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Graduate with Bad Grades or Repeat a Year? 277

An anonymous reader asks: "I'm a CS Student within one year of graduation. Due to financial reasons, I've been working on a full time basis for the past 2 years, and I've worked on an open source project. This has brought me from the B's and A's of my first two years of college to somewhere in the mists of C's and lower. I now have enough money to sustain myself for two years of schooling. I've got two choices: repeat one year, repair all my bad grades and graduate with better grades but with a mark that I repeated one school year; or graduate with lower grades but with no repeated year. I'd like to know the opinion of recruiters out there: if you had two candidates which ranked similarly during the interviews, would you choose someone who repeated classes for higher grades?"
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Graduate with Bad Grades or Repeat a Year?

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  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal ( 162153 ) <banantarr@nospAM.hotmail.com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:25PM (#19622951) Homepage
    Showing that you had the drive to go back and do better, scoring higher, and learning even more, would be enough to show me that you had motivation which could translate to the job. Of course, the problem is I probably wouldn't even look at your grades -- I might just check to see if you graduated and choose to check into other qualifications. In which case you might be wasting a year by going back, because that's one more you could've had either looking for the right job or already being in the right job and making money.

    Sorry I couldn't be more help :)

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:36PM (#19623035)
      The degree is good, but it isn't worth any where as much as the demonstration of your coding skills and how well you can work with others.

      Just graduating is sufficient IF you can show solid code, good practices and the ability to work with others on that project.

      I'd lead with the project and just leave everything else as resume filler.
      • The degree is good, but it isn't worth any where as much as the demonstration of your coding skills and how well you can work with others.

        Just graduating is sufficient IF you can show solid code, good practices and the ability to work with others on that project.

        You made the assumption that he's going to become a coder.

        Not all people with CS degrees become coders. Nor should they. There are a lot better jobs out there for people with CS degrees that don't result in "all the hours of a doctor at 1/3 the pa
      • Prioritization? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sczimme ( 603413 )

        I'd lead with the project and just leave everything else as resume filler.

        Look at the other side: the [alleged] excessive involvement in the OSS project shows that the candidate has some genuine difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. It looks like he has trouble prioritizing appropriately.

        (Yes, I know he was working a project, not playing games. However, the point stands.)

    • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dshaw858 ( 828072 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:48PM (#19623123) Homepage Journal
      I think it's worthy of note that by repeating these classes, you'd probably get more than just higher grades--you'd get a better education and actually learn the material in these higher-level (300 and 400) computer science classes. Remember that it wouldn't just be you with good grades and another year vs you with bad grades minus a year competing; it would be you with good grades, another year, more knowledge about higher-level theory and software engineering and more time to work on open source/passion projects vs. you with bad grades, no knowledge and less time.

      I'm definitely not a recruiter (just an employee), but I think that this seems to make the most sense to me--especially if at your time in school you'd be able to get into some undergraduate research with a professor there.

      Good luck with whatever you decide,

      - dshaw
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Vengeance2001 ( 843563 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:33PM (#19623485)
        The ugly truth is that people right out of college don't know much about the real world. (They always think they do, though, so I'm sure the average /. reader will argue with me on this. :-) ) Retaking the year and "knowing the material better" is a waste of time. You will learn much more by working in a real job for that same year than studying the same stuff again. The GPA only matters in your first job search process--and that's only because no one can tell all of you recruits apart at that point. :-) Especially true at big companies that interview a lot of college kids at the same time. To me, hiring IT people at a steady but slow rate at a mid-size company, a very high GPA says you're brilliant, but all others from 3.5 on down basically all signify "not brilliant", which is fine. If you have mitigating factors like work exp or financial difficulties, you'll be able to explain your situation if anyone asks. Do not volunteer your GPA or attach your transcript to every letter. Once you have a job on your resume, I start to have things I can react to as a hiring manager looking for certain things. So think of this first job as "the job that will get you the job you want," not "the job you want" and it will help your mentality in the search a lot. Hope that helps...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Here is the important question: Are you truly satisfied? That degree is not for your employer. That degree is for YOU. Those are your skills, your brain, and your experiences. Your degree will not get you jobs. How well you are able to do that job will get you jobs. And it all starts with your approach to your career. If you see it as a series of checkpoints with scheduled rewards then in fact you will not get too far. Or you will get far and you will find out you are miserable. If you see it as a sort of s
        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @04:39AM (#19626395)

          To me, hiring IT people at a steady but slow rate at a mid-size company, a very high GPA says you're brilliant, but all others from 3.5 on down basically all signify "not brilliant", which is fine.
          A high GPA indicates one of two things imho:
          a) The person is a hard worker and capable of the inane dedication needed to get high grades in his classes such as essentially living in TA sessions.
          b) The person took easy classes and knows little about the subject.

          Now a brilliant person may get a high GPA or instead spend their time on more useful projects or take classes so hard they don't get As (despite being brilliant). Or they may just think the whole process needed to get high grades is pointless and instead play video games.

          I've known people who were brilliant, geniuses even, but had almost abysmal GPAs. I've also known people who while intelligent and hard working were not geniuses but had very high GPAs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wikinerd ( 809585 )
        They can just graduate with low marks, keep their books (if they have bought sany books) and read them. It is not necessary to have a professor over your head or be enrolled in order to learn, although it sometimes can be helpful. If they wish to prove that they know some advanced algorithmic stuff, they can simply write some open source code demonstrating their knowledge and copy-paste the code into their CV.
    • by Coldmoon ( 1010039 ) <mwsweden@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:28PM (#19623451)
      I have interviewed quite a few potential hires and can say that I spent little time looking at the education other than to see if they had the right skill set. The grades tell you nothing, what is important is that you prove to the employer that you are the right person at the right time with the right skills. Everything else is window dressing.

      If you think that your current knowledge is insufficient then by all means repeat the year. If you would not learn anything that would justify the extra year, then go on and put your focus on getting better scores in the coming year...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by daeg ( 828071 )
      I don't even check if they've graduated unless they make a big deal out of it, then I check it just to make sure they aren't overcompensating for being a liar. For me, the interview is much more definitive than some words on you resume. As s small company, we value workaholics more than those that sail through a degree. I'd rather hire someone who had to work every day of their college years and manage to pull straight C's than someone who didn't work and pulled straight A's.

      But YMMV according to the types
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @09:28PM (#19624545)

        As s small company, we value workaholics more

        Translation: they want you to work 12 hour days til you burn out, then they'll replace you with a fresh grad.
        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:21AM (#19626563) Journal
          If they hired smarter+competent people, I bet you could get the same amount of work done with the smart people working normal work hours and the _computers_ working 24 hour days.

          And the resulting code would be a lot better.

          After all a good programmer is supposed to be making the computer do the "stupid + hardworking" stuff.

          How many geniuses are you aware of who can work 12 hours nonstop at genius level, _day_after_day_.

          Whereas there are obviously too many people who can work 12 hours at "stupid/incompetent".
        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:09PM (#19628981) Homepage Journal
          In my experience, this is not true of small companies, or at least less so than larger companies. If your whole workforce is 20 people, you can't tolerate swapping any of them out with any regularity. On the flip side, you are likely to need long hours occasionally since you can't spread unexpected critical tasks over as many people. Long hours are pretty hard to avoid for start-up to small companies and don't necessarily indicate exploitation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by innosent ( 618233 )
        I have to say I don't understand your logic there. So you want people who struggled with the core CS material, and just barely managed to graduate by working harder than average over the people who were good enough to be able to skate through? I understand that you want someone who is willing to work hard for the company, but you want that hard work to actually produce something too. There are far too many people out there with CS degrees that can't keep up. I'd rather have the one who slacked off a bit
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rakishi ( 759894 )
        Like the other poster I'm utterly confused by your statement. So you'd hire a guy who works twice as long a project and produces something of half the quality instead of a guy who produced twice the quality in half the time, why exactly? I mean does your company get profits based on how many hours your workers physically sign in or something?

        Larger companies tend to get you stuck in a singular or very small set of roles. Small companies tend to give you a wide variety of job duties, albeit with longer hours.

        So you want to hire the guy who barely managed to learn the basics of one field to work in multiple fields compared to the buy who could easily work in multiple field

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FreeKill ( 1020271 )
      I've had the opportunity to hire a few dozen people over the years and I have to admit grades don't mean much to me. I remember a few people I graduated CS with who were really book smart and aced all the tests with great grades. I don't know if they had photographic memories or what, but they were really capable in that aspect. When it came time to course work or projects, they could do the work but they were not the best problem solvers. In fact, I remember one guy who basically had straight A's and never
    • Don't Go Back (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Darkn3ss ( 812009 )
      Here is what I would do were I in your shoes. If you go back to school, you will actually lower your future potential income. I say this as someone who had low grades so I decided instead of going back and retaking classes, or instead of that, I probably would've taken OTHER classes that interested me, further reducing my GPA. I don't like doing homework you see. Go out there to a small company and try to get a job. You might have a problem getting in the door from your grades because let's face it, pl
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )
      It honestly doesn't matter what he does. Your college performance and experience will not have the long term effect on your career and life that you might currently think it does. It's no different than highschool. When you're in highschool, everyone goes out of their way to convince you that every mistake and misstep and every action and accomplishment will have an impact on the rest of your entire life. In reality, nobody cares. Once you are out of highschool, the grades you got in highschool won't ever m
  • Graduate. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zack ( 44 ) <zedoriah@@@gmail...com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:27PM (#19622959) Journal
    As an employer, grades really aren't a top concern. I graduated with 2.85, I know skills go beyond grade. An interview is really where I'd make my decision.
    • As an employer, grades really aren't a top concern. I graduated with 2.85, I know skills go beyond grade. An interview is really where I'd make my decision.

      But how do you make the initial cut that gets a candidate to an interview?

      • Probably in a similar manner to the way other types of employers do it. GPAs are notoriously difficult to pin down in terms of what one is actually getting. Is a 2.85 from a school noted for difficult courses and an otherwise rigorous curriculum really worse than a perfect 4.0 from a school that doesn't ever fail a student? Sure that is a gross exaggeration, but the actual GPA don't correspond as closely as a lot of people think they do to mastery of the subject matter.

        Then there is the issue of how well do
  • Don't bother to repeat stuff. Just do the best you can with the courses you have and try to bring up your overall GPA with a solid finish. Employers aren't generally going to be too concerned with how you did in individual courses.
  • by Durrok ( 912509 ) <(calltechsucks) (at) (gmail.com)> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:31PM (#19623001) Homepage Journal
    All most recruiters seem to care about is that you have a degree and where you came from. The real question you should be asking yourself is "Did I learn the material?" and if not "Is this material worth learning (aka is the reason for my bad grades a CS class)?".

    If you answer yes to the first question I wouldn't worry about going back.
    If you answer no to the second question I wouldn't worry about going back. A D+ in History is nothing to be proud of but won't hurt your ability to program.
    Which leaves us with you if you answer yes to the second question hell yes go back.

    Also remember statistically you will probably never go back to college if you leave so if you have any remaining fears go ahead and repeat the year. You might even be able to pick up a minor in something if your credits line up right. Better to fix it now then being haunted by it later.
  • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:35PM (#19623023) Journal
    You'd be better served by spending that 2 years focusing on a graduate degree - if you can get into a school.

    The masters degree will most likely trump the bachelors degree, even if the guy with the bachelors has better grades. And in many places you'll automatically start at a higher salary.

    Plus with the masters program you should be able to tailor your coursework to focus on the things that truly interest you.

    On the other hand, few recruiters are going to ask you how long you were in school, and on top of that, so many people these days are doing a non-traditional route to completing a "4-year" program. Don't put your GPA's on your school lines of your resumes. They're not needed.

    Where I work (a Fortune 500), merely having the degree will meet the education requirement that will get you through the automated screening system. At that point, it will be your experience and the way you present yourself that will matter.

    So, only repeat if you really really want to. The GPA is probably not important. And if you must keep going to school, consider a graduate degree.

    One last caveat, if you have specific employers you want to work for, contact people who work there. Schedule "informational interviews" with people who do the kind of work you want to do. Find out from them what is most important.

    Good luck.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      I'm in a different field, but in my experience Master's programs are also willing to forgive bad grades if you can make a good impression otherwise in admissions. My best friend and I both got into great master's programs even though our college grades were less than stellar. I got a 4.0 in the Master's which helped me get into a PhD program that would have been inaccessible straight out of college.

      I say at least apply to a few Master's programs, and structure your time next year so that if you do get in

      • Well just as long as your GPA is above 3.0. They may have some flex with 2.9+ but not much beyond that. I figure that Grad school is not an immediate concern for the poster but it may be later on in life, if his job feels like it is dead ended and wants to get an MBA to become a higher manager. Or just some classes to advance in Computer Science. I would suggest getting your GPA up to above a 3.0 that way you do not have to take undergrad classes again.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by swv3752 ( 187722 )
          If you pursue a master's degree later in life, your GPA really won't matter. It only matters if you try to pursue a Master's or Doctorate right from an undergrad program.
        • If you go to say Johns Hopkins or Yale - a 2.9 there probably can count for more than say a 3.5 at the Short Hills Institute of Technology. But often people overlook that fact. You might want to take that into consideration. Your education is probably much better, but some interviewers only see the number.

          I've seen a bunch of people get into Medical school with a 3.5 from some little no name college, and others get denied from a prestigious University because of low grades 2.9 (where the competition if
    • by pmadden ( 209229 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:45PM (#19623547) Homepage Journal
      I'm a CS prof (I teach both grad and undergrad, with my real job being research).

      So... be brutally honest with yourself. Do you *really* understand the material, and just couldn't get it together for the exams? Or do you just think you understand the material? The number of people who are clueless to the point of being unaware of their cluelessness is staggering. Grades are an imperfect measure of what someone knows, but that doesn't mean that they're wrong.

      If you know your stuff, then grades don't matter. If you don't know your stuff, high grades won't help you. If you've got a year left, and are confident that you actually are on top of things, then knock your last year out with straight As and by being the top student in every class. Recommendations from your professors will carry more weight than a GPA. And I'll agree with the parent post; a grad degree will get your foot in the door in many places, and gives you a clean GPA slate and the opportunity to gather a bunch of useful skills.

      Trust in the Peter Principle. [wikipedia.org] Your skills will determine how far you go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SRA8 ( 859587 )
        Depending on the type of technology role you seek, you may not need more than 1st-year coursework to do well. I worked for a Big-5 as a programmer, ranked very well, yet we never used anything more than basic data structures and object oriented programming. These days, it is even easier as libraries do all the work. If you are more interested in indistrial application in a non-tech industry (i.e. Fin Services, Pharma) rather than the beauty of CS, you will prob have no problem. If you are more intereste
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I will support the Masters idea. The value of bachelors degree has been declining rapidly. Even 40 years ago, it often made a significant difference. Now that everyone has a bachelors, the masters is the often the discriminating factor. And it is not just the value of the degree. When there are 50 applicants for every job, there must be some trivial mechanism to make the initial cuts.

      I would also recommend continuing to work, but work only in the field in which you wish to make your career. It seems

    • Don't put your GPA's on your school lines of your resumes. They're not needed.

      I'm not sure this is true as a general rule. Your resume is an advertisement for you--thus, you only put things on there that you want to brag about. If you have a GPA worthy of bragging about, put it on there. If not, don't. But beware that employers will then know that your GPA is not worth bragging about.

  • by dave-tx ( 684169 ) * <df19808+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:40PM (#19623065)

    The only time grades matter is in getting your first job. After that, references and a good resume will be all you need. I didn't have great grades when I finished school - it made getting my foot in the door for that first job harder, but since then, I've been offered every position I've applied for. What matters most is if you're good at what you do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree with this, but I would even take it further. All you really need for an interview is to have a degree, once you are in the interview your skill and personality will get you the job.

      I have crappy grades (a couple of fails in there) and in my first interview I was asked about them and I told the engineers straight up that I was distracted that year and didn't put in the effort that I should have. Then I explained that I had worked hard on the last year and my results proved that. Grades were the topic
  • Just a resume item (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Herak ( 557381 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:42PM (#19623081)
    I just graduated with a pretty high GPA. In my experience, the high GPA is helpful to get to the top of the resume stack, but by the time you get into interviews they don't really care what your GPA is. If you have other eye-catching things on your resume that will get you to the interview phase (it sounds like you do) you might not need the GPA.

    However, grad schools DO care about GPA. If you're ever planning to go back, it might be worth it to retake the classes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by poopdeville ( 841677 )
      However, grad schools DO care about GPA. If you're ever planning to go back, it might be worth it to retake the classes.

      That depends, in a similar skills oriented way as with a job. Applying to a graduate program directly is definitely a bad idea if you don't have a strong GPA. You'll likely get rejected, and won't be able to every apply again. But even if your GPA is low, you can often talk/walk your way into the program by taking individual courses part time. Eventually, if you have the chops, the dep
    • However, grad schools DO care about GPA. If you're ever planning to go back, it might be worth it to retake the classes.

      This is something that a lot of people (including myself in the past) don't think about. If you ever want to go to grad school of any sort, GPA is IMPORTANT. Trust me -- applying to grad school with a GRE/LSAT/MCAT score in the upper 95% and a GPA way below the lower 25% for that school will not get you into a good grad school. (Having good relationships with your profs to get reference
  • Get the job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LOTHAR, of the Hill ( 14645 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:47PM (#19623117)
    as an occasional interviewer, I have no knowledge of what classes you've taken or repeated. I would only know that if I asked for a transcript, which I wouldn't. HR might call and verify the GPA, but I wouldn't weigh it too heavily if you have work experience that mitigates the poor GPA. A company can''t get your transcript without your permission. Many large companies won't talk to you if you have under 3.5 GPA or some such bs. The same companies are often not considered good employers.

    Focus on your strengths. OSS work does count as work experience, but only if it's verifiable work. You can even provide the code you contributed as an example of your work. Doing so provides potential employers a good example of the kind of work they could expect from you. Such a step is really only useful if the OSS project keeps records of who contributes what code. If I can't verify your sources, I may not believe you.

    Consider the math. 20k to repeat a year. 60k you won't earn. 80k opportunity cost of repeating a year, plus or minus interest.

    Bottom line, repeat the course if you really think you need to learn the material. Otherwise, just bone up of the material during all your free time and get on with your life.
    • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:13PM (#19623355) Homepage
      Many large companies won't talk to you if you have under 3.5 GPA or some such bs ...

      You are misinformed. Many large companies do have flexibility on GPAs. Specifically, GPA "minimums" are often waived if the student was also working more than 30 hours per week. Note the person asking for advice wrote "I've been working on a full time basis for the past 2 years".

      ... The same companies are often not considered good employers.

      I believe this statement is about as accurate as your first.
  • by lorcha ( 464930 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:49PM (#19623135)
    You can always keep your options open. Go through on-campus recruiting and see what happens. If you don't like the result, you can always go back to school.

    What work did you do full time? If you were in an IT-related position, definitely don't repeat courses. You'll do fine in your job search based on your experience. If, on the other hand, you worked full time at McDonalds, you can still demonstrate your experience on the open source project.

    Experience means more than grades. Many CS grads have poor grades. You will probably be pleasantly surprised when you go through on-campus recruiting.
  • I ended up dropping out of mine completely... but then again that was because I realised the course was just a 2 year long advertisement for overpriced products I'd never use in a real job. Hopefully you're not in that situation.
  • I'd suggest graduate (Score:3, Informative)

    by pyro_peter_911 ( 447333 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:54PM (#19623177) Homepage Journal
    No one will care about your college grades after your first year of work. After that it is all experience, skills, and relationships.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      Actually, most of them won't care about your grades your first year, either. I got a 2 yr degree with a 4.0 average (Yes, never made a B) and was (of course) valedictorian, and it didn't matter jack. Nobody was impressed. (Not even me, cuz I know it was easy, since I was taking classes I already knew how to do, just to get the paper. I had no real experience.)
      • What school gives out 2 year degrees? Maybe things work different in Canada, but in Canada, it's impossible to get a degree in 2 years. Unless you go to school through the summer and take 9 courses a semester. Anyway, the two year colleges give you a diploma, and the 4 year colleges (we call them universities) give you a degree. Maybe the reason nobody was impressed was because it was just some 2 year diploma, and not a real degree from a good school.
  • But I would check your transcripts and see all your Ds' and Fs' if I were interviewing you.

    In this day and age I would not care if you took longer if you had a real job or changed majors. It happens all the time but grades represent intelligence and dedication which mean higher productivity.
  • The key to understanding whether or not you should re-take a course is whether or not that course is really fundamental. If it is something core to the area you wish to work in, and you feel that you missed mastering the topic then yes, do retake it, or at least take something in the same area to butress your knowledge.

    Grades after your first job are not very important. But mastery of the subject material is a life-long tool for career advancement.

  • Do a Masters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:04PM (#19623255)
    That's what they're for.

  • by chinakow ( 83588 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:09PM (#19623303)

    graduates last in his class at medical school?

    Doctor. :-)

    • by _Splat ( 22170 )
      Works better as:

      You know what they call the guy who graduates last in his class at law school?

      Your Honor.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:17PM (#19623381) Homepage Journal

    Graduate with Bad Grades or Repeat a Year?
    There is, of course, the risk of doing both. If you redo stuff there's a possibility you'll be bored & demotivated. Then there's the risk that you'll be complacent because 1) you've done it before and 2) you've (compared to when you were working) got loads of time.
  • I'd vote for finishing school as soon as possible. The BS is worth something but after your first job the grades won't matter.

    As a firmware engineer of 27 years I'm much more interested in:
    the candidate's presence (i.e. how well they handle themselves),
    the extra-curriculars (are they REALLY interested in the things they work on? Do they have a passion for anything? Open source projects are good, ham radio license or private pilot is better),
    and for how complete their knowledge is of the things they say t
  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:19PM (#19623399) Homepage
    You still have time. And it's midsts, with a d. Unless it's particularly foggy in the classrooms at your school.
  • I've been working on a full time basis for the past 2 years, and I've worked on an open source project.

    Emphasize the full time job. Many companies have "minimum" GPAs, but that is pretty much due to the volume of resumes that have school and no practical experience. Long long ago when I was graduating an IBM rep told me that the GPA min would not apply to me since I had been working full time (30+ hours per week). The job was software development, that helped even more.

    Unless your job has nothing to
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlXtreme ( 223728 )

      Unless your job has nothing to do with software development I'd drop the open source project.

      I'd advise on doing something you enjoy next to all those boring classes, and certainly not drop something you are enjoying in order to focus solely on those grades. Any hobby is potentially interesting during an interview, as you simply don't know who is sitting across the table.

      Recently had an interview at IBM, the manager doing the interview was very interested in my research/publications and work experience (my

  • In the real world (Score:3, Informative)

    by smallstepforman ( 121366 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @06:49PM (#19623583)
    A degree is nothing more than a piece of paper which certifies that you can get boring shit assigned to you done. In essence, this is all an employer cares about when hiring graduates. It does not guarantee a minimum level of knowledge or skills.

    At the same time, education facilities are running a business. They want to maximise profit, which is where students come in. However, they are also competing against other education facilites, so they dont want to squeeze too hard, otherwise you will take your money elsewhere.

    Having looked back at my 'academic' life, all I really needed to have is the minimum 2-3 year tertiary diploma / degree (which is called differently from country to country). This provides the above mentioned certificate (get boring shit done). After a year in the industry, degrees no longer matter, it's all based on experience and specialisation. Shit, I should know, I'm an electronic engineer by education, and 7 years later, I'm a software architect in a company with 120 software engineers. I've advanced faster in this company than people with masters degrees and excellent academic marks.

    If you wish to work in academia, its a different story. But then again, if you specialise in a new field untouched by academia, guess who'll be knocking at your door once the 'education business' decides it needs celebrity names to entice a new generation of students.

  • by milamber3 ( 173273 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:01PM (#19623687)
    I can't stress enough that you will, at some point, regret it if you graduate with bad grades. Having an extra year of school won't matter at all to most recruiters or schools (if you decide to try grad programs). I had a bad first year in school due to medical problems. I had surgery over the summer and did very well for the next 3 years. My school did not let me repeat those first year classes and I have been suffering ever since from one bad year. Without knowing your specific grades I can't say much else but for example if you have less than a 3.0/4.0 GPA and that extra year will bring you above a 3.0 then I don't think you should even consider any alternatives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dwater ( 72834 )
      It might be useful to know in what way have you 'suffered'?
    • I'm not sure that you've correctly identified the cause of your suffering.

      Obviously I don't know you or your situation, but I have a hard time believing that any hiring manager or admissions officer would blackball you for having a bad year while going through medical problems, and then once the problems were fixed you did great. Hell, my freshman grades were horseshit and that was because I was too drunk and high to do any better. Your excuse sounds a lot better than mine during an interview. ;)

      Have you
  • I've got a friend who just graduated in physics with a 2.85. You know what phrase gets him to work? "Cleanup on aisle 6." Thats right, he's a janitor at the Wal-Mart next to campus (Purdue).

    Granted, physics is slightly different as a field than CS. So heres another argument. Someone mentioned this: Tuition of 20k + lost wages of 60k for one year of school is an opportunity cost of 80k. Well, if you want to work for a top company like Procter and Gamble (where I'm currently working) those extra GPA points wi
    • by hemp ( 36945 )
      Dude - you make tampons!
    • It's like that for him because there are too many Physics graduates and not enough work to go around. Unless he wants to teach at the High School level in which case it's a totally different story.
  • Graduate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by W. Justice Black ( 11445 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:02PM (#19623699) Homepage
    ObDisclaimer: I work for an Engineering college and am a part-time student. This is my opinion, not my school's.

    As others have mentioned, the opportunity cost of taking that year off is a big deal. If you've been participating in projects and work outside of school, that is a Good Thing and will help you get a not-too-horrible first job out of school. Since money is looking to be a problem otherwise, save what you can and find a paletable flexible/online grad curriculum as soon as you can if you want to make up for a subpar bachelor's GPA. If you live in California, the Software Engineering (Online-only) Master's program at Fullerton is a great deal IMHO.

    Your first job is unlikely to care about your undergrad grades. Your subsequent jobs won't care AT ALL. That said, you may want to keep a list of your weaker topics and review those that you aren't getting drilled on in industry. In my case, many language- and automata-related topics (e.g. grammars, push-down automata, Turing machines, computability) haven't really been hammered too much in my day-to-day work, but they've come in handy on occasion after taking the classes.

    It also wouldn't hurt to live in a place with a lot of opportunity to get interesting work (like Silicon Valley) for a few years.
  • Girls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nyquil superstar ( 249173 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:20PM (#19623781)
    Easy, repeat the grade. There are a lot more attractive girls at college than in the real world!
  • go fish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:21PM (#19623787) Homepage
    Why not send your resume out and see what sort of response you get? If some company you like pops up w/ a kick-ass job for you, then this question becomes moot.
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Well, he can't really apply for decent jobs without the college degree (unless you're applying ahead of graduation, and you get the offer you're looking for -- I don't know how likely that is in his area, but it is worth his while to apply before graduation). Once he has that, his bachelor's degree grades are set in stone. So it seems that he does have to make the choice to either take an extra year in school or start the job hunt.
  • If you were working on a project in your spare time and can demonstrate deep knowledge of that, you'll have a good leg up in the interview. I've interviewed people for software positions for nearly 10 years now, and not once has the question of grades ever come up, nor have I ever cared about it. It may be the case that certain institutions use grades as a first-cut sort of thing, but none of the places I have worked at, including at least one very large software company, ever used it to my knowledge. If
  • If I'd interview you and you'd tell me that you repeated one year to get higher scores (and that you got low scores because you were working) I'd say that would be a plus. On the other hand I value work experience higher than a degree: I've seen too many people who come from university and can't code their way out of a paper bag. And noone will ask for your score if you have a few years of work experience (it's more important to say "I've worked on this project, implemented that, etc. pp."). So I'd personal
  • my take (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @08:14PM (#19624139) Homepage Journal
    If you're even considering applying for graduate school in the next five years, I would take the extra year and improve your grades in the upper level classes. In graduate school, they are more interested in your grades in upper level classes, and your GRE test scores. Because basically, you will be doing the same old shit in graduate school that you would be doing in the upper level classes; in a lot of places, you might be a TA in classes! So for graduate school, they want to see that you are a good student. However, if you plan to work for a decade or more, and then go to graduate school, your grades in your bachelor program will matter less ( but they will still matter more than in the job hunt)

    If you are just going work the rest of your life, you don't have to worry as much about grades. They are the first hurdle you have to clear in the job hunt, but the people who will be looking at them won't really care. It's either job recruiters, who might have a GPA threshold under which they will not consider you, or managers from the company, who didn't particular care for their classes when they were in school. They might view academia as an impractical ivory tower. High scores, like magna cum laude, might indicate to them that you are kind of idealist, better cut out for grad school or research, perhaps not willing to put up with compromise and other pragmatics of corporate life, or won't find corporate work interesting enough for your superior intellect. I've never worked a corporate job, just heard horror stories from friends about BS in the corporate world out-weighing academic BS.

    It really depends on how 'bad' your grades are. If your GPA is under 3.0, I would consider raising them. Since you seem like you are more interested in a job than academics, you might start the job hunt, and then go back to grad school if the job is unsatisfying. But in order to get into a decent grad program, you should have at least a 3.0, and good GRE scores -- so don't burn the GPA bridge just yet. You might also go ahead and take the GREs now, while the information is fresh in your mind, and you are still in test taking mode. That would give you a better idea about how well grad school applications will go if the job market doesn't pan out.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      They might view academia as an impractical ivory tower. High scores, like magna cum laude, might indicate to them that you are kind of idealist, better cut out for grad school or research, perhaps not willing to put up with compromise and other pragmatics of corporate life, or won't find corporate work interesting enough for your superior intellect. I've never worked a corporate job, just heard horror stories from friends about BS in the corporate world out-weighing academic BS.

      While I find that in reality
    • Here's my recommendation (or at least thoughts)...

      You hopefully have an assigned advisor within your department, who - hopefully - really understands your curriculum, can understand your position, your school's or others graduate curricula, and has a feel (ideally) for industry needs.

      If this is the case, here's what I would do.......

      Talk to this advisor or someone appropriate with some of the above awareness within your department's staff.

      Since many schools will (I believe) allow you to take certain graduat
  • when I went to school in florida, the state school only allowed you to retake 2 classes and then did an average between any other classes. So if you have a semester ( 4 or 5 classes ) that you messed up or even 2 semesters, then retaking the year, you would have to get A's in order to really affect your GPA. For Example a D and then a retake getting a B would be a C. It would help, but not as much as you would think. I had a similar problem, as I worked 2 part time jobs ( 30 hrs each ) while going to co
  • You don't get grades here. It is either pass or fail.

    Some will want to know your GPA. Most just want to know you got the little piece of paper that says you've reached a certain level of academic achievement.

    If you really want to set yourself apart, don't repeat, don't finish, but keep moving forward and get your masters degree.
  • Just wondering if you can even repeat courses. I remember when I was an undergrad, unless you had a D, you couldn't repeat a course. Wasn't it like that at other places too?
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Just wondering if you can even repeat courses. I remember when I was an undergrad, unless you had a D, you couldn't repeat a course. Wasn't it like that at other places too?

      Depends, really.

      But I would recommend just continuing on, unless there's something you don't really understand.

      Firstly, some schools record *ALL* marks. So if you re-took the class, both the old and new marks are on the transcript (i.e., the class is listed multiple times). The other variation is there's a notation saying the class was r

  • Some schools will replace your prior grades on your transcript with a denotation that the class was repeated if you retake the class within a certain time frame (usually the next available opportunity). However, this replacement happens whether your original grade was an F or a C, so if you're retaking mostly C grades, it may reflect more negatively if a recruiter looks through your transcript and sees a denotation for "we're not telling you what this grade was, but it was bad enough that s/he retook the c
  • Here's my outlook (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Revotron ( 1115029 )
    As long as you graduate, you'll fare better than people who drop out or go a different route. This old joke sums it all up:

    Q: What do you call the med student who graduates last in his class?

    A: "Doctor"
    • I've seen this joke a few times in this forum. I know it's a joke, but it is worth pointing out that I was pretty far down when I graduated from medical school (there were no grades, just pass or fail, but I was a slacker and the graded exams in the first few years were pretty tight).

      Since I've been working, I have found out how little medical school matters as I am generally acknowledged as being extremely good at my job. As are a few of my shit-at-medical-school peers. Some of the bright sparks at uni, on
  • HR person's opinion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VTBassMatt ( 761333 )
    For what it's worth, I ran this question by my wife, a HR person. She replied that most of the companies she's done hiring for would be more interested in someone who did whatever it took to get the job done right; repeating the classes would be better. Obviously the ideal case is getting it done right the first time, but she felt that the work history and OSS contributions would be mitigating circumstances for why the grades weren't where you wanted them the first time. She's done a little high-tech rec
  • You didn't specify which project, or how you were involved, but if I was hiring for an engineering type now, that would speak volumes to me.

    If you have a degree, you can follow the game plan. If you were a real contributor to an open source project that actually shipped, or got significant progress, you show real world experience, and that is desparately lacking in grads.

    Don't repeat, don't include your GPA. If GPA required, don't lie about it, make sure you hilite the releavent real world in such a way t
  • Hmm.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Saturday June 23, 2007 @11:50PM (#19625277) Homepage
    Well, here's how Human Resources sees it:

    Did you graduate:
    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No

    Please select one.
  • Go back a second year and see if you can't finagle a second degree. For example many CS degree curriculum are only two or three classes shy of a math degree if your school counts classes like formal linguistics as math classes.

    Get higher grades and add value to your resume.
  • If I was hiring right now I would focus on your open-source experience. The fact that you have been involved in open source is by itself of higher importance than a full-time job or a university degree, according to my own criteria. The reason is that a person who gets into open source has showed initiative and a certain level of intelligence that cannot be assured by a day job or a programme of study. When you are a student, you are confined within the walls of an educational system, which often makes l

  • IAAR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aeron65432 ( 805385 ) <agiamba@gma i l .com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:11AM (#19625919) Homepage
    I am a junior recruiter, and I would say take the year over again, if grad school is not a possible. Few recruiters really care how fast you get your degree as long as you did a decent job with it. There are a million reasons in which people can take 5 years to get their degree, generally at my office we would ignore it and move on.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.