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For Current Students: How bad is the grade deflation?

sandybrookesandybrooke Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
edited February 2010 in Princeton University
In all honesty, is it so bad that it would cause you to consider going to another university?

Thanks for the answers.

I absolutely love Princeton. But to be honest, I'm scared of the grading system. Even though I get great grades now, I cant imagine getting low B's and C's in college. Especially being pre-med.
Post edited by sandybrooke on

Replies to: For Current Students: How bad is the grade deflation?

  • randombetchrandombetch Registered User Posts: 1,079 Senior Member
    For pre-med, I suggest Stanford....

    But if you love Princeton, it definitely isn't a big enough factor to deter you from coming. We do okay with lower GPA's, as you can see from Ptongrad's post in the link above.
  • monkeydadmonkeydad Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    In today (Sunday) New York Times there is an article about grade deflation at Princeton

    At Princeton University, Grumbling About Grade Deflation - NYTimes.com
  • randombetchrandombetch Registered User Posts: 1,079 Senior Member
    ^They messed up our mean GPA! It's 3.28! 3.39 is our median GPA!
  • CrackberryCrackberry Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    I had no idea the NYTimes employed writers who are as bad as those at the dailyprincetonian.

    Unlike that silly article, what is at stake with grade deflation is not when some employer compares a Princeton degree to someone at a community college. In fact, most of the positions on tigertracks (career listings) are Princeton/Ivy only. What is at stake is that compared to similar institutions like Harvard and Yale, grade deflation hurts. No matter what our toolbag of a dean thinks, psychologically any employer is going to be inclined to favor an applicant with a higher gpa (ie a 3.8 from Yale over a 3.5 at Princeton), just like an employer will pick a 3.5 from Princeton over a 4.0 from random x state.

    People just think that way and maybe it will change in the future, but until then, a lot of Princeton kids are getting screwed over. Applying this cap to classes like biochem pretty much kills off 60% of premeds just like that. In my case, I have a 3.44 and believe me when I say there are a lot of jobs with a 3.5 GPA cutoff that does not give a damn about grade deflation.

    So for prospective students, grade deflation really is quite bad especially if you're going for a career that requires a strong gpa- law/med/hedge funds etc. While I don't recommend you jump ship to a state school, if you have the option of another top school- take that instead.

    My dream of being a doctor pretty much fizzled when 35% of my biochem class beat me in the final. To make matters worse- my mom still has my Harvard acceptance letter framed on the wall just to remind me everytime I go home.
  • insomniac159insomniac159 Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    ^ You seriously just scared me away from Princeton. I want to go to this school for a million reasons, and grade deflation is the only negative thing about it in my opinon. But I, too, am going into pre-med. Is it really so bad that it'll ruin your chances of getting into top medical schools? I mean, I'm very smart, but probably not as smart as many Princeton pre-meds. And I do work incredibly hard. Is it not even possible for a pre-med to maintain a 3.5+ GPA unless you're exceptionally brilliant in the sciences?
  • PtonGrad2000PtonGrad2000 Registered User Posts: 1,368 Senior Member
    Insomniac, there's no reason to be scared. Anywhere you go, you'll find the competition tough in the sciences. Pre-med is serious business everywhere.

    Crackberry (I'm one too by the way) I'm sorry to hear of your concerns and I'd be very confident that you're not out of the running for medical school. I hope you've read the other thread on this subject that has numbers that should reassure you: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/princeton-university/856568-suggestions-incoming-2014-re-grade-deflation.html Remember also that the numbers I quote there are averages and not "cutoffs".

    I need, however, to correct a false impression you are leaving. In fact, since the beginning of the change in the grading policy there has been almost no effect on grading in the sciences. In the natural sciences, the average grade dropped .02 on a 4.0 scale between the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2008. Engineering and science courses have always had lower grades and this is true at all of Princeton's peers as well. Our Yale friends will attest to that: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/1064028552-post14.html

    The change has mainly occurred in the humanities and social science courses and this was another reason for the faculty's decision to look more closely at grade distributions. Was it fair, the faculty asked themselves, that students in the humanities and social sciences should be graded differently from students in the hard sciences and engineering?

