In a system that rewards grades and other quantitative measurements over qualitative factors like effort or willingness to take risks, students are incentivized to take easy classes to ensure their GPAs stay high, creating a systematic aversion to failure.
Everyone would love to pull off a 4.0, but sooner or later most of us run out of luck. Whether it’s three finals on the same day or a particularly soulless professor who refuses to round your 92.79 to an A, just like that you have an A-minus marring your pristine record. Having an A-plus could solve this problem and encourage students to be less risk-averse in choosing their classes.
Under a new grading system, grades over 97% could be considered an A-plus, which would be equivalent to a 4.3, but the overall GPA would still be out of 4.0. Essentially, this grading system would incorporate something along the lines of “extra credit” for exemplary performance, helping mitigate the detrimental effects of getting a grade below than an A.
When applying to some professional or graduate schools, having a higher GPA could mean that an application is actually read instead of thrown out. If students knew that any less-than-perfect scores in more challenging classes could be balanced with an outstanding score in easier classes, they may be more willing to challenge themselves, knowing there would not be irreversible repercussions for their GPAs. This move also encourages exploration of different interests, which is what education is supposed to be about, after all.
Not having an A-plus option is also actively detrimental to Tulane students who are competing with students from universities with an A-plus grading scale. For example, the Law School Admission Council, which facilitates law school admissions, counts an A-plus on a transcript as a 4.33 and an A as a 4.0, so students that go to universities without the option of having an A-plus, like Tulane, are at a marked disadvantage. A student who gets a 98% in a class at Tulane will have a lower GPA than students who get a 98% in a class at Columbia, simply because of a different grading system. Additionally, a higher GPA, regardless of scale, would look better to a prospective boss.
Individuals shouldn’t be defined by college GPAs, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that one’s GPA often does end up becoming a crucial part of how their intellectual abilities and the value they offer to a potential employer are measured. Implementing a grading system featuring an A-plus would help Tulane students compete with other their peers at other top universities and allow them to pursue educational opportunities they might not otherwise have.