Oct 23, 2009

The University of Michigan Will No Longer Recalculate GPA in the Admissions Process

After “careful consideration,” the University of Michigan has decided to no longer recalculate grade point averages for freshman and transfer applicants to the University. In an unusual announcement coming after the start of the 2009-10 application cycle, university officials stated that cumulative grade point averages (GPA’s) posted—weighted or unweighted—on students’ transcripts would be used to evaluate applications processed by the Office of Admissions. “The strength of the student’s individual curriculum challenge, grade trend, anticipated number of academic courses completed by the student’s anticipated enrollment date at the University and class rank [(if provided) for freshman applicants only] will remain the primary focus of the academic assessment of a student’s evaluation process.”

Many, certainly not all, colleges and universities routinely recalculate student GPA’s for the purpose of leveling the playing field among applicants from high schools using different grading scales. Typically, grades earned in academic courses in the five major subject areas are used—English, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Foreign Language. Some colleges will also use challenging courses in the arts such as those found in the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. Grades are generally calculated on a 4.0 scale (4.0 for A, 3.7 for A-, 3.3 for B+, 3.0 for B, down to 0 for F), although some colleges award extra points for honors, AP, and IB. The University of Michigan decision to no longer recalculate GPA favors those school systems with more generous grading scales as well as provisions for “weighting” or the addition of extra points for advanced or honors coursework and fits neatly with recent changes in the Fairfax County grading scale.

Evidently the University of Michigan determined that the margin of difference in GPA recalculation is “not significant enough to continue to sustain the effort.” In the view of the University, time could be better spent eliminating this step and focusing “on the review of applications and recruitment of students.” Applications already received and processed have been identified and those files will be evaluated based on the revised policy.

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