in a competitive situation, but in most cases, I haven’t seen that grades are really that important to employers.

2. I didn’t sleep.
Unless you’re a super genius, getting 37 A’s is hard work. For me, it was an obsession. Anything less than an A+ on any assignment was unacceptable. I’d study for 60-80 hours a week, and if I didn’t get the highest grade in class, I’d put in 100 hours the next week.

Translation: I didn’t sleep much. From my freshman to junior year, I averaged about six hours a night. By my senior year though, I was only getting 3-5 per night, even on weekends. I was drinking a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and 2-3 energy drinks per day just to stay awake. Not only is that unhealthy, but it’s not particularly fun either.

3. I’ve forgotten 95% of it.
I majored in English Literature and minored in Communication Theory. The main reason I chose those subjects was I thought they would teach me how to write and speak, two skills that would serve me well for the rest of my life.

Boy, was I stupid. Instead, I spent all my time reading classic literature and memorizing vague, pseudoscientific communication theories. Neither are useful at all, and I’ve forgotten at least 95% of it.

I’d guess the same is true for most college graduates. Tell me, what’s the point of spending 60-80 hours a week learning things that you immediately forget?

4. I didn’t have time for people.
Being in the student government and running a radio station, I had lots of opportunities to build a huge network. But I didn’t have time. Between studying and doing my job, I had to prioritize the people I wanted to develop relationships with and narrow it down to the handful who could help me the most.

That’s no way to go through school. College isn’t so much a training ground for entering the work place as a sandbox for figuring out who you are and how you relate to other people. You develop your social skills and forge relationships with people that might be colleagues for the rest of your life.

If I could do it all over again, I would spend less time in the library and more time at parties. I would have 50 friends, not 3. I would be known for “the guy that knows everyone,” not “the smartest guy in class.” Not only because it would’ve been more fun, but because I would still be friends with most of those people now and would have access to the networks they’ve developed over the last four years.

5. Work experience is more valuable.
In retrospect, I could’ve probably spent 20-30 hours a week on my studies and gotten B’s. That would’ve freed up 30-70 hours a week, depending on the course load. When I think of all of the things that I could’ve done with those hours, I just shake my head.

If there’s one thing graduates lack, it’s relevant work experience. If you want to be a freelance writer, you’re much better off writing articles for magazines and interning with a publishing company than working your tail off to get straight A’s. The experience makes you more valuable to future employers and usually results in a paycheck with a few more digits on it.

What about Graduate School?
If you’re getting your masters, going to law school, or becoming a doctor, then you’ll need all 37 of those A’s to get into the best school possible, and you can safely disregard this entire post. Just be sure that you follow through. I thought I would go to law school, and then I found out what a miserable career it is and how little it actually pays. All of those good grades are now going to waste.

It also comes down to the question, “What’s the most effective use of your time?” If you can’t imagine living without an advanced degree from an Ivy League school, then reading until your eyes fall out and sleeping on a table in the library is a perfectly defensible lifestyle.

On the other hand, if you want to get a job and make as much money as possible, then good grades aren’t going to help you as your teachers and parents might have you believe. You’re better making powerful friends, building a killer resume and generally having the time of your life on your parent’s dime.

Jon Morrow’s blog is On Moneymaking.

_____________________________________

Once you’re done with college, what should you focus on next? It’s clear your grades don’t matter, but what does matter? The most important thing after you graduate college is to treat your 20s like they matter. This is not practice. This is your life. And here: How to Make Your 20s Count

281 replies
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  1. Ben
    Ben says:

    If you were an engineer or business major or any other hard science then you DO need a good GPA. recruiters wouldn’t even get a interview with out havening a top GPA, sure experience will trump but your not going to get it if you don’t have the grades. Oh and you would need to remember what you learn.

  2. desaparecido
    desaparecido says:

    I don’t really agree with your conclusions about getting high grades in college. I suspect a somewhat narcissitic “look-at-me” pout.

