GPA system not accurate or fair

IUS Horizon

We live in a world where numbers matter.

We love to count, quantify and analyze anything and everything, including knowledge.

A person’s grade point average is one way we do so.

But a person’s GPA does not really tell much about how intelligent a person is or even how much they know.

There are so many variables that the GPA does not account for that the measure becomes inaccurate and irrelevant.

The most obvious example is that students get to choose their own schedules and can choose to either coast to graduation taking easy electives in their strong subjects or they can explore their curiosity and take electives in a variety of fields. If an English major takes an elective in calculus, they may end up taking a hit in their transcript, but they will have attained more knowledge than an English major who takes another basic literature course because they heard the professor was easy.

The first student will have a lower GPA, but his educational experience will be so much richer.

Secondly, students don’t always stay at the same schools throughout their college careers. There are large differences in difficulty between schools, and GPA does not take this into account, either. A student who takes a biology course at JCC will likely have a much easier time than one who takes it at IUS or the University of Louisville. Not to knock JCC, but let’s face it. Some schools are harder than others and the quality of education at harder schools, which are usually much better funded, is often better. Again, the student getting the better education may come out with a lower GPA.

Because of this discrepancy in difficulty between schools, some universities, like IUS, wipe the GPA slate clean when students transfer. For example, I transferred to IUS from Western Kentucky University after five semesters. I had a 3.95 GPA. But I lost all that when I transferred.

My first semester at IUS, I got a C in Spanish. and my GPA dropped to a 3.1. I’ve since clawed my way back up some, but I’ll never get my GPA back up to where it would be if my Western grades had counted.

My GPA is still pretty good, but it pains me to know that on paper I don’t look as good as I should. Jobs are getting harder and harder to find, and I and other students are going to need every edge we can get when we try to enter the professional world.

I understand the need for GPAs. When potential employers, graduate schools or organizations awarding scholarships look at a student, they don’t have time to fully evaluate that student’s abilities. They need a simple way to compare that student against other candidates.

A possible solution to this would be to weigh the grades earned. Some high schools do this, but it hasn’t been developed at the university level.

It seems a bit daunting to weigh every class at every university, but it is feasible.

Every accredited university must go through analysis to become accredited and reanalysis to stay accredited.     The accreditation councils could give each school a rating based on its overall difficulty that would apply to students’ GPAs.

Then, at the university level, each class could be ranked and rated based on its difficulty.

The GPA system is not accurate or fair. It should be amended to take into account  the factors it is currently ignoring.

By ZACH HESTER
Editor
zwhester@ius.edu