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Which is more important to a future employer, the grades I receive in my college courses or the number of activities I am involved in at my university?

This Fall I will be an incoming college freshman and am wondering whether I should begin the school year by focusing mainly on my grades or spreading myself out and getting involved with multiple different activities and organizations. #college #career #career-counseling #career-development #job-opportunities

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Joanne’s Answer

Sure thing! It's all about striking a happy medium between your after-school activities and your schoolwork or grades. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution or predetermined route to follow.
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Austin’s Answer

This is a great question, Camryn.

With so many options for activities and organizations to join at a University, finding the right balance is for sure an important thing to figure out!

I'm assuming that when you start your first year in college there are going to be a lot of changes in your life, maybe you're moving out of your parents house for the first time/living on your own for the first time, living with a new roommate and/or transferring to an entirely new setting. My advice would lean towards focusing on your classes right off the bat. With life changes, comes adjustment. You may not want to overstretch yourself right away. Plus, soaking in as much as you can in your classes really is important, and not having too much on your plate as you get used to college may be an advantage.

However! If there is an organization around something you're truly interested in/excited about, I wouldn't hold back on getting involved. I just wouldn't join stuff for the sake of improving your resume right off the bat. My priority would just getting settled and making sure you're killing it in your studies!

Best of luck!
Austin





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Kim’s Answer

Neither! They want to know that you can do the job!


College is much different from high school. Especially if you are away from home. I would not join more than two organizations/clubs to start off. Get a feel for the academic load, types of exams, papers you have to write, and all of the studying. Once you understand all of that, you will know your limits.


What is more important than joining organizations is that you take an active role. Employers like to see leadership, planning, directing, coordinating, etc. It does not have to be all the time. For example, you can be the lead person for your organization's charitable activities.


Grades are important. You should strive for nothing lower than a B. And of course, really try for A's!


You don't mention anything about work experience. Take a look around when you start school. See how many people are also in school? All of you will be competing for jobs. All of you will have degrees. What will set YOU apart from them? You will need some work experience. At the very least, get some customer service experience. Most jobs require good "people" skills.


Once you are able to combine work, school, and activities, the next challenge will be your ability to sell yourself on your resume and in an interview. Learn to write and speak! Pay attention in your writing classes, and take at least one speech class! (and perhaps marketing - as that is what you will be doing - marketing yourself).


Put all that together, and you will have a well-rounded education experience that will carry you far!


Best of luck!
Kim

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Kenyana’s Answer

Please do not spread yourself out to be in so many activities and clubs that it effects your grades. An employer will most likely want to see that you have excellent grades within your major because it shows that you have an understanding of your industry/field. Try to find a healthy balance between the two or find a couple of activities/clubs that really matters to you to focus on. Hope this helps, good luck!

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Gerard’s Answer

That is a somewhat subjective question. Different organizations and HR directors value different criteria.


My personal opinion is to maintain decent grades (2.7-3.5 GPA) while being as involved as possible in extracurricular activities (especially those that relate to your industry/major). Intelligence without EQ and vice/versa are not as valuable as a well rounded individual.

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Theresa’s Answer

Your grades are most important as they represent your understanding of the subject matter and how much you know in your area of expertise. Participating in activities outside of your classes is important and shows you areas of interest and your ability to handle multiple tasks and responsibilities. You should not take on so many extra curricular activities that it negatively impacts your grades.

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Tony’s Answer

Grades would be first for me. It reflects a hard work ethic to be at the top of your class.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Camryn,

Understanding what future employers value more - your college grades or your involvement in university activities - can be a bit complex, as different employers may have different priorities. However, it's generally seen that grades often carry more significance when assessing a candidate's suitability for a job.

Grades are typically viewed as a reflection of a student's academic prowess, dedication to work, and commitment to learning. They offer employers a quantifiable and standardized method to evaluate an individual's performance and potential. High grades indicate that you've successfully grasped the subject matter and can effectively apply your knowledge. They also suggest that you possess the discipline and commitment necessary for academic success.

Employers frequently interpret strong academic performance as a sign of your ability to manage complex tasks, think critically, and solve problems - skills that are highly valued in many professional environments. Additionally, certain industries or roles may necessitate specific technical knowledge or expertise that is directly related to your coursework. In these situations, good grades become even more crucial.

However, it's worth noting that extracurricular activities can also significantly shape your overall candidate profile. Engaging in activities and organizations outside of the classroom can offer valuable experiences and skills that may be relevant to future employment. Participation in clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, or leadership roles can demonstrate qualities like teamwork, communication skills, time management, and the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.

Extracurricular activities can also help you cultivate a well-rounded personality and highlight your interests and passions beyond academics. They can provide opportunities for networking, building relationships with peers and mentors, and gaining exposure to different industries or career paths. Employers often value candidates who show initiative and a willingness to participate in activities beyond their academic obligations.

Ultimately, it's crucial to find a balance between focusing on your grades and participating in extracurricular activities. While good grades are important, they shouldn't be pursued at the expense of your overall personal and professional growth. It's wise to prioritize your coursework and ensure that you're meeting the academic expectations of your program. However, it's also beneficial to explore opportunities outside of the classroom that align with your interests and goals.

It's important to note that different industries and employers may have varying preferences regarding the importance of grades versus extracurricular activities. For instance, highly competitive fields like investment banking or consulting may emphasize academic performance more, while creative industries like advertising or design may value a diverse range of experiences and creative thinking. Researching the specific requirements and expectations of your desired industry can provide further insights into what employers in that field prioritize.

In conclusion, while both grades and extracurricular activities can contribute to your overall candidate profile, grades generally carry more weight when it comes to impressing future employers. Good grades demonstrate academic proficiency, discipline, and critical thinking skills. However, it's also important to engage in extracurricular activities that align with your interests and goals, as they can offer valuable experiences and skills that complement your academic achievements.

Top 3 Authoritative Reference Publications or Domain Names Used:

1. Harvard Business Review - hbr.org
2. Forbes - forbes.com
3. The Balance Careers - thebalancecareers.com

May you be blessed abundantly!
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