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Should Adcoms Adjust GPA's?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Papa Smurf, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. Papa Smurf

    Papa Smurf Thug 4 Life
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    What's the consensus here? I know some do adjust them based on what school you're from. Anyone have a problem with this? What about adjusting it based on difficulty of major or course of study?
     
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  3. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats
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    I think they all mentally adjust them...should they?

    Yes.
     
  4. Medical123

    Medical123 Senior Member
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    I don't think that they should adjust anyone's grade point average. That leaves too much room for objectivity. There are very tough instructors and classes at lower rated schools, just as there are at easier instructors and classes at highly rated universities. As far as difficulty of major goes, that too is objective. Each person has his or her strengths and weaknesses. A major that one admissions committee member sees as easy may be seen as difficult for others on the committee. You just can't judge a person by his school or major.
     
  5. DrBlueDevil

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    I think they should!

    One would think, "Hey! It's gotta be easier to get an A at State School X than at Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Princeton, Yale, etc..." Then there's the argument, "Yeah, but those snotty rich kid schools inflate grades like crazy..."

    I suppose it comes down to trying to figure out exactly how the grades are distributed at each school, and exactly how good the competition is at each respective school.

    I think it's a good idea because I believe it's harder to have a good GPA at Duke than at a less-competitive school. I can never REALLY know because I can't "redo" my college career here twice and somewhere else thrice and then run the stats. :)
     
  6. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat
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    At any school you can take harder classes and easier classes, and some professors inflate grades more than others. Short of every adcom in the nation evaluating the reputation/grading-style of every professor at every undergraduate institution in the nation, and then applying the appropriate correction to each class that each applicant has taken, there is no fair way to make "corrections."
     
  7. none

    none 1K Member
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    Yes, they do and yes, they should.
     
  8. Mutterkuchen

    Mutterkuchen Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> think it's a good idea because I believe it's harder to have a good GPA at Duke than at a less-competitive school. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">There are many that argue that this is not true, due to grade inflation. WashU School of Law announced last week that the are going to begin inflating grades next year to make their graduates more competitive. I find it hard to believe that they got this idea on their own. I think that they got it from the Harvards and Yales.
     
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  9. jargon124

    jargon124 Senior Member
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    Obviously there's gotta be some adjustment (mentally or otherwise) for peeps at hard schools. I have a 4.0 cum GPA right now - graduating in May at the University of Arizona - and I have to admit that it hasn't been THAT hard to maintain perfect grades. Don't get me wrong, it's been work and I am quite proud of my GPA, but it isn't like it would be at some schools.

    There's lots of grade inflation at ivies and elsehwere as well...also gotta look at courses taken and other factors like that...so much room for interpretation and subjectivitiy...reminds you of how imperfect the admissions process really is.

    Af far as the numbers component of the applicantion goes, I think the best solution is to downplay GPA to some extent and up the importance of MCATs. I'm serious. MCAT's should count for more than they do. There, I said it. :)
     
  10. 007flint

    007flint Member
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    For those of you that think it is harder to get an "A" at Harvard than state school X, check out this link:
    <a href="http://www.boston.com/globe/metro/packages/harvard_honors/" target="_blank">http://www.boston.com/globe/metro/packages/harvard_honors/</a>
    This is an artical from the Boston Globe outlining the grade inflation that has been rampant at Harvard since the 70's.
     
  11. Dr. Kermit

    Dr. Kermit Senior Member
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    Having graduated from a school with rampant grade deflation, many interviewers actually asked me how I maintained above a 3.3 through prereqs and how I managed to graduate with over a 3.5. I never really thought about grade deflation, well of course I complained about it, but until I realized adcoms do know about it, I was happy.
     
  12. vyc

    vyc Senior Member
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    some schools like dartmouth (and i don't know where else) will group applicants from the same school and look at them all together.
    dartmouth claims that we are NOT competing solely with the people from the same institutions (which i don't really understand) but i think this makes sense and helps with understanding what an A means at a given school, what with grade inflation, deflation, course variability, etc.
     
  13. latebloomer2

    latebloomer2 Junior Member
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    Whether you go to an Ivy school or a community college, we all take the same MCAT. Obviously if your school is tough on grading your MCAT will show this. If you graduate with a 3.2 but score a 40 on the MCAT, than grading must be tough. On the flip side if a 4.0 student scores 30 on the MCAT grading must have been pretty easy. I don't think schools need to adjust for GPA, they need to put more emphasis on the MCAT score.
     
