Tags: college | grades | gpa | inflation | ivy league | job prospects

College Grades Have Been Inflated by 13%

College Grades Have Been Inflated by 13%
Seniors at Princeton University's Class Day, a mostly whimsical celebration the day before its commencement ceremony in Princeton, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP)

George Mentz By Wednesday, 21 February 2024 11:40 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Since my generation started college in 1983, the average grade point average (GPA) a university in the USA has gone from around a 2.9 to a 3.3 GPA out of 4 points total. You might not be bothered by this subtle difference, but this change is a 12.9% difference. Thus, there are swaths of schools in the USA that give grades that are 1/8 th or more better than the rest. [i]

In terms of undergraduate GPAs at top business schools, here are some notable institutions and their average GPAs:

1.  Stanford – 3.68 GPA is the average grade. [ii]

2.  Brown University has everybody doing great with a: 3.73 average

3.  Yale University has a whopping 3.63 average for all students.

4.  Harvard Business School: Their average undergrad GPA is 3.63. [iii]

5.  Columbia students have a 3.6 GPA on average.

6.  Arizona State Carey School of Business: Their average GPA stands at 3.631. [iv]

Overall, those with higher undergraduate GPAs tend to be admitted first to law schools, business schools and medical schools. In this analysis, it is fairly obvious that there is a huge difference in appearance between a 3.4 GPA and a 3.8 GPA on an application. However, the statistics imply that many public universities and community colleges have lower average GPAs. For instance, one of the toughest schools in the nation is Georgia Tech where the average GPA in 2019 was a 3.3 GPA. [v]

Keep in mind that most colleges are non-profits and charities with big budgets, and many colleges will accept sincere students who have a C average and a history of jobs, service, and skills. From a pricing and admissions standpoint, hotels, airlines and colleges simply can’t afford too many empty rooms or seats. [vi] See Lowest GPAs [vii]

Further, many expensive brand name colleges appear to reward most students with a GPA higher than 3.5 GPA.  [viii]

When it comes to grade deflation, some colleges and universities are known for maintaining rigorous grading standards. Here are a few institutions where getting top grades can be quite challenging: [ix]

1.  Princeton University: Princeton is notorious for being tough graders, and they take pride in maintaining high academic standards 1.

2.  Caltech (California Institute of Technology) : Caltech bucks the national trend by actively practicing deflation. For some STEM classes, they limit A grades to the top 15-20% of the class 2.

3.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) : While MIT used to be even harder, it has softened in recent years. However, it still maintains strict grading practices1.

4.  University of Chicago (UChicago): UChicago is known for its intellectual rigor, which translates into challenging grading expectations 1.

5.  Cornell University: Cornell also falls into the category of schools with relatively deflated grading practices 1.

Here are a few reasons why grade inflation expanded in the past 40 years:

1.  Professors fear online criticism on social media.

2.  University enrollment is lower, thus deans and presidents are eliminating the SAT and ACT and lowering the barrier to entry.Once a student is accepted, the educational body can’t afford to lose customers and have empty seats.

3.  More students can claim ADA protection.  The actual types of applicants who are protected has expanded to include ADHD and Anxiety. [x] [xi]

4.  Students have access to more relevant learning tools online.

5.  Students can buy test prep tools or homework solutions online.

6.  Medications and over-the-counter Nootropics to boost focus and performance are more readily available to almost all who want it.

7.  Universities are more aware of their scholarship students and don’t want good students to lose any scholarship funding based on GPA.

8.  Now, AI Artificial Intelligence tools have made homework and writing more easy to complete.

9.  Possibly, the expansion of abroad program opportunities may allow students to boost their GPA.

10.    Many schools have a sheer focus on just taking the top students with the top SATs and some of these schools simply have great students as the nation has a bigger pool of students and international students.

What types of impairments are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for students?  30 years ago, it seems that most of the ADA students had a physical disability such as hearing, sight, mobility, etc., but 30 years later, the ADA list is much larger and may cover people with these medical issues such as:  ADHD, brain injury, Autism Spectrum Disorders, intellectual disabilities, physical &  mobility disabilities, chronic health issues such as diabetes and migraines, hearing, learning, dyslexia, dyscalculia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, Asthma, MS, Crohn's Disease, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue. 

In essence, if your doctor can back up the ADA report, you may receive special accommodations for four years of College and also in graduate school. [xii] Myself and many others I know could have claimed this type of protection, but most of us were too timid to take the leap 40 years ago.  This is between you and your doctor and family, but do not avoid the issue. If most of your contemporaries make A’s while you study the same amount of time and make Cs; then, you may want to take proactive action.

I still remember writing a college paper at a public university that had one comma splice in it and was given a C grade for the disputable comma. I also remember taking courses from an Ivy level law school and earning a 3.6+GPA for the same amount of work that would earn at 2.5 GPA at a law school with grade deflation.  So, you may want to consider designing you own Sun Tzu warrior strategy for getting into the best school for you.

