Students are more than GPA

As reported in this week’s issue, the SUNY system, under the recommendation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has raised the admission requirements for students looking to enter a SUNY graduate program.

This change, SUNY policy-makers believe, will raise the bar to the point that only the strongest candidates will be able to enter teacher preparatory programs and ultimately create an environment that produces only strong teachers. That idea, however, seems nearsighted and is in stark contrast to the movement away from minimum GPA cut-offs seen in universities nationwide.

This program may attract candidates with stronger academic records, but that fact does not guarantee stronger candidates overall. Neither GPA, nor any single indicator, should be used as a sole factor in deciding a student’s worth.

GPA is a number that can fluctuate for students and be affected by factors outside of that student’s control, such as illness, family problems or financial issues. Students who otherwise have strong academic record could have their entire futures derailed by a single semester where, for whatever reasons, they struggled and fell behind.

SUNY’s policy will also leave behind students who may have had sluggish first semesters before realizing a goal and improving their grades to chase it. Officials should be concerned that the policy could make students who find themselves with a low GPA after a few years in high school, or semesters in college, give up completely on becoming teachers, a situation that could, ironically, lead to the loss of many potential talented teachers.

SUNY schools should take caution while implementing any large-scale change. This policy would be much better off if tested at certain universities, or if universities were first encouraged to weed out applicants with lower GPAs before going to a minimum cut off.

The Oswegonian is concerned that this move could be followed by other programs and SUNY schools as a whole adopting similar GPA requirements. The ability for a student to find success in college and beyond depends on a wide variety of factors ranging far beyond GPA or standardized test scores. Students should be evaluated on a student-by-student basis, allowing for a diverse student body and, in the case of the education schools, a diverse body of future teachers. Now more than ever, teachers who have the ability to think outside the box in educating students are needed. Cutting off a large percentage of candidates based on an arbitrary number will only make great teachers harder to find.