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Private Colleges Get the Blame for Grade Inflation

In a recent study of the grading practices at public vs private colleges and universities, it is noted that both types of institutions of higher learning are contributing to grade inflation, but that private universities are contributing more than their ‘share.’

In the 1950’s, the national average GPA was 2.52 and by 2005 this number had risen to 3.11. The research authors propose that perhaps this is why a disproportionate number of private college graduates populate the top medical, business and law school programs. An interesting related discovery is the abnormally low GPA for science fields as compared with humanities and social science fields, an inequality that may have existed for as long as forty years or longer. The authors postulate this could be the reason for the disproportionate numbers of foreign-born graduate students present in USA technical research fields.

The authors point out that the USA grading system is ad hoc, and this leads to grade inflation. Where, when and how will grade inflation end? Schools believe that doling out higher grades will give their graduates an advantage, and this, in turn, gives their school a better reputation. The better reputation results in more student enrollment, and the cycle continues. Higher GPAs means good business for institutions of higher education. And it seems increasingly that our colleges and universities emphasize that in order to stay afloat, they must be run like a business. Higher GPAs are good for business.


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