Overheard in Committee: The Trilogy Edition

Admit It! The last few weeks of March are the hardest.  Decision notification dates seem so close yet so far.  As we continue our committee process and come closer to completing the Class of 2015 we want to pass along some of the discussions we have behind closed doors to applicants and parents so that you might understand the depth of our process.  And never fear transfer applicants, I will try to include a series of Overheard in Transfer Committee blogs come late April.

Overheard in committee today: “What’s the grading scale?”

There are many reasons W&M doesn’t have an average GPA for its applicants.  Among them is the fact that grading scales are so different.  We have seen 10-point scales (where 90 – 100 is an A, 80-89 is a B, etc.), eight-point scales (where 92-100 is an A, 84-91 is a B, etc.), and some scales that seemingly defy logic (where 88-100 is an A, 82-87 is a B, 72-81 is a C…you’d have to be an advanced mathematician to figure out the logic behind that one).  So, if number and letter grades are provided, it helps us give context to a student’s performance.  While we recognize that students are aware of their high school’s grading scale and the requirements set forth to achieve particular grades, we feel that someone who earned a grade of C with a numeric equivalent of an 83 has likely put forth more effort than the student who earned a C with a numeric equivalent of 70.

Additionally, how grades are weighted/pointed also comes into play.  For example, in some school systems, students are given more weight for pluses and less weight for minuses whereas in other school systems an A is an A regardless of whether there’s a minus or plus after it.  For example, at some schools a B is given a 3.0, a B- a 2.7 and a B+ a 3.3.  At other schools all three grades receive the same 3.0 points.  Still elsewhere students are given extra points for an A+ (say a 4.2 instead of a 4.0) causing students with only one B on their transcript to be outside of the top 10%.  We take those grading scales, point systems, and school environments into context when evaluating a student’s grades, GPA, and class rank if provided.

While I may be running out of movie-themed subtitles for this series of blogs (though I was extremely proud of my Charlie Sheen Part Deux reference last week), I promise more are forthcoming (if you have ideas for subtitles, please feel free to leave them in the comments).

Until then…back to Committee for me.

Wendy Livingston, ’03, M.Ed. ’09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission

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