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I am asking because I am very involved with my effective altruism group at my university, currently facilitating fellowships and working on other projects to get more students involved. I also plan to work on a career doing good, and I do not want to go into academia. 


I do believe that a degree is very useful because it is important to signal to places hiring that you are at least at a competitive level when compared to other people at the same age range. However, I wanted to know how much I should care about focus on getting good grades as opposed to job opportunities, and working on meta-EA at my university. Any feedback on why getting good grades might be important is welcome, I have a general feeling that it matters but my lack of job experience keeps me from having better insights and from being more motivated in general, and I keep asking myself "what's the point" of taking a class I will likely not need in the future. 




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I don't know in general--here's info relevant to just a few post-undergrad options:

  • For top CS PhD programs:
    • This guide to (top) CS PhD program admissions advises: "When applying to a Ph.D. program in CS, you’d like your grades in CS and Math and Engineering classes to be about 3.5 out of 4.0, as a rough guideline. It does not help you, in my opinion, to be closer to 4.0 as opposed to 3.5. It’s a much better idea to spend your time on research than on optimizing your GPA."
    • This other guide suggests a GPA of at least 3.8.
  • For top law schools:
  • For Congressional staffing:
    • This guide to Congressional staffing jobs advises: "Most hiring managers won’t care about your major or GPA. Many Hill [Congress] jobs do not even ask for your college transcript."

First of all, you didn't specify the country or university you want to enroll in; applicants have different requirements everywhere. It is also very important which specialty you want to enter since the passing score in profile subjects can also vary from one faculty to another. My sister recently enrolled in asa miami college for a specialty related to mathematics. There, they were given all the information about the entrance exams and general admission on the website. If you want to go to a particular university, you can write them an email, and they will send you all the necessary information

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Just a quick comment - there are definitely degree requirements that you have to take but aren't very useful. That said, if you're finding the majority of your classes are neither useful nor interesting, and you're still early in your degree, you might want to consider switching your major. I know a lot of people who found their classes at least somewhat useful and interesting, so if you're not finding them useful or interesting at all that's a red flag.

How high your grades should be is dependent on your major and location and what jobs you are interested in entering. For example, I think computer science undergrads in the United States should aim for at least a 3.0/4.0 grade point average to be eligible for many software engineering positions, and it's probably not worth making sacrifices to have it above 3.5. For undergrads looking to get into consulting or medical school however, they would want their GPA to ideally be at least a 3.5.

Which country are you from/which countries are you planning to live/work in? Getting good grades to move to the US for a Master's is a time-honored immigration strategy, but not very relevant to people who already live in the US.

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