GPA vs. Enjoying college: what do employers care more about

<p>My friend and I were debating this earlier. I made the point that employers would rather see someone with an average engineering gpa who took all sorts of classes and fully maximized his time in college than someone who has an above average gpa who was miserable the entire time internally. </p>

<p>This came about when I was trying to convince him that since his gpa basically sucks (not in an elitist tone since i dont have the best gpa either) that he should take some other classes in other areas to not only boost it, but see new interests and meet new people which is what I do. He thinks that Im crazy for filling up my schedule with only a few engineering classes and taking alot of non major classes like Portuguese and Econ (both of which i like) and thus causing me to take longer to graduate. my stance on that is that since as a Chem E, there are only certain classes I can take at certain semesters since they are only offered then, that and i dont want to overload my schedule with too much than I can handle and end up on probation again plus i enjoy most of my other classes. I feel that I may be there for engineering but why not stop and smell the roses and take other stuff? He as a Mech E takes the normal engineering student amount but every semester something "happens" and he ends up doing horribly. plus his classes are those that he needs to take some of his major classes and needs to actually have a firm understanding about. but he feels that he'll graduate faster if he only takes those kind of classes, which i dont believe is true.</p>

<p>but thats beside the point. basically, I have more credits than him since i pass more classes but now im beginning to question my methods. This isnt a "Should I continue Engineering" question since Ive already made up my mind that Im going to continue until I cant anymore, but more so, who do you guys think is right? and which do you think employers would prefer?</p>

<p>I'm not an employer, but a parent, and i think you both may be right, as you're doing what feels right for you. You're only an undergraduate once. This is the only chance you may have to take Econ and other electives that will broaden you as a person. I, personally, would value that. I also think it's important to know yourself and consider your emotional and mental health. So yes, I think your way of doing things is good, and probably the best way for you to go about getting your degree and making the most of your college experience.
But your friend isn't you, and may have different priorities and personality. There is no "right" way, as long as you're doing your best in your classes and able to meet your goals. If your friend is having trouble getting the grades he wants, he may want to reevaluate how he's doing things, but doing them your way may not be what he needs.
Engineering is a tough major. Growing up and learning what works for you can be tough, too. Doing both at the same time takes a lot of persistence. Good for you.
Keep doing what works.</p>

<p>While I cannot speak for everyone, I would personally prefer someone who had a bit worse GPA but was someone who I felt would fit in well with my team. Having a good group of employees who get along well is, in my opinion, one of the most important things for success. It will create a better atmosphere, they will like their jobs more, and they will be more willing to help each other out. All of this will lead to increased productivity in one manner or another. So, I would say that being able to demonstrate you are an interesting person, rather than some mindless drone, is important. How you do that is up to you.</p>

<p>Many HR-types read from a script. So you'll probably run into some companies who are going to look solely at GPA, work experience, and engineering type extra curricular activities. Unfortunately, you never know what the person/company interviewing you is going to want. I think it's a good bet that larger companies will be more "by the book" and read from a script whereas small companies will be more personal. Once again on a personal note, I would find someone who spent all of his time building robots to be motivated, but might instead go with a candidate who played a substantial number of intramural sports (meaning he would fit in better with my current coworkers).</p>

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Many HR-types read from a script. So you'll probably run into some companies who are going to look solely at GPA, work experience, and engineering type extra curricular activities. Unfortunately, you never know what the person/company interviewing you is going to want. I think it's a good bet that larger companies will be more "by the book" and read from a script whereas small companies will be more personal. Once again on a personal note, I would find someone who spent all of his time building robots to be motivated, but might instead go with a candidate who played a substantial number of intramural sports (meaning he would fit in better with my current coworkers).

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<p>I agree with this statement, and would also add that many small companies also display this "larger companies" format of hiring. In my experience within my field, it's been the norm for both small and large companies at the B.S. level.</p>

<p>Per the OP, I don't think many employers care if you "enjoy college". I think they want to see that your time is well spent on a diversification of tasks (e.g. classes, hwk, club, job, research, etc.) A lot of a basic engineer's job skills are taught through on the job training/experience, so this philosophy implies that employers are looking for well-rounded individuals, not necessarily a specialist in particle physics for instance.</p>

<p>I am afraid I have to agree with your friend. In many cases, you need the gpa to get thru the first cut to get an interview. My son is double majoring in engineering and econ. When he interviewed for intership, he found gpa was more important. The double major and the overload in semester credits did not appear to to impress employers even though he have above class avg gpa. Looking back, other than self-satisfaction, double major and overloading credits helped very little (if any at all) in gaining intership, and he should have concetrated more in one discipline and improve his gpa.</p>

<p>Also, employers to not care if you enjoyed college. If you are well rounded, that may help you once you get an interview but may also hurt you (depending on you curricurum and the position). We interviewed a candidate once (graduating from Duke) and did not give an offer because it was determined by the committeed after reviewing the transcript that the candidate's curriculum was technical weak for the position.</p>

