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Hard to get high GPA? Grade inflation or deflation?

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Replies to: Hard to get high GPA? Grade inflation or deflation?

  • awesomeirlawesomeirl Registered User Posts: 214 Junior Member
    I'll reply to this with my experience from the past year as a freshman here.

    Is it impossible to get above a 3.8? Not in the slightest. In fact I have quite a few friends who made that and beyond, sporting a perfect 4.0. Is it difficult? Yes and no. Yes, it is certainly a step above the rigor of courses you'd expect at a state college (though I'd say otherwise for the entry level math courses, they were honestly no different than the courses I took at my local community college or as an AP Calculus BC, though this maybe the luck of having a pretty straightforward professor). I digress somewhat; this only shows that classes that are "blowoffs" certainly exist but aren't typical here at Emory. Not to mention that course difficulty fluctuates between departments and (obviously) your 100-200 level courses are going to be a lot easier than your 300's. Personally, I didn't find any of my classes insanely difficult. Rather, it was a merely a matter of doing the assignments.

    You can get a 4.0. Just have effective time management skills, stay ahead of your work, and have an eagerness to learn the material
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,201 Senior Member
    edited June 2015
    @awesomeirl : Naw, it wasn't just you. Most intro. calc. courses at Emory are a complete joke (make no mistake, I don't think there is a single section as hard as the equivalent AP's and there are like 12 sections). It's partially because grad. students teach it and partially because it is Emory...where people who want serious training in math don't start at that level and go straight to multi or at least start w/112-z. Intro calc is a service course mainly for pre-meds and pre-business students and pre-bus students need high GPA's....so the courses buck the trend of the intro. science courses where the training/level of the course is more important for future success in the field or on an exam such as the MCAT. Calc 1/Calc 2 are rather irrelevant to those taking it at Emory (may be relevant for qss major noobs who have no AP/IB credit). As for 4.0, major dependent but doable in most. Some majors do have challenging standards or more uniform rigor across the board (such as math, physics, or chem. Getting a 4.0 w/BSc degree in these takes some major instructor cherry-picking/luck and/or intellectual strength. In these, it is possible to be beaten by the material or exams even if you like it and engage with it).

    Your comment about upper-levels could be untrue for say, biology...as the grading standards drop as you go up and also most advanced courses do not have a time sucking lab component. You also have a fair share of instructors that you end up with who focus more on application/synthesis/data analysis (skills often not used in HS biology courses) in biol 141/142 whereas you can avoid such courses for column requirements and take all the courses and instructors that mainly emphasize memorization (sometimes memorization cloaked as applications) if you like it better (most seem to), and even instructors (minus Eisen) who do emphasize higher skills grade less harshly. In NBB, course level seems to correlate less. It is almost purely instructor dependent (I am convinced that biology has some sort of "standard" for the levels whereas NBB is like: "do whatever"). Either way, the nuance of all of this will eventually be revealed unto you lol especially if you take a difficult course (I don't mean consistent 70 exam averages, I mean at least some lower) where a curve is applied. That is where you really see departmental differences come alive.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,201 Senior Member
    edited June 2015
    @ebro35 : Emory is "known" for pre-med only because of its associations with tons of hospitals and health-related things, just as any pre-med heavy school is (such as Harvard, Yale, WashU, and Johns Hopkins), but Emory's pre-law placement is actually much better than similar pre-med placement. Much more people get offers to top law schools than top med schools from Emory. If you want to be in that bunch of people that gets into those schools, you need a high LSAT and GPA, period. As for 1/4 of pre-meds having greater than 3.8. Duhh....it should honestly be more like 50% as 3.7 is considered the competitive range. Admittedly, it takes much more effort or cunning (or both) to hold those GPA's in the sciences whereas a 3.7+ in most social science majors is much more likely. Clever instructor and course selection is really not needed if you are a social science major as MOST classes probably give far more than 1/2 of the class an A-/A. In sciences, you are generally trying to find the teachers that give out about 1/3 if you are GPA cautious. A stronger student will select tougher (but good) instructors in key pre-health courses to get good recs. and/or prep for the MCAT, and then balance it with easier non-science or science courses (such as one of the courses that gives 1/3+ A grades). It's a game. A student who is not that strong can probably get through by just choosing easy (even if bad) teachers all the way through and a student who is strong will have the ideal balance.

    Often the MCAT does some separation of these folks, but then the interviews will reveal more. Needless to say that admissions to top schools is very random with med. school. You can get denied from most top med. schools and then get into one (for example, a person getting denials or waitlists from Emory,Harvard, Columbia, etc. may be fortunate enough to have UCSF or Stanford like their interview). Part of it is seems to be just figuring out and playing up to the culture of each medical school (is it very primary care oriented, is it extremely research oriented, a mix? A very research oriented culture may take a less sociable person with high stats whereas the mixed ones are more willing to take a person with excellent but lower stats that seems more personable in an interview or who has an undergraduate record in something that fits the school's mission. And honestly, some schools like WashU, Stanford, and JHU seem to love high stats applicants with research experience. As in, their incoming stats are higher than schools of similar rank....outgoing metrics, such as USMLE Step 1/2 scores...not so much. In fact, their output metrics are not too different from schools ranked high, but a bit below them. Like WashU may not be too much different than Vandy or Emory. So some schools are using input measures to keep their rank. The focus on stats is not because their programs are particularly better or more rigorous). Top Law Schools are pretty numbers based no doubt and results seem more predictable (It's a law school...top law schools generally have the same goals and orientations but different teaching methods, so no need to play up to some "culture". ). The chance of a "perfect" applicant lucking up with only one elite school offer is slim with law school whereas w/med school, even if perfect on paper, you better cross your fingers and expect the unexpected, good or bad.
  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat Registered User Posts: 1,539 Senior Member
    This is outdated, but I'm not sure where to find anything better.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/law-school/331975-undergraduate-schools-which-are-most-commonly-found-at-top-law-schools.html

