BS Degree vs. BA degree GPA... be aware!

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by dunninla, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    Thought I'd throw this out there for those parents who have children pursuing B.S. degrees, and might be alarmed when their cadet is excited to get a B grade...

    About two years ago I ran across a website called gradeinflation.com. To cut to the chase, the author, an ex Hydrology full professor at Duke, conducted a study around grading trends. One of his conclusions was that the BS degree classes had an ave. GPA about .3 or .4 below the BA degree holder.

    He has a nice chart on his website which seems to document this pretty much across all 75+ schools in his database.

    I wondered if the same held true for the school my daughter is attending, a mid sized Private ranked in the top 100 in US News. I wondered rather than just look it up on gradeinflation.com because her school is not part of the database.

    Well, I found the comprehensive grade data on the school's own Instititutional Research website, and found the following, both pertaining to the College of Arts and Sciences:

    Ave. GPA for BS Dept. classes: 2.70
    Ave. GPA for BA Dept. classes: 3.18

    BS Dept. classes that I looked at include Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, BS in Psychology

    BA Dept. classes that I looked at include English, History, Sociology, Anthropology, BA in Psychology, Environmental Studies, and Journalism.

    So, for what it's worth, if your son or daughter seems to be proud for being in the B.S. degree program and having a 3.0 GPA, well, that's because they're doing much better than most of their colleagues!

    Aside from the obvious, I have now learned that my daughter's school actually grades on the harder side of the spectrum. The Ave. GPA in the College of Arts and Sciences from my review is 2.92. That is about 0.2 lower than the average school, and a full 0.4 lower than the average GPA for Private colleges that are well ranked and shown within the gradeinflation.com database.

    I am going to have to keep that in mind
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Is your daughter going BS or BA, we found the same to be true at my son's school as far as Avg. GPA for both. Son opted for BA though with the classes he took he ended up just one class shy of being able to meet the BS requirements anyway, Oh well.

    Looked up the gradeinflation.com site, looks like my son's school has only gone up .02 in the three years listed, of course that may not have anything to do with inlation or deflation but interesting all the same.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  3. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    oops, somehow this posted twice when I thought I was editing ... the OTHER post is properly edited to include specific major GPAs and such, and a comment about OMS ...and I will paste it here since you already replied to this one

    ***********************

    Thought I'd throw this out there for those parents who have children pursuing B.S. degrees, and might be alarmed when their cadet is excited to get a B grade rather than a A grade.

    About two years ago I ran across a website called gradeinflation.com. To cut to the chase, the author, an ex Hydrology full professor at Duke, conducted on his own time a study around grading trends. One of his conclusions was that the B.S. degree classes had an ave. GPA about .3 or .4 below the BA degree classes.

    He has a nice chart on his website which seems to document this pretty much across all 75+ schools in his database.

    I wondered if the same held true for the school my daughter is attending, a mid sized Private ranked in the top 100 in US News. I wondered rather than just look it up on gradeinflation.com because her school is not part of the database.

    Well, I found the comprehensive grade data on the school's own Instititutional Research website, and found the following, both pertaining to the College of Arts and Sciences, 2010-2011 school year:

    Ave. GPA for BS Dept. classes: 2.70
    Ave. GPA for BA Dept. classes: 3.18

    For those of you keeping score, that is a FIVE POINT difference on the OMS scale that Cadet Command currently uses to establish the OML/

    BS Dept. classes that I looked at include Math (2.49), Chemistry (2.97), Physics (2.89), Biology (2.53), BS in Psychology (2.85)

    BA Dept. classes that I looked at include English (3.23), History (2.85), Sociology (3.23), Anthropology (3.31), BA in Psychology (2.85), Environmental Studies (3.33), and Journalism (3.52)

    Now I feel kind of badly for her that she is at a school with such tough grading policies, and in a B.S. degree program to boot! The Ave. GPA in the College of Arts and Sciences from my review is 2.92. That is about 0.2 lower than the average school, and a full 0.4 lower than the average GPA for Private colleges that are well ranked and shown within the gradeinflation.com database.

    So, for what it's worth, if your son or daughter seems to be proud for being in a B.S. degree program and having a 3.2 average, well, that's because they're probably, depending on school, doing much better than most of their B.S. degree colleagues!

    I am going to have to keep that in mind when grades are awarded each semester... So as not to completely embarrass my daughter, I am not going to name the school :)
     
  4. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Working in academia and having had this same discussion about GPAs and majors way back when I was in school, here are some thoughts to temper those "average GPAs".

