Dal, King's boost students' GPAs

GPA now counts highest mark out of multiple attempts at a class

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The GPA recalculation will only affect students currently enrolled at Dalhousie or King's (Photo: Tim van der Kooi)

Dalhousie and King's students can now erase the damage of failed courses from their GPAs.

On Tuesday night, the senate of Dalhousie University passed a motion stipulating that cumulative GPAs would only count the highest grade of any retaken class.

Before the change, Dalhousie calculated the sub-total of all attempts at a single class to factor into a student's cumulative GPA. For example, the new GPA standard means that if a student were to fail a course and then receive an A grade after retaking it, only the A grade would count towards their GPA.

"If a student failed a course it took a long time for them to recover academically," says Asa Kachan, registrar at Dalhousie University. "This gives students an opportunity to get back on track."

Kachan says she came across the idea after checking other universities GPA regulations across the country. She found the University of Queens and University of Toronto calculated their students GPAs by taking the highest grade from all attempts at a class. She concluded that Dalhousie needed to update its regulations to meet the standard definition of cumulative GPA.

Recalculation not retroactive

The GPA recalculation will take effect at the end of the winter term in April. Dal will recalculate all current students' transcripts as necessary, but will not adjust those who have already graduated.

Zack Wilson, a Dal graduate from last year, is disappointed that the recalculation isn't retroactive.

"I didn't take a lot of my first and second year courses seriously so I would've liked an opportunity to retake those classes to gain a better mark," says Wilson.

"It's a pain to know that I missed out by just a year."

In his second year of university, Wilson received a D grade in a history course. In his fourth year, Wilson took the class again to boost his GPA up to meet minimal grade requirements for teachers colleges. He received an A- grade, but his original D grade still brought his cumulative GPA down.

"I can't help but think that D could be the difference whether I or another student gets accepted into a graduate program," says Wilson, who is planning to teach English in South Korea.

Kachan says graduates from previous years knew the regulations at the time and she believes it is reasonable to leave those graduates' GPAs alone.

"It would be an enormous undertaking to change every graduate's GPA," says Kachan. "Regulations change over time, so it wouldn't be appropriate dig into the past and change those records."

Bounce back from first year

While it's too late for Wilson, he believes the new GPA standard will help out students like him in the future.

"The way I thought about school was so different from my first year to my last year," says Wilson. "I wish I had the chance that future students will have to improve their marks on those regretful first classes."

King's journalism students are the only students not affected by the GPA recalculation. The journalism program is a separate entity of King's and is governed by its own faculty. This means they have their own academic regulations.

"It didn't make sense for the school of journalism to pass these changes until it was passed in the senate first," said Elizabeth Yeo, registrar at King's.

Yeo says GPA recalculation will be discussed at the journalism faculty's next meeting on Feb. 15.

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