Jessica Pike & Michael Laforte, Staff Writer & Contributor
In high school, there was always that fight to make it into the top 10, to be the best of the school. The college equivalent of that is the Dean’s List, where students who get above a certain grade point average (GPA) are recognized for their great academic skills. This sounds like a pretty good system, except for the slight problem of the different minimum GPA requirements needed for each college. Such is the case for the seven schools constituting the University of Maine System (UMS). The following is a USM student’s view, Michael LaForte, on the GPA differences:
At the end of my first semester at college this past fall, the Dean’s List was the final goal I needed to achieve. The wait was exciting. My friends had already taken to social media proclaiming their Dean’s List status at other UMS schools, one with a GPA of 3.04 and another with a GPA of 3.3. (They had gone to the University of Maine at Presque Isle and University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) respectively) Needless to say, I thought I was guaranteed a mention in the USM Dean’s List with my GPA of 3.515.
What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that the Dean’s List GPA requirement for USM was in fact a 3.6 as of the Fall 2017 semester, (it had in fact been raised from the 3.4 benchmark of the Spring 2017 semester.) It was my own embarrassing mistake to not check the Dean’s List requirement for this semester, but I believe a problem still exists.
The problem is that the seven schools that make up UMS are not completely distinct entities from one another. All schools are administered by the same Board of Trustees. According to the UMS website, the board handles subjects such as academic programs, faculty tenure, operating budgets and tuition rates. UMS schools also follow the same yearly schedule to allow students attending one school to take courses offered by another.
It is here that I see a problem in the UMS’s line of thinking. Would it be a reasonable thing to say that, in a system of schools as integrated as ours, that students would be held to a universal academic standard?
Let’s imagine a hypothetical three credit course offered by the University of Maine in an online format. If a student attending the University of Maine at Fort Kent were taking this course, the grade they need to push their average above the bar for Dean’s List is less than someone attending the University of Maine. The students in this hypothetical class could be taught by the same professor with the same expensive textbook and syllabus, but the school on their transcript can determine whether or not their grade can elevate them to Dean’s List or not. The difference in the GPA requirement can be as great as 0.6 grade points.
Such a great variance in what it means to make the Dean’s List creates several issues. To see your name on the prodigal list doesn’t come without perks in a society as competitive as ours. It’s not just about bragging rights, those who make the Dean’s List will find themselves more marketable to potential employers and to scholarship foundations.
Prospective students usually consider price, location and size of the campus, as well as the offered programs when deciding on where to earn their college degree; it seems that now they must include the minimum average for Dean’s List as well. My second semester is now beginning to progress at full force and, while I certainly do hope to reach Dean’s List this semester, I also hope that not only the administration of our school but the UMS can find a way to hold all of their students to the same standard.