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Officials: Tougher Grading Might Help

The Faculty Council's recent attempts to decrease grade inflation and increase grade reporting standards has brought GPA back into the forefront of many students' concerns.

But some UNC officials say implementing grading standards might actually help students entering the work force.

"For the sophisticated employer, grade inflation could backfire," said Marcia Harris, director of University Career Services. "It could possibly be raising the bar higher and higher."

Harris also said implementing tougher grading standards -- something that has been discussed by faculty -- should not make it any more difficult for the average student to get a job, as long as employers keep themselves aware of the University's policy.

Harris said the overall importance of a student's GPA depends on the field they hope to enter. "Some employers do not place as much emphasis on GPA as others," Harris said.

Most employers in retail, social services, nursing and teaching place less emphasis on grades because of shortages in the fields, Harris said. She said employers in those fields are more concerned with practical experience such as internships or work.

She said other employers, particularly in business and financial institutions, have an unofficial cutoff of 3.0. Harris said employers with the highest GPA expectations -- around 3.7 -- come from fields such as investment banking, technical firms and science-related jobs.

Although GPA also is one important factor in graduate school admissions, most graduate schools also are stressing the importance of other factors like experience and recommendations.

"We never reject or admit an applicant based on a number," said Becky Robb, admissions counselor at the UNC School of Law. "We take everything into consideration."

Robb said a section on the law school application allows students to explain why their GPA or LSAT scores are not up to par. The mid-50 percent GPA range for last year's accepted class went from 3.36 to 3.79.

The law school also takes the kind of courses and their degree of difficulty into consideration. "We can definitely tell the difference between a fluff course and an actual legitimate course," Robb said.

Harris said UCS advisors recommend that students look for other ways to impress employers and admissions councils.

"We advise students to have the whole package of good grades, experience and strong leadership skills demonstrated through campus organizations," Harris said.

Senior Jennifer Miller, a psychology and sociology double major, said her involvement in extracurricular activities might have lowered her GPA, but feels the experiences gained from her volunteerism are much more worthwhile.

Miller said, "I came here for a challenge ... We all come here, drink from the Old Well and want the 4.0. But it's really a matter of how much time you commit to studying."

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