  14. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member
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    This is something that has always made me mad, especially since I went to a school that prides itself on not having frade inflation (i.e. a B-/C+ is the average grade). I don't understand why they just don't use class rank -- it corrects for grade inflation.

    Ed
     
  15. Papa Smurf

    Papa Smurf Thug 4 Life
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by latebloomer2:
    <strong>If you graduate with a 3.2 but score a 40 on the MCAT, than grading must be tough. </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Not necessarily, it could just indicate you're kind of a slacker. Adcoms would probably be thinking, this guy has the aptitude to pull a 40 on the MCAT, but can't even maintain an A average at his school?

    As for the poster who suggested class rank, I don't think many schools have that. I know mine doesn't.

    Obviously, GPA's are adjusted. I know this for a fact because I was told so by a Dean of Admissions. But what I'm saying is that they adjust by school, which isn't necessarily fair. All poitical correctness aside, some majors are more difficult than others. Is a 3.5 in Biomedical or Chemical Engineering really the same as a 3.5 in political science? (no offense to poly sci majors) Should people be punished for studying what they love because its difficulty level caused their GPA to drop a few tenths of a point?
     
  16. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    I think grades should be adjusted. Difficulty doesn't have to do with my reasoning. Difficulty is part of taking classes and overcoming them. But from my perspective, class competativeness certainly makes the difference. I go to UC Davis, so this isn't much of a problem, but i have friends and family who went to UC Berkeley and UCLA where it is so competative, you can still be doomed to fail if you have a 70%(exaggerating i think)! People don't care about you at these schools. If you somehow get an A, you sure worked your bottom off to get that A. I say they diserve it.

    Personally, i worked my butt off to get into a UC so that i can get the education that was advertised. I sure as heck want to reap the benefits from my $1300 quarterly tuition fees. Maybe that sounds selfish but....thats how i feel.

    As for grade inflation at private schools...i do admit that is a problem. I heard that students can drop a class before the final and recieve not failing grade!!! Ok that is messed up. How many of us here wish we had that option?

    On a note, UCSF i believe does adjust grades. An example that was given to me by one of their adcom members was a UC would say get an extra point vs. a state school.
     
  17. vixen

    vixen I like members
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    I think it's subjective to say "Math is a tougher major than chem, which is tougher than bio which is tougher than english" etc. People choose their majors, if they choose something they're interested in and they have to work harder to get a good gpa, remember, they chose that path. Besides, many people naturally excel in subjects they choose. It would be like saying, if person A is an english major but is also premed, their grades should be adjusted for taking on that courseload, compared to a regular english major.

    If you choose engineering and you find it to be difficult or too demanding, then switch! You set yourself up for that...if you think you have to work harder than someone who's an english major to keep a high gpa, you might, but you chose this. Besides, I'm sure admissions people realize that some subjects require more work than others.
     
  18. Papa Smurf

    Papa Smurf Thug 4 Life
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    Yeah, it is subjective to say this major is tougher than that major which is tougher than that other major. But when med schools are adjusting your GPA based on your undergrad's ranking, they're allowing that same sort of subjectivity to enter into their analysis. Who's to say that the liberal grading policies of some higher ranking school's don't more than compensate for the difficulty of the curriculum (after all mommy and daddy aren't going to be too happy paying 30K a year for junior to be pulling a 2.5, right?) I'm not saying engineering is too difficult for me, but I don't have any friends with a 4.0 in any engineering major. I know half a dozen kids with a 4.0 in poly sci. Shoot, they're the first ones to tell me how they have to do a lot less work than I do. Should I not believe them? Should all majors just be viewed equivalently, even though it's apparent that some require more time and effort than others?
     
  19. Hopkins2010

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    I dont necessarily think engineering is any harder than any other major (I graduated with a degree in electrical/computer engineering)

    I actually got better grades in my engineering classes than I did in some of my nonscience classes because the nonsciences use more subjective criteria like essay grades. With engineering and hard sciences in general, its usually pretty clear what it takes to make an A in the course, whereas in the nonsciences its not always that clear. That is, I could spend a lot of time and effort writing an essay, but could still make a poor grade simply because the prof doesnt like my writing style (even though the content might be very good)
     
