Many online students feel extreme pressure to make the best possible grades, but does it really matter? While it is always good to make the best grades you can and to learn as much as possible, your GPA alone is not a predictor of how successful (or unsuccessful) you will be when it comes time to land a job. In fact, executives and human resource professionals list a student’s GPA as being very low on the list of qualifications that they are looking for. What do they really want?
Ability to Apply Theory
While it’s great to be able to recite theories and ideas, the information is useless unless you can apply it to real-life situations and adapt it to meet your needs. Being able to demonstrate that you are a critical thinker and that you can quickly and easily apply your knowledge to a variety of situations is a highly-sought characteristic within any industry.
Time Management Skills
During your college years, take the time to truly analyze and prepare a schedule for everything. By using good time management skills as a student, you will be an expert at graduation. This will give you the ability to plan projects, multitask, meet deadlines, and be an efficient employee. Employers do not care what you know if you are unable to complete the work on time.
Previous Relevant Experience
Working part-time jobs, taking internships, and participating in volunteer activities and student organizations during your college years can give you excellent experience in your field as long as you choose the right activities. Try to limit yourself to experiences that are relevant to your degree field to get a head start on your future career and to build your resume.
A Professional Portfolio
During your college time, keep a portfolio of projects and ideas that will be relevant to your future career. Employers are looking for people who can produce results. Even if you don’t have the best GPA, you will likely get that dream job if you have physical proof that you are highly capable. If you are not finding opportunities to add to your portfolio through your classes and other activities, produce them on your own. Think of what will likely be involved in your dream job and start producing work that would be included in that job description.
Become a master on public speaking and presentation tools. Offer to be the speaker in group projects and take every chance to present material in a professional manner. Ask for feedback from instructors, mentors, and others to help refine your skills and to strengthen any weaknesses.
In the professional world, you are probably going to be responsible for creating many written reports and materials. Take classes that will allow you to refine and perfect your spelling, grammar, and writing techniques so you will be prepared for any challenge.
In the working world, more importance is placed on who you know than what you know. Start building a network of professors, mentors, business contacts, and students who are also entering your field. Take every opportunity to add to your professional network and don’t hesitate to use these contacts to help you find and land your dream job.
While you should do the best you can in all your classes, you will find that your GPA is much less important to future employers than the knowledge and skills that will actually help you do your job effectively. Work on building these skills and resources throughout your time at college and you will have a head start when it comes time to enter the workforce.