Experience and test scores may matter more than GPA for grad school and employment applications.
Experience and test scores may matter more than GPA for grad school and employment applications.

The Higher the Better

Many employers and graduate schools look unfavorably on a low grade point average (GPA); however, what is considered a "good" GPA depends upon the institution. For example, average GPA for new Harvard Law School students is 3.8, but for new law students at Indiana University, it is 3.5.

Resume Matters More

A student's skills and background ultimately weigh more than GPA. Other important factors include scores on standardized tests, recommendation letters and practical experiences. For employers, GPA may be less important than demonstrated skill in a specific competency, such as web design or marketing.

Bottom Line

A good GPA gets employers or graduate programs to consider the rest of the student's application. Many grad programs explicitly require GPA's above 3.5; however, private sector and government employers may be more flexible. Overall, average graduating GPAs as of 2007 hovered around 3.11, so maintaining this "average" will help the student remain competitive.