Why I Broke My Back for a 4.0

One random tidbit for college students to consider about grades and why they matter: I had a 4.0 at UT Austin for 7 semesters and that definitely made me an extra $70,000, got me into Stanford for grad school, and drastically changed the entire course of my life – proving that GPA CAN MATTER.

  • 4.0 was the highest GPA you can get at UTAustin
  • UT had straight grading at the time: you either got an A,B,C,D, or F…there was no +/- so there was a HUGE difference between an A and a B. (UT has since changed to +/- grading)
  • A semester is ~16 weeks at UT so we went into much more detail than most Stanford courses (quarter system) but had fewer of them over 4 years (each one mattered more)..and 16 weeks gave you a lot of time to screw up..
  • I was pursuing, simultaneously, both a Liberal Arts degree (Plan II Honors) and a Chemical Engineering degree….two entirely different mindsets.
  • My grades and interview skills won me the #1 seat out of ~50 Co-op engineers at Exxon Mobil 100% of the time I was evaluated, meaning that I got paid more than everyone else and got to do really cool real work. When I was 19 years old, approximately 10 million gallons of gasoline went across my desk every day, which meant I handled over a billion dollars in product in a single month and I couldn’t even legally have a beer with my colleagues.
  • When I finally broke my 4.0 (partially a good thing since it humanized me on paper at least!) because of this terrible advanced philosophy class I took, I had so much momentum with my GPA that it hardly hurt it. I screwed around my entire senior year, had a blast, drank way too much, and figured out my calling in life. Instead of playing catchup late in my college career, everyone was playing catchup to me.

Bottom Line: You won’t regret busting your ass a bit extra to keep your grades high!!

Once you go to grad school, start a company, or get into industry for a few years, no one will care about your GPA, but until then, a low GPA can close a lot of doors… and a high one can open a lot of doors!

Disagree? Tell me why in the comments