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Unreasonable standards

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JULY 01, 2013

A new GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher in the seven prerequisite classes for computer science applicants in the College of Letters and Science is too high. There needs to be a more holistic review of prospective applicants, with a lower GPA requirement.

Implementing a high GPA requirement can lead to a hyper-competitive environment in which succeeding in a class becomes more about getting a good grade on a test than actually learning. Students will inevitably fall behind and be less motivated to catch up with their fellow peers due to the gaps created based on grading. Some students perform well on paper depending on the grading of a specific class, while others have a different type of skills that present themselves in alternative ways. A GPA requirement does not recognize these differences and might only benefit those who test well.

A higher GPA requirement should not be implemented to account for a higher number of admittances to a given major. This was one of the reasons cited for the higher GPA requirement. If the computer science major would like to balance the number of enrollees with the amount of resources it has, a more holistic way of screening applicants should be implemented.

A higher GPA requirement will also make it harder for students looking to major in computer science to get into the major. Students taking lower-division courses in the College of Engineering, which are required to declare the computer science major, are expected to receive an average GPA of 2.7 in the courses. According to the electrical engineering and computer science grading guidelines for undergraduate courses, a GPA outside the range of 2.3 to 2.7 is considered “atypical.” This could make it difficult to get the overall minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to be accepted into the computer science major.

Still, in the Bay Area, a computer science degree is highly coveted, and many employers do not place as great an emphasis on applicants’ grades as this campus does. Hence, some students may not take classes as seriously since their degrees are what is in demand. If these students are failing their classes, they should not be let into the major. But some might argue that instituting a high GPA requirement will motivate the students who do not settle for above-average grades to in fact strive for a B-average.

Instituting such a high requirement ultimately has the potential to lessen the quality of education at UC Berkeley. Getting into the major and doing well in school will be more about getting good grades than actually learning. School then becomes a means to an end as opposed to a place where students can learn and grow prior to entering the professional computer science industry.

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JUNE 30, 2013