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Grade deflation at Wake and graduate school admissions

WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
Hoping for some reassurance from current/past Wake parents regarding DS's situation at Wake. He entered Wake not sure what he wanted to do after college. At the time we were not concerned, encouraged him to take some introductory courses to try and narrow his interests. Unfortunately, the courses proved to be pre-professional "weed-out" courses in which DS earned C's in spite of putting quite a bit of effort into the classwork. He has now declared a liberal arts major and is getting A's (Dean's list last semester--yay!!). However, his GPA is around 3.3 and even if he gets straight A's for the rest of college, he will graduate with at best a 3.4.

Again we were not concerned, but he was recently denied admission to his major's honors society in spite of having a major-specific GPA of 3.7, and now says his chances of admission to a decent grad school in his field are not good due to his overall GPA. His major advisor has apparently not provided any reassurance, although this may just be DS being anxious. Hard to tell as we are obviously not part of those meetings.

So, questions for the Wake parent community--any success stories with good jobs or admission to good grad schools even with a 3.4 GPA from Wake? Is Wake's reputation for grade deflation taken into consideration at all for grad school admissions? Or were we naive to believe DS could benefit from a Wake education in spite of not entering with a defined career goal, and assuming his future prospects would not be harmed by early academic stumbles? Fortunately, he will not graduate with educational debt as we are paying all college costs out of pocket...

Replies to: Grade deflation at Wake and graduate school admissions

  • WakeDadWakeDad Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    Grade deflation is a very real issue at Wake, although it seems to be more severe in certain majors, namely those associated with the business school, pre-med and pre-law. In fact, the number one issue with alumni when asked the question "What would you change about Wake?" is to do get rid of grade deflation, followed closely by banning Fraternities and Sororities and hiring a Basketball coach who can return our program to national prominence.

    I wish I had hard evidence to reassure you that he won't have a problem getting into grad school or achieving his academic goals, but I can only supply anecdotal evidence. I have been told that most of the major grade schools have a list of schools that practice grade deflation (Wake isn't the only school that has this policy), and that they account for that during the application process. I do know that when the official transcript from Wake gets sent to the applicants grad school choice, they also send a notice detailing the grade policy so there is no confusion.

    I have also been told that with grad schools, the applicants GRE, GMAT, or LSAT scores carry more weight than GPA. I know numerous students, including my Godson (he got accepted at Stanford) who have recently gotten into a great grad school with a lower GPA from Wake. I think it all depends on what he is planning on Majoring in and which program he applies to. I also wouldn't put much emphasis on what his major adviser has to say, they are notorious for being non-committal when it comes to speculation about future graduate opportunities.

    I think the interview will be key to his success in getting accepted at his choice. Having a solid answer to the question "Why is your GPA so low" will be critical to his chances. His recommendations will also play a role, as will his extra-curriculars.

    I wish I had more for you and maybe others will jump in with more concrete examples. I will say, we are also going through this in my house at the moment, as DD has hit some of the more difficult "weed-out" courses in her majors and is doubting herself as well. It's tough as a parent to watch, but it is all part of the maturation process.
  • lbflbf Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    I'm sorry I don't have anything to add to be helpful but as a parent of a Freshman this is something I am also concerned about. My DS is interested in the Business School and it concerns me . His HS had huge grade deflation and it was so frustrating for him and me for that matter. I am disappointed that Wake does this as well, it is really hurts the students in the long run. I think it is arrogant of a school to think that employers and grad schools know that they are hard or have grade deflation. Is this something Wake has acknowledged in the past or a well know secret?
  • WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    WakeDad, thanks for your thoughtful reply! You seem to be a wealth of information on Wake internal affairs! Do you have any information on Wake's track record for grad school admissions, cross referenced with GPAs? I am concerned by anecdotal reports from DS's peer group that liberal arts majors with GPAs in the 3.4 range are struggling with job placement after graduation--(possibly related to the "google it for yourself" approach to career placement for liberal arts majors) --and ending up in lower-ranked grad schools as a default. But maybe these are just anecdotal reports, and the data would support a more encouraging story?

    Has Wake collected data on long-term career outcomes for its "less successful" students? It really pains me to describe DS as "less successful" since the only thing he was not successful at was at entering college with a clearly defined career goal...and taking classes that would advance his career prospects and maintain a high GPA. We had assumed that Wake would reward this good attitude towards academics but now fear that we were mistaken.

    Also, if a good grad school interview is a potential strategy for overcoming a "low GPA" can you comment further on how an applicant can ensure that they even get selected for an interview, rather than being screened out based on GPA? My experience in a related field is that, because of the volume of applications we receive, we tend to select applicants for interview based on criteria such as minimum GPA and test scores...

    Clearly, spending additional money on a low-ranked graduate program in a less competitive field, just to be able to say that you are not unemployed after graduation, is not a great strategy since it creates an educational debt burden (with an unclear return on investment) that we know can be difficult to overcome over the course of a young person's lifetime.