    Emory does very well, in my opinion.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,201 Senior Member
    @aluminum_boat : Apparently it is still doing very well. The interesting thing is currently Emory is much less selective than most elites (except Georgetown and Berkeley....and Berkeley is huge so you would expect representation). But from Emory itself...looks like we do well. http://career.emory.edu/prelaw/advising/acceptance_stats.html . Georgetown seems to love them some Emory students. And many others, depending on the year were running at a 1/6-1/4 admit rate which is pretty solid. Unfortunately it appears many must be unaffordable (of course they are) so many people don't even go. I wonder if that skews our placement rate. Like, at some elite schools, are people admitted to T15 schools more likely to matriculate than those at Emory.

    Looks like generally 3.6-3.7+ will make you competitive for top law schools, but then for the most part, you need between 165-170 (or higher) to have less than a random shot at admission. Also, to be in the running for some schools such as Harvard, 3.75-3.9 will serve you much better, especially if you did not break around 175 on the LSAT.
  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat Registered User Posts: 1,539 Senior Member
    Out of 60 applicants, ~75% got into a top 15 Law School? Holy ****.

    I guess they must have some sort of screening system where inferior applicants are not allowed to apply....


    Regardless, I stand by my point that Emory is a great place for prelaw.
  • collegestu816collegestu816 Registered User Posts: 238 Junior Member
    A lot of it probably has to do with the significantly decreased number of applicants per law school spot in recent years due to many new "no name" law schools opening up and the oversaturation of lawyers. Notice that even the top 15 law schools have acceptance rates that are around 10-20% (and not below 10%) depsite having high LSAT scores, and those ranking below that often have acceptance rates of 20-40%. Compare that with medical school, where acceptance rates at just about any private school or any higher-ranking state school will be <10% (often 2-6%), and only being in-state at a less selective public medical school will allow for a admit rate of 10-20%. This means that for law schools, students that meet the criteria will have more certain admission (and it's based mostly on LSAT score and actually very little on GPA once you meet some minimum threshold), while with top medical schools qualified applicants get denied all the time (but if you apply to many med schools of the caliber that matches your application's competitiveness you'll still be likely to get least one acceptance out of them).

    Of course the flip side is that most lawyers out there today are not paid very well and don't have good job stability down the line (and probably take quite some years to break six figures after getting out of law school), while a very small portion make an insane amount (for example, partners at the big firms or heads of legal departments at large multinational corporations easily break seven figures). The income distribution in other fields, including medicine, is much more even.
  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat Registered User Posts: 1,539 Senior Member
    I agree with that - all of it.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,201 Senior Member
    edited June 2015
    Well....I agree, but do you really need to make a lot straight out of law school? It is 3 expensive years. Med school is 4 expensive years plus residency (and then more for some people), so I don't know if it is a fair comparison in terms of the "straight out" thing. I honestly think Law School vs. reasonably reputable MBA programs (though many MBA students kind already have/had a career or a job or venture that has made them a solid amount of money) . Admittedly, it is clear that a certain tier of law schools make likelihood of success much more likely so it is nice to see Emory successful with that.

    Med. school is indeed a much more popular and unsaturated option, but I would argue that even if it were less popular, the admissions would still be quite of random (as in much less predictable than law school after whatever new and lower incoming stat threshold is met) because they are simply looking for other things. Again, the "culture" of each medical school matters (like someone with stats in the upper end of some some schools with one mission may not even be interviewed whereas at another, they are welcomed with open arms..as I described before, this is especially the case among the medical schools with more prestige. UNC-Chapel Hill may say "hell no!" to a perfect student whereas Duke says..."come on in!" even if you're in N. Carolina. Notice how one has a primary care rep and the other is much more known for research....you don't have research law schools and "primary care" law schools. The equivalent of "primary care" with law schools are schools who simply cannot place well outside of certain settings and thus claim a mission of "serving the underserved" whereas many primary care oriented medical schools actually are pretty good in general.). It is likely that they try to integrate much more foresight than "will be able to hack it in this school and land a good residency partially from the good great USMLE score they will earn" though that is certainly part of it. They are kind of looking out for the very sensitive area that is healthcare as a whole and figuring out who will become the "type" of healthcare provider that the school wants to produce (I don't know if law schools have this in mind. They mainly have "needs to be good enough to get into top firms to make us look good"). If a school mainly wants top researchers, then high stats., solid research experience, and standard resume based qualifications will probably be higher/more likely to get someone in. Some other places may pay more attention to the types of ECs on the resume and are more likely to end up choosing more extraordinary students (despite interviewing standard high stats applicants) in terms of this, many who have high stats and many who have lower (but still good enough to thrive at the school). They are essentially shaping a class that is based on the mission and ethos of the school. It seems law schools have much less of that element and weight EC's much less.
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