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GPA: Can you be too perfect?

  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1

    Math Is Hard

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    If you were in charge of admissions, wouldn't it be a little freaky to see transcripts with all "A"s and "A+"s for a student? I would wonder if that person had a "life" and if they might implode at the next level of coursework if things went less than perfectly.

    I was a pretty uptight undergrad student, nothing but A+, A, or A-. I actually liked it when I got an A- in a course because I thought, "well, they will see I am not a robot", when my transcripts are reviewed.

    I have no idea how admissions committees look at these things, but if I were on one, I might be slightly biased against students with flawless grades, worrying how they might fare at the next level. I guess that's what the essays sort out.

    This is not a personal question, BTW. I've already been admitted to my program. Just general curiosity.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2
    I think that the committees think a lot less than you give them credit for. There is not much to tell about someones personality based on their grades except that grades probably correlates with responsibility and personal drive.
     
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3
    Isn't that the point of letters of rec?
     
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4
    Agreed, you can't just make arbitrary and unsupported assumptions about people. Well, you can, but I guess anything goes then.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5
    Meh, seems unlikely adcoms would even think that hard about grades. Also research is more important than having a "life", right? :P
     
  7. Jun 16, 2011 #6
    Or it could be that you went to a school with massive grade inflation like Harvard.
     
  8. Jun 16, 2011 #7
    Apparently I have heard some cases of employers turning down people with high cGPAs as those people might be sound technically and expert in their field, they do not have what is demanded by employers of today: communication skills, confidence, man-management and temperament
     
  9. Jun 16, 2011 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    That sounds silly. Why would a B student have better communications skills than an A student?
     
  10. Jun 16, 2011 #9

    G01

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    I agree with Vanadium.

    Why would an employer use grades to determine communication skills? This is what interviews are for.
     
  11. Jun 16, 2011 #10
    GPA is not everything.

    However, all else equal, higher GPA is always better than lower GPA.

    All else is never equal though.
     
  12. Jun 16, 2011 #11
    An A student can easily cheat the system. I see it all the time.
     
  13. Jun 16, 2011 #12
    Also I've heard of perfect A students speaking of a pressure vector. High grades doesn't mean you know everything, it just means you know how to pass a test expertly.
     
  14. Jun 16, 2011 #13
    Your username fits this... viscosity. Haha.

    Yeah. Grade inflation is a common problem, but as long as you have a high, consistent GPA....
     
  15. Jun 16, 2011 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    So you're arguing that grades are reliably and negatively correlated with achievement? Hmmm....
     
  16. Jun 16, 2011 #15

    turbo

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    If I were in admissions, I wouldn't shy away from students with all A's. It might be a sign that they weren't sufficiently challenged in their previous course-work, or maybe that they really buckled down and learned the material as well as the instructors demanded. Either way, they deserve a shot. If they go through some shock early on and start to melt down from increased demands, that can be addressed.

    My friend and I both had a few B's and B+'s in HS but she and I tested above the top 99.5 percentile on our SATs. We were not the Valedictorian or Salutatorian of our class, either. Top honors went to my cousin, who was a really hard working young lady and was a perfectionist in school. Second place went to a nice lady who was in the business track. It's hard to compare typing, bookkeeping, stenography, etc, one-to-one with technical courses in the science track. Still, she earned the grades and earned the honor, and she and my cousin had to to write and present speeches at graduation. My friend and I dodged a bullet. I had to say a few words while collecting an award for participating in more extra-curricular activities than anybody else in my class but that was a piece of cake.
     
  17. Jun 16, 2011 #16
    This sounds stupid. I love math and sciences and I enjoy solving problems. This is my life. You have to have hobbies outside your expertise to have a so-called 'life' is the most stupid cliche.
     
  18. Jun 16, 2011 #17
    Good point. Social norm. But does your statement imply that you would in a room for 18 hours 7 days a week?
     
  19. Jun 16, 2011 #18
    Because the B student spent time outside the classroom writing poetry.

    I'll let others talk about graduate admissions committees, but I do know first hand that employers are a little worried about people with GPA's that are too high, because it suggests that they might focus too much on classes and not on things that aren't graded.

    One other difference is that most managers are people that don't have perfect GPA's so that having perfect GPA's is not something that gets you much respect in industry.
     
  20. Jun 16, 2011 #19

    bcrowell

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    I was a grad student at Yale, which I think has average grades about the same as Harvard. I taught undergraduate labs (to premeds), graded the work, and recommended final grades. Although the grades I recommended were very high, the thing was that most of these students really were very good students. In most cases, there was essentially nothing being taught in the course that they didn't master, and they basically never did anything major that was incorrect in their written work. The Ivy League isn't like it was back when Bush went to Yale. Admissions standards are extremely high.
     
  21. Jun 16, 2011 #20

    lisab

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    I'm not so sure there's a real difference between a 4.0 student and a 3.9 student.
     
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