Experience outweighs college grades

For years, the teachers at my small-town high school told my fellow classmates and me our grades were the determining factors for our futures.

Though they meant well, it appears some of our high school teachers were wrong.

Grades held a lot of significance as I entered college. I thought the only way to succeed was to maintain my 4.0 in hopes of getting a job one day.

Little did I know, grades actually were not as crucial as my classmates and I believed. There was another factor that would soon determine our career paths.

That factor, as it turns out, is experience, and internships in college can provide students with opportunities to excel.

Employers put more weight into internships, employment during college and volunteer experience as opposed to college GPA, according to a study from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The study, which allocated 100 points to eight categories, gave the four experience-oriented categories 66 total points, with the other 34 going to academics. Internships received the highest allocation with 23 points, while GPA received eight.

The College of Arts and Sciences at UNA requires mass communications majors like myself to take at least one credit hour dedicated to an internship, and with good reason.

This hands-on participation in the field is invaluable.

First, interns have the opportunity to learn more about their field of interest outside of the classroom.

Students have the chance to be hands-on and use the concepts they learn in the classroom through real-life situations. There is a huge contrast in the classroom and work environment, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to the work experience and application of new ideas, students can broaden their networks and gain recommendations, which will definitely enhance their career search after college.

So, it appears experience replaced test scores. A college GPA does not matter upon graduation, and a degree does not guarantee a job, according to a recent study by the Teachers College Record.

The study goes on to prove college institutions award higher grades than students earn, which some also call “grade inflation.”

The study also showed the network and work experience more important than GPA. Employers are more likely to hire a candidate with several internships under their belt and multiple people who can vouch for their abilities.

Please do not read this opinion-based article then cease all studying efforts.

It’s important to consider that future employers will be impressed to see their potential new hire maintained decent grades, all while working part-time or full-time as a college student.

Continue to strive for high grades, but do not fear this experience component.

Students looking for internships should compete here in the Shoals for them and even look out of town for unpaid internships by visiting the UNA Career Center.

A prime opportunity will arise for students to find potential internships April 7 – 13 at the College of Arts and Sciences Career Week 2017. I encourage students to use similar opportunities.

Any experience in the desired field of study can be valuable experience.