As a note, some law schools and business schools have several law societies and many awards for students  where lesser law school may only have one law review and few awards. Some business schools have a wide curriculum with many school clubs that are useful to your future.

The point I am trying to make is that applicants should consider going to a law school or business school that will encourage a high GPA and great opportunities that allow the student to focus on their concentration or major.  Surf each school online to see the obvious differences between the number of activities, courses, specializations, and accolades available to the student.

Remember, things have changed, and the SAT and ACT are not the only secret anymore as 100s of great schools are not requiring SATs or ACTs now. [xiii] If your loved one is good at testing, then focus on scoring high, but if you are not a good standardized exam tester, then don’t waste too much time taking the ACT or SAT 5 times. With the time wasted on entrance exams, you could probably take 2-3 college courses or AP exams.

As for underreporting, I have interviewed many of my thousands of students over the last 25 years that underreport their charity service, work and skills. Thus some students are being too honest and their humility is hurting them.

Tell your loved one to please honestly report anything they have done for charity, any sport such as Boxing or martial arts that you have learned, any rudimentary language skills, any government service, any cultural issues that are interesting, any licenses such as CPR or swim instructor, any work at a grocery store or restaurant, or even if you know how to play music on an ancient guitar called a Hurdy Gurdy!.

Additionally, if you have mastered a video game, you can report that also.  Report it all ! Many colleges are looking for creative people with any special abilities; thus, “Unique ability is the new diversity.” As a note, I had one federal government official say that I could not be interviewed and hired because I supplied a photo of myself.  Thus, make sure your college wants a photo before sending it.

There are some realities to college such as location, housing, security, weather, health care, and logistics.  It may be best to apply to colleges that have transportation or an airport that can serve your family well. Moreover, many students may require better weather and if that is the case, you may want your child to apply to schools that have over 200 days of sunshine per year. [xiv]

Overall, it is also smart to be sure that the campus is not dangerous and in a safe area with lots of things to do on campus. In closing, sometimes there is a “diamond in the rough” that you are overlooking. Always, check out your local college or local community colleges to determine if these schools are a good place for you loved one to launch your college career and maybe transition into a 4 year college later.

In closing, some laws schools, business schools and undergraduate colleges publish their “grade curve policies.” For instance, some schools will publish that up to 80% of any class can receive As and Bs in the course.  [xv] Therefore, make sure you are attending a school that has the rules that allow for most of the class to receive a good grade for hard work. [xvi]
Commissioner George Mentz JD MBA CILS CWM® is the first in the USA to rank as a Top 50 Influencer & Thought Leader in: Management, PM, HR, FinTech, Wealth Management, and B2B according to Onalytica.com and Thinkers360.com. George Mentz JD MBA CILS is a CWM Chartered Wealth Manager ®, global speaker - educator, tax-economist, international lawyer and CEO of the GAFM Global Academy of Finance & Management ®. The GAFM is a EU accredited graduate body that trains and certifies professionals in 150+ nations under standards of the: US Dept of Education, ACBSP, ISO 21001, ISO 991, ISO 29993, QAHE, ECLBS, and ISO 29990 standards. Mentz is also an award winning author and award winning graduate law professor of wealth management of one of the top 30 ranked law schools in the USA.

[i] National Trends in Grade Inflation, American Colleges and Universities

[ii] The Top 15 Universities with the Highest Average GPAs - RippleMatch

[iii] The Top 15 Universities with the Highest Average GPAs - RippleMatch

[iv] Poets&Quants | Average Undergrad GPAs At The Top 50 Business Schools (poetsandquants.com)

[v] Poets&Quants | Average Undergrad GPAs At The Top 50 Business Schools (poetsandquants.com)

[vi] Perishable inventory Definition (hotelpricereporter.com)

[vii] https://www.collegesimply.com/colleges/rank/colleges/lowest-gpa/

[viii] https://ripplematch.com/insights/the-top-20-universities-with-the-highest-average-gpas-84ef5edf/

[ix] https://www.ivyscholars.com/2023/05/05/what-is-grade-inflation/

[x] ADHD Accommodations at Work: Your Rights to Disability Protections (additudemag.com)

[xi] Is Anxiety a Disability under the ADA? (krcl.com)

[xii] Who is eligible for Accommodations? (umt.edu)

[xiii] Top 100 Colleges That Are Test-Optional In 2023 - Crimson Education US

[xiv] 10 Cities In The US With The Most Sunny Days (thetravel.com)

[xv] Grade Curve Policy: Michigan State University College of Law (msu.edu)

[xvi] Harvard Report Shows 79% A-Range Grades Awarded in 2020-21, Sparking Faculty Discussion | News | The Harvard Crimson (thecrimson.com)

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Since my generation started college in 1983, the average grade point average (GPA) a university in the USA has gone from around a 2.9 to a 3.3 GPA out of 4 points total.
college, grades, gpa, inflation, ivy league, job prospects
Wednesday, 21 February 2024 11:40 AM
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