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GPA Investigation Part 1: What is GPA?

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What is GPA? Many students in ISB see it as everything to them. Although GPA is only one piece of the puzzle of your college applications and your success in life, it is seen to many as the most vital piece. A good GPA guarantees a good college which guarantees a good job which guarantees a good life. It guarantees you a good social standing and respect from your peers. It guarantees pride from your parents and bragging rights, that is… if it is good enough.

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 1.59.06 PMGPA, to ISB students, is seen as a number that shows up at the bottom of their PowerSchool, something that they can screenshot and send to friends on Facebook if it is good, or something that they will hide away if it is “bad”. Many students have spent sleepless nights typing tirelessly away at a lab report or an essay, or drinking cups of coffee to stay awake while reviewing flash card after flash card after flash card, in hopes of achieving a 4.0.

The average GPA at four-year colleges in the United States is a 3.1, which is a B grade. Public schools have a 3.0 GPA average, whereas private schools have a 3.3 GPA average. There are even GPA averages based off of the courses you take – people with math majors will have an average of 2.65, people with science majors will have an average of a 2.70, people with English majors will have an average of 2.85, and people with social studies majors will have an average of 2.89.

It is crazy how even genders can be categorised by their GPA – males have an average of a 2.9 and females have an average of a 3.1. Races are categorised as well. Asian / Pacific Islander people will have an average of a 3.26, caucasian people will have a 3.09, Hispanic people will have a 2.84, and African American people will have a 2.69.

School education systems are also very happy to report that there has been an upward trend in terms of GPA. From 2000 to 2009, the average GPA for high school students increased from a 2.94 to a 3.00. Not only this but in 1990, the average GPA was a 2.68. There are lots of changes in GPA, and lots of progress being made, although it must be taken into account how your school calculates GPA before you compare yourself to the national average.

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Although GPA is a sense of pride for many students and families, and although it is able to show progress in education systems throughout the world, there is also a very dark side to it. Many have even called it a “historical mistake”.

It causes teachers and professors to categorise their students by looking at numbers and letters on a sheet of paper, not taking into account the different ways in which they may learn better. 

Some say that GPA kills individuality and creativity. It forces students, not to expand their thinking, their learning, and their creativity, but to instead aim for an A+, to follow the rules, and to always, always, always, get a 4.0. Some say that GPA forces students to compete with each other for an A, for a letter, to compete to be the best, causes insane amounts of stress, and causes students year after year, day after day, to stay up until one in the morning, writing reports, labs, essays, notecards, flashcards, you name it.

There are many pros and many cons to students having a Grade Point Average. There are times when it is excessive and times when it keeps students in check, and times where it gives us a goal to work for. But it begs the question: how much is too much?

Darin Sumetanon

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