    In a winner-take-all society such as ours it may still be possible that experiences like these are "all part of the maturation process." But what it feels like to our student is Wake taking the first step in separating the "winners" from the "losers". Obviously I am encouraging him to maintain self-confidence and hope for the future. We are hoping that Wake will provide some experiences that will support that view, rather than prove it wrong.
  • WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    It's a well-known, and well-acknowledged phenomenon at Wake. Whether employers or other universities take Wake's "grade deflation" into account when deciding how to evaluate a Wake GPA is an open question. I have seen some informal comments on discussion boards that overall, lower Wake GPAs harm students' prospects, particularly outside the Southeastern states where Wake has a good regional reputation, but those might have been made by disgruntled students who were not successful for other reasons...
  • lbflbf Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    @Wake Dad thanks for the information. @WFUparent1 the few times I have heard Andy Chan speak (the head of the OPCD) he talks about how they can help anyone get a job no matter what their major so I would assume that would go for Grad School too. I'm sure your DS has already reached out to the OPCD but its worth going back and talking to them again and express his and your concerns. I know that they are known as a really good office with a good track record. If grade deflation is common at Wake then there should be lots of kids with GPA's in that range. If you go the OPCD website there is a lot of good information that might be helpful. Wishing you luck :-)
  • WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    Thanks, lbf, the OCPD does not get involved in grad school applications at all. DS has been there a number of times.
  • lbflbf Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    @WFUparent1 it seems odd that Wake wouldn't offer any support to help students applying to Grad School. Sorry, I I can't be more helpful.
  • WakeDadWakeDad Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    I'm sorry @WFUparent1 , I do not have any data cross-referencing Grad school admissions with GPAs. In fact, I have never seen anything that assimilates those data points, although I am sure someone at the school has it. I just don't have access to it. The closest thing I could find is represented by the link below. You may already have seen it as its' on the web page for the Office of Personal and Career Development. If you open the spread sheet, you can see exactly where every graduate who reported the info ended up after graduation. I should point out, this is self-reported so it doesn't represent everyone who graduated, only those who were willing to share the information. And it doesn't quantify the info by GPA, only where they "landed" after graduation.

    I have never understood why the OPCD doesn't get involved in Grad School aspirations. Its something I plan on asking Andy Chan about the next time I have the opportunity. That said, the OPCD does a fantastic job with helping place graduates. There are very few schools that have an asset like this or are as committed to helping both current graduates and alumni in their career interests. I know a number of alumni who decided to make a career change and the OPCD was instrumental in facilitating their success.

    I understand your perspective and empathize with your situation, as I mentioned we are going through this discussion with my DD. But I would never consider any graduating from Wake with a 3.3-3.4 to be less successful. I have heard whispers over the years that the average GPA is between a 2.5-2.6. In fact, the Deans List minimum GPA was lowered from a 3.6 to a 3.4 in the early 2000's to reflect the grade policy.

    I also wish I had the answer to your question about getting the interview for Grad school. As you correctly mention, most organizations now screen based on GPA and test scores. It can be difficult to get your foot in the door, but I have heard stories where the student visited the school, took a tour and requested to ask questions of an admissions representative and then developed a relationship with that person and ultimately got an interview.


    Look for the line: "For a complete Excel sheet of all First Destination results from all majors from 2004 – 2016, click here."
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,203 Senior Member
    Not an expert on this topic. Some data points of interest are the grad schools selected by various classes ranging from 2004 -2016. This doesn't address GPA at all but it does give you a sense of where Wake kids are going / have gone for grad school. On the main Wake Forest site, go to OPCD, first destination, and click on the link for the spread sheet (can't miss it). Sort by employer (if you know how to do that) and it lists all grads within the range by their destination including grad schools. You can sort by a number of different variables (if you want to isolate particular majors or yrs as an example).

    You'll see many high quality schools listed (Duke, Emory, Harvard, Hopkins, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, etc) Of course this is based on the responses they get from students but they get a very high percentage (in the 90s recently which is kind of unheard of). The cool thing is you can segment by grad yr so you can kind of see trends. As an example, they used to send a lot more kids to GE for employment right out of undergrad. Interesting that that trended when their Biz School Dean was the former CEO of Pepsi (forget his name) and he brought Jeff Immelt to cmapus for a speech and recruiting.
  • WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    @lbf, I want to clarify that Wake offers substantial assistance with grad school admissions, just not through the OCPD. At least in DS's major, his major advisor has been a great source of very practical advice and guidance. The only drawback has been, as I mentioned, that the advisor has apparently been non-committal about DS's grad school prospects in the context of his GPA. Other than that, he has gotten good-quality support.
  • WFUparent1WFUparent1 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    @WakeDad and @Rickle1, thanks very much for the link to the spreadsheet, which is very helpful. I had actually not seen that on the OCPD webpage before. Lots of useful information for DS about different options he could pursue with his major.
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,203 Senior Member
    ^^^It's interesting to see where specific majors go after graduation. It's also quite interesting to see what companies hire and their majors (i.e banking / consulting companies are hiring kids from many majors, not just business school kids)
  • lbflbf Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    @rickle1 glad he is getting support for his grad school apps!! I wonder if the advisor doesn't want to say anything regarding GPA because as we know admissions are so crazy its hard to predict anymore :((
  • lbflbf Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    Sorry I said @rickle1 and I meant @WFUparent1 on my last post.....apologies
  • buckjbbuckjb Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I am not sure it is such a problem at Wake. This study shows that the average GPA of a Wake graduate is 3.36 http://www.gradeinflation.com/. It seems like the IVY schools inflate their grades but Wake is higher than Lehigh, Mich, VT, etc. My son considered going to Wake over Lehigh because Lehigh has a 3.16 average.
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