A high GPA is a standard of excellence that can be important in many ways. It can be a significant determinant of whether you can be admitted to graduate school. It can enable you to receive special recognition for your strong scholarship. For example, you can enter the honors program or graduate with honors (e.g., cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude). There is a special kind of thrill in being able to share with others that you didn’t just graduate but graduated with honors. You also can be admitted to Phi Kappa Phi, the national honorary for all undergraduate scholars. Link needed here. In addition, many majors have their own disciplinary honor societies that require a particular grade point for admission.
It depends on the employer. Some will simply expect you to demonstrate the discipline and skill sets that were required of you to complete the degree and the actual grade point won’t matter too much. However, in a tight job market, it stands to reason that a high GPA may help you stand out from your competition.
One bad grade isn’t going to exert a huge effect on your overall grade-point average but one bad semester represents a fairly serious negative weight on that important number.
You need to evaluate all the factors before you decide to drop the course to avoid the professor. Dropping the course may compromise your financial aid and can put you behind in your target graduation date. In some cases, the course may be your only opportunity to complete a requirement. In other cases, you may be able to transfer into another section if you are not too far into the semester. Talk to your classmates to see if you are alone in your feelings. If there are some specific things that are troubling, you may want to consider a visit to the professor during office hours to talk about the challenge you are having. Try to make a personal connection with the professor since that may make a difference in your staying power. If you believe the differences are irreconcilable, consider dropping the course and figuring out another avenue to complete the course if it is required. Talk to your advisor to help you figure out the wisest course.
You can drop a course by going online and formally declaring your escape. If you fail to do so or if you try to drop a class after the deadline, your grade will go to an “F.” You will not be automatically dropped. One pointer is to talk directly to the professor before dropping as there may be some other alternatives (e.g., tutoring, a strategic review of how your are taking notes, some tips on how to prepare better for an exam) that could still save the day. Add link for online dropping?
Research suggests that cheating happens a lot but that still doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you for three reasons:
1. You may get the grade but cheating produces shallow learning that will not serve you well in later courses when your instructor assumes you will remember what you have learned.
2. Cheating is a sign that your character needs some work. Cheating means you are misrepresenting who you are and what you can do. College should be a place where you working on building your character, not tearing it down.
3. The risk of getting caught is substantial. Faculty may recommend severe consequences, including failure in the course and expulsion from school. Living with the shame in enduring such consequences can be a miserable experience.
UWF practices an honor code, which means you are expected to perform without cheating and you should be intolerant of those who do. The advantages of maintaining a clean track record of academic integrity is that it builds your confidence that you aren’t getting a bogus degree and it builds others’ confidence in you that you can be trusted. Explain to those offering the pressure that you believe there is good reason to abide by the honor code and consider finding some new friends who won’t be exerting pressures on you that will erode your character.
If the suspicion is accurate, the best advice is to confess and ask for mercy, particularly if this is a first time offense. Some integrity violations can be a bit fuzzy. Students can be accused of cheating when they simply don’t know the rules. For example, faculty have fairly strict expectations about how to cite material in research papers. Violating their expectations can lead to a charge of plagiarism. The faculty member will probably attempt to assess whether you knew what you were doing if they have evidence that you cheated.
If the suspicion is inaccurate, recognize that you will have an opportunity to explain and defend your position. Be as systematic in offering evidence as possible. You are entitled to due process in such situations. Do your best to document your claims of innocence. Remember, the professor is likely to have some plausible grounds for believing you cheated and that could include witness reports.
It is possible that the professor has made a calculation error or otherwise not adhered to the grading standard you expected. After a class is over, ask the professor for some time to go over the grounds of the scoring. The professor may request that you visit during posted office hours. Be prepared with an explanation of why you think the grade is inaccurate or unjust. Professors have been known to make adjustments if the argument is credible.
However, if you think the reduced grade represents something other than a simple error, a conversation with your professor about your concern is still a good idea. If that discussion does not produce a satisfactory outcome, your next stop is the head of the program. Call and request a 15 minute appointment to explain your concern and ask for assistance. The program head may need some time to investigate and gather the professor’s side before getting back to you with any conclusions. If the situation, remains unsatisfactory, you can pursue the issue with the dean of the college in which the major resides.
UWF also has a formal appeals process to review concerns with unfair grading. See this link for a description of that process. Add link here.
UWF regulations suggest that if you believe you have been a victim of discriminatory treatment, you should report your concerns to the Equal Opportunity Office. Add the link here. Your report is likely to initiate an investigation so you will need to have a good grasp on the details that prompted your concern. The EEO has experienced investigators who will help in determining what should happen next.