Let’s face it: your GPA is seen as a reflection of your educational effort and overall work ethic. This makes it an important part of career growth (like it or not.)

A high grade point average is an accomplishment that many new grads use to impress potential employers. The same is true for students applying for scholarships or wanting to be accepted into a certain school.

Many students who are looking for a competitive edge in their field consider rounding up their overall GPA to a higher number before adding it to a resume or job application. But should you do it?

A common question that comes up during all of these scenarios is whether or not it’s okay to round up one’s GPA. It might be tempting to use a GPA calculator and then bump the number a little bit. After all, a 3.0 GPA sounds a lot better than 2.95. This is especially important to students trying to meet a certain minimum GPA requirement.

But is GPA conversion ethical?

Rounding Up Your GPA

A high GPA alone probably won’t get you a job, but it can be the deciding factor between being given (or not given) an interview. If you’re wanting to land a job and are thinking of rounding up your GPA to provide yourself with an edge, you can proceed--but with caution.

Here are some general rules when it comes to GPA conversion:

  • Rounding up to the nearest tenth is acceptable.
    (3.68 = 3.7) but not to the nearest whole number. A 2.78 GPA does not round up to a 3.0.

  • Claiming a 4.0 you haven’t earned is a no-no.
    If you have a 3.92 and are wanting to convert to a 4.0, reconsider. Because achieving a 4.0 GPA is such a distinguished accomplishment, many career and resume experts advise against rounding in this situation.

  • Avoiding GPA to letter grade conversion is advised.
    Changing a 2.95 into a 3.0 might seem like a minor change but it actually alters the letter grade from a C to a B. This is a misrepresentation that could cost you a program spot or job if discovered.

  • Listing your true GPA is your best bet in some situations.
    For example, if you are filling out an online application that has two spots after the decimal, you should include all three numbers (3.92 instead of a 3.9).

  • Applying for a competitive position.
    When you know that transcripts are likely to be checked is a hard rounding “don’t.” Err on the side of caution and avoid rounding up your grade point average in instances where you know it will be double-checked or questioned.

Achieving a 4.0 GPA is a distinguished accomplishment and considered “perfect” by many institutions. For this reason, you should never round up to reach a 4.0 GPA on a resume or college application.

Proceed with Caution

Being able to do something doesn’t mean that you should. Think of it this way: you could go buy an extra-large pizza right now and eat the entire thing by yourself. But the aftermath would probably make you regret that decision.

Although bumping up your GPA might secure your place in the candidate pool, there is always the chance that someone could catch the discrepancy between the GPA you rounded up and the one on your actual transcripts. This could make you look dishonest or untrustworthy, which is why it is important to recognize the risk.

Consider Other Options

There are other things you can do to stand out during the application process if you decide rounding up your GPA isn’t right for you. These include:

  • Listing the GPA for your major instead of your overall grade point average (a GPA calculator can help with this)

  • Focusing on skills and experience instead of your GPA

  • Leaving it off of your resume all together if it is below a 3.0

Remember this: although future employers and admissions specialists will likely consider your GPA while you are first breaking into your field, it won’t be this way forever.

Once you have some time and experience under your belt, a 3.5 GPA will mean very little. Before rounding up your GPA, examine the pros and cons and look at other alternatives for accomplishing your goals. Your overall GPA doesn’t determine your worth, but your integrity is defined by your choices.

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