Imagine a world where students were actually expected to behave like students. Picture a situation where we all go to class, do our homework and, for some reason, decide to study. We’d be recognized for being good students and would be able to wear a real sense of pride.
With the current Dean’s list system in place, however, nearly half of everyone at Rider feels like a good student, wearing faux honor and waiting at the end of a semester for a letter bearing the words “Dean’s list” to post on the fridge.
For some students, the academic scales are about to shift. Starting Fall 2015, Rider will eliminate the policy that students with a 3.25 GPA and no C’s in their grades in a given semester make the Dean’s list. Now, students will need a 3.5 or higher to have their name beside the illustrious title. This change will rewrite the list’s percentages and remove the names of a borderline group. In fall 2012, 47 percent of Rider students were honored with positions on the Dean’s list. The required new GPA will cut that number dramatically. And cutting the number will mean increasing the prestige for those that remain.
It might make sense that some would be angered by this academic alteration. However, it is worth recognizing that these changes will be beneficial for all parties.
Requiring a 3.25 for Dean’s list is not exclusive or competitive. Many schools, including TCNJ and Rutgers, already require a 3.5 for a spot on their lists. That means reaching the Dean’s list is a stretch, so students who make it can feel proud. Rider’s change is not revolutionary or diverse — it’s one that’s simply helping us catch up.
According to The College Solution, the national average GPA in 2010 was a 3.1. In private schools, the website says, a 3.3 is to be expected and therefore average. For the requirement for the Dean’s List at Rider, a private university, to be 3.25 is to celebrate the norm. While a 3.25 requires hard work, it is not a sign of high academic excellence. When so many people are packed into this prestige, it no longer feels special. If nearly half of us are at the same level of excellence, half of us are about average.
To our surprise, many students are grateful that the university is enacting this change. Students can finally feel accomplished when they hold that letter in their hands.
“I have a really high GPA,” said Jadessa Shann, a secondary education and English major. “I’m not saying that certain people don’t work hard. But at the same time, you want to be recognized for your achievements and not lumped in with everybody else. I feel like it makes it more exclusive. It makes you feel like you’ve achieved more.”
By increasing the requirement, Rider will forcibly awaken students’ drive. We can’t sit around, expecting our letters to come as they always do. We’ll actually have to go to class, do homework, and study. This is a method for Rider to motivate us to behave like actual college students. We’ll have to work harder to make Dean’s list, and it will actually feel like an accomplishment if we get that letter. This academic honor no longer means “average,” but will require us to put in a more than average amount of effort.
Still, these higher GPA standards are only being held to the Dean’s list. To graduate with cum laude status, a Latin honor, students still only need a 3.25.
Changing the Dean’s List is one step, but it is inconsistent to still honor average students at graduation. At TCNJ, students need a 3.6 to graduate as cum laude. At Rider, it’ll take a 3.5 to get that letter home, but still only 3.25 for a high honor at graduation. In Rider’s effort to praise academic skill, more work is still needed.
If the new changes had been implemented in fall 2014, the 644 liberal arts and sciences students who made the Dean’s list would be reduced to 435. However, students need to understand that our university is not enacting these changes to punish us or to make certain students feel inferior. Rider is rising to the challenge and standing toe-to-toe with other colleges whose minimums have been higher than its own. Rider is making the Dean’s list more selective and, therefore, more of an honor.
If any student is really angered by this new policy, the catharsis is simple: work harder. The Dean’s list exists as a way to recognize students who go above and beyond for their good grades. Students can still reach the higher standards, proving that it isn’t impossible. As students, we’ll just have to be more than average – now, we’ll have to be a bit more academically excellent.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 02/25/15 issue.