According to a document leaked to the Columbia Daily Spectator this week, at least 8 percent of the university's undergraduate population achieved a GPA of 4.0 or above last semester.
The student paper got hold of the statistics when an advising dean accidentally sent students a spreadsheet noting 482 students who earned an A or above (Columbia offers A-pluses, which translate numerically into a 4.33) average in the fall semester. Included in the database where each student's year, major and school affiliation.
The document revealed that 32.3 percent of the students who got straight As were seniors, and that 39 of those mentioned study economics -- which Susan Elmes, the director of undergraduate studies in Columbia's department of economics, told the Spectator is due to the large amount of economics majors at the school.
The information comes a few months after the school's A-plus policy was discussed in the Spectator. Although the article mentioned that Columbia's practice of handing out A-pluses without guidelines or trans-disciplinary standards was recognized as being problematic, it reported that changes to the policy did not appear to be imminent.
But the leaked statistics have at least prompted a discussion of grade inflation on campus -- an issue many top-tier schools continue to struggle with. While some, like Elmes, told the Spectator that the percentage of A's awarded can be shocking, others thought the high number of top grades granted is nothing to worry about. As Jack Snyder, the director of undergraduate studies in the department of political science, told the Spectator, "Columbia and the other Ivies are like Lake Wobegone, where all the students are indeed above average in their basic capacities, so why shouldn't many of them do well and get good grades?"
Snyder did, however, add that a grade spread was necessary to reward excellent students.
Check out the Spectator to see which departments granted the most -- and least -- A's and A-pluses.
Do you think these stellar GPAs are indicative of grade inflation? Let us know in the comments section.