Grade Thresholds

Maybe I’m just frustrated at my poor performance on my Stats exam, but several people I’ve talked to agree that the professor has a high threshold for his grade inputs. I’ve talked before about the discrepancies between academia and the real world, but I’m wondering if we’re all correct that this scale seems a little weird.

The biggest source of fear about this grading scale, is that anything below an 86 is a C. This correlates to a GPA of about a 2.6, which means that if I score an 85 in the class, my lovely 3.9 is going to plummet. This strikes an extra amount of fear in me, particularly because I feel like I made something like an 83 or an 84 in Stats during my undergrad degree. Thus, even with “good” performance (for me, remember we’re talking about Stats here!), I’m still stuck with a terrible hit to my GPA. One student commented that surely there’s some kind of uniformity across the university, because otherwise, professors could make a 98 the threshold for a B or C. From my previous semesters, it does seem like most professors have a similar scale for grading, with only a point or two of difference amongst themselves, instead of the 5-8 point difference shown by this professor’s scale.

Fortunately, it seems that most companies don’t care about your grad school GPA unless it’s below a 3.0. And, most companies factor in the school’s reputation when evaluating GPAs in the first place. This leads to the debates about whether grades, GPAs, and scales are even relevant when predicting someone’s level of success, since you might be comparing apples to oranges anyway. If me and another student both make an 85 in Stats, but I get a C and they get a B, I look worse. Maybe it’s because I’ve never made a C in my life, but for some reason, a C compared to a B sounds much worse than a B compared to an A. It may also be that I think a C involves laziness vs. intelligence or “natural ability”, and that laziness offends me more than not having the ability in the first place.

Either way, there’s some trepidation about my final grade, and I’ve only had one exam for that class! I’m sure it will turn out fine in the end, but would you be worried if you were being graded on this scale? Am I bitter about the high threshold, or correct that it’s much higher than I’ve seen in previous classes?

2 thoughts on “Grade Thresholds

  1. Maybe it’s different in business school, but I’ve never had anyone (employer or friend) ask about my graduate or undergraduate GPA. I graduated with a GPA 0.05 above the minimum for my program, and have been just as employed as any of my classmates.

    I do notice that in some disciplines, however, the “acceptable” grade is much different. My husband’s PhD program…you were screwed if you got a B. A- was the lowest anyone would recommend you get. But to be honest, it didn’t seem like it meant much unless you also failed your comprehensive exams.


  2. I’ll take it one step further. I absolutely REFUSE to work for Xerox because they wouldn’t consider me, because I had a 2.9 undergrad GPA when I spoke with them. (It ended up being a ~3.0) I’ll point out that if what I read was true, Neil Armstrong had about a 3.0 from Purdue in Engineering when it was all said and done. If it was good enough for him, it’s certainly good enough for me!

    I also won’t purchase their products.


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