    Finally, remember that this policy change (though defended by Dean Malkiel who has necessarily become the spokesperson for the policy because of her position) was actually passed by a vote of the faculty of the university. This was not an administrative decision forced upon the professors. The professors themselves voted for it by a fairly large margin.

    I also think the comments by the Stanford Law School admissions officer and the Goldman Sachs folks in the NYT article are representative of how the top tier grad schools and employers view Princeton applicants.

    PS. I'm sure pre-med students at Harvard feel the same way you do about the difficulty and tough grading in their science courses.

    PPS. I never framed my Harvard undergraduate acceptance letter!
  • grouptheorygrouptheory Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    Why is everyone afraid of grade deflation? It's much better than inflation. I would not want to go to a school where everyone gets A's.
  • GiffordGifford - Posts: 146 Junior Member
    Is it possible that Princeton University faculty hold their students to a higher standard because they want this group of motivated "A+" students to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone? Happens to law students nationwide during their first year of law school during which many straight "A", high standardized test scorers struggle learning in a new paradigm. Maybe earning an Ivy League degree means something special after all--at least from Princeton University.
    As an aside, I know several current Princeton students whose Princeton GPAs are higher than their prep school GPAs--although none of the three are pre-med to my knowledge.
  • insomniac159insomniac159 Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    @grouptheory: I like grade deflation in theory, and I totally understand why Princeton would implement it. My only reserves are because pre-med is already insanely competitive, and it doesn't help when Princeton deflates grades while its competitors do not. That being said, PtonGrad's post does reassure me a bit.
  • grouptheorygrouptheory Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    "@grouptheory: I like grade deflation in theory, and I totally understand why Princeton would implement it. My only reserves are because pre-med is already insanely competitive, and it doesn't help when Princeton deflates grades while its competitors do not. That being said, PtonGrad's post does reassure me a bit."

    Go against the Nash equilibrium.
  • randombetchrandombetch Registered User Posts: 1,079 Senior Member
    ^We're getting hurt by going against the Nash equilibrium. Harvard and Yale are better off, we're worse off.
  • ec1234ec1234 Registered User Posts: 1,201 Senior Member
    ^^grade deflation impacts pre-meds less than pre-laws. MOL already was at the 35% A range group-- and physics actually had to inflate itself to meet 35% As. The main difference was in the humanities, where you once might have had an A- but now got a B+. Outside of the intro classes though, I didn't see much evidence of grade deflation (the percentage of As in the 100 and 200 level classes are often <35 since the departments want to reward students taking upper level classes).
  • randombetchrandombetch Registered User Posts: 1,079 Senior Member
    ^^There are many of us pre-meds (myself included) who aren't majoring in the natural sciences...
  • CrackberryCrackberry Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    You know Pgrad- you are infinitely more competent at explaining grade deflation than Dean I-will-sneer-at-you-from-my-perch Malkiel. I don't know how much in the loop you are still with what goes on here- but these statistics often fail to capture how over the last 4 years my experience at Princeton has changed and how different it is compared to my brother ('04). Most of the statistics that say that GD has not much of an effect, like that one on law schools pretty much is statistically meaningless without comparisons and controls for effects. Charter's 07 president wrote on the comments board and explained it pretty well.

    Fundamentally people at Princeton are going to have to ask themselves, am I better than a two-thirds of my peers? This is PRINCETON. Maybe there are as many as 20% of people like football players and such but to beat 65% of princeton students is not an easy task.

    Philosophically I'm sure it sounds great. The theory of it does sound good. In practice? life really sucks; especially when I am reminded I could be at Harvard, studying just as hard as I do and know that when I do good work, I am rewarded for it.

    FYI- even though my great dream of being a doctor fizzled, I am however going to be working at Goldman next year so it's not like my life is coming to an end. I will promise however, I will do my best to cause the next financial crisis.
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