DS View: Transcripts

Universities emphasize grades more than necessary; a focus on learning would make for happier students.

As finals week nears, many students scramble to drop courses they’re failing. However, Nov. 15 was the last day to drop a course or switch from GPA grading to satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading. Before Friday, dropping a course would mean receiving a withdraw “W” on permanent record transcripts.

We find the overall transcript process logical but worry that it plays a role in maintaining a system in which grades are labeled as more important than they should be.

If a student falls below a 2.0 GPA, he or she is placed on academic probation and given one semester to raise grades to a 2.0 or higher to avoid suspension.

For some, this punishment-incentive strategy works. A freshman new to college-level coursework could conceivably perform poorly on tests and underestimate the amount of time he needs to study and end up with a GPA below 2.0. A semester of learning how college works and a threatening letter from the registrar’s office could be enough to have that student turn his act around and come out with a passing GPA the following semester.

For students who do fail to meet grade requirements after being warned by the university, there is an appeal system in place for students to argue to retain their standing at UND.

Still, the possibility of suspension for poor grades often seems unnecessary. More importantly, it creates a hurried, competitive atmosphere that puts students in ultra-stressful positions.

From what we hear, employers don’t care much about an applicants’ grades in college as much as our advisers would have us believe. Instead, it seems employers care far more about actual work experience — internships, part time jobs and previous history working in a specific field. The grade you got in your Bio 150 class freshman year doesn’t hold nearly as much clout, which is the way it should be.

For as much as many employers disregard an applicant’s grades, graduate schools hold to the opposite view.

Acceptance to a prestigious graduate, medical or law school is far more dependent, it seems, on good grades in undergraduate studies. Therefore, undergraduate programs across America stress the importance of grades and threaten their students with expulsion at expense of students’ stress and sanity levels.

It makes sense for a university to want its students to be driven, successful and proven — they will be the alumni who will go out into the world to give the school a good name. But sometimes students would benefit more from college life if universities acted more like business. Students are, after all, paying to study. If they want to waste their time and precious loans, why can’t they?

In the end, one needs only look at Oprah, Mcdonalds’ Ray Kroc, and F. Scott Fitzgerald to see that success can be reached without getting straight As in school.