By Dan Perez
Last fall, nearly half of all Rider students made the Dean’s List, an honor meant to distinguish those who have gone above and beyond in their academic work.
This percentage has stayed about the same in recent years, according to figures provided by Ron Walker, the associate vice president of Academic Affairs.
To some faculty members and students, the list isn’t an accurate appraisal of the hardest-working students because the lax requirements have allowed too many names to make the list.
“I think the requirements at Rider should be higher so that those students who are really putting in the extra effort are getting the honor and not just anyone who makes the average,” said Katie Freier, a junior majoring in elementary education.
To be placed on the list, which is published at the end of every semester, a Rider undergraduate student must be enrolled full time and have a 3.25 grade point average (GPA) with no grade below a C. Freshmen and transfer students are eligible.
At Rutgers University, Monmouth University and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), an undergraduate student must complete 12 or more credits and have a GPA of a 3.5 or better each semester to make the list, according to the schools’ websites.
“The amount of students making the list for the past several semesters is too high,” said Dr. Gary Brosvic, a psychology professor at Rider. “When a school has more than 40% of all students making the Dean’s List every semester, it just seems like it’s too easy to achieve.”
In the fall of 2011, 43% of all eligible students made the Dean’s List. In the spring of 2012, that figure rose to 46%. Last fall saw 47% of students achieve the award.
Out of the last five semesters, Fall 2010 had the highest number of students on the list — just over 50%. These figures include students from all five schools.
Brosvic suggested that the GPA requirement could be raised to 3.5 to fall in line with other colleges.
Requirements for individual schools at Rider can differ, said Marshall Onofrio, the associate dean for administration of Westminster College of the Arts. “Most of these guidelines and requirements are set by the academic policy committees for each college,” he said.
Rider hasn’t always had the same requirements for the honor, according to Registrar Susan Stefanick.
“Looking back at old Rider course catalogs, I found out that sometime during the 1970s, the policy became what it is today,” she said. “In the 1965-66 catalog the requirements are different. It only states that full-time students must receive all grades of B or above for the semester.”
At Westminster Choir College (WCC), students need a higher GPA to get on the list.
“To make the Dean’s List at WCC, a full-time undergraduate student must have a semester GPA of at least a 3.7,” Onofrio said. “This requirement has been in place for decades. The school has continued to affirm that this standard is appropriate.”
The School of Education has stricter requirements for its students to remain in the school — a reason the Education Department heads feel contributes to the large number of education majors on the Dean’s List.
“To remain in the school, students must maintain a 2.75 GPA,” said Barbara Fruscione, the assistant dean of the school. “When students are seniors they are able to begin their student teaching requirements. They must maintain a 3.0 GPA to student teach.”
During the last five semesters, the School of Education has had the highest percentage of students who made the Dean’s List. About 67% of eligible students made it last semester.
“The higher requirements to stay enrolled in this college might push more students into making the Dean’s List semester after semester,” Fruscione said. “It’s a bit easier to make those high grades for the Dean’s List when your enrollment in the school requires a higher grade point average.”
The school at Rider with the lowest percentage of students who made the list is the College of Continuing Studies (CCS). Last semester, about 37% of all eligible students in that school received the award.
The requirements for making the list are different for CCS. To make the list, a student taking 12 or more credits still must have a 3.25 GPA. However, the CCS allows students taking less than 12 credits to still be eligible for the award, said Stefanick. For CCS students taking between 9-11 credits, their GPA must remain at, or above, a 3.33. For students taking between 6-8 credits, they must have a GPA at or above a 3.5, he added.
April Savoy, a senior majoring in elementary education, said she has worked hard to make the mark.
“I have made the Dean’s List twice since I’ve been at Rider,” she said. “I list it alongside other accomplishments on my résumé.”
Barbara Su, a senior accounting major, said she thinks the achievement was easier to reach during her first years at the university.
“It was really easy to make the Dean’s List when I was a freshman and sophomore,” she said. “I think the majority of students could achieve it during those years. As I moved past the earlier years I had a more difficult workload.”
Making the Dean’s List with a 3.5 GPA isn’t easy, said Evan Kita, a senior at TCNJ.
“I’ve made the list once during my five years at the school,” said Kita. “It requires hard work and people who can keep up with their classes and do well in them should definitely be recognized for that achievement. If students didn’t have to maintain a grade average of an A or above, the award probably wouldn’t be as significant.”
Dr. Danielle Jacobs, an assistant professor of chemistry at Rider, is in favor of raising Rider’s Dean’s List requirements.
“Compared to other schools in the area, the Rider requirements don’t seem like the right benchmark that students should be aiming for,” she said. “It’s not good enough to say that the requirements are the way they are because it’s been that way for a long time. Stagnancy is lazy.”