GPA represents undergrads' hard work over long period of time

With the recent shift away from exams and assessments at primary and secondary school levels, it would seem intuitive to conclude that NTUtopia's somewhat linear screening criteria are "elitist" and "unfair" (Invite-only career fair for top NTU students draws flak; Oct 7).

But are they really?

A grade point average (GPA) for an undergraduate in his final year is not a one-shot wonder. It is a weighted average measurement of the final scores the undergraduate has achieved for each painstaking semester he has completed.

A good GPA can only be achieved through constant hard work, sacrifice and, to be entirely honest, a small dose of luck.

It disregards the colour of your skin, the language you speak, the wealth of your family or the kind of connections you have.

While imperfect, it remains very much a proxy of the individual's efforts, if not abilities.

Is it unfair for an undergraduate who has dedicated three to four years of his life to his academic achievements to be given some form of a head start in employment?

Should it be considered elitist for employers to have the first pick at undergraduates who have, through ability, hard work and sacrifice, earned every bit of academic success that is represented via the GPA, compared with the undergraduates who have not?

It is convenient to associate every form of exclusive reward for hard work with elitism rather than recognise it for the fundamental meritocracy our society is built on.

I agree wholeheartedly that academic results indicate only a fraction of what one can achieve.

Through my personal experiences in the hiring process at my firm, I cannot begin to emphasise how much we value all-rounded individuals and how much such individuals have contributed in their capacities, often over and above their academically inclined colleagues.

It remains, however, impractical and logistically impossible for employers to truly know how "all-rounded" a candidate is and can be simply through the screening of his resume.

Until such time otherwise, employers will continue to use an undergraduate's GPA as a preliminary screening tool.

Ethan Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2018, with the headline 'GPA represents undergrads' hard work over long period of time'. Print Edition | Subscribe