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Buying Bad Grades: The More Your Parents Pay, the Lower Your GPA

The less money parents pony up for a student's college education, the better students do in school.


American college students get plenty of flack for being a pretty lazy lot. Research shows that many don't study as much as they should, they complain about professors asking them to actually think and participate, and they refuse to stop checking Facebook in class. Well, the latest research from University of California at Merced sociology professor Laura Hamilton, reveals that the less money parents pony up for a student's college education, the better students do in school.

Hamilton's paper, which appears in the latest issue of the American Sociological Review, tapped longitudinal data from three federal databases and analyzed the amount of money parents contributed to their child's education and the resulting grades. She found that students who had more financial support from their parents had lower GPAs than those with less support. Money coming in from other sources—like work-study jobs and financial aid—didn't have a negative impact.

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Should Colleges Give Grades For Emotional Intelligence?

Asheville-Buncombe TCC plans to give grades on soft skills like getting along with others and being on time.


When we talk about educating our way out of the skills gap, the discussion tends to focus on how we funnel more students into science or technology majors or helping current workers gain in-demand skills. But companies aren't just looking for employees with specific content knowledge and skills. They want folks with "soft skills"—emotional intelligence and social graces—too. So if we need to educate and train the next generation to be ready for the 21st century workforce, should colleges be emphasizing and giving grades on those too?

That's the plan at North Carolina's Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. According to Inside Higher Ed, the school intends to give "workplace readiness certificates" to students who demonstrate mastery of soft skills.

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Why It's Time to Eliminate Class Schedules

Students would have the freedom to learn by working on real projects—and that might ease their obsession with grades.


I spend a lot of time in a philosophical tug-of-war with students and parents over what grades mean, why we give them, and how they should be interpreted. Parents want to know how their child is doing, students want to be left alone, and teachers just want everyone to think a bit more critically about the material. We end up with conflicting pressures, and a grading system that has overstepped its bounds with disastrous results for student psychology. Cheating, lying, extra credit for bringing in a box of Kleenex—it’s all the same disease.

As I stare out across the ocean of students I teach everyday, I wonder if their obsession with grades comes from an unexpected source: the way we schedule their classes. Perhaps clamoring for meaningless grades and inflated A’s is a side effect of the herd mentality present in schools and the schedules we use to create and maintain that mentality.

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Do Rich White Kids Automatically Think They're Harvard Material?

According to counselors, low-income black students need to be talked up into applying to elite schools. Well-off white students need talking down.

High school guidance counselors and college admissions officers need to adjust their college counseling approach depending on a student's racial and socioeconomic differences. At least that's the thinking in a piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Redefining Admissions 'Success' For Black Males," which spotlights some of the dialogue that took place Monday at the regional Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling's annual conference. Counselors and college admissions staff are thinking through needed shifts in their approach to both underrepresented groups, like black males, and groups that historically have had more access to higher education, like wealthy white students.

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Grading on Campus: Is the Easy A Here to Stay?

Leaked data at Columbia University shows plenty of students are getting A's. Is it grade inflation, or is everyone really just that smart?


Remember the days when college students fantasized about being tech savvy enough to hack the campus computer system and change their GPA to a 4.0? For students at Columbia University, A's come easily—no hacking necessary. According to leaked stats obtained by the school's student paper, the Spectator, professors gave A's and A-pluses to 8 percent of undergrads. Is it grade inflation, or are Columbia's students really just that smart?

The Spectator obtained a spreadsheet with data on 482 students, including their class years, majors, and academic advisers, when a dean mistakenly emailed it to students. According to the data, economics, English, and history majors are more likely to rack up A's, as are seniors.

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