The days of simply graduating are long gone. The world naturally becomes more and more competitive, making GPAs more and more relevant.
Your GPA as a student and young professional is very, very important. We believe that by understanding just how important it is, it may help motivate you to keep on that successful track.
GPA = Grade Point Average | See here for a detailed explanation.
Transferring to a Different University
Many of you will likely be interested in applying to very competitive universities as transfer students. Your high school grades are set in stone; you’ll never be able to change them. However, the GPA you earn while either active duty or after your service is easily one of the most important aspects of your application. You won’t gain entrance to a university for solely earning a respectable GPA, but by consistently maintaining admirable grades, you are proving that no matter what your academic record was before you joined, you are now more ready than ever to tackle the rigor of a challenging university.
Your Grades from before the Military Won’t Matter as Much Once You Reestablish a Post-Military GPA.
We all go through phases in life of which we may not be the most proud. In fact, by associating yourself with fellow service members that are interested in college, or by connecting with anyone on the NSI team, you will find a very common denominator: many service members earned lower than average GPAs before joining the military (high school and/or college). If this applies to you, you are not alone. Guess what, it is not the end of the road. Colleges, especially private universities, will evaluate you on a holistic basis. They will analyze your story and your trajectory, to include how far you have come since your academic shortcomings before you served in the military. Do not self-select out of applying to top schools because your grades before the military were subpar.
For more information on the differences between how private schools and public schools tend to analyze their applicants, watch the video below from Columbia University’s Center for Veteran Transition and Integration (CVTI). For more information about CVTI and other free programs, check out Free Veteran Programs.
I (Jake) can testify to this with my own background. Before joining the military, I had an impressively terrible GPA. After the military, however, I went back to school with a better head on my shoulders. I began by earning a very high GPA at my community college and received a couple associates degrees. Then, I gained acceptances to a handful of Ivy League universities that I never would have thought were even in the realm of possibility. Learn from my story: if you have terrible grades from before the military, you will most likely need to reestablish a consistently high GPA at a community college before transferring, but if you are successful in that step, your possibilities are endless. I will repeat: do not self-select out of applying to top universities because you think your grades before the military will hold you back.
Applying to Grad School (MBA, JD, etc.)
Many of us, including the three founders of NSI, have full intentions of attending grad school after our undergraduate degrees are complete. Much like transferring between undergraduate schools, your GPA will remain important in the grad school application process as well. If you’re an officer and you’re reading this, your undergraduate GPA is in the past, and your biggest concern at this point will be crushing the GMAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, or whatever test is relevant to your prospective post-graduate program. For those of you still trucking through your undergraduate coursework, your GPA is a current, direct reflection of how seriously you’re taking your current endeavors, and it will be a relevant factor in your grad school application. Of course, the specific standardized test scores will matter for us as well, but our GPAs are currently impressionable, and it is in your best interest to ensure you’re keeping them as high as possible.
I (Jake) recently constructed a spread sheet for my own curiosity where I researched the average undergraduate GPA and test scores for the most recently admitted classes at the top 15 MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs in the country. I found the results to be very interesting. Every single top 15 business school held very similar statistics: roughly 3.5-3.7 undergraduate GPA on average, about a 730 GMAT score for M7 business schools (learn what an M7 school is here), and about a 720 average GMAT score for the remaining top 15 programs. I’m not a computer wiz, so I’m unsure how to share that spreadsheet over our site (yet), but if you would like me to send it to you, email me a note at NextStepInbound@gmail.com.
Applying to Competitive Job Markets/ Fields
Throughout your undergraduate career, you’ll likely, and should be, applying to summer internships in fields that interest you. That said, many of you are, and will be, in terrific positions. You have a military background and will have some excellent academic experience under your belt. Aim high; apply to the best firms and give the interview process your maximum effort. However, understand that by entering into a competitive applicant pool, you’re joining an elite group of cut-throat individuals who have been counting the days until they could apply for these internships/jobs. You want to ensure that you are bringing your A-game, which means you want to showcase your diligence, enthusiasm, and determination in many forms, including being able to market your respectable GPA right on your resume. Generally speaking, a reputable GPA is a 3.5 or above.
Invitations to Honors Societies and Esteemed Networking Opportunities
There are certain types of people with whom you want to surround yourself. People in certain honor societies and networking groups are some of those people, and many times, your GPA will help determine your ability to open that door. On this site, we’ve explained multiple times that at top universities, you are surrounded by some of our world’s brightest students, which means that the honors societies at these colleges are the the cream of the crop. Dedicate yourself to achieving a respectable GPA, and make these opportunities available to you.
There are some organizations that label themselves as honor societies and will require either one-time or annual fees, despite having less than spectacular reputations. Always perform your own due diligence and research, and make sure that you’re only joining reputable organizations, especially if you have to pay.