College GPA dropped to two-year low. Katherine Scheu | Col­legian

Hillsdale College’s all-school average GPA hit its lowest in two years, though female stu­dents are sur­passing their male coun­ter­parts in the classroom.

For fall 2017, Hillsdale stu­dents’ average GPA was 3.317, the same average as fall 2015’s. That is a drop from 3.343 in spring 2017, the highest all-school average GPA on record at Hillsdale. It is the first decrease since the average GPA decreased from 3.34 in spring 2016 to 3.29 in fall 2016.

The GPA def­i­nitely did not suffer because of the per­for­mance of female stu­dents. The average GPA earned by women was 3.427, an increase from spring 2017’s 3.425. Mean­while, the all-men’s average fell from 3.260 to 3.211.

Provost David Whalen said he was unsure why the average GPA decreased last semester, espe­cially since the women’s average rose.

“While it is too much to say this is wor­rying with respect to the men’s GPA, it would become so if it con­tinued or the decline accel­erated,” Whalen said. “I can’t really explain why there is this dif­ference, other than the usual quips about the supe­ri­ority of the fairer sex. But quips aside, this is some­thing to watch and con­sider as well in light of national trends.”

In recent decades, more women are attending college than men. The U.S. Department of Edu­cation reported 2.2 million more women enrolled in an insti­tution of higher edu­cation in the fall than men. They are more likely to graduate than men, too.

Although men and women in the class of 2018 are about even (167 women to 151 men), women accounted for the entirety of the top 10 grad­u­ating senior GPAs. The class of 2018’s top stu­dents are, in alpha­betical order: Anna Eby, Abigail Engel, Madison Frame, Maria Grinis, Jessica Kop­meyer, Delaney Lehmann, Anna Meckel, Macy Mount, Hannah Niemeier, and Cal­lista Ring.

It is the first time this has been the case in recent years, according to Reg­istrar Douglas McArthur.

Addi­tionally, the Van Andel Graduate School of States­manship faculty selected Sarah Onken ’16 for the Judith Finn Memorial Exem­plary Master’s Graduate Award, which rec­og­nizes the best student pur­suing a master’s degree at Hillsdale.

“In addition to her con­sistent excel­lence in classroom per­for­mance – which will be of no sur­prise to anyone at Hillsdale since we had Sarah here as an under­graduate – Sarah has already shown remarkable potential as a scholar in her short time in the program,” said Ronald Pestritto, the graduate school’s dean. “I have seen her interact impres­sively at aca­demic con­fer­ences with estab­lished scholars, who are sur­prised to learn that she is a graduate student.”

In Greek life, Pi Beta Phi dethroned Kappa Kappa Gamma for the sorority schol­arship cup. Pi Phi’s average GPA was 3.48, higher than Kappa’s 3.44 in spring 2017.

Former Pi Phi Pres­ident senior Char­lotte McFaddin said since per­sonal and intel­lectual growth is one of Pi Beta Phi’s six core values, the sorority began making a con­certed effort in 2017 to cel­e­brate aca­demic achievement. It encouraged atten­dance to music and research pre­sen­ta­tions, honored excel­lence in aca­d­emics on a weekly basis, and added a leaf to a bul­letin board tree with a sister’s name when she earned an A on an assignment.

“It’s some­thing extra that makes you feel good,” McFaddin said. “It pro­vides some extra rein­forcement to keep you going.”

McFaddin added that the ini­tia­tives seem to have worked. Seven Pi Phi women earned a 4.0 GPA in the fall.

For the fra­ternity schol­arship cup, Alpha Tau Omega stayed on top for the fourth con­sec­utive semester. The fraternity’s average was 3.263, up from the pre­vious semester’s 3.259. Junior Joshua Pradko, the fraternity’s pres­ident, said ATO tries to keep track of every member’s grades and classes as well as make a con­scious effort to take aca­demic success into con­sid­er­ation during recruitment.

“We’re cel­e­brating when people do well and encourage people who may be strug­gling,” Pradko said. “Friends ask each other about their classes and what they’re worried about. It’s not an after­thought.”

Pradko said the fraternity’s next goal is to beat the all-school average GPA.

In recog­nition for his classroom instruction, the faculty chose Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter to receive the Emily Daugherty Award for Teaching Excel­lence.

