June 24, 2010
Loyola Law School Los Angeles students will be getting a bump in their GPA next month, but it is not because they are working harder, says The New York Times.
Loyola will increase their students' grades in an effort to give them a fighting chance in today's competitive job market. The school will be retroactively inflating grades by adding 0.333 to every record in the last few years. Students and faculty believe that this will help them stay competitive as the mean first-year GPA at accredited California schools is generally 3.0 or higher. Loyola's mean was 2.667, which puts "students at an unfair disadvantage, especially if you factor in the current economic environment," says Samuel Liu, president of Loyola Law School's Student Bar Association and leader of the grade reform efforts.
According to The New York Times Economix blog, this is nothing new. There have been at least 12 other universities that have changed their grading systems in the last two years. The list includes top-ranked universities such as Harvard and Stanford, who recently eliminated the traditional grading scale for a modified pass/fail system, to top-20 schools such as New York University and Georgetown, to schools further down the rankings like Tulane and now Loyola Law School.
The New York Times points out that schools have implemented various reforms to help students, such as bumping up their on-campus interview weeks so that students can secure a job slot before their peers from other schools or offering stipends for students to take unpaid public interest internships. The changes have been received favorably by most students. Zachary Burd, for instance said, "For people like me who have good grades but are not in the super-elite, there are not as many options for getting a job in advance."
On the contrary, students at the top may not be as excited about the grade inflation. As mentioned in the Economix, "how do you recognize the true superstars?" Grade inflation may help students at the bottom, but top students may now find it harder to complete with their peers from more elite institutions. The New York Times also points out that if every school raises its marks, this puts the pressure on universities to keep raising their grades further.
These grade reforms do more than just help rescue students from today's economic crisis. They also help protect the school's reputation and rank, according to Seer Press. These institutions once prided themselves on their ability to guarantee gainful employment to thousands of students every year, but are now being bombarded by complaints from unemployed grads, many of which are drowning in debt.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That," nytimes.com, June 21, 2010, Catherine Rampell
"Law Schools Visit Lake Wobegon," economix.blogs.nytimes.com, June 22, 2010, Catherine Rampell
"Law school's controversial grade inflation," seerpress.com, June 24, 2010, Jason Blackmore