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Q: Should I keep Eagle Scout (the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America) on my CV?

I do not think that this is an appropriate item to include on a CV. However, CV is loosely translated as ''the course of my life'', and this is an achievement that takes a lot of perseverance, and something that is earned and not just given away. It requires a significant amount of time and volunteer work to complete a project that gives back to your community and also shows leadership and management skills which, you don't normally acquire until a little further in your academic career, but shows the ability to do so.

Is this award detrimental to include? looked down upon by hiring committees? not even given a second glance?

I have not found a satisfactory answer for this.

If it is kept on the CV, where should it go, i.e. award or outreach (both I think would be appropriate items, and it may be that if deficient in one or the other, one could move it around).

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    I was a missionary for a decade and typically include it. If nothing else, it shows I've travelled the globe and expanded my world view. – Jonathan Landrum Jan 24 '14 at 21:10
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    @JonathanLandrum That feels very different, in that if you didn't put it, you would be the opening the question of "what the hell were you doing for that decade?" (I'm assuming you didn't have another job). Leaving off Eagle Scout doesn't leave a gap in the same way. – Ben Webster Jan 24 '14 at 21:13
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    @BenWebster that is a valid point. – Jonathan Landrum Jan 24 '14 at 21:24
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    @keshlam In academia, a CV can easily top 20 pages – Jonathan Landrum Jan 25 '14 at 13:41
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    (Personally, I'd probably be more likely to look favorably on a résumé w/ "Eagle Scout" on it... but that's me) – cwallenpoole Oct 27 '14 at 17:47
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I wouldn't include it. I doubt it makes much of a difference, but you yourself say it's not an appropriate item. I agree.

To expand a little bit, let me say this: the things you should put on your CV are those that directly connect to the job you want to have. Something like a job you had in an unrelated field is worthwhile in that it shows you were employed and not a hobo, but most other things that aren't really directly part of your career (jobs, education, publications, info about teaching, conference presentations, grants, etc.) is just a distraction, and will make it look like you are padding. I think high school achievements are especially bad in that they focus things too much in the past. Nothing on my CV goes earlier than my junior year of college (and probably I should cut that; nobody cares where I studied abroad).

Of course, it's good to have lots of things to list on your CV, but you also want to keep the average high. There are only a few things on there that are really important, and you don't want to distract people from what they are.

It would be great to discuss your experience as an Eagle Scout in a personal conversation, say if you have an informal dinner or drinks during an interview, but I just don't think the CV is the place for it.

EDIT: A point which a deleted answer raised also occurs to me: one reason to avoid putting extraneous things on your CV is that you can't control what associations people reading it might have. For example, the Boy Scouts of America have stirred up a lot of controversy with their stances on homosexuality, and for many people that maybe be the first thing that pops to mind. It's unfair to connect one scout to that, but people aren't logical. They read "Eagle Scout," they think homophobia, and they have a negative reaction to your application that they weren't even conscious of.

I recently read an application for graduate school by a student who listed on their CV membership in some political groups with which I vehemently disagree. I don't think that should affect my judgement of their file (luckily, I'm not on the committee, so I didn't have to try to make a judgement), but I honestly did not want to know about that aspect of their lives. I'm sure they thought it showed something about leadership, but to me it looked like very poor judgement.

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    I agree, but as a compromise I don't think there would be much harm in mentioning it in a very short section called "miscellaneous" at the end of the CV. That would avoid emphasizing it or putting it in the same category with academic awards or outreach. It's still safest to leave it out, but including it like that is better than mixing it in with the core parts of the CV. – Anonymous Mathematician Jan 24 '14 at 21:32
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    I agree that it's preferable, but having an miscellaneous section on your CV is also a terrible idea. If something doesn't fit in a category you recognize as professional, that's a screaming red flag that you should leave it out. – Ben Webster Jan 24 '14 at 22:10
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    I especially like how you said "high school achievements are bad in that they focus things too much in the past." I suppose one exception to that rule would be if the candidate was still in his mid-20's. In that case, there's probably not a whole lot to put in the CV, and Eagle Scout might demonstrate character traits such as perseverence and diligence. However, the closer someone gets toward 30 – and certainly as one gets well past age 30 – the greater the chance the inclusion might come across as resting on past laurels, and look bad overall. – J.R. Jan 25 '14 at 13:12
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    I mean eagle scout is a way higher honor than what most people are comparing it to like say high school valedictorian for example. – WetlabStudent Jan 25 '14 at 15:22
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    eagle scout is a way higher honor than ... high school valedictorian for example. — [citation needed] – JeffE Jan 25 '14 at 16:08
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I wouldn't put high school achievements on a professional CV unless it's at the level of a medal on international science olympiad or a top 10 Intel talent search finish. I don't think Eagle scout is quite at this level. That said, it probably won't make a big difference either way, unless your CV has enough questionable things that it looks padded (which is bad).

