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GPAs for Arts and Sciences vs. Engineering

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Replies to: GPAs for Arts and Sciences vs. Engineering

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 34,145 Senior Member
    I hate these kind of "quota" grades. There should be certain criteria for obtaining each grade but if 80% of the class meets those for an A then by golly 80% of them should get an A.

    Other posters seem to think you can't have this kind of approach and avoid grade inflation. Harvey Mudd doesn't have quotas for grades, but they have pretty strict standards for achieving a grade, especially As. Average GPA in middle of sophomore year (when they are winding up their core classes) is about 2.8. Average graduating GPA is around a 3.3 or 3.4. (numbers are from last year's orientation presentation). Only 7 or 8 students have ever graduated from Mudd with a 4.0. They have managed to keep an intense amount of rigor AND promote a cooperative environment. Students really provide a lot of support and tutoring for each other so everyone can succeed.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,727 Senior Member
    It does appear that undergrads at some elites (or maybe their parents) do seem to whine more about grades.

    Back when I was getting an MBA, HBS and Booth (at least those 2 but maybe more) capped the GPA average at 3.25. People didn't seem to care much.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,757 Senior Member
    @purpletitan "It does appear that undergrads at some elites (or maybe their parents) do seem to whine more about grades."

    Well, I am less interested in the overall level of grades and more interested in the fact that some majors seem to have average grades that are much, much lower than other majors. So, if a 2.8 GPA is average for one major and a 3.6 is the average for another, it seems like a large difference.

    The theory that harder majors use the distribution to push weaker candidates into easier majors early in the process is interesting. To me it seems more troubling, in that this suggests that the students in a major where the GPA is 2.8 are actually likely to be stronger students than students in the major with the 3.6 average.

    If they are not standardized or comparable, to me it does raise the question of what the purpose of the GPA is, and why colleges track and publish it. I am not sure that I understand that.
  • MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia Registered User Posts: 4,439 Senior Member
    GPA is used when comparing students to others in the same major. In general an engineering major is not going to be competing for their first job with a student that majored in History. So it doesn't really matter if over all engineering major's GPA's are lower unless they are competing to get into med school..
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    It does matter if they decide to apply to something that requires high GPA later on. Nobody knows really what's in the future.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,727 Senior Member
    It may matter.

    However, except for grad school straight after college and maybe your first job, pretty much no one will ask you about your GPA.

    Also, it depends on who's looking at resumes. Someone who graduated with a STEM degree will almost certainly be more impressed by a student who got a 3.5 in a STEM/quantitative major than a student who got a 3.5 in a non-STEM/quantitative major. Likely be more impressed by a 3.5 in a STEM/quantitative major than a 3.9 in a non-STEM/quantitative major. I know I would be.
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    My brother applied to medical school after a degree in Engineering same with an ex-boyfriend applied to law school after a degree in engineering. So that's where it might matter, not a STEM graduate degree.
  • mathyonemathyone Registered User Posts: 4,224 Senior Member
    Not only are the grades usually lower in STEM classes, but it also seems more common for schools to offer watered down STEM classes to their non-science majors than to offer easier non-STEM classes to their STEM majors.
  • rhandcorhandco Registered User Posts: 4,290 Senior Member
    Grade quotas vary on how they are used. We have an unofficial quota of 1/3rd As and Bs, 1/3rd Cs, and 1/3rd Ds and Fs. Sometimes there is not one A in the class. Sometimes there is not one F in the class. One time, it was a small class of 15 and there were 14 Cs and 1 B.

    Companies do not really care though, especially if you are an engineer looking to be hired at a firm that employs all majors. You really need to be one of the best to get into big pharma as an engineer, for example.

    I agree about the non-STEM major easy classes. An example is we cover 12 chapters in a freshman science course for STEM majors. The non-STEM majors take a 300-level course with the same book and cover only 6 chapters; both courses are 3 credits and count towards graduation.
  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte Registered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    Grade quotas vary on how they are used. We have an unofficial quota of 1/3rd As and Bs, 1/3rd Cs, and 1/3rd Ds and Fs. Sometimes there is not one A in the class. Sometimes there is not one F in the class. One time, it was a small class of 15 and there were 14 Cs and 1 B.

    What you're describing doesn't sound like a quota. It sounds like a guideline.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    Engineering is the hardest major(s) of them all others, there is no question about it. And the American k - 12 is NOT preparing kids for engineering at all, not even close to what is done in many other countries, including many in underdevelped world. It is sad story, but it is not a focus of this thread, it is just one of the reasons for lower engineering GPA.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,757 Senior Member
    My purpose in asking this question relates to prior guidance that I have given to my D.

    I was an accounting undergrad, with a Finance MBA. D is interested in engineering and Computer Science, but also business.

    I have guided her to pursue engineering and Computer Science and suggested that she could easily get an MBA later, but it would be hard to move from business to engineering later.

    Now that I see the disparity in GPA between program, I am wondering whether even a strong engineering GPA may look weak compared to GPAs from other majors and really be harmful later.

    Having never been in Engineering, I did not know that the disparity was as significant as it apparently is.

    I still do not really understand why the faculty and administration at many colleges allow this to persist to the disadvantage of some of their hardest working and brightest students.
  • MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia Registered User Posts: 4,439 Senior Member
    There are ton of colleges she could get an MBA from. I wouldn't worry about that at all.
  • dadxdadx Registered User Posts: 2,630 Senior Member
    Business schools are less impressed with GPAs than either medical school or law school, ironically. I agree with your advice to your daughter.

    Employers like engineers in general. They don't have to worry that they have someone with good verbal and interpersonal skills, but without logic and math ability.
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    MBA is more work experience centric rather than GPA centric. But I think it's unfair for kids who decided to change their minds afterwards and want to study medical or law schools.
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