Before you complain to your professor about how he is the first living specimen to ever give you a C, save yourself the trouble and consider the possibility of grade deflation.
Grade deflation — the arch nemesis of grade inflation where A’s are as frequent as students using the motto YOLO — is when higher grades like an A or a B are difficult to receive because a very small number of those grades can be given out. Boston University, MIT and Reed College are all considered tough graders with a lower percentage of undergraduates getting A’s than their collegiate peers.
Most notably, grade deflation is prevalent at Princeton University.
In 2004, Nancy Weiss Malkiel, the dean of the college at Princeton University, instituted a grading standard for every academic department, still in effect to this day, in which A’s would account for less than 35% of the grades given in undergraduate courses and less than 55% of the grades given for junior and senior independent work. This means in a freshman class with 20 students, less than seven of them would be able to get an A.
Often overlooked by prospective college applicants, grade deflation remains a mystery to many. For those who are aware of it, however, it is understood that its presence on college campuses forewarns controversy.
Supporters of grade deflation realize that when the number of letter grades signifying high accomplishment is not reduced, the value of receiving an A diminishes. When everyone gets an A, especially for mediocre work, the grade is no longer special. From their standpoint, giving A’s to only those who truly deserve it makes students strive for excellence and holds them accountable for how well they do in their classes.
Critics, however, say deflating grades can negatively impact a student’s self-worth during their time in college and the career opportunities available to them after they graduate.
If you’re planning to apply to or enroll in a college that has strict grading guidelines, make sure you consider these possible consequences:
When it’s difficult to earn an A, it places stress on students to excel which can create an overall competitive, cutthroat atmosphere. Some students at the University of Chicago, which has a reputation for being stingy with its A’s, characterize it as “the place where fun comes to die.”
If you want to excel at a grade-deflated school, you’re going to have to work hard. That means becoming best friends with your textbook and understanding you will have long nights writing essays with a Starbucks cup in your hand. All of this time spent focusing on your schoolwork and studying creates less time in your schedule to be spent on extracurricular activities and spending time with your friends.
Ask around and find out if there are any specific classes that deflate grades. Generally, math, engineering and science courses are graded on a harsh curve. If the course you’re interested in does deflate grades or if you’re considering a major known for its rigor, be ready for the challenge and wary of the impact this may have on your GPA.
Let’s be honest, getting a bad grade can be a pretty demoralizing experience so brace yourself if you’re the type who isn’t accustomed to getting a grade lower than a B.
Graduate schools often have a GPA cutoff, putting grade-deflated students at a disadvantage during admissions. Fortunately, in an effort to make grading initiatives known, universities usually inform graduate programs through pamphlets or communication with admissions officers if policies are in place that result in lower grades. Since limiting the number of A’s, Princeton has not seen a vast decline in the graduate school acceptance rates of its students according to an article published by The Daily Princetonian.
Future internship/job. Some worry that having lower grades on their transcript will harm their chances of securing a coveted internship or job opportunity, especially when their grade-inflated competitors have much higher GPAs. To counteract that, Cornell University lists the median grades of courses taken in student transcripts so employers can compare applicants from Cornell relative to its rigorous grading practices. Other colleges have also made efforts to raise awareness about grade deflation.
Grade deflation can heavily influence your college experience. So when you’re stalking your favorite college’s website and devising your ingenious plan for how you’ll pay their whopping tuition, don’t forget to check out their grading policy too.
Powered by Facebook Comments