Traditionally, students have been ranked on a 4.0 scale, also referred to as an unweighted scale. Of late, many new ways of scoring a student’s GPA have come up. One is the weighted 5.0 scale. This one makes a certain amount of sense because it takes the difficulty of the student’s classes into account. However, there are also 6.0 and 8.0 scales as well as percentage-based scales in which the student is given a number between 1 and 100, with 90 being equivalent to an A, 80 being equivalent to a B, and so on.
Weighted and Unweighted GPA Scales
As mentioned above, there are times when using a weighted scale makes sense. If a student is taking a number of advanced classes and scoring well in them, then it makes sense for them to be graded on a 5.0 scale while a student who is taking regular classes can be graded on a 4.0 scale. This will indicate to the college authorities that the former has actually put a lot more effort into their education. But this is the only time when the inflation of GPAs actually makes sense.
The Artificial Inflation of GPA Scales
The fact is that many schools grade their students on a 5.0, 6.0, or 8.0 scale to make grades look better. The idea is that an admissions counselor’s eye is automatically going to be attracted to a bigger number. However, the fact is that a bigger number doesn’t actually correspond to a better grade. This is the kind of a gimmick that marketing gurus have been using for a long time to fool an unsuspecting public.
Helicopter Parenting and the Rise of GPAs
Why exactly have schools started artificially inflating their GPAs in this way? One reason pressure from parents who are anxious to see their children get admission into a good college. “Helicopter parenting,” which refers to a hovering parental style, can be stressful for children, and it can also cause schools to cave in and start using an inflated GPA scale.
The Role of Teachers in Higher GPAs
A more hopeful reason which has been put forward for the proliferation of A grades is that teachers find that grading students better actually motivates them to study harder while lower grades come across as authoritarian and discouraging. But it also turns out that teachers who want to get better student evaluations at the end of the term grade their students better in a kind of tit-for-tat.
How Do Higher GPAs Affect College Admissions?
College admissions counselors are aware of the inflation in student grades. Given how many college applications they see, they’re sure to know that student grades have been climbing in recent years. And they also know to look at the class names and descriptions to see if the students with higher-seeming grades actually took harder classes or not.
The Role of Class Rankings in College Admissions
A higher grading scale is not going to fool an admissions counselor. A large number of schools have adopted this tactic and colleges have become more GPA-savvy. They may also turn to class rankings to figure out if a student was really in the top. Parents should keep in mind that a higher grading system won’t necessarily give their child an edge.
Contact us to learn more about the GPA arms race and how it’s going to affect your child’s college admissions.