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.