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What Is the Dean’s List in College?

What is the dean’s list? Most people know that it’s a prestigious award, but they don’t always know why that is so. In fact, the dean’s list is more than just an award, so keep reading to find out how to make the dean’s list and all of its benefits!

What is the dean’s list?

The Dean’s list is an award bestowed on undergraduate college students who demonstrate academic excellence demonstrated through their grade point average (GPA) for the semester. While most colleges and universities have a dean’s list, the requirements to make the dean’s list may vary. Some broad qualifications are fairly universal, however. A student typically needs to be enrolled full-time as an undergraduate student. Because this award is based on GPA, only classes where you receive a grade count. Pass/fail courses do not count towards a student’s GPA or this award. 

How to get on the dean’s list

In order to make the dean’s list, you do not have to do anything special (aside from earn stellar grades!). Every college sets its own rules regarding the GPA requirements. Some schools confer this award to the top twenty percent of students, while others may give it to the top ten percent. GPA requirements may vary as well, ranging anywhere from 3.5-3.8.  

Your college or university will have your GPA on file and let you know whether you rank in the top percentage of students. Because many students achieve high GPAs in college, requirements can sometimes change regarding the dean’s list. While your GPA may be good enough for one semester, it is possible for it to change and for you to not qualify the next semester. 

If you are interested in finding out what your college’s requirements are, they can typically be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website of your college or university.  

Benefits of being on the dean’s list

Being on the dean’s list is a great way to show how hard you’ve been working in college! It makes a great addition to professional and academic resumes, which can be very beneficial when applying to internships and graduate programs. Making the dean’s list is a great goal to set goals for yourself. If you don’t make it on your first try, that’s okay. Your GPA can change every semester, but it is something to work towards. 

Being on the dean’s list may also make you eligible for certain scholarships. Scholarships that are based on academic success means that you rank in the top percentage of students at your university. 

Tips for making the dean’s list

This is a common scenario: It’s your first semester of college. Your classes are mostly prerequisite courses that you find are fairly easy. You make the dean’s list without even thinking about it. However, the next semester, you’re taking classes with labs and topics you’ve never heard of before. You find yourself working as hard as you can and not even come close to making your mark. What happened? 

The situation above may be one that you are familiar with. It might be obvious what happened. You started taking harder courses, and they got on top of you. But, what if it didn’t have to happen that way? What if there were ways you could go about each semester that would help put you on track for making the dean’s list? Below are some tips for how you can do just that!

Choosing your classes

The Dean’s list is all about personal achievement, which means the biggest obstacle to getting on it, is you! This award is GPA based. So, how you perform in classes is going to be the biggest determinate for if you make it or not. Which means when you pick out classes, you need to know what you’re picking and have an honest conversation with yourself about how you think those classes are going to go. 

Seek support when needed

Once you know your schedule, you should plan out what classes are going to need more time than others. If there are particular classes that you think you will need additional help with, familiarize yourself with the resources your college offers. Is there tutoring at the library you can attend? Does your professor have office hours that you are able to attend? 

Proper time management

Finally, consider how outside stressors might affect your academics. Sometimes students forget that they are more than just students. You might have a job, family nearby that you have to help take care of, be involved at a local organization giving away 5-10 hours of your time a week. Whatever the case is, there are things beyond academics that will affect your GPA. 

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Remember, you are not a number!

At the end of the day, while this achievement is something to be proud of, remind yourself that this award doesn’t define you. Sometimes you work your hardest and take advantage of additional resources, but you do not receive the results you hoped for. You should still be satisfied with the effort you put forth when you know you did your best. While recognition feels great, that recognition doesn’t have to come from a list. You did your best, and for that, you should be proud (we know we are!).

Also see: How to save money in college

Frequently asked questions about the dean’s list

What if I don’t make the dean’s list one semester?

Making the dean’s list is based on your GPA. Your GPA is recalculated at the end of each semester when your final grades are submitted by professors. Because of this, there may be some semesters where you don’t make it, but that’s okay! You can always try again next semester!

What if I have a high enough GPA, but I’m still not put on the dean’s list?

You may find that your GPA was high enough one semester, but you didn’t make the dean’s list. Occasionally, colleges will alter their requirements. If your class is particularly competitive, you may find that the GPA requirement jumps from 3.5 to 3.7. This is because, while making the dean’s list is based on your performance, it’s also based on your classmates’ performance. During a semester where everyone achieved high marks, it will be more difficult to gain a spot on that list. 

Related: Tips from the S360 team on how to make the most of college

How do I know if I made the Dean’s list?

Most colleges will email the students who have made it on the dean’s list directly. If you are unsure if you made it, the list of students who achieve this award are typically compiled into a document which is made public to all students. If you plan to use this achievement on a resume, it’s always good to download a copy of the official list or flag the email you receive. Most people will not doubt that you have achieved this award, but it’s a good thing to have. 

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