News | Student Life

At least 8 percent CC, SEAS get straight As

At least 8 percent of Columbia’s 5,934 undergraduates received straight As or A-pluses last semester, according to a document leaked to Spectator on Wednesday.

The spreadsheet, which was leaked from an advising dean to his advisees in an apparent email gaffe, listed 482 students in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science who received at least a 4.0 during the fall 2010 semester.

The spreadsheet included students' names, GPAs, UNIs, years, the names of their academic advisors, and majors.

According to the document, 372 of the students were in CC and 110 were in SEAS. Spectator verified information with several students on the list.

The document also indicates that the more senior the class, the more straight As reported. The highest number came from the class of 2011, which had 156 students on the list, followed by the class of 2012 with 147, the class of 2013 with 101, and the class of 2014 with 75.

Two students had 4.33 GPAs, which means that they earned grades of A-plus in each of their classes last semester.

A plurality of the students listed are “undecided” on a major. However, of the students who have declared majors, those majoring in economics form the largest bloc, with 39 students. That category encompasses all of the economics majors, including students participating in joint degree programs with mathematics, operations research, philosophy, political science, and statistics. It was followed by political science with 20 students, and then English with 17 students.

Mechanical engineering, a relatively large department in SEAS that 43 students majored in, last May, only had one student make above a 4.0.

Several students who received the email said they were not worried about their GPAs being released because of the relatively low number of students who received the list as an accidental attachment from their adviser.

“I am not particularly concerned with others knowing my GPA for last semester. If GPA actually meant something, then maybe I would be,” Justin Vlasits, CC ’11, wrote in an email. “As it is, there are really no grounds for complaint.”

Sarah Ferguson, CC ’11, said she also did not have any hard feelings about the error.

“I’m not much bothered by ‘the leak.’ It was clearly a mistake, and I can’t imagine anything coming of it,” Ferguson wrote in an email. “To me, it just was further proof of huge grade inflation.”

abby.mitchell@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

maybe make it clear that this is for one semester and not the full 4 years?

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Anonymous posted on

and the numbers is parenthesis are unclear. it makes it seem like the number inside is the total # of students in that major rather than the actual number of students that graduated with that major each year. yes, i know there's a note at the bottom, but if you guys dont want to change the #'s to total # of students in that major (which would make a lot more sense since the # of A's in each major correspond to the total # of students in that major), at least move the note to the top of the image.

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Anonymous posted on

yeah, this is really misleading.

for example, computer science, it has 16 people this semester with 4.0 or above. with 24 listed next to the major, it looks like 2/3 of the major has a 4.0 or higher. meanwhile, the 16 people aren't out of a pool of 24 students, there are out of pool of presumably 96 students (24 students for every graduating year). this puts the percentage at like like 15 percent not 66 percent.

just as wording can be deceiving, so too can info graphics. spec you need to get on your game.

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Anonymous posted on

They did do so, but I agree that this point should be emphasized. While I believe these statistics do show grade inflation, they only apply to a single semester. They absolutely need to be contextualized.

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Anonymous posted on

yes - that is for one semester. but the data sample (the entire undergrad school) is large enough that it represents a good estimate of the actual population. In other words, in other semesters, some people who got >4.0 this semester will not, but some of those who didn't will. in the end, this is a representative sample.

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Anonymous posted on

Fine with me.... I'm having fun in college

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Anonymous posted on

the numbers are only representative of a single semester; they do not reflect 4 year rates (i.e., 8% of Columbia undergrads do not have 4.0+ GPAs. within CC, for example, this number is closer to 2% based on Phi Beta Kappa historicals).

its not so much grade inflation as students in their more senior years taking easier classes.

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Anonymous posted on

are you sure about this? because I got this spreadsheet too. I think the numbers indicate cumulative GPA (not last semester) because some of the numbers are not permutations of grades from 4, 5, or 6 classes, but many more than that.

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Anonymous posted on

THe numbers would be a lot easier to decipher if you provided PERCENTAGES. Like, 20% (41/206) of Economics majors gets A's, 13% (20/160) of Political Science majors, 14% (17/118) of History, 16% (8/46) of Biology. I know, the numbers are based on the number of degrees granted from last year, but right now, these numbers are presented in a haphazard and potentially misleading way.

