A GPA is a slippery thing

School's over, summer's upon us and there's just one thing remaining of this past semester: grades.

Grades. Do they matter? Depends on who you ask. Google thinks so - sort of. To apply to Google, job applicants must have a minimum college GPA of 3.5.

I don't actually mean to stir up the traditional letter grade controversy. It's just the background to a crazy idea I had:

What if Olin admissions had a maximum GPA?

The justification for Google's minimum GPA strategy is that the qualities that make for a promising future Googler are more frequently (but not exclusively) seen in people with 3.5+ GPAs. They miss some, but overall improve their signal-to-noise ratio, a valuable measure considering the huge number of applications they receive.

So let's look at Olin. What qualities would you look for if you were trying to build a school attempting to revolutionize engineering education?

One important trait is the ability to criticize the current system, to be able to discern what is working and what needs to be "fixed". Might this trait be more prevalent among those who haven't spent their whole lives jumping through hoops, and playing the game (indeed, excelling at the game)? Seems possible that those who have been given gold stars their whole lives could be too deeply entrenched in the current system to be able to step back, and see outside of it to the way things could be.

Oh, and like Google, we'd obviously miss a few.

What do you think?

- Maia

Posted in: