Grade Inflation

On 07/08/2010, in Finding a Job, Formal Education, by Jordan Wilson

In Academics Versus Extracurricular Activities, I discussed the importance of grades when potential employers compared applicants.

If you read my post on this subject, I do not place too much importance on grades. 

Grade Inflation

This article from the New York Times increases my concern over grades as a benchmark. In this story, the Loyola Law School Los Angeles inflated every students’ grade point average simply “to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.”

And Loyola is not alone. Other schools have become more lenient in their grading to enhance graduate marketability.

Now I realize that law school is not a business college, but I think the geniuses that came up with this concept should take a few economic courses. In the medium to long term, their efforts will have no impact on employers, except to make them more cynical of the entire university grading system.

Employers want graduates that are technically proficient and able to assume their responsibilities with the minimum of time and training. Unless you are at the very top (or bottom) of your class, grades are not a significant indicator of success in these two areas.

Show the company you interview with that you are technically proficient and will have a small learning curve and your actual grades will not be very important.

Employer Inducements

The article also discusses schools that use financial incentives so that companies will “test drive” their graduates.

Another silly idea, if you ask me.

First, most companies, law firms or otherwise, have probationary periods built into employment contracts. If either party decides to end the relationship during this period, there are minimal or no financial consequences for either party.

Even minus a contractual probationary period, the actual cost to terminate new employees is usually low.

So the financial inducement to hire a specific graduate may not be necessary to cover mistakes.

Second, the cost to train a new employee in the corporate philosophy of any company is the major investment. Yes, there is the salary and benefits to the new employee. But a far greater cost is the time and effort put in by existing staff to train and coach new team members.

While it is always nice to get financial support when hiring someone, no one that I know would take a lesser candidate for a job just to save a couple of months of salary. In the long run, you want the best person for the position. He or she will save (or earn) you much more than two month’s compensation.

I would be very leery in hiring anyone whose university thinks so little of their academic program that they need to inflate grades or financially entice employers to hire their graduates. And I know many other employers that feel exactly the same way.

Do not use these things as crutches. Stand on your own two feet and demonstrate that you are the best person for the job in question. Let others play their games with grade inflation and incentives.

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1 Response » to “Grade Inflation”

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