Taking easy classes in order to boost your GPA might actually be damaging to your transcript.
According to Ryan Hickey, Petersons & EssayEdge’s article, “How Getting an Easy A Can Hurt You,” the authors state the problems with taking electives just to boost your GPA. The main points they make in the article are transcripts are reviewed holistically, cruise courses make a student look less focused, and employers generally look at grades of required coursework, not elective credits.
“I’ve heard a bunch of students say that [taking classes for an easy A] helps, but every adviser I’ve talked to said it doesn’t,” said Sariah Holsinger-Backer, a freshman nursing major from St. George.
Andrew Skaggs, employer outreach for the career center, said it depends on a student’s plan whether or not grades, or even classes on his or her transcript, matter. He said in more academic venues, potential employers would look at a potential employee’s grades and maybe specific classes.
Skaggs said lacking real-world experience can be somewhat compensated for by having classes on your transcript that are considered electives but teach a useful skill. For example, extra computer skills classes can help students look knowledgeable to future employers.
“It’s another hoop you have to jump through to make you as attractive to employers as possible for grad schools,” Skaggs said.
Katie Armstrong, assistant director of academic advisement, also said it is important for students to know what grades they will need to achieve their career and academic goals. She said if students plan to attend graduate schools, they need good grades. Since they know they’ll need better grades, they should plan to study harder in the beginning, she said.
“Every HR person I’ve ever talked to says GPA won’t give you the job, but it will keep you from getting the job,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs said it’s a lot easier to drop your GPA than raise it up. Retaking classes only looks bad if you did worse the second time.
The Dixie State University policy is to count the most recent grade on a student’s transcript. Students should meet with their adviser to determine whether repeating classes is necessary. Armstrong said there are classes to boost a GPA that don’t necessarily reflect badly. She said the fitness center classes are a good example. In the fitness center, students improve their health and get a little GPA boost if they do well.
Armstrong said she encourages students to look beyond grades and focus on learning and taking classes that expand their skills and qualifications.
Ask yourself why you are taking the class. Is it for an easy A, or do you want to expand your knowledge? Armstrong said if students still aren’t sure whether taking a class is a good choice, they should talk to their academic adviser.
“I always recommend that a student discuss course options, and even elective course options, regularly with the academic adviser in their major,” Armstrong said.
Making sure students have a purpose behind taking an elective is important, Armstrong said. If students are undeclared, they should take a variety of courses in order to determine which major they would most like to study.
“College is so much more than earning good grades for coursework,” Armstrong said. “It’s about rigorous learning, thinking critically, working hard in a subject area that is unfamiliar, and really challenging yourself and your ideas.”