Why are you here?
Everyone approaches college differently. Some people come to college for the social aspect, others for the academic enrichment, some for the life experience, and then there’s always a few folks who have no idea what they’re doing. Regardless of which category you fall into, there are plenty of decisions that must be made in order to shape your college experience.
What is success?
I’ve noticed a pretty common theme over the course of my time at the University of Montana. There’s a constant stigma surrounding what success is as a college student. How many meetings you have a week, how many clubs you’re in, how many credits you’re taking, if you have an internship, blah blah blahhh, the list goes on forever! Basically, it’s a competition to see how busy everyone else is and you’re the winner if you get the least amount of sleep. And let me tell you, that’s not a fun game to be playing! The reality is though, if you want to get the most out of your college experience, there’s not a whole lot of time to block in for things like eating and sleeping, let alone time to yourself, especially for those students that want that 4.0 GPA.
Does GPA really matter?
Basically, you have to make sacrifices in one area or another unless you want to be in school for 10 years, so it’s important to focus in on what matters. I’ve decided that through my experiences over the past two and a half years in school, GPA is most definitely not everything. I’ve had multiple internships and jobs throughout my college career in order to gain hands-on experience and gain on-the-job skills, and to be honest, my employers couldn’t care less about my GPA. And it’s not like my GPA is bad, or even below average, but it’s definitely not perfect!
When discussing GPA with business professionals and company owners, their responses have been shockingly consistent across the board: if you passed your classes and learned from them, GPA really doesn’t pull as much weight as one might think. Shocking, I know. To most employers your personality, interview and overall experience is what gets you a job, not a high GPA. A high grade point average is definitely a bonus and if you have it, you should flaunt it, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t maintain an A average all 4 years.
Focus on real life experiences.
Personally, I’ve chosen to use my time in college to involve myself in activities that will help me grow as a person and become a more well-rounded individual. Not only do these extracurricular activities look great on a resume, but more than anything, the experiences I’ve gained through my involvement will help me in an interview and with on-the-job situations.
I feel as though I’ve learned more through my membership and leadership roles in organizations such as student senate, my sorority, marketing clubs, internships, and many others, than I possibly could have learned by solely sitting in a classroom. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial these outside activities have been on both a personal and professional level. In order to take advantage of these leadership and developmental opportunities it is impossible for me to achieve a 4.0 while maintaining membership in these clubs and working two jobs. This is the sacrifice I’ve chosen to make. For those of you that can manage such a feat, more power to you! But personally, I feel that I’ve gained so much more by choosing to participate in as much as possible than I ever would have choosing to spend that time reading a text book.
This tactic definitely doesn’t work for every major or every job field, but if you think about it, a 4.0 only goes so far if you can’t communicate with people or understand how to effectively problem solve.
Find your passion and do what makes you happy.
The point is, do what you’re passionate about. College is a time to explore and figure out what matters to you on a personal level. Don’t waste this opportunity by not going to class, but on the flip side, don’t waste it by choosing to study 24 hours a day either. Join clubs, find a fun job, hang out with new people, and just involve yourself. You get out of college what you choose to put into it, so take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.
Have fun and think about the things that truly benefit your future and make you happy.
I’d love to hear your feedback and opinions on the subject of GPA and extracurriculars. Comment below and share some stories about your college experience!