I recently interviewed business senior Phong Dang, the Cal Poly recipient of the William Randolph Hearst California State University (CSU) Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, a $3,000 scholarship. He plans to attend graduate school for business. His impressive 3.779 GPA led me to wonder how I and other Cal Poly students will measure up when applying to jobs or master’s and doctorate programs.

Is GPA the most important thing, or are other factors taken into consideration that possibly outweigh that number? I’m sure I’m not the only one concerned about GPA, but not to fear, it isn’t the only aspect reviewed by admissions staff.

Cal Poly career counselor Jane Johnson, who generally advises business students, said whether GPA is a prominent factor depends somewhat on your major and the industry to which you are applying. For instance, a technical industry would probably demand a higher GPA because those jobs rely on your proficiency in the field. A sales recruiter would be more likely to look at your personality, since that’s what you’d use to sell a product.

However, no matter your industry, do not disregard your GPA completely.

“You can’t discount it. It’s definitely a factor,” Johnson said.

For those with a GPA lower than than they’d like, there are other ways to boost your resume.

Johnson said the biggest bang for your buck comes with having related experience on your resume, such as a sociology major who interned with a social services program or an accounting student who helped locals file their taxes.

Other important aspects include leadership and community service, she said. Plus, the fact that your degree is from Cal Poly helps.

So to improve your resume and land a job or graduate school admission, get some experience in your chosen field, take on leadership roles or do community service and don’t ignore your GPA. Ds may get a degree, but they’re not a sure-fire way to get a job.

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