    I also received straight As in College, working as much as you did, and I too was driven to perfection in my studies. But it was not wasted, for I learned from this experience about how to get things done, be disciplined, and never give up. Never make excuses and keep moving.

    That is what college is all about: learning how to get things done.

  3. Ben Bleikamp
    Ben Bleikamp says:

    @ Ben (one of the other Bens): My GPA is relatively low (3.0ish- I care to keep my GPA above 3.0, that’s about it) and I’m a senior majoring in marketing (pretty generic major) and I have companies and businesses contacting me asking when I graduate and if I have a job yet. Most of my classmates are wondering what they’re going to do when they get their diploma.

    You don’t need a high GPA – you need to go meet people who are working in the field you’re interested in. I am interested in the web, so I started a website. Turned out people liked my website and my design and my writing, and I have met dozens of people who are interested in helping me get a job in quite a few fields (not all web-related) simply based on some of my writing and some of the things others have told them about me.

    Smart people with good connections and good social skills will do better than smart people with good grades. I think Penelope says that a bunch on this website…

  4. Scott
    Scott says:

    Thought I would add my 2 cents. I figured this out about 12 years ago when I was in college (I am now 32). Since then I am now earning nearly 200k (not in sales either) have held high ranking positions in multibillion dollar companies and my GPA in college was a very average 2.97.

    Why? Because I used the knack that allows me to succeed in business back in college. I do what I need to do to succeed. I learned a lot in college and since graduating. I love to learn… I just don’t like to waste my time.

    College is definitely worthwhile and depending on what you are majoring in you can learn many things that are pertinent – just getting good grades shouldn’t be the priority, learning should be, academically and socially. btw, I am not making this stuff up.

  5. Jen
    Jen says:

    I got into grad school, and I certainly didn’t make all A’s. Not the best grad school ever, but it works for me. No one ever asks me for my GPA, and I’ve forgotten a lot of what I learned as well.

  6. Bernd Labach
    Bernd Labach says:

    Work experience counting more than grades? That sounds like heaven to me.

    In Germany, it’s only grades, grades, grades. That, and being young. You could be a total leader and have built a commercial empire with 10000 employees, but unless you have the “right” papers you will not be able to get a decent job at a bigger German company. Because they will not look at your CV if it doesn’t have the exact education they are looking for.

    At the same time, German companies are complaining a lot about how much more dynamic and flexible the Chinese or Indians are.

    It’s really a pity, but if you are not believing in a University degree being the answer to anything, you will have to look for work elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if you have a killer degree and no experience, you should come here.

  7. penny
    penny says:

    If you had slept more, you would have gotten those A’s with a lot less effort. Your brain was fried.

    If you had majored in math or engineering or chemistry, you would have learned job relevant
    skills and you would not have forgotten 90 percent of it–or you would be unemployable.

    It ought to be illegal to give degrees in drivel–such as english lit and “communications”. Unless, from the getgo it is explained that that stuff is drivel. Imagine, a degree for studying ….”stories”, and “poems”. That’s getting a degree for aquiring…Culture, as distinct from something useful, like the
    art of entering numbers into spreadsheets, or of
    bossing people around.

    On the other hand, some might argue that the reason for a university education is NOT job training or job skills, but getting an ….education. Job training ( except in the sciences and premed) is the mission of TRADE SCHOOLS, not universities. But, then they should explain that clearly before you spend a fortune
    on it. You might not want an …education. You might prefer to learn….how to run commerical computer programs to graph stock prices. You might not want to read “theories” but learn to write tv commericals for such important things as hairspray and cheeze whiz.

    I see no reason why one should spend a hundred thousand dollars to “study” the romance novels of Jane Austen, or the theatrical distractions of Shakespeare. Others might want to spend for it.
    But, we all know…that in the workplace…learning to have a “network” and to hold one’s liquor is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than, say,
    the theories of Plato.

