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Help! My low GPA is holding me back

Dear Coach Joan,

OK, I blew it. In college I was more into partying than studying. I was immature and had the wrong priorities.

I graduated with a GPA (grade point average) of 2.0 out of 4.0. That means I had a lot of Cs, some Ds and perhaps one B.

Fortunately, I was able to get a job in a very good company despite my poor academic  record. However, I had to take a junior position to get in, but once in the company I have had three promotions in three years! Proud of myself. But that darn low GPA is holding me back. I am now ready for graduate school and just know that my low GPA will not serve me for graduate school admission. Suggestions?

Regretting my past,


Dear Justin,

If I had a nickel for everyone I met who had regrets about their past I’d be a rich woman! No kidding. If the regrets were not about academic performance, they might be about the good boyfriend or girlfriend who got away, the drug or alcohol problem, a selfish attitude, painful words spoken, etc. In other words, almost every human being has regrets. We don’t come into this world whole and perfect. No one does.

That said, I think we all need to learn some self forgiveness. We need to recognize that at the time we made our decisions, given what we felt emotionally and knew intellectually, we did the best we could. Self forgiveness is the beginning of being ready to move forward. So first thing, Justin, tell yourself you were immature, you didn’t see the value of hard work in college, yet you changed your tune, got on the career track and prospered.  Congratulations!! You had another chance. In fact, you made another chance for yourself. You took a low level job, did well and earned advancement. In fact, your ambitions today are a strong testament to the maturity you gained along the way.

This is the kind of story many graduate school admissions people like to hear! You have a track record of upward achievement and growth!

Here’s my suggestion after you have forgiven yourself: Research the overall admissions criteria for the graduate schools you are interested in. Typically they look at several aspects of a candidate’s performance. That includes the college GPA, the GRE or Graduate Record Exam or if it is medical school or law school, certain tests for those fields. They also look at your employment history and recommendations. Seems to me that if you had three promotions, you probably have some very impressed managers who would support your application with fine recommendations and offer to be positive references.

The other thing to consider Justin, and I’ve seen this strategy used successfully: Take some additional classes at a  local college or online and work like crazy to earn As.

Show that you are now a focused academic and you are a strong candidate for graduate school.

Remember Justin, everyone has regrets. But one needs to forgive oneself and move forward in a self correcting, mature fashion.

Onward to going beyond your GPA!

Coach Joan

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