    Things they don't tell you about the averages:
    1) Many universities, having an imbalance between students desiring "hard" majors (STEM, et al) and soft majors (BA type degrees) considering their faculties and desire to be more than a tech school intentionally deflate grading curve to reduce numbers in certain majors and encourage them to switch.

    Back in my day, to get into the Business School (you applied after 2 years), you were graded primarily on a set of core pre-reqs which almost all were engineered to have grading curves that were 10-20-50-15-5 (although they weren't punished for failing to fail 5 percent). Nobody with under a 3.2 in that core got in. Computer Science was worse. They also looked at your overall GPA which needed to be north of about 3.0 as well. Once you were in (upper division), the grading curves typically looked much more like other majors and professors were free to curve (or not) as they deemed fit with certain exceptions. We had an upper division core marketing course where one of the 2 the adjuncts who split the section decided that he would take the normal curve of the first professor (25-50-20-5-0) and recurve it to 0-0-10-30-60 on the final grade(yes, the highest grade awarded was a C+). Needless to say, by the time I got around to checking my grade about 1/2 the class had basically made its way to the dean's office and already the dean had begun the action of regrading that entire section (10-30-60-0-0). I also took a business law section that was taught by a partner in a well regarded firm. He had been teaching a section every year for about a decade and had never given an A grade. I stopped by his office after reviewing my final exam and had the honor of being told that I had come closest to getting that A of any student he had taught, but despite turning in the longest opinions (his exams were all about writing opinions) he had ever seen (I filled every line of 10 sheets of notebook paper in 3 hours - and suffered hand cramps that you wouldn't believe), he told me that I still needed more analysis on certain details of the case. He was very specific in what details he thought were lacking (I had looked at them from most facets of the contract requirements (enough to render judgement) but not every possible facet. Legitimate argument, so I didn't appeal any further - it would have been interesting to turn in the exam in for peer review - it was his class.

    2) Many students go into STEM majors knowing they can back down to liberal arts, but not the other way around. In an honest grading system, they give a C to C level work. If you cannot solve the equation, you don't get credit. And I don't want you engineering the bridge I cross on the way to work. :eek:

    3) STEM degrees are more likely to require significantly more than 120 credits. Those terms where a student is taking 18 credits are more likely to have lower GPAs.


    All of this being said, a student should select a school and major where they really enjoy what they are doing and are likely to achieve high grades. If you haven't figured it out yet, that may be a problem and you have to decide the risks of pursuing a more challenging course load with an understanding of the consequences. And much of the fault for the kids not knowing where they stand falls squarely on the families and teachers back home. I came from an inner city school with 3300 10-12th graders and a graduating class of <700 (you do the math on the dropout rate). I and 6 others were recruited to attend this particular school allegedly to help those who didn't have opportunities growing up (another long story). I was the only one to graduate, although my best friend was in good standing (in CE non the less) when a major health issue almost cost him his life and he was forced to take several years off of school. He did end up getting a Phd in CE at a different institution closer to home where he could better tend to his ongoing health needs. In hindsight, the 5 who didn't make it (4 didn't last to the sophomore year) were not well prepared despite their resumes. None of them came from a background where they could know what they were up against. Not that I had that background, but I probably had the best family background (both parents had teaching degrees) to prepare me for what to expect in college.

    I don't expect the kids here to really know how they stack up against the competition of the real world outside of their HS. I would hope though that they would seek out the advice of learned adults in their lives who know them and ask for an honest assessment of how well they are prepared (both academically and maturity) to adjust to the adult world of college. If you really have the problem solving skill set necessary to excel in engineering, spending some time with someone who works in that discipline may be one of the best investments of time you will make in figuring out whether you are cut out for that major.
     
  5. Ohio2015Parent

    Ohio2015Parent Member

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    Slightly OT - but while investigating your majors average GPA and school's grading - also look into the actual grading scales ie, A, A-,B+, B etc... DS loves his school, but hates that he must earn at 94% in course work in order to receive a 4.0 A since 90-93% is A- and only earns 3.67 toward GPA. I'm sure he'll hit a few A- as he progresses up past 100-200 level course work. IF he would have gone to the school I personally wanted, 90% = 4.0 A...but I'd never tell a kid to go somewhere they didn't love:thumb:

    Interesting link, thanks for posting it.
     
  6. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    goaliedad, thanks for that interesting perspective.

