Engaged Students Earn More Credits and Higher GPAs

Involvement Leads to Success

UPDATE – August 22, 2012

See new evidence linking student leadership with academic success


  • Engaged students earn higher GPAs and more credit hours than Purdue students overall.
    • 36.8% of all students earn both 15 or more credits and a 3.0 or higher semester GPA.
    • 51.8% of students in the five programs earn both 15 or more credits and a 3.0 or higher semester GPA.
  • Engaged students perform better even when SAT scores, academic major and other factors are controlled.
  • Engaged students’ average GPA exceeds the average GPA for all students at every SAT level.
  • Engaged students’ average GPA exceeds the average GPA for all students in every under-graduate grade classification and most colleges.

About This Study

The university years are spent only partly in the classroom, library and laboratory. Students also devote considerable time to co-curricular activities. Clubs, student organizations and other programs help to make college memorable and pleasurable. These outside-the-classroom activities are vital to the full, formative, college experience.  A recent report by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs found “ample evidence that extra- or co-curricular activities bring benefits beyond enjoyment.” These activities improve retention and lead to greater student success when a Boilermaker is more engaged at Purdue. Below is a summary and the full report may be found here (739 KB PDF).


  • This report assesses the academic performance of students who are heavily involved in co-curricular activities.
  • Air Force ROTC, Army ROTC, Bands & Orchestras, Navy ROTC and Purdue Musical Organizations are included.
  • Presidential Scholars and Trustees Scholars are also included to allow comparison.
  • The analysis looks at student performance across six semesters, Fall 2008 to Spring 2011.
  • The dataset contains 7,392 records for engaged students and 182,666 records for all Purdue students.
  • Students’ academic performance is measured in terms of semester GPA and credits earned in a semester.


  • Directors of the five programs explain the results by a combination of factors.
  • Members in the programs tend to be excellent students.
  • All members receive close supervision regarding their studies and academic goals.
  • Academic performance is stressed as a prerequisite for participation in the program.
  • Tutoring is arranged for members who need special help.
  • Members are taught to manage their time well.
  • Activity in other clubs and activities is discouraged for students who fall below expectations.


Recommendations are presented on page 24 of this report, which you can download here (739 KB PDF).

Purdue University News Release:
Report: Co-curricular activities at Purdue boost student retention, success