Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Employers and what students' GPAs mean to them

There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about
employers and what a student’s GPA means to them.

(Note: To read this article, readers need to register with the Times’s site.)

Some noted passages from that article:

“you ask Johnny C. Taylor Jr., senior vice president of human resources for the IAC/InterActiveCorp, the factor that matters most to him is a graduate’s grade-point average.”

“’Companies want the smartest people, and the best indicator for new employees competing in a knowledge-based economy are grades,’ said Mr. Taylor, whose company has 33,000 employees worldwide and owns 60 businesses including Ticketmaster, and the Home Shopping Network. ‘G.P.A. is the best indicator an individual is likely to succeed,” Mr. Taylor said. “It demonstrates a strong work ethic and smarts.’”

“Not every company puts as much emphasis on college grades as IAC, but many use it as an important factor in weeding out lower-achieving students from the interview process. Often companies will advise college admissions officers and recruiters that they will not see anyone with less than a B (3.0) average.”
“In its Job Outlook 2007 survey, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 66 percent of employers screen candidates by G.P.A., and 58 percent of those surveyed said they would be much less likely to hire graduates with grades averaging less than a 3.0. This cutoff makes it even more critical for average or below average students to take advantage of college internships and leadership positions in extracurricular activities, job experts say.”

On the surface, this article may not appear to be about students with disabilities. However, I challenge that it is especially about students with disabilities. Let me explain.

First, the job market is fiercely competitive. If you doubt this, I would venture that you’ve been sitting in your present position for some time now and haven’t tried to seek employment for a number of years. Get out there and see just how tough the scramble for employment can be.

Secondly, students with disabilities must work fiercely to overcome the demands of their accommodative needs in addition to the time and work loads placed on every other student. This compounds the workload placed on students with disabilities in issues such as finding accessible textbooks or scanning printed material. This also includes other encumberances such as the additional time it takes to write their numerous papers by formulating the sentences and paragraphs mentally—a Herculean task in itself—and dictating the final paper using software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Finally, when interviewing for a job, the student must be able to show potential employers that despite their disability, they are the most qualified, fully confident and competent, individual for the vacancy. This may be easier for those who have invisible disabilities, but for those who enter the interview room using a wheelchair or a guide dog, the reaction of the interviewer is often a glass wal that bars access. When it comes down to standing out, the GPA may be the cutting edge that grabs the interviewer’s attention, the one thing that screams out what the student is capable of achieving, despite the obvious.

This article, while it does not address students with disabilities directly, does a great job highlighting that in today’s job market, students’ GPAs are being strutinized as much as, if not more than, any other potential factors for hirability. It is imperative to stress to students that they need to be tenacious about achieving the highest grades possible and not being satisfied with just getting by. When seeking employment, having just gotten by with your grades may very well translate into just getting passed over for the job.

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