    My daughter's school is somewhat known for pre-med. Therefore, both the biology and neuroscience 1000 level courses show at 16% A grades. There is no A-. When I saw that, knowing she has no interest in med school but must take classes full of pre-meds, I knew she'd have to start learning to memorize the footnotes along with the text like all the other premeds. Oh well. Seems to be making her stronger.
     
  7. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    That is a great observation that most prospective students don't think about. It was actually a factor my son used in deciding between two equally desired schools.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    At our DS's school they actually use both the 7 point and 10 point scale. 7 point for LAC and 10 for Math/Science, so it can become very confusing trying to figure out your cgpa.

    This also becomes important not only from a ROTC scholarship perspective, but also a merit scholarship point. At DS's college they go out to 1/1000th...so if the min for merit is 3.2, and you carry a 3.193 you will still not meet the min requirement, believe or not 1 semester DS carried that exact gpa for the semester, but still was way over a 3.2 cgpa and they sent him notification for the next semester he was on probation. The fine print in his merit stated that at all times it must be at least a 3.2 for both cgpa and gpa. Devil is in the details so read the fine print very carefully.
     
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

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    When I was at VMI, there was only A, B, C, D, and F. An A got you 4.0, B got 3.0, etc. I'm guessing it's still the same way. We had no + or - grades as final marks. A student who got a 90% and a student who got 100% for a final grade ended up with the same grade (i.e. they were A grades, and worth 4.0 towards the cumulative GPA).

    When I went to law school after the service, each class gave an individual numerical GPA. That is, we had no letter grades, and you could get a 3.1 in a class or a 2.9 etc. I preferred the VMI way by far. The individual GPA per class made it much tougher to get a higher cumulative. I'm sure that was the point...
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I know for our niece it is that way...a 95% X 4.0 would give her a 3.75 gpa, not a 4.0. My college was that way too. It wasn't an A be 100 or 91 = 4.0

    My grad school OTOH was 7 pt scale, and A was an A equaling 4.0. The frightening thought was a C was an 84 or 2.0. Boff one test or one paper and you were in jeopardy of 2.0.
     
  11. Packer

    Packer Member

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    The grade differential between BS and BA's dunninla found is about what I would have expected but it is really good to see some numbers. Here is the part that I think needs to be driven home:
    A student needs to realize that so far as the Army is concerned they are at a significant disadvantage as the Army will add 1 OML point to their score for being an engineer which doesn't even come close to offsetting the grade differential. This is fine with me so long as the student is aware of this. The army apparently doesn't have a huge need for technical degrees so their policy reflects this. I still believe that a student should major in what they want to do outside of the service because most will be on the outside in 4-5 years. I don't think majoring in something just to try and boost your OML score would be a wise long term decision for most.

    The AF seems to have a higher need for technical people and this is reflected in required gpa's to get SFT selection. It seems like techs need to be in the 2.9-3.0 range and non-techs need to be in the 3.3-3.4 range. The preference given to tech majors reflects the needs of the AF. I would guess that the Navy is similar to the AF.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Packer,

    I think the tech issue is reflective for both AF and Navy in scholarships. 85% go to Tech. If you want to go even deeper with AFROTC, 75% of Tech majors are selected for SFT, 45% are selected. Start doing the math and it can be frightening. 15% non-tech for scholarships, and 45% of non-tech get SFT = POC. Scary to say the least when you also add in those gpas.

    You will also notice that, at least AFROTC, the cgpa is much higher. 2.8 cgpa to maintain the scholarship. That being stated, AFROTC you can take it anywhere and so it may be the schools rigor is harder for AROTC than AFROTC since AROTC scholarships are tied to the school and cadet, AFROTC is tied to the cadet.

    I do not know the % of AROTC cadets compared to AF/NROTC that attend top tier schools. Harvard, UPenn, Stanford, UMICH, UNCCH, UVA,etc may have much larger AROTC programs than their sister services. If they do it makes logical sense that the cgpa is lower since these schools are academically more competitive than Rutgers, Miami, or ERAU. Nobody flame me for that comment, just stating the college tier needs to be placed into the equation when it comes to the gpa.
     
  13. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Pima, I think you are so right. This is really a non-issue if kids enter knowing and understanding the rules. Unfortunately, I don't think most know and understand the rules. I have spent close to 18 months studying the process and the rules and I still learn something new almost every day. I try and pass on what I learn to my son. He has learned a lot on his own but not a lot of the details I have found. Many of his friends with similar goals seem to be really in the dark on the whole process.
     