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To me, as someone who isn't an eagle scout, it seems inappropriate. But I will tell you this, every person who I personally know in academia who also happens to be an eagle scout has for some reason left it on their CV (there may be some selection bias here, but in each of these cases I didn't find the fact out by reading their CV, so probably it's not that big - sample size of 2 though is very small - 1 postdoc - 1 grad student on the job market for postdocs - note no professors). Anyways, based on this fact, I surmise that other eagle scouts will see it as a positive. So if there is an eagle scout on the hiring committee it may very well be a net positive! Now the probability there is an eagle scout on the hiring committee is very low (as you point being an eagle scout is an amazing accomplishment and very few scouts ever get it). I'd leave it out based on my initial reaction, which I think is the reaction most people would have. I see why you might not want to leave it out though. This line shows a lot of qualities that may be important in academia but most people would find it irrelevant even though it is an amazing accomplishment.

However, if you "organized" a massive charity event that is at least loosely related to academia as part of your eagle scout badge, you probably should list it, but not necessarily just putting eagle scout down. You might "sneak" it in by saying "organized ... as a part of winning my eagle scout badge" or something like that, and stick it in the service section. But if you do include it, at least make an attempt to make it sound relevant.

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    +1 for "if there is an Eagle Scout in the comittee". Not only that; if there's someone still active or emotionally bonded to the scouts (and there are many such people), they will see it as a positive. – yo' Jan 25 '14 at 12:27
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    Eagle Scout is nowhere near as impressive as "U.S. National Figure Skating Champion 1995." There are almost 60 thousand Eagle scouts a year and two figure skating champions. – Noah Snyder Jan 28 '14 at 23:33
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    To be fair there are 6 U.S. figure skating champions at the highest level of competition, but your point is well taken. I never said they were equal, just that they are both amazing accomplishments. Far more people attempt scouting than figure skating, but I certainly agree "U.S. National Figure Skating Champion 1995" is a more impressive accomplishment. – WetlabStudent Jan 29 '14 at 3:10
  • I downvoted this. First, I think this answer is a bit misleading about the actual statistics about Eagle Scouts: as Noah points out, there are about 58K per year, and 7% of the current membership of BSA are Eagle Scouts. Comparing this to US National Figure Skating Champions is losing four orders magnitude: I find your "equation" to be innumerate. – Pete L. Clark Feb 26 '14 at 3:48
  • @PeteL.Clark I 100% conceded Noah's point. The statement was never an "equation", the words "something like" were meant to modify equate. Equate was clearly being used colloquially but also incorrectly, I agree. – WetlabStudent Feb 26 '14 at 5:37
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If you have a longer and more comprehensive CV, I would keep it. It's an achievement and it tells people who know a little about the Boy Scouts that you've learned a few things about leadership and engaged in significant community service.

That said, I would put in way at the end with other trivia and less important tidbits. An an extra, it might end up being a slightly positive thing for some readers. For those of that don't care, make it very clear that you don't place this among your most important achievements as a scholar.

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I have a "Non-academic activities" section at the end of my CV that mentions that I'm a semi-decent long distance runner and that I used to moonlight for an amateur comedy troupe. But then, I do this because I can afford to do so: we are talking here about two bullet points that come after about 150 separate items including publications, talks, grants, teaching, advising... so it's obvious that I'm not including this to make my CV look longer than it actually is. If your CV is substantially shorter than this, you might want to think twice about including this kind of section. If you do include it, please please please do not write anything banal or mundane there. I once read a postdoc application to my department that included the line "Hobbies: watching movies". The CV in question wasn't great anyways, but this line was the metaphorical nail in the coffin.

  • Thanks. My CV is long as is, and I have plenty in all sections. I only made the remark on where to put it if one or the other 'looked short' in comparison, but the general question remains if 'non-academic' section belongs on an 'academic' CV. Thanks for the answer. – nagniemerg Feb 26 '14 at 19:10
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It depends on:
- whether you have other volunteer experiences
* If your last volunteer experience was only in Boy Scout, then I wonder why you didn't get involved in other things in undergrad/grad. If you are listing a bunch of experiences, it probably doesn't hurt to include it.

- whether this experience is related to what you are applying for
* If you see this being relevant to an education or outreach aspect for the position you are applying for, then perhaps it is a good idea.

If you list this as part of your career achievements, I might think that you are a bit desperate (as if you don't have anything else to write about and just want to pack your CV). Not to say that this is not important, but for an academic position it is not directly relevant; if you want to include it, it should go into "miscellaneous" or "volunteer experiences."

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It depends on the position you are applying for. I would not include it in an application for a professorship, but for a post-doc I would keep it in under "misc" or "additional information". If there is a structured application form and they are asking for it, then include it.

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