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      I gained some very valuable critical thinking, creative, and writing skills as an English/Computer Science major, and I apply them everyday in the world of software engineering.

      In fact, they’ve made me a much more valuable candidate to employers than the average shmuck who can’t be bothered to learn how to write succinctly and correctly–something I learned how to do by reading and analyzing “distractions” like Jane Austen.

      I can’t put enough emphasis on the critical thinking aspect of studying literature. I would not have gained the same level of critical thinking ability by just studying computer science. Until you’ve actually taken an upper-level English class, and done well, don’t talk about how “worthless” it is.

      People like you would’ve benefited greatly from reading a few books, because you’ve obviously got no clue–and you certainly didn’t think much before writing a post like this.

      You’re an idiot.

  8. penny
    penny says:

    Someposted:
    //Just because a person has a high GPA, doesn't mean jack when you work with me. I've worked with some extremely sharp people that didn't have a college degree and would put them above a lot of people who do have college degrees.//

    Sure, and if you ever need Heart Surgury, remember that a college degree means JACK.
    Get it from a nondegreed sharpie.

  9. penny
    penny says:

    someoneposted
    //I am getting ready to attend college after serving many years in the US Navy. I am currently working as an Environmental Scientist with no college education and receiving pay and benefits similar to my colleagues with degrees.//

    Pay maybe, and title maybe, but if you don’t understand the details of partial differential equations, thermodynamics, etc., you NOT an environmental SCIENTIST. You are not even close.

    Scientists create new thought. You are working as a …..TECHNICIAN.

  10. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    @Penny, English literature is not “drivel”, nor should it be illegal to give degrees in English literature. That’s a ridiculous notion.

    Someone signing up to do a degree in English literature knows that it’s not the best thing to study if what you really want to do is learn how to put numbers into a spreadsheet. But neither is pure mathematics, which is even more highly theoretical and rarefied than studying the theories of Plato.

    Education is meant to contribute to our understanding of the world, not merely help us function within it.

  11. Penny
    Penny says:

    Caitlin,
    Read my post again with attention to IRONY and SATIRE. Have you ever read J. Swift?
    You completely missed my point.
    Penny

    p.s. The world is going to hell in a handbasket.

  12. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    This is the only dumb post I’ve read on this blog. If you didn’t have time for people and a life then you weren’t good at time management. I have a 4.0, frat parties, leadership positions, internships, a job, great friends, and great mentors

  13. Patricia Robb
    Patricia Robb says:

    You won’t retain everything you have learned in college and I don’t think that’s the point of it. I think schooling is to help you know how to think and learn and reason things out.

    Getting good grades takes commitment and hard work. When you are working towards a goal and you see your way to the end successfully that will do you a world of good in your career as you will face many things that will require that kind of dedication.

    Knowledge is great, but without wisdom it doesn’t amount to much. Put the two together and you’ve got something!

  14. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    I can say I regret not having gotten straight As in college. If I had actually learned something there, I might have a job today.

  15. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Great Article!

    Grades are definitely not a predictor of a successful working life – nor is college for that matter but I bet the drive and hard work that made you successful in college is what is making you successful now. You likely have learned to balance that obsession for achievement. I was too heartbroken when I found out no one cared about my GPA but I was one of the few that took the grad school path and that was the only reason that GPA mattered. Now I realize what I learned getting that 3.9 GPA was efficiency of work flow and that pays off every day.

  16. cindy*staged4more
    cindy*staged4more says:

    So true so true.. What helps me a great deal now in running my small business were skills that I learned participating gazillion student organizations and jobs while skipping classes. Sure I had less than stellar grades (shh don’t tell my parents), but I learned a lot about grass roots marketing and making small-budgets work. I wouldn’t be able to learn that in the classrooms.

    Cheers,
    Cindy

  17. penny
    penny says:

    Higher education is NOT supposed to be about learning business skills–especially if you don’t major in business. It’s about becoming a more cultured human being.

