Hyper-grade-inflation

Tyler Durden's picture

While the BLS may be searching far and wide for evidence of hedonically-adjusted "core" inflation, and not finding it anywhere (expect in assets, housing prices, food and energy, but apparently all America buys every day are LCD TVs and iPads), one place where not even the BLS can hide what is clear and present "inflation" is college grade point averages, and especially grades for humanities courses, where as the saying goes pretty much everyone is "above average." And, as JPM adds, "Soon, colleges will have to “turn the dial up to 11” or else everyone will have the maximum GPA." Well, in a society where the push is to make everyone equal, it would only be fair for everyone to get the exact same perfect grades...

Some perspective from Michael Cembalest:

In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “the women are strong, the men are good-looking and all the children are above average”. Regarding US private and public universities, Keillor got the last part right. As shown below, the mean grade point average at US private and public schools has been increasing at a steady pace since 1970. Soon, colleges will have to “turn the dial up to 11” or else everyone will have the maximum GPA. As per the study from which the data is sourced, the 1960’s jump took place when the purpose of a GPA changed from being a motivator for students to being a measure used for external evaluation. GPA increases since 1970 are seen as a by-product of student evaluations of teachers (i.e., tough-grading teachers get bad evaluations, and eventually become extinct). Humanities courses have seen the highest grade inflation. Lower grades in science and engineering apparently discourage some students from pursuing them; do not let that affect you.

If it seems like people put too much importance on GPA, I would agree. What you learn is more important than what grades you get. However, you should also be aware of the realities of the job market. In the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2013 Survey, GPA importance hit an all-time high: 78% of employers screen candidates based on grade point averages.