  20. quaileggs

    quaileggs Senior Member
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    This thread makes me so angry. These glib, smug responses.
    I am COMPLETELY against schools taking it upon themselves to recast GPAs. This is a shockingly elitist practice. We all take the same MCAT and this should be enough to put our GPAs into perspective. Not all of us are fortunate enough to go to elite schools and we don't all deserve to be lumped into some stereotyped vision of the value of our grades due to the school we attend. I am the intellectual equal or better of any Ivy kid...my life experiences just did not lead down that Ivy path. I started college at a later age and the only criteria I used for choosing my college what was local and cheap.(had kids and a house)---&gt; thus Ohio State it was. I have worked my butt off getting good grades where my professors have not cut us any breaks..I am just one of thousands...in fact many professors have operated their classes with ruthless weeding out in mind: including completely corrupt practices like testing us on things we did not learn, misleading us about test content, and tolerating blatant cheating networks. I'm sure Ivy parents paying high tuitions would not tolerate their kids being screwed with like that. I fought my way upstream in this system and triumphed in the end. It is sick that even in light of my 90th percentile MCAT scores and my very challenging coursework that some schools would sit in judgement over my attending a state school. But I'm sure some have. Thankfully, I will be starting medical school in the fall. All I can say is that some people don't know how spoiled they are and are in denial that attendence of elite schools is most closely related to family financial resources and family valuation of education. There have been many smart people out there who have fallen through the cracks. I know many just in my own family. Do you really think the system operates as a perfect meritocracy and that you are objectively inherently superior to students in other situations? Stop kidding yourselves and focus on being grateful you have had the advantages and the wonderful educations you have had. Being privileged yet smug and oblivious instead of humble and gracious is one of the nastiest personality types out there. Even though I grew up relatively poor in a family that was out of control, I am still conscious of how lucky I am to have been born in the United States where each of us actually has the potential to realize our dreams and better ourselves despite our background. I feel fortunate to have recieved a college education PERIOD and refuse to ever see myself as second rate.
     
  21. Ben01

    Ben01 Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by quaileggs:
    <strong>This thread makes me so angry. These glib, smug responses.
    I am COMPLETELY against schools taking it upon themselves to recast GPAs. This is a shockingly elitist practice. We all take the same MCAT and this should be enough to put our GPAs into perspective. Not all of us are fortunate enough to go to elite schools and we don't all deserve to be lumped into some stereotyped vision of the value of our grades due to the school we attend. I am the intellectual equal or better of any Ivy kid...my life experiences just did not lead down that Ivy path. I started college at a later age and the only criteria I used for choosing my college what was local and cheap.(had kids and a house)---&gt; thus Ohio State it was. I have worked my butt off getting good grades where my professors have not cut us any breaks..I am just one of thousands...in fact many professors have operated their classes with ruthless weeding out in mind: including completely corrupt practices like testing us on things we did not learn, misleading us about test content, and tolerating blatant cheating networks. I'm sure Ivy parents paying high tuitions would not tolerate their kids being screwed with like that. I fought my way upstream in this system and triumphed in the end. It is sick that even in light of my 90th percentile MCAT scores and my very challenging coursework that some schools would sit in judgement over my attending a state school. But I'm sure some have. Thankfully, I will be starting medical school in the fall. All I can say is that some people don't know how spoiled they are and are in denial that attendence of elite schools is most closely related to family financial resources and family valuation of education. There have been many smart people out there who have fallen through the cracks. I know many just in my own family. Do you really think the system operates as a perfect meritocracy and that you are objectively inherently superior to students in other situations? Stop kidding yourselves and focus on being grateful you have had the advantages and the wonderful educations you have had. Being privileged yet smug and oblivious instead of humble and gracious is one of the nastiest personality types out there. Even though I grew up relatively poor in a family that was out of control, I am still conscious of how lucky I am to have been born in the United States where each of us actually has the potential to realize our dreams and better ourselves despite our background. I feel fortunate to have recieved a college education PERIOD and refuse to ever see myself as second rate.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">No one (well, at least not me) is suggesting that because someone goes to an Ivy league university they are "better" or smarter than anyone else. However, with that being said the education at some schools IS better than the education at others. This is fact. Should adcoms keep that in mind? Of course. Should they also keep in mind that some schools grade inflate? Absolutely. There are many things they need to keep in mind when making a decision about a candidate and where they went to school is definitely one of them.
     
  22. Ben01

    Ben01 Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Medical123:
    <strong>I don't think that they should adjust anyone's grade point average. That leaves too much room for objectivity. There are very tough instructors and classes at lower rated schools, just as there are at easier instructors and classes at highly rated universities. As far as difficulty of major goes, that too is objective. Each person has his or her strengths and weaknesses. A major that one admissions committee member sees as easy may be seen as difficult for others on the committee. You just can't judge a person by his school or major.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">ummm.... I think you meant SUBJECTIVITY not objectivity.
     
