Perspective can be so random. I was sitting with my business partner at lunch in a crowded local restaurant. We weren’t trying to overhear anyone’s conversation but it’s hard to actually blot it out especially when the topic is one that falls squarely within you area of expertise.
Two moms were discussing the state of their students GPA’s and the effect it will have on them getting into “a good college.” I nearly fell out of our booth. In the years I practiced law, I heard what I believe to be every laypersons definition of laws or outcomes that should have been. I still love the whole “possession is 9/10th of the law” thing.
Anyway, one of the mothers was lamenting that her son’s low GPA of 3.3 was very worrisome and she feared that junior college was perhaps their only option. Let me back up a bit and set the geographical boundary and reference point from which I think she was drawing her conclusions from. In my local area (the Conejo Valley), we have some phenomenal public schools and a few elite private schools. Many families are affluent and the use of private tutors, professional college planners and test prep specialists is the norm. It is not uncommon for me to sit with students that have completed 10 A.P. classes and have weighted GPA’s above 4.4. When I speak with admission counselors about students I am working with and discuss their test scores it is not uncommon to have them tell me they would love that student at their school.
However, while we have more than our far share of 4.0 plus students, they are NOT the norm. By grading definition “C” is average and “B’ is above average. A 3.3 GPA is a solid body of work that will get a student into hundreds of really great schools many of which will be happy to throw some merit dollars their way, but when you are surrounded by a larger than average grouping of the exceptional, the above belief unfortunately becomes commonplace.
Let me assure you that 3.3 is a fine GPA. Furthermore having taken only two A.P. classes is not only ok but it’s a very solid foundation of scholastic work. Comparing our 3.3 children to the select few countrywide that achieve Ivy League warranting GPA’s is tantamount to setting them up for failure. Across the country there are numerous schools where the average entering GPA is 3.0 and the average median ACT score is 24. Students that apply to and are admitted to those colleges and universities receive a wonderful education in an environment that is really well suited to them or what we call a good fit. Many go on to graduate school or professional programs and nobody ever asks them what their high school GPA was or how many AP’s they took.
Simply put, having a student that is an overachiever is a wonderful dilemma to have, having an above average student is a problem we all should embrace and acknowledge as something special. We need to stop setting the bar so high that we forget to applaud good grade and hard work in favor of the gifted. Seeing our children do well and excel within their limitations is a pleasure.
I play golf as a hobby (not very well I might add) and I have a good friend whose son plays on his local high school team. He is a phenomenal player and could play at numerous NCAA or NAIA schools but this young man thinks he is not worthy because he is surrounded by some of the best high school golfers in the country. Yes on his team he is in the middle of the pack, or perhaps what is better known as above average, but on the national scene he is an elite player and the list of schools that would line up to offer him the opportunity to play is long and full of great schools. The problem is, he has been ingrained with the notion that he is not elite. Oh how wrong our words or actions can be.
The statue of liberty says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door. I say send me your 3.3 students and I will find them the right fit schools at a cost your family can afford and they will return home 4 years later as exceptional graduates.