UVA's "Generous Curve"

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Clearly
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Clearly » Fri May 15, 2015 4:10 am

bearsfan23 wrote:
DavidConeSplitter wrote:On the low end, is there a reason that TTT and TTTTs tend to have curves fixed at a lower GPA? Is it to capitalize on conditional scholarships, keep people near the top from transferring?


Both of those.

Also, many TTT/TTTT's are based on a model where they want a certain percentage of low performing students to drop out. That way the school still gets their 1L tuition money, while also getting rid of students who aren't likely to pass the bar


Its the bar passage thing, they fail/push out enough bad performers to keep above the minimum for bar passage

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Fri May 15, 2015 7:35 am

bearsfan23 wrote:
LA Spring wrote:For those schools that do not rank, a generous curve means the professors can hand out more A+; A; A-; B+…this is a very big deal. If a UVA applicant is up against someone from CCNP with B’s and the UVA applicant has a B+ and better, the advantage definitely goes to UVA.


This is entirely incorrect, at least as far as law firm hiring goes.

This is not entirely incorrect when it comes to regional biglaw, at least. If you were from the T14 and applying to my old firm, the extent of the analysis of your grades was glancing at your transcript the morning of your callback and thinking "this looks good" or "this looks bad" or "this looks mediocre," and B+s look better than Bs. No one sits down and pulls up a school's median GPA on the interwebs to compare the GPA to, because no one has time and we'd all rather be billing hours.

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Br3v
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Br3v » Fri May 15, 2015 8:33 am

Other25BeforeYou wrote:
bearsfan23 wrote:
LA Spring wrote:For those schools that do not rank, a generous curve means the professors can hand out more A+; A; A-; B+…this is a very big deal. If a UVA applicant is up against someone from CCNP with B’s and the UVA applicant has a B+ and better, the advantage definitely goes to UVA.


This is entirely incorrect, at least as far as law firm hiring goes.

This is not entirely incorrect when it comes to regional biglaw, at least. If you were from the T14 and applying to my old firm, the extent of the analysis of your grades was glancing at your transcript the morning of your callback and thinking "this looks good" or "this looks bad" or "this looks mediocre," and B+s look better than Bs. No one sits down and pulls up a school's median GPA on the interwebs to compare the GPA to, because no one has time and we'd all rather be billing hours.


I find it hard to believe that a Biglaw firm, even if "regional" would not be familiar with t14 grading. What do you do when you look at a Chicago app?

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Fri May 15, 2015 9:25 am

Br3v wrote:
Other25BeforeYou wrote:
bearsfan23 wrote:
LA Spring wrote:For those schools that do not rank, a generous curve means the professors can hand out more A+; A; A-; B+…this is a very big deal. If a UVA applicant is up against someone from CCNP with B’s and the UVA applicant has a B+ and better, the advantage definitely goes to UVA.


This is entirely incorrect, at least as far as law firm hiring goes.

This is not entirely incorrect when it comes to regional biglaw, at least. If you were from the T14 and applying to my old firm, the extent of the analysis of your grades was glancing at your transcript the morning of your callback and thinking "this looks good" or "this looks bad" or "this looks mediocre," and B+s look better than Bs. No one sits down and pulls up a school's median GPA on the interwebs to compare the GPA to, because no one has time and we'd all rather be billing hours.


I find it hard to believe that a Biglaw firm, even if "regional" would not be familiar with t14 grading. What do you do when you look at a Chicago app?


If it's an unusual grading system of course we'd look up how it works, but if it's just a collection of normal letter grades I cannot remember a single time someone mentioned where a candidate's grades fell compared to the school's median (unless the candidate put it on their resume). We all have a general sense of "Bs aren't particularly good grades at T14s" but no one actually says "oh this candidate from Columbia has a bunch of Bs but when you take into account the median they're on par with this UVA grad with B+s." Fit was more important anyway so no one cared that much, and we all had better things to do than calculating a student's estimated class rank. Every hour spent on recruiting tasks was an hour we weren't billing.

SPerez
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby SPerez » Tue May 19, 2015 4:03 pm

Clearly wrote:
bearsfan23 wrote:
DavidConeSplitter wrote:On the low end, is there a reason that TTT and TTTTs tend to have curves fixed at a lower GPA? Is it to capitalize on conditional scholarships, keep people near the top from transferring?


Both of those.

Also, many TTT/TTTT's are based on a model where they want a certain percentage of low performing students to drop out. That way the school still gets their 1L tuition money, while also getting rid of students who aren't likely to pass the bar


Its the bar passage thing, they fail/push out enough bad performers to keep above the minimum for bar passage


This, and probably a little of what Tiago said, is probably closest to the truth. For places with conditional scholarships based on a specific GPA, the causation probably works the other way. The curve dictates where they set the renewal floor. Curves have to be changed by faculty vote, which is a PITA. Much easier for admissions or FinAid to just change the cut off based on where on the curve gives you the percent renewal you're looking for. For those with class rank cut offs, it doesn't matter what the curve is. Top half is the top half. Most bottom tier schools have more in their bottom end of the curve (C, C-, D+, D, D-) and require like a 2.3 to not flunk out. (This always seemed weird to me, that a student can pass all their classes but still "flunk out". Why not just adjust your curve down?) That's a pure bar pass protection move.

My guess would be it's not that the lower-tier schools lower their curves, it's that higher ranked schools (and to an extent schools in law school-dense, competitive locations like LA, DC, NYC) have inflated their curves like crazy over the last decade or so. Why that is, I don't know. Some schools get pressure from their own students ("We're competing against X school who has a higher curve! We won't get jobs!"). When I was at Idaho we would get a lot of that. We did an informal survey of all the other law schools in the region, and pretty much all of them had about the same curve we did (2.7-2.8 ish). Schools like UW and Lewis and Clark were higher. Ours here at Texas Tech is about the same, and that's similar to what I've seen posted at various law schools I've visited. (I like to visit law schools when I travel; most have their distributions posted somewhere.)

I think when I was at UT our curve was about a 3.0 and they raised it to a 3.2 my last year. Now it can be as high as a 3.35, which is a common mean for a lot of top schools for the 1L courses. (With as high as 40% A's and no more than 5% C+ or lower...doesn't that sound crazy or am I just being a crotchety old man?) It doesn't do anything for the BigLaw folks who use ranks for OCI cut offs, etc., but it works out great for the bottom half of the class who get to still put a 3.0 on their resume. My guess is that most firms outside of BigLaw don't keep up with law school curves so they assume the grades are still the same from when they graduated in the 80s.

Reminds me of some stories from back in 2010 when Loyola (CA) raised their curve retroactively, like straight up added GPA points to everyone's course grades. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/business/22law.html?_r=0

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law

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Holly Golightly
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Holly Golightly » Tue May 19, 2015 5:27 pm

Br3v wrote:Comparing curves across schools is in no way helpful. Penn could give out gold and silver star stickers and it would be just as useful to compare them to whatever system UVA or another school uses. All that matters is that every student within the same school is graded on the same standards.

Wrong. I have encountered many people (including judges and attorneys at big firms) who had no idea how to normalize GPAs between schools.

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swampman
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby swampman » Tue May 19, 2015 8:49 pm

SPerez wrote:It doesn't do anything for the BigLaw folks who use ranks for OCI cut offs, etc., but it works out great for the bottom half of the class who get to still put a 3.0 on their resume.

Why wouldn't you want to do something that works out great for the bottom half of the class? Obviously there's a limit, you still want to be able to distinguish the top of the class, but a 2.7 seems unnecessarily low given the psychological boost a 3.0 has and the fact that a lot of jobs post a 3.0 requirement.

