The letters G, P and A are viewed by many as synonymous to academic success. A student’s grade point average is readily accessible on DegreeWorks and is calculated in a fairly straightforward manner – grades are assigned a numeric value, and so forth.
GPA therefore tends to overshadow a lesser known method of academic measurement that appear on official transcripts and are therefore at the hands of future employers — class rank.
According to the Fordham website, a student’s class rank is calculated on the basis of a minimum of 24 graded credits in a regular academic year. Although it follows the same process by the registrar, class rank for Fordham College Rose Hill students is computed separately from the Gabelli School of Business class. Ranks in class are only computed at the end of the academic year, but if additional changes are made, a student’s class rank will not be recomputed.
According to Senior Class Dean Rev. John T. Dzieglewicz, S.J., PhD, class rank can be a determinant to whether or not grade inflation exists at certain school.
“If you’ve got a 3.8 GPA, and you rank in the bottom 10 percent of class, you’re either going to an exceptional college or something’s wrong,” said Dzieglewicz.
Mario DiFiore, an assistant dean of Gabelli School of Business (GSB), said that the rank is inconsequential to employers.
“Traditionally, it has to do with the whole approach: quality of a student, GPA, major and recommendations,” he said.
DiFiore also emphasized the importance of internships and particular skill sets that GSB students in the business world more than class ranks do
“In an interview, employers look at the skill sets of the student, how they speak, and what they can do specifically to help the company,” said DiFiore. “GPA is important, but also anything that you can have on your resume that is truthful and shows how you can bring value to an organization or a company is important.”
To determine what measure of success students should focus on – raising class rank, improving GPA or gaining internship experience – leads students in several different directions.
Tyler Rozier, GSB ’19, feels that he should be focusing on finding internships and participating in club activities as opposed to maintaining his rank
“For me as a freshman, it has been about internships because of experience,” he said. “You could be the number one in your class, but have zero internships and zero club activities. In my opinion, it’s more about being an overall rounded person.”
When Mimi Sillings, FCRH ’18, happened upon her class rank recently – which is located on the unofficial transcript under the student information tab on student’s my.fordham portal – GPA is a far more fair measurement of student success.
“Even if you have a 4.0 with 70 credits and another student has a 4.0 with 80, you’re not the best 4.0. GPA is the better measure of grades since you’re on a more level playing field,” said Sillings.
As opposed to Rozier, Sillings said that while internships are important to her, the value of her academic experience is what she will rely on moving forward in her academic and professional career.
“With internships, you can’t really tell what you’re getting into until you show up there,” she said. “You could be getting excellent experience, or it could be very minute and not what you expected. GPA and recommendations from professors are the main factors for me.”
Some seniors, such as Ashley McCorey, GSB ’16, have come across jobs that have not asked for rank or even GPA.
“More of them are kind of focusing on your past internship experience and your work experience,” said McCorey.
Though DiFiore noted a potential disparity in concern over class rank could come over the fact that Rose Hill places more students in graduate school that Gabelli does, Director of Admissions at Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Bernadette Valentino-Morrison, said there is no requirement for a student to disclose his or her ranking in his or her application.
“Students may choose to include their ranking in a cover letter or another part of their application,” she said. “However, there is a holistic approach to evaluating applicants [for graduate school].” These can include letters of recommendation, GPA, GRE scores, statements of intent, resumes and writing samples.
For Dzieglewicz, students should focus their efforts on getting a high GPA, as employers and graduates schools are understanding of disparities between schools in terms of rank and university prestige.
“You could have a very high ranking at a community college, and be middle-lower here. Employers and grad-schools recognize that,” she said. “If you’re constantly coming out at the bottom of your class for each year, I’d be very worried. Otherwise, if you’re doing a good job, I wouldn’t be too concerned.”