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Grade point vs. achievements in college

  1. Sep 1, 2005 #1
    [SOLVED] Grade point vs. achievements in college

    A recent thread here has brought to mind a question. I'd be interested in hearing some opinions on this.
    I have noted that a large percentage of posts concerning grades indicate that seems to be an overwhelming number of students who believe the key to success in life revolves around a 4.0 grade point average. I agree that good grades indicate that a student has the ability to perform in the classroom, but I have found in my studies that getting an "A" does not mean you can use what you learned, it just means you have learned how to take tests. That said, I, too have worked hard to learn the material and get good grades.
    As an engineering major, though, it seems to me that at some point accomplishments have to come into play. Being involved in the activities of the department, working on innovative ideas for design projects, participating with other students in groups or organizations related to one's chosen field has to add a lot to the educational experience that cannot be replaced by merely getting a 4.0 gpa at the expense of the other facets of one's education.
    My guess is that a 3.0 with some signs of leadership or innovation would trump a 4.0 with no sign of outside activities.
    Anyone care to comment?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2005 #2

    StatusX

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    Not that you said this, but the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.0 student is a lot more than just knowing how to take tests. If you know the stuff, you'll do well on the tests.
     
  4. Sep 1, 2005 #3

    Pengwuino

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    Yah, there normally IS a reason that your doing so well on those tests.

    When it comes to admissions, grades and activities and research are somewhat equal based on what I've heard. So that 3.5 (lets get realistic) with activities will be about with to that 4.0 with no activities. Also, the whole idea that a 4.0 means you know how to take tests is bogus. You don't go through 35-40 finals by simpling "knowing how to take tests". "Elimating 2 answers" just doesn't work for 4-6 years of testing. Many tests also have applications so if someone can ace a test on applications, theres much more to that person then just "knowing how to take tests".
     
  5. Sep 1, 2005 #4
    I would say that having solid research experience and showing that you can apply the ideas outside the classroom would be a stronger indicator of success than work inside the classroom. I know that I get really bored with graded homeworks that involve making the same tedious calculations over and over, so my grades suffer as such.

    Ultimately, if someone is purely a book learner it will show up in job performance, where you can't just memorize stuff to get through.
     
  6. Sep 1, 2005 #5

    Pengwuino

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    Yah but if your a good researcher, that should mean that you have a solid understanding of the subject which should mean that you will do well on the tests. We all have an inredibly solid foundation in basic mathematics so we should never encounter tests full of 10 x 15 and get wrong answers consistently.

    Not doing tedious and useless homework also shows a lack of initiative. We all realize what homework means to grades and what grades mean to transcripts so not doing homework means your intentionally sabotaging your chances at success. Put this in the work place and all of a sudden your incompetant in your job because you felt a few tasks were too boring to do and you just winged it. This is probably especially true with checking hte safety of things. We might assume a lot of things because we feel its too boring and easy of a check but later find out something horrible happened because a small error had occured that you were suppose to verify or you completely ignored a simple safety check.
     
  7. Sep 1, 2005 #6
    I think that GPA is analogous with stuff like GNP, GDP. I might be a good indicator but I personally believe in achieving something.
     
  8. Sep 1, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

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    Well our GPA isnt exactly tied to how much our class is worth on the global market :tongue2:
     
  9. Sep 1, 2005 #8
    There's also the time factor in tests to consider.
     
  10. Sep 2, 2005 #9
    Just strive for both and it'll all fall in place. Why cut yourself short in one aspect?
     
  11. Sep 2, 2005 #10
    Which further illustrates the point that those who do better in tests know the material as well, if not better than those who do poorly. Anyone can more or less have a 'solid understanding' of the any topic if they are given a very long time to study the stuff. The ability to perform well in tests and exams indicates that the person has both a solid understanding of the material and and the ability to readily apply the concepts which have been learned.

    I agree with ktpr2. You should strive for both. It's scary but very high grades are quite common and you'll probably find that most people who get those grades also have an impressive list of 'outside' acitivities.
     
