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

When you're deciding on a college, would you rather focus on better grades or better reputation?

Flickr user: The LEAF Project

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?

Better grades or better reputation?

No matter where you end up getting your degree from, what matters more are the grades you receive and leadership activities you are involved in. 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, but 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 is weighted 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

If you are worried about maintaining a high GPA, try not to stress out just yet. Be sure to get involved as an undergraduate student in some sort of student organization or leadership activity. While you will not necessarily receive grades or credit for these extracurricular activities, 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, and use them to your advantage.

While it takes a lot to get into a nationally known college or university, you need to work hard in your classes wherever you attend. GPA outranks college reputation, because 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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