I understand the anti-grade inflation sentiment for undergraduate schools, where "learning for the sake of learning" and academic rigor are still things, but we're talking about professional schools where the goal is to get your students jobs. Why not do everything you can to make that happen?

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Holly Golightly
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby Holly Golightly » Wed May 20, 2015 1:27 am

swampman wrote:
SPerez wrote:It doesn't do anything for the BigLaw folks who use ranks for OCI cut offs, etc., but it works out great for the bottom half of the class who get to still put a 3.0 on their resume.

Why wouldn't you want to do something that works out great for the bottom half of the class? Obviously there's a limit, you still want to be able to distinguish the top of the class, but a 2.7 seems unnecessarily low given the psychological boost a 3.0 has and the fact that a lot of jobs post a 3.0 requirement.

I understand the anti-grade inflation sentiment for undergraduate schools, where "learning for the sake of learning" and academic rigor are still things, but we're talking about professional schools where the goal is to get your students jobs. Why not do everything you can to make that happen?

Agreed. My school's generous curve absolutely helps people out, and why shouldn't they want to do that?

SPerez
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Re: UVA's "Generous Curve"

Postby SPerez » Wed May 20, 2015 10:32 am

swampman wrote:
SPerez wrote:It doesn't do anything for the BigLaw folks who use ranks for OCI cut offs, etc., but it works out great for the bottom half of the class who get to still put a 3.0 on their resume.

Why wouldn't you want to do something that works out great for the bottom half of the class? Obviously there's a limit, you still want to be able to distinguish the top of the class, but a 2.7 seems unnecessarily low given the psychological boost a 3.0 has and the fact that a lot of jobs post a 3.0 requirement.

I understand the anti-grade inflation sentiment for undergraduate schools, where "learning for the sake of learning" and academic rigor are still things, but we're talking about professional schools where the goal is to get your students jobs. Why not do everything you can to make that happen?


I'm not saying schools should or shouldn't, merely that this tends to be the benefit. (Your comment about law school being a professional school is actually a long-standing debate among law school faculties (who exercise WAY more control over the direction and policies of law schools than their counterparts in other university departments/schools). Many would disagree that a law school's primary mission should be that of a professional school ("trade school" is the term many academic-focused people use) that exists just to get people jobs, preferring to see law schools as academic institutions that are sources of scholarship and that exist to teach students how to learn, reason, and write. Then, while a school will certainly help, it is up to the student to find their job. This feeling tends to be more prevalent as you go up the rankings. On the other end of the spectrum, most regional schools know and embrace their role as professional schools producing "practice-ready" grads, which is why they focus more on skills, writing, and the like.)

I guess my general slightly negative view on inflating grades is that I seem to still cling to an increasingly quaint notion that grades should be an indication of how well you did in your classes. (I'd even say how much you've learned, but as I recently learned during our main university's accrediting process, apparently grades are NOT a valid "assessment measure" for learning. Who knew?) This also seems to fit into this larger trend reflected elsewhere in places like those studies that showed US students had the most self-confidence and belief that they were smart, yet had actual test scores at the bottom of the pack.

It seems entirely reasonable to me to have the middle of the class be a B-. But I guess since B's have been the new C's on college campuses for a long time, that has skewed people's perceptions a bit on what "average" is. This is something I put at the feet of law firms, too, though, for doing things like you mentioned (high GPA cutoffs for interviews). If it helps students I'm all for it, it just seems still weird to me, since aren't we basically saying that employers are too dumb/busy to notice or ask where a 3.0 ranks in the class so we're going to just give the bottom of the class all B's and hope no one asks questions?

It is an interesting question, if off-topic. As an employer, would you rather interview/hire the last person in the class at Yale (which you would never know since they don't have grades, who knows how many "Low Pass" folks they have) or a 3.0 at a school like Northwestern (where as much as 80% of the class could receive a B-/B/B+ or someone in the top 10% at IU-Bloomington?

Dean Perez
Texas Tech Law




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