GPA Question from a new EDU Edge friend (Mark) in Alabama … “I am at the end of my junior year and haven’t really applied myself. Is my poor GPA going to hurt me when looking for a teaching position?”
Mark – Thanks for contacting the EDU Edge. We would love to make you feel better by telling you that your GPA will not affect your job search, but one of the reasons we have been successful in coaching teaching candidates is by providing the ‘straightforward insider scoop’. Unfortunately, a low GPA will affect two aspects of your job search: (1) how your resume is constructed and (2) how a school district reviewer reacts to your resume in the initial screening process. Let’s take a look at each.
First, when you build your resume or curriculum vitae, you will have the choice of listing experience or education first. For most people like you (right out of college with little teaching experience) the choice will be to list your educational background. In Chapter 3 of the Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview – Cover Letter and Resume Advice, (a publication of The EDU Edge) the authors recommend that that you should almost always list your GPA if you are right out of school. The reasoning is simple and straightforward, if you do not list it, employers assume it was disastrous. With very few exceptions, the missing GPA is a door closer. This is just the way it is!
Mark, the good news is that even with a poor GPA, sometimes you can show strength in your area of study by listing the GPA specific to your major alongside your overall GPA. You stated that you are in the end of your junior year. Most of the time you are taking a high concentration of electives specific to your major during this time. Soooo hit the books and get that GPA within your major up!
Remember, if you are searching for a position during your senior year, you are going to have to contend with the GPA you have earned to this point. However, senior year provides you with two entire semesters to raise your GPA. It will help you out even if you do not land a teaching job right out of your undergraduate program. It will also improve your chances of getting into the graduate program of your choice. Do not give up the ship! Keep battling for the highest possible GPA right until graduation. It may mean you have to make some sacrifices you were not making previously amidst you friends letting loose during senior year, but this self-discipline will likely help to avoid years of unemployment or jobs you do not like.
The second reason your low GPA will affect you has to do with the initial screening process that occurs when your resume is being viewed by a district employee assigned to rank and rate resumes and application materials. A low GPA will stick in the reviewer’s mind or disqualify you altogether. For this reason we recommend that if you are still in school, please, please do anything you can to keep your GPA up. It may seem like there is no connection between your GPA and the ability to inspire young minds, but employers use this as a telltale sign of your intellectual ability and work ethic. Whether it is fair or not, in education circles, there is an unspoken assumption that in order to lead students, you need to have been a relatively successful student yourself. Do not underestimate the power of the GPA when it comes to applying for teaching positions.
Good luck to you Mark! Get as focused as possible on your classes and program. Get those grades up before your college career is over and you move on to student teaching. And, good luck to all of you following The EDU Edge. Please come back and let us know how it went so we can all learn together.
Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge
(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at info@theEDUedge.com. Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome. We’ll do our best to respond and we welcome dialogue from others going through the same process.)