    The business degree is itself a perversion of a university education–created as a sop to the business world–to make it look like business is somehow an academically worthy prestigious thing:
    which pleases the ignorant, anti-intellectual business people that unversities have given over their boards of trustees to–
    and to get lots of money from students.

    My dad learned about the same stuff as one learns in a business BA and MA program ( back in the 1930’s) for FREE: In High School under the old
    commercial program. This included micro and macro economic planning, management skills, marketing and market research, etc.

    Sad to say , even that is a perversion: because he didn’t learn the stuff one should learn about liberal arts in High School.

    Again, Universities should NOT be trade schools for clerks ( executives).\

    You people have been badly cheated, if that is what you wanted to get out of it.

  18. penny
    penny says:

    One thing that great grades show is OBEDIENCE to authority, and conformity to the system, the party line and the rules.

    These are good predictors for corporate success at all but the top level.

    Of course, this refers to liberal arts, and business majors–not to science and math majors where the actual material is important to the job itself.
    In math or chemistry or physics, if you forget
    most of the material you studied in university,
    you are unable to DO the job.

    One measure of whether you have been cheated in university–of a real education–or are greatly underemployed ( even at high pay), is whether you use most of what you learned in your
    job.

    People who spend their time in University
    networking, going to parties, drinking, doing sports etc, DO NOT BELONG IN UNIVERSITY–they are
    immature fools wasting the time and resources of the scholars who are there to give them an education.

    And the universities are corrupt–because they care more about tuition than standards–such people should be expelled.

  19. penny
    penny says:

    Does the “junior achievement program” still exist?
    ( Running late, no time for a websearch).

    It was a program to teach the things that Cindy didn’t learn in class–to KIDS– run by business
    people who wanted to TRAIN future business people.

    IT was free—and it didn’t take years.

  20. penny
    penny says:

    By the way, one thing I like about “Junior Achievement” is that it was run by Business people
    –and not by uni profs of business.

    If uni profs of business were any good at it—Why are they TEACHING? Why are they not using their skills to get rich?

    “Those who can do; Those who can’t teach
    Those who can’t teach, teach teachers,
    and those who can’t do either
    administrate the university.

  21. Joe
    Joe says:

    Hello!?! You got 14 job offers. I end with 2.8 gpa and no job offer when I was very involved with the student government and organizations activities.

    But I must said I am glad because I learn so much than hitting the textbook. He is right, I don’t remember 95% of what I learn.

  22. Jay
    Jay says:

    Wow, I have to disagree 100%.

    I graduated with a 2.95 out of 4.0 from a top Ivy League two years ago. I took challenging classes that I was really interested in despite a lower chance of getting an A (my school has a grade-quota policy in most classes).

    Now I find myself constantly constantly getting my foot in the door, only to have it slammed shut due to my GPA.

    Granted I’m pursuing a job in a very competitive field (financial research) but it’s what I love and I don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.

    Frankly, I’m an excellent candidate. I’m passionate about it, I’m competent and learn quickly, I have solid two-years of work experience, I do quite a bit of self-study, I interview well and am personable, and I’m willing and eager to put in long hours. Yet 80% of the jobs I apply to have GPA caps: 3.2 or 3.5 out of 4.0. I’ve been told flat out by employers that they’d love to have me except for my academics (they act a little more satisfied when I tell them I got a 1510 on my SATs, but nothing ever comes from it.)

    This advice may be good for careers that are slightly less competitive, but if you’re going into finance as a young professional with very little nepotistic contacts, GPA can make or break you. I try not to regret my decisions in college, but after 300+ rejections from my dream career it’s increasingly difficult not to wish I had spent a lot more of my time buried in a library rather than appeasing my intellectual curiousity.

  23. Michael Czajka
    Michael Czajka says:

    Hi,

    Like your post.

    As a student that has spent his life participating while studying… it means education was fun.

    Do as many things during your education as possible, chose to study things that are relevant and try to do things that make education more relevant… especially things that make a difference.