  23. matthew0126

    matthew0126 Anaheim Angels
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    yup agree re: ucsf. i had dinner with a ucsf prof on the admissions committee, he told me straight-up that they adjust systematically for the gpa

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by relentless11:
    <strong>I think grades should be adjusted. Difficulty doesn't have to do with my reasoning. Difficulty is part of taking classes and overcoming them. But from my perspective, class competativeness certainly makes the difference. I go to UC Davis, so this isn't much of a problem, but i have friends and family who went to UC Berkeley and UCLA where it is so competative, you can still be doomed to fail if you have a 70%(exaggerating i think)! People don't care about you at these schools. If you somehow get an A, you sure worked your bottom off to get that A. I say they diserve it.

    Personally, i worked my butt off to get into a UC so that i can get the education that was advertised. I sure as heck want to reap the benefits from my $1300 quarterly tuition fees. Maybe that sounds selfish but....thats how i feel.

    As for grade inflation at private schools...i do admit that is a problem. I heard that students can drop a class before the final and recieve not failing grade!!! Ok that is messed up. How many of us here wish we had that option?

    On a note, UCSF i believe does adjust grades. An example that was given to me by one of their adcom members was a UC would say get an extra point vs. a state school.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
     
  24. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior
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    That whole Ivy is better than State school is all Bullsh!t. I can easily pick out a handfull of math majors at my state school that will kick the sh!t out of any math major from Harvard MIT or whereever. These guys don't care where they go to school. I'm even glad some of them didn't quit at the highschool level despite their 1,600s on the SAT. Anyone that thinks it's harder to make an A at some school is fooling themselves. All you need is a freaking book, and some profs to answer your questions once in a while.

    But if you want to justify the $35,000 you spent each year, then go ahead and think you're better educated. If it makes you happy and it doesn't hurt the next guy; I don't see why not?

    The ONLY advantage of going to Harvard, Yale, Duke, Stanford or whereever is that you'll be given more access* than the state schooler after you graduate.

    *(Jobs, grad school, professional school, e.t.c)
     
  25. Elysium

    Elysium Not Really An Old Beaver
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    By and large I think the Ivies have become totally overrated. Going to school in Boston, I met plently of posers attending Harvard, Tufts, and MIT. The MIT kids really were pretty friggin' smart, but the Harvard kids really loved to play up their "creative, diversity" angle and do a bunch of cute things that show how well rounded and clever they are. "I'm a chinese studies major, but I also act in independent movies and have exhibts at the MFA". Give me a goddamn break. Going to UT-Austin, I've seen people get the sh!t kicked out of them. THey don't have time to be clever because they're just trying to survive. It's so much bullsh!t, it makes me crazy.
    You guys that have gone to state schools and kicked ass - you'll be rewarded. And if not, f- the schools that have biased views because someone decided to spend $100,000 for their schooling and you didn't.
    In intern and residency, we'll all be suffering equally, no matter where we went to undergrad.
     
  26. jargon124

    jargon124 Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Original:
    <strong>That whole Ivy is better than State school is all Bullsh!t. I can easily pick out a handfull of math majors at my state school that will kick the sh!t out of any math major from Harvard MIT or whereever. </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I agree completely. I am fond of pointing out that the top, say, 3% of students here at the University of Arizona (which is known around the country as a "party school") are as smart as the top 3% of students ANYWHERE. Peeps who think that just going to Harvard/Yale/whatever makes them smarter than everyone who didn't are sadly mistaken.

    That said, we do like to party out here in AZ. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> :D
     
  27. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by jargon124:
    <strong>
    That said, we do like to party out here in AZ. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> :D </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I ain't mad at you! After May 4th, the party is ON over here; make no mistake about it!

    --You see, that's another advantage of going to a state school. You get an all-rounded education; instead of being all stuck-up and snobbish <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" /> <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />
     
  28. Ben01

    Ben01 Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Original:
    <strong>
    The ONLY advantage of going to Harvard, Yale, Duke, Stanford or whereever is that you'll be given more access* than the state schooler after you graduate.

    *(Jobs, grad school, professional school, e.t.c)</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">....seems like a damn good reason to me.
     
  29. WaitingImpatiently

    WaitingImpatiently Long Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by jargon124:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Original:
    <strong>That whole Ivy is better than State school is all Bullsh!t. I can easily pick out a handfull of math majors at my state school that will kick the sh!t out of any math major from Harvard MIT or whereever. </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I agree completely. I am fond of pointing out that the top, say, 3% of students here at the University of Arizona (which is known around the country as a "party school") are as smart as the top 3% of students ANYWHERE. Peeps who think that just going to Harvard/Yale/whatever makes them smarter than everyone who didn't are sadly mistaken.

