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How to Include Dean’s List on Your Resume

You worked especially hard a few semesters in college and made the dean’s list. Should you include this award on your resume? If so, how?

Hidden Front Door is here to help you navigate this common situation to help you score your dream job. Learn how highlighting your dean’s list award can improve your resume and make your application more competitive.

We’ll also help you identify when including your dean’s list recognition is unnecessary or even harmful to your application.

Should you put dean’s list on your resume?

As with many career questions, the answer is “It depends.”

If you earned a spot on the dean’s list consistently, adding this accomplishment to your resume can attract an employer’s attention.

How?

Being on the dean’s list multiple times shows that you regularly achieve success. It’s a sign that you’re a high-performing individual who will likely succeed in the “real” world, too. You know the expectations and how to achieve them.

On the other hand, if you only made the dean’s list once or twice, listing it on your resume can draw the wrong attention to your educational background.

Making the list just one time could make a potential employer question why you weren’t living up to your full potential for the rest of your academic career. They might worry that you are fine with coasting on the job. An employer may also wonder whether you don’t want to work harder than you need to.

Another factor to consider is whether the school you attended is considered prestigious. Making the dean’s list (even just once) at an Ivy League school like Cornell or Columbia proves you can stand out among the top-tier of talented people. It’s generally accepted that courses are more rigorous at these universities. Someone who makes the dean’s list there likely has a strict work ethic and a drive to exceed expectations—a plus to any employer.

Conversely, listing dean’s list for a relatively unknown school doesn’t do much to enhance your resume. It can even detract from your more impressive accomplishments listed. Employers don’t want to have to sift through resumes that are multiple pages long. Adding unnecessary information can create more problems than it solves, distracting from more impressive awards or honors.

You may also want to mention your dean’s list award if it marks a turning point in your academic career. For example, if you had low grades for a few semesters, later earning a place on the dean’s list can be a sign that you’ve improved your performance.

In this case, adding the fact you’ve been on the dean’s list can compensate for an overall low GPA. While some employers will request you include your GPA on your application, achieving the dean’s list for several semesters later in your academic career can show your perseverance.

How to put dean’s list on your resume

When you’re adding dean’s list to your resume, you have a few options for placement.

If you consistently made the list, put it in your resume’s education section. This section includes the name of your school, when you attended, and details about your study. Include the number of times you made the list here.

Another option for placement is the awards section. You’ll only want to put your dean’s list recognition in this section if you won other awards in academics or an applicable field.

Examples of how to put dean’s list on your resume

Here are a few examples of what the awards and education sections of your resume could look like:

Awards

Example 1

AWARDS

  • Dean’s List each semester
  • 2017 Community Health Initiative Award
  • 2019 Student Advocate of the Year

Example 2

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

  • Winner of the 2020 “Student of the Year” award
  • Dean’s List 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Recipient of the 2019 Business Administration Fellowship

Education

Example 1

EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

University of Nebraska – Omaha, NE (2017-2020)

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Dean’s List Spring & Fall 2018, 2019, 2020

Example 2

EDUCATION

2016 – 2022

BA, Engineering, Texas A&M University

  • Dean’s List all semesters

Example 3

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

BS in Computer Science

University of California

08/2017 – 06/2021

(Dean’s List six semesters)

When drafting your resume, keep its overall structure in mind. There’s no need to include an awards section just for the dean’s list information if you don’t have other honors or accomplishments to add. Doing so will just clutter up your resume and distract from your more important details.

When it’s better not to list dean’s list on a resume

There are some instances when it’s better to not mention being on the dean’s list.

As we discussed earlier, if you only made the list once or made it sporadically, don’t worry about including it on your resume. It won’t add much value and will only call attention to the fact you didn’t achieve it for more semesters than you did.

You may also decide to leave it off your resume if you have other accomplishments that are more noteworthy. Employers are often bombarded with hundreds (or even thousands) of applications and want to be able to easily scan your resume. If you include too much information, your significant achievements may get overlooked.

For example, if you’re applying for an engineering job and won several awards in this field, you’re better off listing these accomplishments rather than mentioning the dean’s list.

Additionally, while it’s true earning a place on the dean’s list demonstrates your academic success, including it unnecessarily may come across like you’re trying to pad your resume. Depending on the school you attended, the list may not be very competitive. In this case, mentioning it could be just a waste of precious space on your resume.

Conclusion

Even though you’ve made it on the dean’s list, you don’t always need to include this information on your resume. Carefully consider whether this accomplishment adds value to your application. If you choose to include it, put it under the Education or Awards section of your resume.

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to HBR.org as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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