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My GPA is 2.97 and I am a junior in University. My resume is pretty strong, having around 2 years experience in the industry as a software engineer. I also include work samples with my resume, including small games and web apps. Recently I have been applying to several co-op jobs. In a few of them, I have been contacted by the employer and asked "Do you have a 3.0 GPA?". I respond honestly and say "no". Many of them seem to completely decline based on this alone, despite everything else I have on my resume.

This always seemed odd to me, because in and of itself, this focus on grade-point average influences poor academic behavior. It influences students to avoid taking anything challenging because the risk is too high. Also, many students have the advantage of being full-time students, whereas people like me work full-time while in school.

So why do companies base so much on GPA? And why is the 3.0 cut-off so strictly enforced?

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    My guess: one needs a simple filter to reduce the initially huge number of applicants before you can pay more attention to the each application. – Vedran Šego Nov 18 '13 at 17:43
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about undergraduate grades in the workplace – EnergyNumbers Nov 18 '13 at 17:48
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    While 2.97 is not 3.00, I am pretty sure it can reasonably be called 3.0. – StrongBad Nov 18 '13 at 18:20
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    I'd disagree with closing this as workplace-only. The same criteria can also be used in summer enrichment programs (like REU's). – aeismail Nov 18 '13 at 21:27
  • I think this question is basically asking what is the difference between GPA 3.0 and 2.9 (or 2.97)? Voted to reopen. – scaaahu Nov 19 '13 at 2:25
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“why do companies base so much on GPA? — And why is the 3.0 cut-off so strictly enforced?” — Because it is practical! As any numerical indicator, it allows one to make decisions very fast. Thus, it is not used the main decision factor, but simply to weed out a large fraction of applications, thus reducing the amount of work required by individual examination of the remaining applicants' files.

Does it mean that some exceptional applicants, with poor GPA grades, are left out? Yes. Is it understandable from the company's point of view? Yes, also: you have to compare the amount of work it would require to give each and every application a thorough review (huge) to the risk of loosing a potential top-notch-collaborator-who-had-a-poor-GPA.


Why 3.0? — I'm not sure there's any good reason for that, and it would probably depend on the company/program. But 3.0 is a nice round number, easy to remember, and it falls in a convenient place in the statistical distribution: if you set the limit to 2.5, your threshold does not filter out enough applications; if you set it to 3.5, you're at risk of loosing to many good applicants (making you rely too much on this simple numerical indicator).


How to combat it, if your GPA is lower than 3.0? — Rounding is one trick you might try (2.97 is 3.0, if two significant digits). More promising, though, are getting very strong recommandations, if possible from inside the company. Whatever the announced requirements are, there usually are ways to get your application file into the right pile, if you can get someone to speak for you.

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    Networking is the key here. If you are afraid of being on the first-round chopping block, try to find clever ways to create relationships with people in the place you are applying to. Sometimes you can save yourself from being roasted just by having someone recognize your name on a piece of paper. – LordStryker Nov 19 '13 at 15:13

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