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Anonymous posted on

Yeah, as they stand, the data are incredibly misleading.

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Anonymous posted on

The data are presented the way they are because the number of students per major is taken from last year's graduating class—which was obviously only one class year and doesn't reflect the current number of students per major.

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Anonymous posted on

So take averages of the past four years, put that number up, then put an explanation of your methodology at the beginning of the graphic.

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Anonymous posted on

According to the above chart, there are 6 hispanic studies majors that received 4.0s or higher last semester, but there are only 3 people who have declared the major. That's grade inflation!

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Anonymous posted on

its almost like aliens or steven hawking are helping people with their homework, people should just do their own work!!

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Anonymous posted on

Dear Spec,

Give out the raw spreadsheet. Obviously remove the names and uni. Then the Stats and Engineering guys and gals can use those numbers, compare them to the stats Columbia provides (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/opi..., and we can come up with better charts and graphs than you guys.

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Anonymous posted on

yeah honestly. are you all you spec peeps english majors?

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Anonymous posted on

yes, many of us are indeed English majors.

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Anonymous posted on

the graph is labeled pretty clearly folks

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Anonymous posted on

you're a bad person

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Anonymous posted on

As a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering, I salute my department for fighting grade inflation.

...and for giving me 2 straight semesters of 4.0.

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Anonymous posted on

i lost all respect for IEOR. and CS.

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Anonymous posted on

Wait. This makes no sense. The numbers for my major say NO ONE graduated from it last year, when I know there were at like 20 students.

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Anonymous posted on

Departments in which Spec Says Zero People Graduated with that Major, But Official Columbia Stats say otherwise: in Archeology - 1 from CC, 1 from GS
Film Studies - 12 from CC, 5 from GS
Linguistics - 3 from CC, 0 from GS
Education - this is only a concentration offered thru Barnard

And looking at the Spec's numbers for the rest, some of these numbers are way off.

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Anonymous posted on

I got this spreadsheet too. I think the numbers indicate cumulative GPA (not last semester) because some of the numbers are not permutations of grades from 4, 5, or 6 classes, but many more than that.

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Anonymous posted on

This is confusing...you could get an A- in a 3.0 class, an A+ in a 4.0 class and still have above a 4.0 GPA. Therefore the opening "at least 8 percent of Columbia’s 5,934 undergraduates received straight As or A-pluses last semester" is incorrect OR Advising ruled out anyone who received an A- that semester.

Either way, please clarify.

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Anonymous posted on

So this is what happens when English majors try to half-ass a statistical analysis in one night.

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Anonymous posted on

I think the crux of the article is to show students/readers that Columbia students finally get to relish in the grade inflation that Yale is infamous for, not to draw attention to the confusing data.

wooo0o0o0o0o0OOOO grade inflation!

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Anonymous posted on

Um, obviously those quoted don't care. They did quite well. But there's something incredibly disheartening about hearing this. I'm a student who works incredibly hard, and frankly doesn't want to get this kind of information tossed around.

I'm pissed off. Doesn't anyone else agree?

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Anonymous posted on

yes i am pissed off. i am mildly pissed at the grade inflation. i am slightly pissed about such horrible coverage by the spec. (but i have grown to expect spec to blow a big story.) i am super pissed that this could have been a below average student who's grades and other personal information were released. that would be a horrible experience. still...it's a slap in the face of privacy and security to all students - 4.0 or 2.6 GPA.....someone should be held accountable.

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Anonymous posted on

This is an unbelievable error on the part of Spec. It's considered a "leak" because it contains information that's private both to students and their departments; it shouldn't be made public at all, let alone in such a way that grossly misrepresents the underlying data. Congrats, Spec, on having all the ethical fiber of Star Magazine.

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Anonymous posted on

The error was on the part of the advisor who accidentally attached it to an email. It's Spec's job to publish information that is relevant, interesting, and informative to the student body--that's what journalism is. (This story is all three, to some extent--it's useful to know grade distributions, even if they're usually private for a reason.) Anyway, it's unfair to say they didn't show "ethical fiber": they're just doing their job. It's not like they published the names and emails of the students.

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Anonymous posted on

Agreed with the above comment.

But they really do need to clarify the data. Comeon, Spec...

Also, this new comment posting sucks major balls. Obviously we're not going to put our real email/name...what's the point?

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