    Care more about learning stuff than getting good grades.

    I didn’t do much drinking or partying… but ended up knowing a lot of students and making lots of friends. Making friends is not costly.

    As a result I remember almost everything I’ve ever learned and I’ve used almost all of the knowledge after graduating: you have to make an effort to use the knowledge. Often that means donating some time.

    Most of the voluntary stuff also came in useful.

    I didn’t do any of it for the money…

    There is very little to regret if you’re having fun.

    Your GPA did you a lot of good… it probably got your foot in the door for more jobs than you realise.

    You can do it differently if you ever go back and study some more.

    :-)

  24. Ilana
    Ilana says:

    I had that part figured out by the time I started high school. What took me longer to figure out is that it applies to the workplace too.

    Don’t bust your butt doing your job well if other people don’t notice or care. ALWAYS ensure that the outcome of your hard work is measurable and that your bosses see it. If you face the choice between looking good and having to let something slide, do the former.

  25. Xstamper
    Xstamper says:

    I totally agree. There is more than college than straight A’s. You are suppose to learn the material, not memorize it anyway. If you can’t grasp the connection between ideas but can simply memorize the idea without knowing it’s meaning, then you are not really college educated.

  26. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah says:

    I’d like to disagree. I graduated in ’05 with a business degree and feel that my low GPA was one of the main reasons why it took me so long to find a decent job after graduating. I had to move hundreds of miles away from home to get a temp job paying $10. Thankfully I’m making more now, but many students will read this article and use it as a license to be lazy; totally missing the fact that you recommend keeping a B average.

    Getting into the training programs at fortune 100 companies requires a good GPA or your left coming in as a mail clerk trying to work you way up.

    A 4.0 isn’t required but a 3.6/3.7 is damn helpful.

  27. fili
    fili says:

    I disagree with your post as well, for one, a high GPA does help a lot when you’re trying to find a job fresh out of college. Surely there are others who can find a job with way lower GPA than yours, but if you do not have experience in the field, why else would they choose you over somebody else? besides, studying 60 hours a week just to get A’s is way too much, maybe you’re jut not that bright.

  28. LaTricia Sanchez
    LaTricia Sanchez says:

    wil I think what he is saying make a good point, I am 25 yrs old going to college and my I am a “c” student I really don’t try for “A” because that way to hard on urself but I do want to get A’s I just can’t get there. but I do agree with him.

  29. Erin
    Erin says:

    I think you’re on point. School comes pretty easily to me, and with minimal effort I kept up a relatively high GPA throughout college. One semester I wanted a 4.0 and it became an obsession. My best friend got decent grades as well, not as high as mine necessarily, but she has a killer resume. She has tons of internships, job experience, and volunteer experience. I can honestly say I wish I had been more well rounded in college, and had acquired some bankable experience. No one has yet to ask or comment on my GPA.

    Additionally, all the successful people were mediocre students, who had a lot of experience and a huge network. So there you go.

    I think the point is to not focus solely on your grades, and work towards gaining experience that you can fall back on. Great article. And if someone uses this article as an excuse to be lazy and party, thats because they are not getting the message. Kudos.

  30. Working Girl Two
    Working Girl Two says:

    I think everyone has made some fair points, but I have to agree with Jon. I just recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and Irish studies (don’t ask).

    While I did not have the best grades, more like mediocre, I still attained a job right out of college because of my experience – I was News Editor at my college newspaper, held two internships, was a tour guide and started a retreat at my school. All of these experiences were not only a good resume builder, but gained me friends with similar interests and goals. And I have to admit, I spent my fair share of college partying – or rather more than fair share. The point is, I balanced all of it so I could have a well-rounded college experience. I regret nothing, which I think is a pretty great feat. I had gret friends inside and outside the clubs that I participated in, had great work experiences, and even learned a lot in school. Unlike Jon, I think I retained a lot of information from my college experience (of course, this could always change since I’ve only been out of school for less than a year). However, I am glad I majored in English because everyone needs an employee who can read and write!