<p>The bottom line is that it will be much easier to get interviews with a decent GPA. I've seen the argument before that grades do not matter but I can say that this is completely false. Do you need a 4.0? Absolutely not, but I have seen people on here with sub 3.0 GPAs arguing that GPA doesn't matter as long as you are well rounded. People can justify it however they want but this is not really true. As others have said, many HR employees filter out resumes with low GPAs. Keep in mind you will be competing with all of your classmates for jobs/grad school after graduation so if someone is in the bottom half or bottom quartile, they will have to compete against all those people with better GPAs. Of course work experience and leadership are important but do not underestimate the importance of maintaining a good GPA when it comes to grad school admission and entry level jobs.</p>

<p>I guess I have to say what's the point in the whole debate? You both need to think like chess players and think multiple moves into the future instead of focusing on your next (or first) one. </p>

<p>Your first real job and employer may seem significant now, but it probably wont be a few years down the road. You'll both be working similar jobs when you graduate and your GPAs, extracurriculars, extra classes, whatever are only the difference between crummy entry level job X that pays $ vs crummy entry level job Y that pays $+5%. Your performance at the crummy entry level job is what's going to help you succeed and move up the ladder. In a few years, your employer (next or current) wont give a turd what extracurriculars you took or even what your GPA is.</p>

<p>Bottom line is this - do what makes you happy. The academic world is fantasy island where your professors have been coddled by their own lofty thoughts and intellectual pursuits. The real world doesn't revolve around someone's academic pursuits, it revolves around someone's talent, drive, and ability.</p>

<p>Employers care more about GPA, sadly. However, I don't think this means you are a better engineer.</p>

<p>I like people who have interests outside of engineering and because of this really enjoy engineering. How are you suppose to know what you want to do if it is the only thing you have ever done? The last thing I would want is to hire someone who will learn to resent their career decissions. Having a broader base will help to alleviate that problem.</p>

<p>How about have both? I honestly don't believe that there is a correct or incorrect answer to this debate. I've met people with awesome grades, but no social life. Awesome social life, but terrible grades. Awesome grades and awesome social life. I've also met people with terrible grades and terrible social life. Heck, I even know someone who dropped all of their classes and failed out of college because all they did all day Frosh year was play Warcraft 3. </p>

<p>Do what you feel is right and lines up with your interests.</p>

<p>In terms of finding jobs, I would think the GPA would be more or less a cutoff for certain companies when sifting through piles of resumes. I'm pretty sure I was hired into the engineering position I'm working right now for a mixture of both with definite consideration of how I fit into company culture/interacted with the team (had multiple people on the team interview me over the course of 3 hours).</p>

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I even know someone who dropped all of their classes and failed out of college because all they did all day Frosh year was play Warcraft 3.

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<p>Wow stop stalking me</p>

<p>I'm just entering college, but I feel like a high GPA is important. But when you start with college it's just going to be harder to achieve a higher gpa if you have no social life. If you don't go out for a run or walk ever then your going to feel less healthy and tiered more often. </p>

<p>Someone who works with Johnson & Johnson told me that when they took for engineers GPA is part of it, but not everything. He told me when their looking for people they weigh the fact that you joined in activities. I'm not sure, but I'm still trying to figure out how I'll mange my time to join in on stuff that I want to do and will be worth it.</p>

<p>Just for the record, I have been in the I.T. & Engineering industry for 20 years. I have not had to mention my GPA in the last 17 years. The LAST 3 LINES of my resume (on page #2) reads:</p>

<p>M.S. Systems Engineering – University of Wisconsin
B.S. Computational Mathematics – Michigan State University
Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) - Project Management Institute</p>

<p>That is how much experience is weighed on new employment as you get older.</p>

<p>GPA for entry level positions coupled with work experience/internships. ^^Agree!</p>

<p>GLOBALTRAVELER, that isn't exactly typical, though. You are in a position where other factors are more important, but I know many, many people who at least still list their degrees first on their resume. The GPA doesn't matter, as you said, but having the degrees does most of the time.</p>

<p>boneh3ad - I dont think Globaltraveler was saying that he didnt list his degrees on his resume, just not his GPA.</p>

<p>His post said he lists it last on the second page. I was merely saying that isn't common even among experienced professionals that I know.</p>

<p>I dont really see a problem with listing education last. He said he's been in the industry for 20 years and I'd think employers are more interested in what you've done over your career rather than what degree you've got collecting dust on your wall. I'm not saying the degree isnt important or even a requirement for certain jobs, but after a certain while in the workplace they become more of a check in the box than the significant accomplishment they were when you got them originally. Education will get your foot in the door, your work background will get you hired, and your performance will allow you to stay there or move up.</p>

<p>Wait, when did I say that there was a problem? All I said was that it isn't common.</p>

<p>I'm sure it was our high GPAs plus my husband listing "sailing" as a hobby on his resume that got us our first jobs at the same company! DH's interviewer wanted to talk about nothing but sailing! Engineering was hardly discussed at all, lol. So that's how we ended up in Maine.</p>

<p>Employers care more about employees who can do the job. A high GPA is only important individuals fresh out of undergrad, who lack work experience. The best way to work around that is to gain at least 1 year of work experience (internship/co-op) and solid professional references. With that being said, I would never list my GPA on my resume(s), even if it was a 4.0 (I would provide it if requested during interview).</p>