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So, I understand good grades in high school, you use your GPA with your application to college. Once your in college, is there any reason, like putting your college GPA on your resume, to get anything greater than a C(unless to fulfill prerequisite grades)?

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    The Dutch Wikipedia has an article on exactly this: Zesjescultuur. Google Translate may be of help ;-) – gerrit Jul 6 '16 at 10:09
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    You don't go to college to get grades, high or low. You go to college to gain specialized knowledge, and grades are a reflection of your mastery of such knowledge. Given the same college degree, applicants with an average A grade will invariably be preferred to applicants with an average C grade, on the good grounds that they have superior knowledge. – Koldito Jul 7 '16 at 10:20
  • [continued] As in, if you need to have brain surgery, someone who graduated top of the class from Stanford Med School would be an obviously better choice than a bottomer from a provincial university. If you are having legal troubles, a top graduate from Harvard Law would be an equally obviously better choice than Lionel Hutz. This is not because grades are important in and of themselves, but because they reflect breadth and depth of knowledge. – Koldito Jul 7 '16 at 10:26
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There are several reasons to aim for good grades:

  1. You will probably want either a job or graduate school admission after graduating. The better your grades, the easier it is going to be and the more choices you will have.
  2. You are in college to learn. Why waste your time and the college place on not doing your best?
  3. Think about those prerequisites. If you only just make the grade to go into the next class in a sequence, you may not be able to keep up and may fail some of the later classes.
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    On point 2: unfortunately, learning subject matter and learning to the test are more often than not quite different. – gerrit Jul 6 '16 at 10:08
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    @fkraiem A test can only measure a distinct subset of understanding of the subject matter, namely, the testable subset. The ability to perform well in written tests does not equate the ability to perform well when applying knowledge and skills. – gerrit Jul 6 '16 at 13:31
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    In my experience as a student, good grades do not in general indicate a great understanding of the material, but bad grades do in general indicate a poor understanding of the material. – user28375028 Jul 6 '16 at 23:18
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    @user28375028 I agree. There are several strategies that can lead to good grades. One of them is to really understand the material. That is the one I'm recommending. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 6 '16 at 23:48
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    @gerrit If your primary goal is learning, grades can be a useful indicator of understanding. If you just want good grades, you can probably figure out easier ways of achieving them than learning. All systems can be gamed, but a system can still be useful, if you decide not to game it. – Jouni Sirén Jul 7 '16 at 12:39
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The other answers give the standard practical reasons why one should aim to get good grades, but I prefer a more idealistic explanation, which is that good grades are not the real goal one should focus on, but rather a side effect. If you focus on the real goal of learning the material at the highest level possible, good grades will follow automatically. So, good grades do have their practical uses, but philosophically speaking, they are just a distraction.

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As the other replies already make many important points, I'll just add a few that are not listed yet:

  • During college special programmes might be accessible only if you have a good GPA. Look up "honours programme + your college name" and something might pop up.
  • In some cases you might be able to compensate for certain grades by scoring higher on other subjects, this also varies per college.
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The purpose of high GPA (good grades) as an undergraduate in college is to demonstrate to future employers, collaborators and professors your ability to complete a certain amount and level of work in a satisfactory manner. Many factors in your life will be influenced by your undergraduate GPA:

  • many scholarships have a minimum GPA and academic progress which must be met.

  • Graduate school admissions are largely based on undergraduate GPA, class schedule, and letters of recommendation.

  • Many Future Opportunities are only available to those who achieved a high GPA, for example, I have seen Ph. D. programs which require a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA.

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