    I hope the readers of this blog look at this post for what it is trying to convey – that you can have it all – the grades, the friends, the parties – you just have to decide what you want to make a priority based on what you think will mean the most to you in the future.

  31. Johnson
    Johnson says:

    Just observing most of the post here, and the original article, it seems like everyone draws their conclusions of what college is from being english or business majors. I’m sorry, but try taking science courses and doing a science degree – those majors aren’t about meeting people, but research and learning. Sure, english majors serve their purpose, but you NEED the information you learn in science courses. Someone with a 4.0 that has a degree in Chemistry and Physics is going to be more beneficial in their field, in my opinion, than someone with a 2.9. Those fields require new ideas – and they aren’t for those who like to slack – but for those who want to push the bounds of what is possible in the world. Scientific breakthroughs don’t come from partying all night and treating college like a time for partying.

    I want my doctor to be very knowledgeable and someone who works hard – not a slacker who is concerned with making a network of people who will carry them to the top of a company. Maybe this is why doctors are paid so much and are in so much demand.

  32. Heather
    Heather says:

    Jon,

    You’ve made my day. What you said was so true and I’m glad to know there are others out there that feel the same way. I feel like I’ve missed out on life. I can’t really add anything here that hasn’t already been said, but thank you for posting this blog.

    -Heather

  33. Jared
    Jared says:

    Thats funny, I recently got admitted to graduate school and my transcripts include 2-3 Ds, about 10 Cs, and mostly Bs. I’d say maybe I have about 10 As on my college transcripts.

    Granted I intend to work a bit harder in my master’s program so that when I apply to a doctorate program the programs will look at how hard I worked and excelled at the master’s level but the master’s program was more impressed with meeting me and discussing my goals and motivations and not so much with my grades.

  34. Jared
    Jared says:

    I’ll also add that I lived it up quite a bit during undergraduate studies and yet I still feel slightly unfilled and would have partied a bit harder and taken advantage of more chances to live it up; for me early on in college my motivation for keeping in good academic standing was the fact that it allowed me to live the college lifestyle; failing means no more college lifestyle and for that reason alone I believe most college students go on to succeed. Anyone obsessed with getting straight As has a problem.

  35. Krysta
    Krysta says:

    In college, I got straight As, except for the occasional A-. I studied way too hard and it affected my social life. I do regret working so hard now. I am a freelance writer and recent blogger, who went on so many interviews, and not one of them asked about my grades. I think back now to how many times I could have gone barhopping or something else equally as irresponsible, but I didn’t because of a test, paper, etc.

  36. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Most of you are not getting the simple message he’s trying to send out. Being a nerd with little social life and getting straight A’s is NOT better than having a life and getting B’s. I know most of you are offended by the fact that this is reality. Getting an education is a privilege and an advantage, but it’s not more important than having a good social life and enjoying your youth.

  37. M Ryan White
    M Ryan White says:

    As a current college student, my main issue with this article is that it discounts the possibility of someone being both socially astute and academically inclined. I have a single B and a B+ on my record at a top 100 ranked school, and still go to 3 or 4 parites a week and have a social network of about 700 or so people. In addition, I was President of my residential area, and am in a fraternity. There are people out there who are capable of balancing both, and this should be encouraged. And, as elitist as it sounds, the idea of a majority of B’s on my transcript is simply unacceptable.

  38. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    You know, I feel the exact same way Jon. I’m in my last semester of college and I have a 3.98 GPA. I don’t think I sacrificed all the fun parts about college- but I definitely wasted SO much time worrying and obsessing over grades when I should have just said “screw it, a B isn’t the end of the world” and had fun. I also copped out on taking really difficult elective classes because of my fear of getting a bad grade. Now I feel like all that was a waste of time and I wish I would have been a little more chill…

  39. gary
    gary says:

    if you found Walt Whitman..and know astrology is true and we didnt go to the Moon, and Federal Reserve runs this country ..then you learned something..

    otherwise beer and chicks i think is best

  40. Walt
    Walt says:

    I’m a little late in the game, but I think you’re right on the money with this one. The real American obsession, it seems to me, is with obsession, being totally immersed in something– anything. As you point out here, it’s balance and not laser focus that’s the real key to success.

