Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

What’s in a GPA?

<w much does your GPA mean to you? In high school, it decided whether you could place into an honors classes. Colleges use GPAs to decide whether a student will be able to keep pace academically and fit in at the school. Even jobs, fellowships and internships ask for your GPA. At Carleton, we pride ourselves on not placing too much emphasis on one qualitative characteristic. How much can a GPA say about a person?  Both students and professors know that it cannot convey all the accomplishments of a person. GPAs cannot measure important qualities that often distinguish Carls such as creativity and passion.

Seniors have been told conflicting advice concerning whether or not to include one’s GPA on his or her resume. Potential employers who are unaware of Carleton’s reputation question why applicants from Carleton do not have a 3.9 GPA like applicants from other schools. If four years of college at an academically challenging school only results in an employer looking negatively at a hard-earned GPA, then what is the point?

Does Carleton do a disservice to its students in not partaking in grade inflation? Of course we are not advocating for grade inflation at Carleton. However, part of what we are paying for in going to a top liberal arts college is the prestige of the degree, and, arguably, one of the most visible measures of success is one’s GPA.

According to, a website started by former Duke professor Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy, a professor at Furman University, since the 1960s, grade inflation has raised by .1 each decade.  Rojstaczer has built a database of grades based on over 80 colleges and universities.  The schools that have demonstrated the highest level of grade inflation include Harvard, Duke and Dartmouth.

Perhaps what Carleton needs to focus on – and what the incoming President has said will be a priority – is raising its national profile. It is important that Carleton is recognized beyond the world of higher education as the great school it is, just as Harvard Duke and Dartmouth are. Only then will employers realize a respectable GPA when they see one.

– The editorial represents the views of The Carletonian editors.

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