I might have been the strongest critic of the GPA system when it was first presented. I argued that it adulterated good data, making it less precise. Also, it was non-linear. A 3% is required to go from 3.3 to 3.7, 5% is required to go from 3.7 to 4.0 and the top bracket spans a whole 10%. This has resounding ramifications for some students; many dropped precipitously and have been replaced with a new bourgeoisie. In particular, the new system favors balanced students who can do reasonably well in all subjects, but can’t necessarily be perfect in any.
But I have come to adore the GPA system. I admittedly say this with hindsight. I first attacked GPA at the end of first year when I had an effective downgrade of 82% of my marks and an upgrade on only 9%. You can see why I was disappointed. But two years later, GPA has not negatively affected me in any way. I might not be an impartial party but I will make a few objective comments on the benefits of GPA.
First, that more balanced students win is arguably a good result. It diminishes the benefits attainable by taking easy electives. Thus it encourages broader learning and course selection independent of fickle marks-ism. Second, it reduces stress; it no longer makes perfection the ideal result (now, the ideal result is 89.5%). Finally, it gives students more time for extra-curriculars that intrinsically are more valuable than over-perfecting a course.
Some of the issues with GPA have also been solved. Most notably, research credits now bump a full grade upward instead of the 3% previously rewarded. This deserves the utmost praise, though it came a year too late. I might consider this change to be the most logical and value-adding thing the School of Business has implemented since my arrival. Indeed, I sent Lawrence Ashworth a great thank you. This is not about any individual’s marks, mine least of all. It is about clarity of rules, fairness of competition, alignment of goals and transparency.
There was a time long ago when I had a monomaniacal desire for the perfect exam and the perfect score. I fixed every marking mistake, however small and checked every assignment forever more. I had a margin of error of 12 percentage points when I ended the year, a comfortable amount but only so because of my relentlessness. I look back to those days fondly but also with relief. I have more time to dedicate to other things. Quite simply, I can enjoy my life more. Thank you, GPA.