  41. Brian
    Brian says:

    Rather than retread what’s already been said in this blog (communcation & English degrees are not useful to finding a job, GPA is important for highly competitive fields and so on) I’d rather focus on your hypothesis that spending more time making friends and working is more important than a very high GPA.

    1. The friends you are most likely to connect with are the same graduating class as you. If you’re 20 that means other 20 year olds, not hiring managers or even managers.

    2. The difference between a 3.0 and 3.9 is 10%. The difference between a 3.9 and 2.0 is 20-30%. That effort doesn’t necessarily translate into a part-time job. It’s entirely possible you could become a C- or D+ student on a part-time job and definitely on a full-time job. In fact, many drop out because of work: work has a nasty habit of needing you to pull extra shifts or work overtime when it’s exam time.

    Granted you can find exceptions to both of these. But in general going to college to “make friends and work part time” makes as little sense as overworking yourself for a high GPA, if not much less sense.

    You’ve been told the great lie. The great lie is: go to college to get a a good job. The main reason to go to college is you absolutely love what you’re studying, and are willing to go homeless and keep warm over a fire barrel if necessary for the rest of your life just to have your one shot at learning what you love. This goes for engineers as well as Arts majors, because if you don’t love what you do you won’t last four years.

    There are exceptions to this: the long-term planner who has his eye on a 100k-200k salary and can study four years in something he absolutely hates for example, but for the vast majority of people you need to love what you’re studying to have any chance of success at it. People who love what they do address several of your symptoms: they do not forget most of what they learn because they love it and commit it to long term memory, not just a grade, and they don’t particularly care if a job doesn’t slam them in the face after graduation.

  42. Q
    Q says:

    Don’t you put your GPA on your resume? I mean, why would they ask you what your GPA was if you already wrote it down?

    Just wondering.

  43. N. Rizzo
    N. Rizzo says:

    I did have someone ask my GPA while I was working as an investment analyst at a top commercial real estate firm. After working at the company for about two years, I applied to be a volunteer English tutor in rural Russia. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the stress of working in finance, I acknowledge. My GPA was only 3.0 from a top school. I divulged my GPA to the Russian program coordinator and he blabbed the number to my boss as he was a reference (also, not a good decision on my part.) After that, I was humiliated and embarrassed especially since I got the job not having to report my GPA.

    Looking back, eight years later, I look at this as a cautionary tale to control who in your life talks to whom. Don’t use your boss as a reference while you still work at the company.

  44. L. Cruz
    L. Cruz says:

    As a freshman in college, this article makes me somewhat sad, but not because it in any way undermines my past efforts or my future goals. It makes me sad because of the way we have been conditioned by the educational system to value grades and GPA over the actual learning itself. The fact that Jon received those 37 A’s and 3 B’s while remembering virtually nothing from his 4 years there is a dismal, disconcerting testament to this fact. There is less an appreciation for absorbing, understanding, and retaining the information we are taught because the apparent goal of education is to perform well on the tests and have the grades to prove it. Jon, think how different your opinion of your 3.9 GPA would be if you had 1) studied to understand the information 2) chosen your field of study because you found it to be interesting or 3) sought applicability of the skills you learned to a possible job rather than expecting a wonderful job simply by virtue of your phenomenal (because it is) GPA? I’m not so much criticizing Jon as I am criticizing the structure of our educational system and the values/skills/mindset it has instilled in the youngest American generation. But that’s just my humble opinion.

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  1. ((little fat notebook)) - blog says:

    A reflection on college: what is it for?…

    Those of you active on facebook have probably been tagged in the “25 random things about me” note by this point….

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