Finals season is around the corner, and students are starting to see how their final grades will shape up.
The University currently grades students using pluses and minuses for all grades except failing marks and A’s, which means a student could never earn an A+. Students who receive between 93 and 100 percent in a class get an A or 4.0 grade point average, and students who earn between 90 and 92 percent earn an A-, or a 3.7 GPA. But there is a disadvantage for students who perform exceptionally well in their classes but still earn the same grade as someone with a low A.
Most employers and graduate schools require grades to be submitted, and students will need to compete with applicants from other schools around the world. But GW makes it harder for students to appear competitive on their applications because they cannot earn the highest mark – an A+ – on their transcript. Students should not be penalized with a lower GPA for receiving a grade in the low 90s while not being rewarded for earning a grade in the high 90s. Officials should change the grading system so students can receive A+’s and a higher GPA value.
Students could earn grades that cause their overall GPA to tank. The current grading system punishes students for performing poorly by giving them minuses but lacks a reward for students who perform exceptionally. If students receive lower credit for an A-, then they should also receive higher credit for an A+ and a higher GPA.
GW could inflate the value of an A+ to be higher than a 4.0 so students who earn an A can still receive a 4.0, similar to grading systems at other schools like Stanford and Cornell universities. At Stanford and Cornell, students who earn an A+ receive 4.3 points toward their GPA on a 4.0 scale. Students can balance out the A-‘s they may receive with A+’s if they perform exceptionally well in another class.
Many undergraduates want to go to graduate school or get a job, but because their GPA looks lower than students of other institutions, they might be prematurely dismissed as nonviable candidates. The difference might be small on a transcript, but in a competitive job market students should feel they have every advantage possible. Students from institutions with grading practices that offer students A+’s who apply to the same internships as students at GW will likely be considered as better candidates because they will have artificially higher grades.
When students get their grades back over winter break, some of them will not be getting a fair amount of credit for their work. Administrators need to change the University’s grading system to reward A+ students. Those who perform better than their peers should be given credit for their work, just as students who earn high B’s or C’s receive pluses on their grades.
Laya Reddy, a freshman majoring in political science and music, is an opinions writer.