  12. Sep 2, 2005 #11
    Doing well on tests is not always an indication of subject matter, especially if it is multiple choice exams, like first year physics is here. Back when I did my "Waves and modern Physics" class, I bombed my midterm, not because I didn't understand but because of the method of testing, I also bombed most of my quizzes. However, I did excellent in my lab section, and took a different approach to the final, and ended up with an A+ despite failing half of my multiple choice quizzes and getting a C on my mid term.
     
  13. Sep 2, 2005 #12

    GCT

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    You may also want to consider those individuals who have a high gpa and plenty of achievements, over achievers so as you may call them. I think that some people are just study oriented and some people are more socially oriented, both prove valuable in any department and contribute to quality staff operation. In considering the former type, the department may be selective on smarts, on considering the latter type, they may wish to consider the "optimally balanced."

    Of course if you wish to be guaranteed acceptance, create your own protein, win a math olympiad, publish your paper in Science, etc... these will certainly outweigh anything else.......becomes quite trivial.
     
  14. Sep 2, 2005 #13
    Assuming that we're talking about physics here (experimental physics to be precise): It's not that simple. Someone scoring insane course grades can still suck at designing and building experimental setups which is an essential part of the job.
     
  15. Sep 2, 2005 #14
    A person with a 3.5 GPA and extracurricular(sp?) activities can easily trump a 4.0 GPA without a life.

    However, if the person with a 4.0 is simply brilliant, and still has a life, they can do it.

    But also, it is a question of application, as you said. Some people will memorize everything being taught, but not TRUELY understand it, which hampers abilities later in life.

    That, and social interactions are a major part of the key to success. ^_^
     
  16. Sep 2, 2005 #15

    GCT

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    except that a large proportion of people with the "social interactions factor" will drop out, while the major proportion of high gpa'ers will succeed.
     
  17. Sep 2, 2005 #16
    It's pretty much easy to work the system and get good grades. If you know how your professor works, you can still do it and end up not having learned much at all. Unfortunately there is a person in my class who has somehow convinced all the professors that he has a medical problem (has a prescription to go along with it) so he is constantly turning in assignments late (and ends up getting more answers for it), and he also does alot of other things that piss me off. We all finally figured out what he was doing so we stopped helping him because he would always end up with better grades when we worked the hardest (and the points taken off usually had more to do with trick questions then understanding the material). He plans on getting a PhD or Masters so I will be watching for the day he realizes he screwed himself over. So yeah, you can have a high gpa and still not know much on how to apply it. Maybe 4.0 would be stretching the idea but considering alot of jobs I have decided to look at for future reference, require some years of experience in something related, I would say that having achievements and other activities to put on a resume is slightly more important.
     
  18. Sep 2, 2005 #17

    Pengwuino

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    Report him, he will be expelled. Lesson learned. Remember, for every cheater, theres goes one more scholarship or graduate program position you could have had.
     
  19. Sep 2, 2005 #18
    Sadly, it's not that easy. He would only look at answers so he can write it in some other form on his own paper (and that rarely happens now because we stopped helping after we found out what he was doing). The only benefits he gets is that he can turn in everything late all the time because of his "medical problem." Unfortunately that's not reportable so I just have to wait till he digs himself in a hole he can't get out of.
     
  20. Sep 4, 2005 #19
    I don't know if anyone can elaborate on these situations, but I have a difficult time understanding how the "extra time" thing works because of a medical condition. Is there any asterisk put beside the student's transcript in this case when looking at achievements?
    In some ways I understand it, but if an intention was to go to grad school, you would be expected to perform, and publish. I doubt a lab head would be content saying something like we expect around 2 publications a year but for you it will only be 1 because of your medical condition.

    I'm not trying to be insensitive in any way at all, and I do apologize if my post is coming across in this manner, but I just don't understand how this works once you get past the high school level.
     
  21. Sep 4, 2005 #20

    Pengwuino

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    I would also like to know how that works bross7. Its obviously going to be unfair to one side or the other. If he could do that, its unfair to the department because they would be unable to meet their potential. On the other hand, if he did have to meet the requirement, its unfair to him. And of course, some people could lose out on positions if these people were able to show better grades because they had longer time restrictions.
     
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