GPA can be a major stress factor for engineering students. Transitioning from high school where GPA is everything is very hard to do. This article will serve as a guide to understanding what is considered a good GPA for engineering students and why.
- Why GPA doesn’t matter too much
- 3.0–The minimum “good” GPA
- 3.5–The safest “good” GPA
- The grad school exception
- What to do if you have below a 3.0 GPA
- Key Takeaways
Why GPA doesn’t matter too much
In high school, they condition us to believe that GPA is everything. It affects your rank and the college you get into. Going into college, it’s hard to let go of that mentality. However, to be successful as an engineering student, you have to.
Stressing about maintaining a perfect 4.0 is not worth your time. In fact, many employers see a 4.0 GPA as a red flag. This is because the more time you spend on your classes, the less you spend on extracurriculars.
When you apply for internships and jobs, the hiring manager will value your extracurricular design experiences over your GPA. Any hiring manager would take a 3.0 GPA student with an internship or design team experience over a 4.0 GPA student with no experience outside of the classroom.
This is not to say that your GPA doesn’t matter at all, because it does. It’s just not necessary to prioritize staying up until 4 am to get a perfect grade on your exam over internship applications, clubs, research, or other extracurricular activities.
3.0 – The minimum “good” GPA
A 3.0 and above is a good GPA for engineering students. It shows that you get mostly A’s and B’s in your classes. Additionally, 3.0 is the GPA minimum for most internships. It’s important to stay at a 3.0 or above so that you will be eligible for internships.
Typically, this GPA minimum is set by HR, not the hiring managers. So, if you make it to the interview, the engineering manager already knows your GPA is high enough for the company and probably won’t care if it’s a 3.2 or a 3.8. It all depends on what you have to show for it.
3.5 – The safest “good” GPA
A 3.5 and above is considered a great GPA for engineering students. It shows that you get mostly A’s in all of your classes. Occasionally, companies will require a 3.5 GPA or above for internships. But this is very rare. However, having a 3.5 GPA would ensure that you are 100% eligible for every internship (GPA wise).
Still, remember that design experience is valued before GPA. The 3.2 GPA student with more internship/design experience will always be a more attractive candidate that the 3.8 GPA student with little to none.
The grad school exception
While a 3.0 GPA and above is perfectly fine for an engineering student looking to go into industry after graduation, this does not apply to students looking to go to graduate school.
Since graduate school is well, school, they value GPA more. It’s hard to say what a “good GPA” is for someone looking to go to graduate school because it varies based on the type of graduate school you want to go to. For example, a 3.5 would probably be fine if you want to get a master’s in engineering, but if you want to go to med school or law school, your GPA needs to be as high as possible.
If you’re looking to go to grad school, aim to keep your GPA at least above a 3.5. Look at some programs you might be interested in to see what their average GPA is for students. This will give you a good idea of what you should be aiming for.
What to do if you have a GPA below a 3.0
After reading this, if you’re below a 3.0, you might be freaking out a little. But don’t worry, having a bad GPA isn’t the end of the world. At the end of the day, remember that you WILL get a job. Engineering is a very hirable degree. Here are some things you can do if your GPA is below a 3.0
- Work to get it up
Yes, this one is obvious. However, if your GPA is below a 3.0 you probably need to switch something up. Switch up your study habits, whether it be the amount of time you spend studying or the way you study. Going to office hours is also very helpful. And don’t wait until you’re struggling to go. You should be going to office hours throughout the semester, especially in tough classes.
Read 7 things to do if you’re failing an engineering class (or already failed on) for more tips on turning your grades around.
- Don’t include your GPA on your resume
If your GPA is below a 3.0, don’t include it on your resume. Chances are, most employers won’t even notice it’s missing. Putting a GPA below a 3.0 on your resume can only hurt you, not help. If they do notice and ask, then you can just be honest. For example, you could say that you spent too much time prioritizing extracurriculars over your classes, and since last semester, you’ve learned from your mistakes and have learned to balance your extracurriculars with doing well in classes.
Again, the interviewer probably won’t notice or ask, but if they do, it will look good that you have a thought-out response. It is also a sign of maturity that you can be honest about your mistakes and can talk about what you’re actively doing to improve.
In conclusion, here are the main takeaways:
- As long as you stay at or above a 3.0, GPA is not that important for students looking to go into industry after college. However, GPA is more important if you want to go to graduate school.
- Make sure that in college, you do internships and are involved in extracurricular activities such as design teams and research. This is the most important thing you can do to make yourself attractive to employers.
- A 3.0 GPA is considered a good GPA for engineering students. A 3.5 GPA is considered a great GPA, but only if you can maintain the same amount of extracurricular involvement.
- If your GPA is below a 3.0, work to get it up, and don’t include in on your resume.