Better Grades or Better Reputation: Which is More Important in College?

For many students applying to college, a concern is how the institution they attended and the grades they received will impact their success later on. Would you rather get better grades at a state university? Or will you be just as fine with lower grades from a higher-ranked university?

Two students sitting together and pointing at a laptop screen.

Better grades or better reputation?

No matter where you end up getting your degree from, what grades you receive, and leadership activities you involved yourself in matters more. Working hard for your education is key to developing the skills necessary to get a job. Employers care about the skills you have and how you can utilize them to assist their companies in a variety of ways. Having better grades from your run-of-the-mill state school will help you stand out more than a graduate with weak grades from a higher-ranked school.

Why better reputation isn’t always better

While it is easy to assume that employers would be more interested in someone with a degree from an Ivy League school, that is not always the case. Because top-tier schools are so elite, there are smaller pools of graduates for employers to directly hire from. This can be a disadvantage, causing employers to look beyond the nationally known schools. There are always going to be companies that are very select in their hiring. Keep in mind that some of the selective companies will be hiring students from regionally known schools.

In a study done by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the three main hiring roles of executives, managers, and human resources staff, rank college GPA as more important than college reputation. Also found in this study, college GPA weighs higher than college reputation in business, healthcare, manufacturing, government and non-profit work, service and retail, and science and technology industries. Company size does not matter either; GPA still beats out reputation.

It’s not all about your grades either

Try not to stress out just yet when it comes to maintaining a high GPA. Instead, involve yourself in a student organization or leadership activity. You will not necessarily receive grades or credit for these extracurricular activities. But, they will still help you gain experience with organizational skills and communication. After graduation, you can talk to employers about the knowledge you gained from these activities. Use them to your advantage.

It takes a lot to get into a nationally known college or university. But, you need to work hard in your classes wherever you attend. GPA outranks college reputation. Employers want to ensure that the people that they are hiring have the rights skills to do the job. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that what matters most is how you do in school. So, pick the college that’s right for you!

Speaking of which, College Raptor can help you find that perfect match. Use our free college match tool to see your chances at hundreds of schools around the country–and what kind of financial aid you could receive from them!

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