Faculty evaluate grades for plans post-graduation
Students stress about their GPAs and reasonably so. Professional schools, graduate schools and some jobs factor in GPA when looking at college graduates.
The impact of having a withdraw, D grade or failure on a transcript varies from student-to-student based on the student’s major and their post-graduation plans, said Julie Traxler, assistant dean and director of first-year advising for the School of Arts and Sciences.
For students who plan to enter the workforce after graduation, an F is not something they want on their transcript, said Richard White, director of Career Services.
“An F is the worst thing that can appear on a job seeker’s transcript. F stands for failure,” he said.
White said a D or withdrawal is seen as less severe for students who are seeking jobs after graduation.
“A D is the second worst thing, but at least it represents a pass,” White said. “A W will hardly be noticed.”
He said withdrawing from classes is not something students should do habitually.
“On the other hand, multiple W’s would suggest that the job seeker does not always finish what he or she starts,” he said.
White said many employers also do not take into account every single detail in a student’s GPA.
“Employers are much more focused on the résumé — especially the overall GPA and major GPA — than the transcript,” he said. “Often, transcripts are requested at the time of the hire to confirm that the degree and GPA have been accurately represented on the résumé.”
Anita Walton, assistant dean for Admissions for Rutgers School of Law-Newark, said the impact of having poor grades on a transcript affects those applying to professional schools, especially law school.
“In my opinion, it is better for a student to have a W on their transcript than a D or an F,” she said. “Both of these grades are factored into the overall grade-point average, whereas the W is not.”
For any student, W’s are the best option in this predicament, especially for pre-law students, Walton said.
“A few withdrawals are not significant, but if there are many, then it is a cause for concern,” she said. “For any student, pre-law or not, withdrawing from a class is a better option than a W or failing grade.”
Traxler said if a student receives a D or F, the grades are not always final.
“[There are] different policies for each undergraduate school,” she said. “Most schools give the option to repeat classes where a D and F was given.”
But Traxler said students pursuing medical school should pay very close attention to classes in which they are doing poorly.
While some undergraduate schools, like the School of Arts and Sciences, factor F grades out of a student’s GPA if they retake the course, some post-graduate professional schools do not, she said.
“[For] pre-med students, F’s hurt students,” Traxler said. “Medical schools add F’s back into grade calibration.”
For graduate school, a student’s major makes a difference in which decision is worse, Traxler said.
Some medical schools take students’ science, math and other related courses and calculate a GPA based on those subjects. This calibration averages F’s, D’s and the grade that replaced those original grades, she said.
“Graduate schools that look at GPA don’t really care about cumulative, more like major GPA,” she said. “For example, failing a key accounting course would probably hurt one’s chances of getting an offer from an accounting company.”
In comparison, graduate schools don’t put F’s back into the GPA or recalculate grades, Traxler said.
She said while some University students have heard it is better to fail a class and repeat it, this is not the best option.
“[It’s] not really better to get an F. [You’re] better off getting the highest grade,” she said. “Unless it’s a major class, we don’t tell students to repeat courses.”
W’s are also better because they do not affect University students’ GPAs, Traxler said.
“An F stays on your transcript while a D goes into your GPA,” Traxler said. “A D goes into [your] GPA, and the new grade goes in but still stays in your credit.”
She said a W on a transcript might not be the best option depending on a student’s situation.
“W’s count against credits for students with financial aid,” Traxler said.
W’s also affect part-time students who have to pay for each credit they are taking each semester, Traxler said.
She said having a W is the best option, and it should not affect a student’s future plans.
“I don’t guarantee a lot of things in life, but I can guarantee that a W will not keep you out of grad school, law school or med school,” Traxler said.
White said as long as students are not frequently performing poorly in classes, then it should not really affect students.
“Ultimately, the overall GPA and, in some cases, the major GPA are much more important than the individual course grades,” he said.
Some students feel that failing is the worst scenario.
“F’s are the worst because they look worst on your transcript,” said Julian Leal, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Ali Saifuddin, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she thinks none of these problems should occur.
“If you’re paying for school, you shouldn’t be getting D’s, F’s or W’s,” Saifuddin said.
Chirag Bansal, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said he finds D’s to be the worst scenario.
“If you get a D in the class, it’s the worst case scenario because even if you were to retake the class and get an A, you will be left with a C+ at best. Is it really worth putting yourself in that situation?” he said.
Traxler said if students have any problems they should seek help immediately.
“[Students should] go see an academic adviser [if they face this problem],” she said.