    That said, we do like to party out here in AZ. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> :D </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Regarding your "top 3" comment, how do you know that? Have you met the top 3% of your school and the top 3% of a school like Yale?

    I'm not saying that your comment isn't true, but this thread does reek of sour grapes, as well as elitism.

    I know that a lot of HS students choose to stay close at home (state schools) to avoid high costs, or simply because they don't believe in the prestige that a school like Harvard has, but Ivy League schools, as well as a lot of other "top tier" colleges, do hold a lot of brilliant minds not found in places like UC Irvine.

    Having written that, I do think that med schools should adjust GPAs according to the overall school average. I've heard that Stanford inflates grades drastically, so much that a passing grade is practically guaranteed. A top public university like UC Berkeley, however, doesn't do this, and so students, on average, don't have GPAs as high as the ones Stanford students have.

    I'm from Berkeley.
     
  30. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Ben01:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Original:
    <strong>
    The ONLY advantage of going to Harvard, Yale, Duke, Stanford or whereever is that you'll be given more access* than the state schooler after you graduate.

    *(Jobs, grad school, professional school, e.t.c)</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">....seems like a damn good reason to me.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Sure it's a good reason! However, the topic of discussion here is whether or not, GPAs from such schools should be adjusted-up. I'm up at 4:53am busting my @ss doing my Topology (MA 670) homework. My instructor got his PhD from and post-doced at Stanford; and taught at MIT for 2 yrs before coming here. He can tell you that math is math anywhere and we keep him on his 2 feet anyday of the week. I'll even put my money on my classmate Mich (19 yrs old) over my professor. Hee hee :p
     
  31. labrynth79

    labrynth79 Senior Member
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    Well, I have biases here. Sorry to say that. I go to Berkeley and I've had professors actually lower the class scale because they didn't think we were "smart" enough - these are classes in organic chemistry (non-premeds) and biochem courses, mind you. I've been cheated out of A grades because of this, and it really hurts my g.p.a. when a lot of science grades are padded with "B+"'s and not those nice "A"'s. I was slightly happy when the ex-dean of Adcom at UCSD medical gave a talk at our school and spoke with me about the g.p.a. factor. I was really concerned for my chances, but she told me that, at least at the UC med schools, they know that grade DEflation is common at UC Berkeley. No, not all professors do this, but many of mine did. On the other hand, some profs are easier and pretty much gave anyone A's (unfortunately, this did not apply to any science courses, though! damn.).

    Well, that's my view. I'm happy they do adjust gpa's, but the lady at UCSD also told me that at Stanford, they realize there is grade INflation, and they take that into consideration too. Is it fair? In some ways it is and others it's not. Will it ever be fair? no, unless we can standardize grading systems for every single class at every single school, and that's not likely to happen anytime soon. So, let's not make this a screaming match about elitism. I go to a state school and got a great education, challenged myself by taking the "hard" chem and bio courses, and suffered in gpa but not in intellect. I have no idea where I'm going with this anymore, but I have a Spanish exam in about 1 hour (argh, class from 6:30-9pm is NOT pleasant :( ), so now I have to go. I just want to let you all know that sometimes the adjustment is necessary.
     
  32. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    First, to get into an Ivy or similar caliber school these days, you have to have worked your butt off for 4 years in high school, maintaining a near 4.0 (or higher), plus scored very well on the SAT I and II's, plus have done the insane amount of EC's that we're all familiar with from trying to get into med school, plus have written a kick-ass essay. Sound familiar? So adcoms know that applicants from these schools have been pulling this off for at least 8 years or so. It's just another piece of information, and with the high volume of apps, they are going to take advantage of every piece of information they have.

    Second, not everyone at elite schools is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Quite a substantial proportion of students at these schools go there with substantial financial aid or scholarship help.

    Third, as labrynth79 pointed out, grade adjustment can work both ways.

    If you're a great applicant from a not-so-great (or even great, as in UCBerkeley) school, your app will reflect it, as it will if you've overcome considerable obstacles. You just have to give them the extra pieces of information they need in order to consider your application fairly.

    All that said, I'm sure there are some schools, adcoms members, and interviewers who are biased in favor of Ivy leaguers. But what was it my mom always said when I complained that something wasn't fair? Life's not fair.
     

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