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Hard to get high GPA? Grade inflation or deflation?

HumbleForceHumbleForce 5 replies2 threads New Member
edited May 2015 in Emory University
How difficult for a humanities major to get >3.8 GPA? Looking to go to law school. I've heard conflicting views. Obviously I'm willing to put the work in necessary, but I just want to see what the people on this forum think. Thanks.
edited May 2015
24 replies
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Replies to: Hard to get high GPA? Grade inflation or deflation?

  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat 1496 replies43 threads Senior Member
    3.8 is never easy. Doing it in a humanities course is easier than doing it in math.
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  • HumbleForceHumbleForce 5 replies2 threads New Member
    How often have you seen it done at Emory, if you go there?
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  • AlacrityPainAlacrityPain 84 replies5 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2015
    As someone who just completed his freshman year, most of my friends do not have 3.8, though granted they are mostly premed people. Put in another perspective, 83 students(6%) had a 4.0 after first semester.

    To consistently achieve a high GPA, you should expect not to do much of the party/greek life stuff, not to say that it isn't possible but you have to spend a lot of time studying/doing classwork. Hopefully your writing skills are awesome !
    edited May 2015
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  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat 1496 replies43 threads Senior Member
    How often have you seen it done at Emory, if you go there?
    About 3/4 of my best friends graduated with a 3.8+... for what it's worth.


    Google Phi Eta Sigma - and see what people get first semester. And I guess you could extrapolate it out six more semesters. To give you a very rough idea.

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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads Senior Member
    83 students is actually a lot in my opinion. Once you add 3.8-4.0, that is well over 10%. Obviously Emory, like most private schools, is inflated. If humanities, it is especially inflated. There is a reason many social science and humanities departments move their honors thesis qualifier cutoffs to a 3.7 to even be considered. I wouldn't trust freshmen points of view because they are mainly comparing it to the GPA's they see and got in high school, where many attended schools where those who took rigorous courses were rewarded with GPA's over 4.0 if they did well. College is kind of opposite, where you more than likely pay a penalty for taking rigorous courses/instructors because course level and rigor is not accounted for in computing GPA's (the only school I know that is starting an adjustment system is Chapel Hill). In college, if you just choose everything correctly, you can in theory not be/become good at much academically, and still get mostly A's. That's my cynical, true take on it. It is merely a game if you are pre-law/pre-health or plan to get jobs in fields that screen based upon GPA first (like finance and stuff). If you're very talented or don't mind working very hard, you can choose challenging instruction, but if you are just normal and want to learn a little, puff up your CV/resume, and move the heck on, you just select a mixture of courses (mostly easy- and many humanities courses know the goals of the students and the GPA's expected by them so I'm sure most classes give well over 50% A range grades. Those odds aren't bad) and instructors. If you find that you do well in a challenging instructor's course (even if you selected them by accident) then you can kind of do what you want. But either way, college puts you in control for the most part.
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  • Goizueta17Goizueta17 8 replies0 threads New Member
    As someone who goes to Oxford it is not that hard to get a perfect gpa, especially since all there is to do in Oxford is study for the most part. Most teachers play favorites so it is about getting close to your professor and getting to know them better. I got into an honor society at Oxford and I believe around 100 people got in out of the class, which is a lot so it is definitely doable.
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I hope it isn't one of those ridiculous honor societies like the ones on main that are simply a check on your resume (as in doesn't do squat, is another stupid credential honoring those with high GPA's).
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  • Goizueta17Goizueta17 8 replies0 threads New Member
    edited May 2015
    Basically. I was accepted into Phi Eta Sigma which you just need a 3.9 gpa, which what I was referring to. That reminds me for any student at Oxford interested in business do not join the business club it basically is a check on resume that does absolutely nothing.

    Also the person was just asking about how difficult it is to get a high gpa, so you can calm down bernie.
    edited May 2015
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Haha, I wasn't getting riled up....just pointing at how funny some of the honor societies are (admittedly, the pre-professional ones are usually "more interesting" in a not good way) And since you just told me which one it was....it is like one of the ones I allude to. It definitely is national (accredited and all), but has little high profile activities. I believe the same proportion on main get it...This just pretty much goes to prove that efforts to get a high GPA at Emory are greatly exaggerated. It is often especially easy as freshman, at least in terms of the level of courses (there are often transition issues preventing many from taking advantage of it). Usually freshman year can help provide nice padding as you get to take things like freshman writing requirement (always English) which typically gives high grades and a freshman seminar where most get A's. And depending on your intended major, you may be enrolled in other high grading courses. But even in other years, unless in an unusually hard class, what you put in is what you get out. Again, most instructors are not trying harm students (mainly their career prospects because a challenge in a vacuum isn't really bad, but with the backdrop of grad/prof. schools and jobs, can be) by challenging them too much. And even when they do, they make sure to give reasonable grades. Emory isn't out to screw anyone.
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  • HumbleForceHumbleForce 5 replies2 threads New Member
    would you guys happen to know if classes are majority just A, B, C classes? especially for something like history or poli sci or english? or would A-'s, B+'s, etc. still be relevant in humanity classes
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads Senior Member
    +/- for everything....trust me, this is actually for your benefit because it provides more gradations and basically means that instructors in non-science classes (except maybe econ and core b-school courses) will rarely assign a C grade (they can use a B or B- instead. And those are not common humanities, history, or polisci. You may get one on an assignment's first draft, but it will hardly ever end up anyone's final grade).
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  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat 1496 replies43 threads Senior Member
    I've had a couple teachers who have given A, B, etc. I agree that +/- is much, much more common.
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  • collegestu816collegestu816 238 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2015
    Emory is definitely a bit grade inflated overall, including the Humanities. However, the difficulty of the classes is still a step above that of your average state school. To give you an idea, the average graduating GPA in the past few years has been right around 3.4. There is an honor society you can get in your junior/senior year called Phi Beta Kappa, which takes the top 10% of each class. The cutoff used to be around 3.83 about 10 years ago, but has inflated to right around a 3.90 in recent years.

