To what ‘degree’ are extra-curriculars more important than your higher education?

So you’ve been through the painstakingly nerve-wracking university application process and have started treading the road to success. The popular image of gown-clad students throwing their caps joyfully in the air, ready to start their dream job, is rife in our minds. But after gaining £27,000 worth of debt and investing a lot of time and effort in our chosen subject, is it really the degree which secures our prospects for the future?

There are more people than ever attending university, and it is no shock that employers now look for more than just a 2:1 or a first to guarantee you will achieve your ambitions. Students may choose their degree choice on the basis of if they will get a ‘better’ (i.e. higher paid) job at the end rather than if they adore the subject. Of course, a degree immediately opens many more doors, in the form of graduate schemes, access to particular jobs and degree-specific careers paths. Without one, I cannot help thinking a lot of people would be hindered in their quest for a successful career. Not only does the rigorous academic study at university provide us with in depth knowledge of subjects which will stay with us for a long time, but it equips us with transferable talents such as time management and communication skills. An A* student may look spectacular where education is concerned, but if the boxes labelled ‘work experience’ and ‘extra-curriculars’ are blank on this hypothetical job application, how far is said student really going to get in the field of employment? 

At university there is an abundance of extra activities students can get involved in, from volunteering and sport to the arts and positions of responsibility within societies and halls. At Loughborough especially, the zest for making the most of what university has to offer outside of our academic department is phenomenal. And who could complain about having an impressive fundraising total or position of authority placed firmly on their CV? The skills gained from such extra curriculars can be said to link more to the ‘real world’ and be more attractive to employers. You can guarantee that evidence that counters the idea that you’ve spent your university years lounging in a pit of despair over your gruesome hangover will help you accomplish much more. Taking this into consideration, would a more average candidate who took part in several societies, had Grade 5 piano, a part-time job to fund his studies and a place on committee in his hall get the job? 

I can’t help thinking the latter is a far more attractive prospect. Although academics are important to an extent, isn’t it our diverse capabilities in society and acumen that will, in the end, triumph over a degree certificate in an interview? Regardless of what you come to university to study, it is the non-instrumental knowledge of the real world built up through the irreplaceable opportunities as a student that will be just as valuable as a in your future.

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One response to “To what ‘degree’ are extra-curriculars more important than your higher education?

  1. I have heard various employers say that extra curricular activities and societies have little-to-no impact on whether you get the job or not.

    Their importance is greatly exaggerated by our CV polishing culture.
    Why should a kitchen manager care if you played the trumpet or drink with football players at the weekend?

    What these societies and activities do however is give you life experience. An open mind is more useful than any number of chess championships.

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