A student’s grade point average (GPA) is the average of all the grades the student has received in his or her classes. Some take this average very seriously, others barely know it exists.
Opinions on the concept of GPA’s vary greatly at Keene State College. There is little consensus on how important it really is. Some people see it as the ultimate measure of academic success and others see it as simply a number, which should not be regarded as a measure of intelligence.
When asked how she believed one’s GPA would affect their post-college career, KSC sophomore Jessie Myers said she thinks this depends on what line of work one is going into. “Some jobs don’t necessarily care, others do. I’m going to be a teacher, so they’ll probably care about my grade point average,” said Myers.
KSC academic and career advisor Beverly Behrmann said that a student’s GPA is most helpful when applying to graduate school.
“Some programs are very competitive and students need to have a solid 3.5 or higher to be competitive. In addition, they need to have demonstrated scholarly research, and jobs such as tutor, teaching assistant or research assistant that show these students have the skills and knowledge to be successful,” said Behrmann.
As for jobs, Behrmann said that employers are not as interested in GPA as they are in experience. “Recruiters in most fields are not as interested in a student’s GPA as they are in the type of practical experience the student has gained by the time they graduate. Putting an excellent GPA on the resume will show that the student worked hard academically and met good academic success, but I have heard from employers numerous times that the GPA does not count as much [as] real-life experience, and the ability to demonstrate excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to work in teams while also being a self-starter [and the ability to] think critically and problem solve. It is crucial that students organize their resumes and cover letters to highlight these skills.”
KSC registar Tom Richard said that no one really knows the current average GPA of all currently enrolled undergraduate students at KSC.
However he was able to produce the average GPA of graduating students. “The GPA for graduating students, on average, is typically between 2.9 and 3.1. This office works with graduating students. We know their GPAs and we calculate the average. I don’t see why the average GPA of the entire student population would be very different from that,” said Richard. Richard also knew the average grade for all student grades last spring semester. “3.14, that’s the average grade for all students in all of their classes for that one semester.”
Richard also explained how these averages are what create the argument for grade inflation, which can occur in any educational institution.
“The average GPA is going to be higher than you think it should be mathematically. If you look at our grade system, say an A is 4.0, a B is 3.0, a C is 2.0 and a D is 1.0, and you look at the description for a C, it says ‘average.’ So you would expect the average GPA to be 2.0.”
Richard also said that from each semester, between one and two percent of the grades given out are Fs, and that about 1,500 students make the Dean’s List every semester, meaning students who have received a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Richard said there are many factors going into grade inflation, one of which could be that students have the ability to drop a class if they have a bad grade, as well as some professor’s unwillingness to fail students.
Despite GPA not always being a good measure of a person’s competence, Richard said it is still necessary to calculate it.
He continued, “You have to find some sort of objective criteria that allows you to make a distinction between the applicants.” According to Richard, a high GPA is especially important when going into a line of work which requires some sort of certification, such as teaching, physical therapy or nursing.
Elliot Weld can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org