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Faculty, students voice concern over grade inflation report's effect

After the University released its recent report recommending plans to combat grade inflation, professors, students and advisers are debating the effects and merits of such an effort.

"I worry a little bit that if we all toughen up, the graduate schools will not take that into account," Economics professor Elizabeth Bogan said. Some graduate schools use a formula approach that does not take into account the difficulty of the school, only the numeric value of the GPA, she said.

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Some students echoed Bogan's concerns over admission to graduate schools. "I don't see how it helps the students in any way because it just adds to the confusion and, in a numerical sense, it just makes us look worse," said Ben Horwich '99, a pre-law student.

Horwich added that a deflation process would take several years to institute, so it would not affect current juniors or seniors as much as the younger classes. He also said he was happy that his undergraduate career would be completed under one grading system and not subjected to the ambiguity that could result from a deflation attempt.

Other students, however, were not as concerned over the possible grading changes.

"I really don't think that it will affect our chances that much. I think that Princeton students are mostly judged against one another. If all students' grades are set on a new curve, this will be taken into consideration," Jeff Seiden '99, a premed student, said.

Advisers speak out

Associate Director of Career Services and pre-law adviser Bill Corwin said he was a little more skeptical about the effects of deflation.

"I think that there is a real risk because people often use a shorthanded way to evaluate students and just make grade to grade comparisons. The potential is that students will suffer," he said.

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Corwin added that "word has to go out in a public sense and a method of making grade equivalences to other schools must be established. This requires a public relations effort on the part of the University."

Premed adviser Dan Notterman agreed that any changes in the current grading system would have to be accompanied by more extensive information explaining the new grading program to graduate schools and potential employers.

He said that if the University took action and made the changes clear, "the effects would be negligible." He added that "his office would post explanatory material."

Regardless of the grading system in place, he said that the reputation of the University still precedes the student. "Princeton students do somewhat better with the same GPA as their national counterparts," Notterman said.

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