    Also, GPA is not heavily weighted for law school admissions. Unlike med school admissions where GPA and MCAT are weighted equally, for law school it's based about 70-80% LSAT alone, with GPA, ECs, interview, and everything else making up the remaining amount. Also keep in mind that the market for lawyers has been extremely saturated these days so the top entry level jobs at the big law firms go almost exclusively to graduates of the top 20 law schools. Graduates from mid or lower tier law schools will be stuck with jobs in small law firms or public service (where entry level jobs pay a small fraction as the big, prestigious firms), or find jobs that they could have gotten without the law degree (aka being underemployed).
    edited May 2015
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  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat 1496 replies43 threads Senior Member
    I agree with ^ with one change. T-14 Law School. But my friends who went down that path are saying top 5 or bust. Or you will be underemployed.
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2015
    Thanks for pointing that out @collegestu816 : What is interesting is that main campus's admissions statistics have not really changed over that period of time.

    Also, I would advise some caution with the course comparisons. As a grad. student at GSU right now (you know this collegestu), what I notice is that the lower/mid-division science courses are a lot easier at GSU, but the advanced courses vs. say, Emory, are very similar in rigor (in fact, I found out from some of my students that the physiology type of courses were actually much harder....if I compared molec. cell to Yebvobnick's molec. cell course, Emory would lose. Versus Eisen, not so much. Also, their biochem class is the same level/a little higher than the biology version of the biochem course at Emory). The only difference is that the competition is completely different (perhaps because of lower admissions threshold AND the prevalence of non-traditional students) so a good student can pretty much ride the curve at GSU, but the same level class would not yield grades low enough to curve so you have to work harder at Emory to ensure an A. I would almost argue that many advanced courses at Emory are perhaps underwhelming content wise because many Emory instructors is much more "political" when designing course work. It appears GSU instructors for advanced courses have less of an incentive to straight up teach below the level of students perhaps because not as many pre-professional or simply because students don't pay as much. And honestly, from TAing over there, I observe much less complaining about course rigor and more complaining about the quality. At Emory it is kind of the opposite.

    Unless the instructor is phenomenal, they would not hear the end of it if the course was more challenging than expected. Note that I also have a cousin who gives me a social science perspective because he is a political science major and from helping him with some of his course work, it appears the demands are not that different and are in fact, sometimes more demanding. Interestingly enough, some of their lower division instructors are rough (like I'm sure his international studies teacher would be burned at the stake at Emory for the sorts of exams he wrote which usually involved reading an article/very long passage during the exam and then having to answer several essay questions on it. And the writing load wasn't a joke either). But again, the primary difference is that when the bar was raised that high over there, not as many reached it. My cousin could pretty much reach it by just completing the work. At Emory, students would begrudgingly reach it if taught decently, so it would be much harder to stand out, but the problem is, most instructors rather just not bother doing that in the social sciences (non-econ that is) and even the sciences for that matter. Students at Emory have a lot more power than they do at GSU/many state schools. I can think of maybe a handful of particularly challenging polisci/history instructors (Allitt, Lancaster, Giles, any of the "law/constitution" teachers...) off the top of my head. And these teachers teach small sections, whereas the difficult soc. sci instructors at GSU teach much larger ones.....
    Anyway, my conclusion would be: While rigor in certain areas may be higher, that isn't always the case. Instead the expectations for (and level of competition in), what is usually the medium level of work given, is generally higher than at most state schools. As in they expect you to do more vs. the work given to you than if they gave the same elsewhere. Usually their expectations are met, but it isn't like Emory students are being pushed to a particular limit in terms of content rigor or ability to handle a high workload that often. It's rare that an instructor will do that. And this is just comparing GSU. Let's not talk places like UGA. The content will be more similar than different in that case, and the competition will be less tough, but still somewhat tough depending on dept.


    edited May 2015
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  • awesomeirlawesomeirl 161 replies53 threads 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
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads 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.
    edited June 2015
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads 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.
    edited June 2015
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  • aluminum_boataluminum_boat 1496 replies43 threads 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.
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  • bernie12bernie12 5432 replies10 threads 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.
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