Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Grades in Engineering

  1. Sep 29, 2006 #1
    Hey everyone. This might be a random question, but I was just wondering, how much emphasis do good grades play on getting a job with an Engineering degree (in my case, an Electrical Engineering degree)? I mean, I know there are many other factors, such as internships, research projects, going to grad school, etc...but what kind of effect will my undergrad grades play when I want to look for a job? Like, will someone with a 4.0 get an amazing job and someone with a 2.0 get a poor job, and what would even be considered a good GPA? Thank you! :smile:

    Oooh, PS, I plan on going to grad school after my undergrad (I'm on the 5 year plan for my masters).
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You're going to have to go through a number of technical interviews before being offered a job. Honestly, your performance in that interview is usually much more important than your GPA. If you know how to perform the job the company wants you to perform, you'll get an offer.

    If your GPA is lower than, say, a 3.0, I would probably leave it off the resume unless asked.

    - Warren
  4. Sep 29, 2006 #3
    Would a high GPA, like in the 3.8 or 3.9+ (more than I have now...but here's to hoping!), help more than a 3.0?
    I mean, from what I'm hearing, it's not a huge factor, but employers still care about it, don't they? Or is it small enough in comparison to other things to not be overly concerned about it.
    Also, thanks chroot for helping answering my questions, I think this is about the 4th or 5th time you've responded to me, and you always have good answers. Thank you!
  5. Sep 29, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you have a stellar GPA, then you should definitely show it -- it can only help. If you have a below-average GPA, try to emphasise your skills, and leave the GPA off the resume.

    - Warren
  6. Sep 29, 2006 #5
    I have been told by employers that too high of a GPA is seen as a bad thing, and the "sweet spot" is around a 3.4-3.5. If you have too high of a GPA it can indicate you may not have the "soft skills" needed in today's workplace.
  7. Sep 29, 2006 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Interesting concept, but I've never actually heard of anyone being rejected for having too high a GPA.

    - Warren
  8. Sep 29, 2006 #7

    True, and I doubt anyone has been rejected for having too high of a GPA. But, my point is, employers do not see as much of a difference between a 3.5 student and a 4.0 student. However, the difference between a 3.0 student adn a 3.5 student is seen to be rather significant.

    And, employers know that your GPA is not even really that good of an indicator of how much you're learning in school and your capability of performing the tasks required of the position.

    In school, just try and get a 3.4 to 3.5 gpa and you'll be ok and be sure to learn as much as possible. Don't forget that you're there to learn and learning should be your primary goal. Grades come second. It isn't hard to get by with a good GPA yet not learn anything at all.

    There are people that are good at plugging and chugging and regurgitating procedures to solve problems, but end up with little understanding and problem solving skills to solve problems outside their hw assignments. These people have high GPAs but do not really know much. GPA isn't the whole story. There are also people with lower GPAs that know more than the high GPA people.

    However, unfortunately, GPA is the only objective criterion employers have to compare candidates, but, due to the way things work at most universities nowadays GPA is meaningless.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2006
  9. Sep 29, 2006 #8
    I don't think so. A High GPA is whats going to get your foot in the door when you have no work experience striaght from college. It's not meaningless, at first.

    Depends where you work.

    You cant get a 4.0 by not knowing anything. :smile:

    Well, I would take a stab and say the person with the 4.0 would get hired preferentially over the 2.0. If the market is good and they both get hired, the 4.0 is going to make more money than the 2.0 starting off.

    Hell yes. Where I work, they specifically ask for your in major GPA. They may take a chance with people who have low GPA's once in a while, but the majority of the time they wont call you back. They want smart people.

    That is the way to go. Try to stay above 3.5 to be competitive.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2006
  10. Sep 29, 2006 #9
    um, I didn't say 4.0....I said high GPA....however, there are 3.5 students that know more than the 4.0 students. There are people that just MEMORIZE everything and do quite well on tests, but do not put extensive thought into what it is they are "learning". This is the point I am trying to make....

    I see these people all of the time at school, and I study with them.

    So, GPA is a poor indicator of knowledge and ability, but really, it's the only thing employers really have to go by so it matters. So, as Cyrus mentioned, try and keep it at or above 3.5.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2006
  11. Sep 29, 2006 #10
    What would you think is a good GPA to shoot for? Like, where do employers start saying "This is a little too low," or "Wow, this is impressive"?
  12. Sep 29, 2006 #11
    3.5 is a good goal, but your goal should depend on where you currently stand.
  13. Sep 30, 2006 #12
    I've heard plenty of people say that they wonder about people who have 4.0's in engineering, about what's wrong with them that causes them to seek out such grades.

    Never heard about the same for GPA's of, say, 3.8 or 3.9, though. And admittedly, the GPA=4.0 issue does not really come up that often in engineering. :)
  14. Sep 30, 2006 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    As high as possible, i.e. do your best. That's what a prospective employer expects.

    Just because someone has a 4.0 GPA, it doesn't mean the person is qualified for a particular job.
  15. Sep 30, 2006 #14
    I really don't see how this is possible. In pretty much every engineering and physics class that I've ever been in, the professors don't make tests that are like the homework problems.
  16. Sep 30, 2006 #15
    Same here, the exams test your ability to adapt what you have learn to problems more difficult than the homework and require you to think on your toes. Pluging and chugging would land you an F- around here. Even the homework requires you to think. I really don't see how you can plug and chug. :confused:
  17. Sep 30, 2006 #16
    I suppose tests are sometimes harder than the hw problems, but I still know people that get ahold of past tests and just memorize how to work problems.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  18. Sep 30, 2006 #17
    No, tests here are ALOT harder than the hw problems, always.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  19. Sep 30, 2006 #18
    Interesting. Here, if you can do all of the assigned homework, you are likely to do fairly well on the test...but you still usually need to work quickly to finish the tests.

    Maybe your profs need to assign harder hw problems then?
  20. Sep 30, 2006 #19
    :rofl: You did not see my thread in GD about the vibrations homework, did you? The homework is esoteric.

    The hw is hard as well. If you do the homework, you can expect a B. If you do the homework and want an A, you better know your stuff. You have to work fast and think fast. It all depends on the teacher. For example, my thermo course had an average of 60% on the exams. It was s**** hard, and only in 50 min. An 85% was considered an A (Though I got 100% on the exams so I did not need the curve). On the other hand, my Vibrations course is also s**** hard, but there is no curve.

    A's are earned here, not handed out. B's and C's are the handout grades.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  21. Sep 30, 2006 #20
    meh, I have hard hw too, and my tests are not a walk in the park (and often there is no curve), but if I work the problems, understand everything very thoroughly, and read the book very closely I don't usually have trouble. My point was, many people get ahold of past tests and memorize how to solve problems, since many profs do not change their tests much from year to year. They do quite well on tests, but do not know as much as other people that do not perform as well on tests.

    Grades are not THAT meaningful.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook