The GPA Challenge

By Kari L. Brown, NSBE National Academic Excellence Chair


The GPA Challenge
Goal. Performance. Attainment.

“Academic Excellence” is one of our National Directives this year, and your National Executive Board (NEB) is here to help you excel academically by providing programs and services to help you increase and maintain your grade point average. In fact, our goal is that NSBE members increase their GPAs by 0.2 points this academic year! We believe in leading by example, so, just like you, the NEB will be taking advantage of all of the resources, so we can raise our grades, as well. The mean GPA of your NEB is 3.04. As you can see, we have room for improvement. That is why we are declaring a NSBE-wide GPA Challenge!

Are you satisfied with your GPA? Unless your overall GPA is 4.0 on a 4.0 scale, you have room for improvement, too! Think of your GPA as goal, performance and attainment.Your GPA is often used by potential employers, undergraduate institutions and even graduate schools to compare you with other applicants. Although your skill level and ability in a subject may be better than your GPA reports, this number is still very important. I have found it is so easy to let a GPA drop but very difficult to pull it up if you’re trying to recover from a bad semester or quarter. That is why it’s extremely important to put your best foot forward immediately when you hit that classroom. 


Why are you in school? Is it because your parents wouldn’t have it any other way? Do you need an education to pursue your dream? What are your short- and long-terms goals? Believe it or not, that small number (2.8, 3.25, etc.) could make a big difference in your future. I’ll use myself as an example. My goal was to graduate with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and go on to graduate school. Most of the graduate programs I applied to required a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. So, my goal was to graduate with an overall GPA of at least 3.0. Now, I do wish I had done better in my undergraduate tenure, but with hard work I graduated with a 3.03 GPA! Talk about barely making it!

What about you? If you have a “dream job,” do you know what the employer’s GPA requirement is? If you plan to go to graduate school, medical school or law school, do you know what they look for when processing your transcripts? Set your goal, and understand how to measure your success.


Once you have set your goals, it is time to perform! How are your study habits and test-taking skills? Do you participate in group study sessions? Are you aware of your preferred learning style? For example, many of us listen to music when we study. If you’re studying for a psychology exam or another course that requires lots of reading, listening to instrumentals is much better. At the beginning of a term, we usually receive a syllabus, which tells what will be covered and when. Do you read the assigned chapter before class? Do you go over your notes after class? Do you do more than the assigned homework problems? Small steps like this can make a big difference in your performance in your classes.

Can NSBE help you perform better to achieve your goals? NSBE offers an umbrella program dedicated to improving the academic and technical aptitude of its members. This program is called Achiever’s Plus (A+). The Achiever’s Plus program is implemented via NSBE Study Hall (see your chapter Academic Excellence chair for more information); A+ Seminars via Blog Talk Radio and WebEx; the A+ Blog; the Academic Pyramid of Excellence recognition; and more. This program offers incentives that encourage members to perform to their highest academic potential and achieve their academic goals. For more information, contact your chapter or regional Academic Excellence chair.


You’ve set a goal. You’ve performed to the best of your ability. Now it’s time to reap the benefits. One great way of showcasing your achievement is by participating in NSBE’s academic and technical competitions, such as the Technical Research Exhibition and Consulting Design Olympiad. Many of these competitions have been reformatted and restructured to make it easier for more NSBE members to participate. For more information about competition rules, dates and deadlines, contact your regional Academic Excellence chair.

As you can see, we have work to do! You can take the first step toward improving your GPA by submitting your official transcript to: NSBE Transcripts, 205 Daingerfield Rd., Alexandria, VA 22314. You may also submit unofficial copies to We use this information to track the progress of our members, so please send in your transcripts right away! Last, follow @nsbeaex on Twitter for updates, study tips and scholarship information.

Remember, “excel academically” must be our first priority.
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