Is GPA All That?

I’ve recently been relieved of a small dilemma that I’ve been facing for a while, that of the central importance of a student’s GPA in Grad School Applications. The program that I’m pursuing only focuses on the GPA of the eight philosophy courses that make a major, leaving the student to pursue interests in other fields and not have to worry about the outcome. This has been a load off my mind as I already meet the entry requirements now no matter how poorly I do in the remainder of my Undergraduate education. The question that I have, however, is does focusing on maintaining your GPA limit your originality and scope of presentation?I’ve noticed that this semester, particularly in a sociology subject, the reluctance of TAs to accept any conclusions that differ from those taught. Now my work has not been as good as it usually would be due to a number of factors including illness, however, it is not my writing ability that has been questioned, rather, the conclusions and techniques I’ve been using to draw my conclusions.

As I’ve not been worried about keeping a high grade for the subjects this semester I’ve been pursuing ideas that are more inline with my philosophical position and reviewing the set materials using rules of logic and philosophical positions; this has not been to my TAs’ liking at all! My TAs’ all desire a regurgitation of the positions taught in class and do not think that logic has a place in arguments outside of the philosophy class. For example, if I claim that a‘s argument is fallacious because the conclusion is not logical then this, I’ve been told, is not enough. I need to attack the sociological position, for example, if I’m going to attack it at all. Even using a combination of Philosophy and Sociology has been looked down upon.

So my question is/questions are:

  • Is this just me or has anyone else experienced this phenomena too?
  • Should philosophy be limited to just philosophy or should it have a role in other disciplines too?

and

  • Do you believe, as I do, that by focusing on maintaining a high GPA the student limits their originality and their ability to apply their philosophical understanding?

If a GPA is seen as fundamental to a students ability then is there cause for concern that the student has been limited? Look at my Sociology subject for example. I know feminism and so does my wife (my sociology proof reader) who is a sociology major currently pursuing her graduate education in sociology. I wanted to argue against the position taught in class, against ‘second wave’ feminism because the readings were logically fallacious. This is where my argument focused, second wave feminism should not be practiced because it is not logically sound. I based ALL of my logical arguments around ‘first wave’ feminist discourse and fallacious claims by the ‘second wave’ feminists. This was seen as not sociological enough.

Now, I’m yet to receive a grade back for this piece but my TA has emailed me her (negative) comments. Were I to focus on maintaining a GPA I would have, no doubt, argued for my TA’s position of ‘second wave’ feminism, probably something that would have been much easier as the TA did not provide any reading material that argued against the ‘second wave’ position. However, I wanted to argue what I believed to be the case, that the readings we had been presented with should not be believed because they were logically fallacious. I think that it’s quite a shame that a critique of a text’s logical characteristics should be looked down upon so much.

Had I intended to maintain my GPA I would have just followed the guidelines and not really learnt much. Is such a phenomenon desirable?

-I would like to say, however, that in all of the Religion studies courses I’ve undertaken the opposite has been the case with my philosophical background being applauded. So maybe there are some disciplines that take better to a philosophical argument than others.

Posted by Simon Ives

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1 Response to “Is GPA All That?”


  1. 1 Waz August 25, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Hi Simon

    “I’ve been pursuing ideas that are more inline with my philosophical position and reviewing the set materials using rules of logic and philosophical positions; this has not been to my TAs’ liking at all! My TAs’ all desire a regurgitation of the positions taught in class and do not think that logic has a place in arguments outside of the philosophy class. For example, if I claim that a’s argument is fallacious because the conclusion is not logical then this, I’ve been told, is not enough. I need to attack the sociological position, for example, if I’m going to attack it at all. Even using a combination of Philosophy and Sociology has been looked down upon.

    So my question is/questions are:

    * Is this just me or has anyone else experienced this phenomena too?
    * Should philosophy be limited to just philosophy or should it have a role in other disciplines too?”

    That is why I dropped the sociology subjects… I too was told that using a logical, philosophical approach was not appropriate and had to concentrate on the sociological position. As it was done in a not so nice way, almost blatantly rude, I thought what is the point. I am a philosophy student, if there were more philosophy units available on OUA I would take them instead of all the other crappy little ones to fulfill the degree requirements.

    Waz


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