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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: My GPA shouldn’t affect my future

DTH Photo Illustration. Many companies have a concrete GPA cutoff that may prevent students from experiencing certain opportunities.

The past five summers of my life have been spent working as a dock assistant at a boat club in Lake Norman. It was the first job that I ever had and soon became the only job that I ever wanted to work as a high school student. 

Going into it, I didn’t really think my daily duties of deep cleaning pontoons and greeting club members would have a great impact on me, but I can attribute much of my growth over the last few years to that job. In the words of my former assistant manager, I grew from a "shy high school girl" into a "confident amazing woman."

She wasn’t the only person who took note of that. 

This past August, as I was power washing the bow of a boat, I was approached by one of the boat club members, whom I had gotten to know over the past few years. A favorite member of mine, I always catered to him and his family and was always excited to prepare their boat when I saw that they had a reservation.

He asked me, “You’re in college by now, right?”

After telling him where I went and what I was studying, he revealed to me that he was a recruiter for a big consulting firm. He expressed that after interacting with me so frequently over time, I might be a good fit for an internship at the firm. He told me that he could always tell how hard of a worker I was and how my sociability and dynamic personality could be a great fit for the job.

I was ecstatic. As someone who has always worried about my future and worried that I wasn’t doing enough as a college student, I thought to myself: “This is it. I am set.”

We scheduled a meeting in a local Starbucks for a few weeks later and in the meantime, he asked me to forward my GPA and a copy of my resume to his email. 

This made me a little wary. 

When I sat down for our meeting, he said the six words that I feared would hold me back from the opportunities to come: “You gotta get your GPA up.”

The following hour was a painful hour for me to sit through, as I sat there trying to engage in a strong conversation but simultaneously holding back tears.

I walked away with the consensus that I was not going to get that internship. 

Not because I wasn’t qualified, or because my resume wasn’t strong enough, but because there is a strict GPA cutoff that I simply did not meet.

I worked extremely hard in high school to get where I am now. My college application was filled to the brim with extracurriculars, great test scores, strong letters of recommendation and an essay that I was extremely proud of. High school was not easy for me in the slightest — not because academics were difficult, but because I had to juggle various mental and physical health issues throughout the four years I was there. 

I came out of high school with a decent GPA, but going into my first two years of college, my health took a turn for the worse. My grades took a turn, too.

But I am here. 

I am still working as hard as I can, given the circumstances. My health is still a challenge, but I’m here. And the fact that I lost an opportunity just because of a numeric qualification that I do not have for reasons that I really cannot control is ridiculous.

As a student who has exhausted herself in hopes of receiving opportunities like this, it’s so painful for that to be taken away. 

My GPA should not matter. The only things that should matter are the reasons why that recruiter approached me in the first place: my work ethic, my passion and my enthusiasm.


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Kennedy Cox

Kennedy Cox is the 2023-24 photo editor at The Daily Tar Heel She has previously served as co-editor of the photo desk. Kennedy is a senior pursuing a political science degree.