  14. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    The Army does not just give an extra OMS point to engineers, which helps more then you think depending on where you are on the OMS list, they are also reserving a large percentage out of the technical branches such as Engineers, and Signal for engineering and STEM majors. This gives these majors an opportunity to get into a Tech Branch.
     
  15. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Correct and I am glad you added this.
    The 1 OMS point does help significantly but to be equivalent to the AF they would need to add 4 OMS points.
     
  16. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    While true, that doesn't help the Engineer (or Bio, or Chem, or Math, or Physics, etc. major) with, say a 3.2 gpa who wants to be in Infantry, Aviation, Armor, Intelligence, or Medical Services, which are all quite competitive and the 4 point GPA differential -1 point added to Engineer (or 0.5 to other STM) only makes the gpa penalty 3 or 3.5 rather than 4 points (average school). I'm going to guess that 3.0/3.5 OMS points (the gpa penalty an Engineer/STM pays on average) would mean the difference between being 20% (DMG) and being 45% (Dead Zone), all other measures of OML performance being equal. Or the difference between 8% (automatic choice of Branch) and 35%, which was out of the running in 2010 and 2011 for Infantry, Armor, Aviation, Intelligence, Medical Service.

    I agree with Packer, that philosophically, assuming the student understands that at most campuses, where there is a .4 gpa (4 OMS points) differential between STEM and non-stem -1 or -0.5) = 3 (Engineering) or 3.5 (STEM) gpa OMS penalty points, then all is fine. However, I am almost certain that at least 75% of HS students entering college with ROTC have no clue that the ave. gpa differential is that large, or more importantly, what that gpa differential will mean in terms of their career options based on their OMS three years hence.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  17. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    It just occurred to me... why not use Class Rank within Major (or more broadly, STEM vs. non-STEM) rather than raw GPA? In this way, an Engineer with 3.2 GPA and in the 65% of his/her class would be evaluated on 65%, and the 3.3 GPA non-STEM major, at 45% within his/her major. OMS points could then be obtained by converting % via a scale:

    Since the current scale is effectively 20-40 (under 2.0 is dropped from the program), let each 5% of class rank be an OMS point. 95-100% = 40, 90-94% = 39, etc. a 50% would be 30 OMS points. In the above example, the Engineeer with 3.2 at 65% Class Rank would have 34 OMS points and the non-STEM at 3.3 and 45% Class Rank would have 30 OMS points.

    Oh, that's too complicated. Better to just do as Packer suggested: 4 points added to OMS for Engineer, 3.5 for STM.... that is, IF the Army values STEM training for its Officers enough to want the OMS of these majors to equalize to non-STEM.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  18. Packer

    Packer Member

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    The Army could care less what I think but I like your idea. It would help equalize the differences between different schools that have different grading policies, degrees of grade inflation, etc. I am sure the devil would be in the details though.
     
  19. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Boy are you right, if only we could rule the world.

    I am with you, the differnt grading policies really throw a wrench into the whole system, not just for Army but for Navy and Air Force as well. Just considering the difference between schools that use the +- system of grading and the schools that don't the difference in GPA is significant.

    Sat a student has 5 classes and the grade percentage is as follows:

    71%
    82%
    90%
    91%
    92%

    Insome schools that would equate to:

    C-
    B-
    A-
    A-
    A-

    If each class was worth 3 credits the GPA for that student would be a 3.1

    The same student with these same percentages at a school that does not use the +- system would have a 3.4, that's a difference of 3 points on the OMS. That's not even factoring in grade inflation or deflation. I think trying to figure this all out would make some of those in charge head's spin. Dunninla is on to something with what was posted, doubt we wlii see any changes soon though.

    Two cadets at my son's school that were in the 38% level of the AD OML did receive MI this year, both had Infantry Details attached. they both ADSO'd but it wasn't needed in the end. I'm sure they were at the bottom of the group selected for the first 50% of the branch, they got lucky.
     
  20. paradoxer

    paradoxer Member

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    I hear the rotors

    This falls into the category of knowing that there are many things in life that we just can't change and it's almost better not to understand the system because of the possible stress. I do understand that for those considering what school they should attend it's good to realize the nuances of any system. Having said that I think the day to day choices a student makes is going to have a far greater influence on GPA and thus the OML: sleeping or not, drinking or not, volunteering or not, studying or not, video games or not, engaging or not, running or not, and you get the point.
     

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