Does your GPA Matter?
By Tom Kersten
Grade Point Average, or GPA is a common term used at universities throughout the world. While universities often emphasise the importance of a GPA, Observer asks a former prime minister, a “Me Too advocate”, a CEO, a supreme court judge and a senior insurance manager: is it actually that important?
Kevin Rudd (Politics)
The Hon. Kevin Rudd completed a Bachelor of Asian Studies (Honours) at ANU, graduating in 1981. Since then, Rudd has worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade among other roles. Most notably, Rudd was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, serving from 2007 – 2010 and a brief period in 2013.
Anthony Day (Financial Services)
Having graduated from Victoria College, Day was previously the CEO of insurance at Suncorp Group, one of Australia’s largest insurers.
Kieren Pender (Social Justice/Law/Journalism)
Completing both a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Bachelor of Law (Honours) at ANU, Pender graduated in 2018 and has since gone on to lead the world’s largest survey of bullying and sexual harassment in the legal industry, gaining over 6800 responses. Pender furthermore works as a freelance journalist for The Guardian, covering sports.
David Mossop (Law)
The Hon. Justice David Mossop studied a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Science at UNSW and later a Masters of Law (Public Law) at ANU. Mossop practiced as a barrister for 14 years, was an Associate Judge for four years and in 2017 was sworn in as an ACT Supreme Court Judge.
Demetra Day (Insurance Industry)
Having studied commerce and science degrees at the University of Melbourne, Demetra is now a senior manager within the insurance industry.
Do GPAs Matter?
The Hon. Kevin Rudd: “Yes it does matter because it is one of the screening mechanisms which employers use, and those running post-graduate programs use it to determine whether a candidate goes to the next stage of the interview process. That is the cold, hard and uncomfortable reality.”
Anthony Day: “Certainly, most large companies will consider a high GPA score when potential employers are reviewing candidates … it’s really a ticket to the game and opens opportunities.”
Kieren Pender: “I think it’s easy to get caught up with GPAs and other measures of academic success. Yes, academic performance matters in many sectors, particularly in the early years after graduation. But it is just one metric and it doesn’t have to define you and your career success.”
The Hon. Justice David Mossop: “In law, academic merit is important, at least for your first job. It is a very useful proxy for a lot of things: hard work, organisation and intelligence. It is a starting point for recruiting someone.”
Demetra Day: “GPAs are important to gaining employment after university, as the employment market is competitive.”
What other skills are important?
Anthony Day: “What [is also] important is the other extra-curricular activities, part-time work, team activities etc. … Other skills that are seen as important are, the ability to communicate effectively, demonstrate working with others, confidence in yourself, to take risks, challenges, drive and dedication.”
Kieren Pender: “Equally if not more important are real world practical experience, work ethic and emotional intelligence. Strive for a well-rounded university education – strong academic performance is a bonus, but if you try your best, and make a real effort to get diverse work experience and do a range of extracurriculars, you will be well-placed for a career of your choosing.”
The Hon. Justice David Mossop: “Making sure that the person is a decent human that you can get along with is essential. More generally, as you progress in your legal career, your track record of performance in your job becomes much more important and the law is a diverse profession that over time other personal qualities become more important to a person’s success.”
Demetra Day: “Other skills that are important are your extra-curricular interests as they illustrate the whole person and the ability of the graduate to demonstrate their interests outside of their studies. These days employers place a great deal of importance on both the relevance and successful completion of university degrees, and the overall personality and interests of an individual.”
Graphics by Joseph Oh
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