“There is a reason why Dr. Schlueter’s courses fill up so quickly semester after semester,” said Daniel Cou­pland, dean of faculty. “Stu­dents know that in his classes, they will encounter a wise and com­pas­sionate teacher who exem­plifies all of the intel­lectual and moral virtues that we prize so highly here at Hillsdale.”

The college also pre­vi­ously awarded the women’s cross country team during its honors assembly over Parents Weekend last month with the ath­letics schol­arship cup. The team had an average GPA of 3.43.

The class of 2018 also voted last week on nom­i­na­tions for Pro­fessor of the Year. Nom­inees were art department chair­woman Barbara Bushey, Assistant Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Adam Car­rington, Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics Charles Steele, and Pro­fessor of Chem­istry Chris Van Orman. The honoree will receive that recog­nition at com­mencement on May 12.


  • Noah Stinnett

    This is good. Admission stan­dards should be high, and GPAs shouldn’t. High averages imply that the school is too easy, and diminish the accom­plish­ments of stu­dents who are gen­uinely high-achieving.

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      Good points, but I’m more curious how Hillsdale estab­lishes the average score of an, osten­sibly, normal dis­tri­b­ution at 3.317? Are the pro­fessors directed to issue no worse than a 2.0, for example, if a student shows up for all classes, does all the homework and per­forms rea­sonably well on the exam­i­na­tions? If that’s the case, then no ‘E’ or ‘D’ alpha­betic grades need be issued if the class simply attends without missing a class and does the rudi­mentary amount of work. Assuming the anchor end of the dis­tri­b­ution is 2.0, then an average of 3.000 should be expected-but we’re seeing 3.3117. So some non-standard per­for­mance items are being intro­duced. Before we sink any deeper into the muck and mire, you can see the value in my pro­posal to assign rank-order in a grad­u­ating class rather than fool around with GPA’s that have ques­tionable meaning.

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      Well it’s not and they are. The present accep­tance rate is 45%. To put that in per­spective Harvard is 5.4%, Uni­versity of Michigan 28.6% and Michigan State 65.7%. So about halfway between the top 2 party schools in the state of Michigan, without the party.

      • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

        Some truth in that, but let’s be honest-that’s 45% from a fairly select group to start with. Michigan stu­dents come from all ends of the political/ideological spectrum, although the school itself tends to be Leftist. Ide­ology is not a main ‘filter’ regarding which stu­dents apply to UM. The same for Harvard. But it IS a main filter in who applies to Hillsdale-roughly 50% of the political spectrum would never apply to Hillsdale owing to their con­ser­v­ative bent. Since the pool of appli­cants is sig­nif­i­cantly smaller, Hillsdale in essence has a similar accep­tance rate as UM if you look at it that way. They are equally as selective.

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          Be Honest?? You made an assumption with no data as to the 55% that are rejected. It could be what you said or it could be a myriad of other reasons.

          I simply was stating fact… the accep­tance rate is 45%. That is not a selective University;s accep­tance rate.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I agree, I should have been more clear on the ide­ology ‘litmus test’. There cer­tainly isn’t one imposed by Hillsdale College and stu­dents of all ide­ologies are welcome to apply. But, being as HC teaches First Prin­ciples and other areas of study from a decidedly con­ser­v­ative stand­point, most ‘pro­gressive’ HS stu­dents would not apply there. It’s an applicant imposed Litmus test as it were.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            As long as you are able to include mom and dad in the “Litmus test” I won’t dis­agree with you. I’m not sug­gesting your theory is invalid, quite the opposite, I just don’t think the stu­dents are a decidedly con­ser­v­ative as you feel they are, at least when they enter. And I say that in a pos­itive way as I’m decidedly against some of the social the­ories the college has recently embraced. But I’m an objec­tivist and also had the advantage (dis­ad­vantage?) of seeing behind the curtain.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            Does the man behind the curtain wear a green blazer and string tie?

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            No.… not that simple or black and white. I just happen to have a higher opinion of the average college student then most… and am not easily dis­tracted by shiny objects.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Overall GPA is almost a mean­ingless sta­tistic for com­paring a class to a class, unless every other factor is equiv­alent-and they almost never are. As for indi­vidual GPA, they should con­sider elim­i­nating it as a key metric and go to rank in grad­u­ating class, as the Mil­itary Acad­emies do. It still wouldn’t be a very mean­ingful metric, but it would have more meaning than GPA. As for why the overall school GPA from one year to the next varied by a few frac­tions of a point, who knows? I would not be too con­cerned.