The Reality of the GPA

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the well known American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator recently delivered a powerful commencement speech at Kean University in New Jersey. He is most famous for getting Pluto taken off the list of planets a few years ago.

The newly minted graduates heard several great insights from Neil. One of the biggest insights shared is the myth that your GPA really matters once you graduate. Of course, your GPA or class standing is critical to get you into your dream University but, I know personally that I didn’t have a great GPA when I received my BSc many years ago.
I recently read an article in Inc. that tells how Tesla went about laying off 14,000 employees. It’s really unbelievable to see the process they followed with the layoff. The impacted employees received an email sent by Telsa which said the company did

The funniest thing I recently saw driving on the Highway close to my house was a new fully tricked out Mercedes G-Wagon, running at 200K plus with the vanity license plate with GPA 2.1. On a similar note, my wife and I recently had dinner in a nice Dallas neighborhood and a Ferrari was parked out front with a GPA 2.3 license plate. I guess Neil’s thoughts are right on track here.

Here are several great other thoughts Neil shared with the new graduates:

“You want to climb higher? Be ready to do some climbing after you get out,” he said. Yes, there are no free lunches once you graduate, you must earn your keep by doing good work and working hard. Whatever you do when starting your career, you need to perform well. Your performance will make you stand out, not what school you went to or what your GPA was.

The next insight he shared was the importance of your ability to Solve Problems. That is so true. Problem solving skills and the ability to look at things from different perspectives is critical. Over my lengthy career, being seen as a problem solver and having critical thinking skills has helped me be a person that others seek out for advice or guidance.
The last insight and possibly most interesting was the importance of “being a good person.” He highlighted the value of having moral integrity and ethical behavior. Companies care about your moral compass. In a world where company executives are regularly making the news for the wrong reasons, good for you, Neil, for bringing up the need for morals and ethics in the workplace. You’d think this would be understood without saying, but not any longer.
The tremendous insights shared above are not only applicable for new graduates, they also apply for all employees from entry level to C-level leaders within every company. If you have a recent college graduate or know someone who does, please share this article with them. The entire commencement speech can be found online if you’d like to check it out.

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