Those Pluses and Minuses Do Count!
In 2019, the University of Florida rose to the No. 7 spot in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings of public colleges. This level of excellence is achieved through a balance of many criteria including rigorous academic courses, above-average academic expectations, and highly competitive entrance exam scores. The University of Florida strives to uphold a strong academic standard and, because of that, the GPA scale can be a tough mountain to climb. Here is the official GPA break-down:
Passing Grade Points
This GPA scaling system is undeniably tough. However, it serves to encourage students to continually work as hard as possible for the chance at earning a better grade. For example, it seems unfair for a student that studies consistently to achieve their 89% versus a student who skates by at 80% to receive an equivalent 3.0 GPA. This scaled system is designed to prevent that from happening and better reflect the efforts of most students.
For certain majors, getting that minus next to a letter grade can affect your overall GPA in a way that plays a significant role when applying to either Grad School or an extremely competitive program (finance, chemistry, physics, engineering, nursing are examples). For other majors, where perhaps your experience and portfolio weigh heavier when it comes to advancement or employment, the difference between an A and an A- may not be as important.
My elder daughter graduated from UF and missed qualifying for her honors cord by .2 of a point. While it did not impact her ability to get a job, she was disappointed in herself. I didn’t make a big deal about it as she seemed to be taking herself to task enough on her own. I do think, looking back, that she came to realize if she had given up a night of going out or perhaps had worked .2 percent harder, she would have been able to wear the honors cord. Honestly, it’s of small impact in the overall scheme of things, especially now that she has her first job. But I have noticed that, as a working adult, she consistently gives 100% to her job. Perhaps that was the real lesson learned, after all.
On the other hand, a downside to this grading system is the potential for teachers to re-scale the letter grades to make the possibility of getting an A even harder. For example, many difficult classes (physics or organic chemistry, for example) have fixed standards set by the university that mandate a tentative grade distribution as well as passing percentage. In order to do this, exams are designed at a level of difficulty that often results in an average score of 50%. This then allows a customized grading scale, with “grade curving” applied for the desired grade distribution.
Thus, in spite of the very specific numbers outlined above, an A is not always an A. Depending on the chosen major and the rigor of the classes, some classes curve and some do not.
Don’t ask me…I’m not the math major in my family!
Stella Fedele, HaveUHeard Intern
Janice W., HaveUHeard UF Mom
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