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Issue of the Week: Does the GRO help students?

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
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Last week, the Wildcat reported a little-known fact about what many students consider to be the saving grace of the GPA: the UA's Grade Replacement Opportunity, or GRO. As it turns out, there's wisdom in the age-old adage, "Don't count your eggs before they hatch" - for some students, the numbers just don't count. Those who apply to medical, law or graduate schools can expect their GRO scores to be ignored and their old grades to be factored into their formerly stellar GPAs. With that in mind, we asked our columnists, "Should the UA do away with the GRO? Is it a valuable save for grade-ravaged students, or just a big doc tease?"

Jennifer Kursman

GRO saves the day for employment-bound

While the GRO may seem useless when it comes to graduate school applications, students who don't plan on pursuing a degree after their bachelor's shouldn't be forced to give up this GPA-saving opportunity. Students searching for a job immediately after graduation from the UA are often asked to list their undergraduate GPA if it's not already inscribed on their resumˇs. Entry-level jobs rely more heavily on academic performance than higher-level positions, so the GRO should be kept in order to give these students a better chance at earning a living.

However, in order to be fair to those who are continuing their education, the UA should do a better job of publicizing the fact that the GRO rarely will be counted for graduate school admissions. This could be accomplished through a variety of cost-effective, simple methods: posting a bulletin on the GRO information Web page, requiring that students speak with an adviser before being allowed to GRO a course and adding notes to the GRO section in the course catalog.

Though the GRO may seem misleading to some students, it is also a valuable tool for others. There are ways to get the word out about graduate admissions policies without unfairly penalizing students searching for employment.

Jennifer Kursman is a biochemistry freshman. She can be reached at

Daniel Scarpinato

The GRO soothes the student ego

Everyone wants a nice, big, fat grade point average, even if he or she has no plans to pursue a post-graduate education. We've been taught from a young age that high grades are a measure of intelligence and success.

What's sad is that most students are far more interested in their letter grades than they are in learning the material in their classes and bettering their minds.

Your GPA is no indication of how smart you are. In fact, it's not always even a measure of how hard you work.

More accurately, it illustrates how well you are able to work within the institutions and bureaucracies set up to measure your merit.

Recently, I had a professor ask his class, "Why don't students like 'C's anymore?" He was being serious.

According to him, a "C" means you did OK. You understood the material.

But in this era of grade inflation and a redefined role of the university system as an employment agency, "C"s are passˇ.

Still, the GRO can be a good thing, even if it doesn't count for a whole lot. For students who care more about their GPAs than their educations, it's an incentive for them to retake a class and possibly learn something the second time around.

But if used in hopes of bumping up that GPA to get into a law, med or grad school, not just for the superficial awards it gives to one's ego, it's a waste of time.

Daniel Scarpinato is a former Daily Wildcat editor in chief and current editor of The Desert Yearbook. He is a journalism and political science senior and can be reached at

Sabrina Noble

The GRO just needs to GO

There are two problems with the GRO. First, it doesn't work as advertised. While the GRO might help students slide by when it comes to scholarship renewal, it doesn't make any promises to those applying to law school, med school or most graduate programs. Even the UA law school considers both grades when calculating applicants' GPAs. In other words, when it comes to transcripts, they're looking for accuracy, not academic airbrushing.

Second, most students seem to understand the GRO about as well as I grasp thermodynamics (i.e. not at all). That so many undergrads are unpleasantly surprised by the GRO's not-so-super powers testifies that the system öö which very few universities offer in the first place öö hurts more than helps, just because it provides a false sense of security.

So why is the GRO available in the first place? After all, scholarships are for academic merit öö not to reward the "try, try again" method. Graduate schools are looking for competitive and competent candidates ... not some undergrad goof-offs who later bandage their limping GPAs.

In the end, the only sure way to convince financial aid providers and graduate admissions offices that you're worth both their money and time is to do it right the first time. If that means fewer Two-for-Tuesdays and a lot more studying, then so be it.

Plus, everyone's degrees will be worth more if the UA cuts the GRO; it only implies we're slow learners ... and that's not going to open any grad school doors.

Sabrina Noble is a senior majoring in English who supports grade inflation countermeasures. She can be reached at

Jason Poreda
Opinions Assistant

Is that close enough for a gimme?

I don't care who you are, at some point in your educational career, you'll have that one class that threw you for a loop. It could be calculus, organic chemistry, English literature or that TRAD 101 class you "forgot" to attend for three weeks. Someplace along the way, you'll walk up to an adviser with a confused, somber look, as if to say, "Can I have a do-over?"

Most of you reading this now either have already made that trip to an adviser and used a GRO, will use one in the near future or have at least thought about it.

That said, the GRO is not a crutch and should not be used as such. Unfortunately, many students do not heed that advice and use it for exactly that reason, hoping to bring up their GPAs in an effort to go to their dream school.

The reason the UA offers this tremendous opportunity to its students is for the one class in which they got a "C" or "D," for whatever reason, when they really needed an "A" or "B." It's not for future endeavors, but to keep a scholarship, fulfill major requirements or just for peace of mind. It's offered to help students remain students and earn a UA degree.

When the next class of Wildcat alumni throws its caps and tortillas in celebration this May, I know there will be at least one happy graduate there because of the GRO - me.

Jason Poreda remains a communication and political science senior because he used a GRO to get a "B" in COMM 228 after barely missing it the first time. He can be reached at

Tim Belshe

People just need to pay attention

There are lots of people who don't have any intention of ever going to grad school. Once they get their bachelor's degrees, they'll be applying for jobs. So why should they care if the GRO won't be considered by a grad school? Chances are employers will ask for their GPAs, in which case the GRO can be a big boost. The employers aren't going to know that they failed classes, only that they have decent GPAs.

As for people who will be going on to grad school, they're just going to have to keep themselves informed about their schools' application processes. Frankly, that seems like something they should be doing anyway. Grad students are supposed to be of a higher caliber, so one would expect them to take the time to research the standards by which they will be judged. You would think that an unusual option like a GRO would be something you'd want to pay special attention to.

Tim Belshe has used a GRO more times than he'd care to admit. He can be reached at

Susan Bonicillo

Honey, they shrunk my GPA

Perhaps a great tragedy occurred in your family. Or maybe you got in over your head by going to school full time along with taking a job. Anyway, considering the circumstances, your academic performance just wasn't your usual best. Hell, let's not sugarcoat it: You bombed.

Now, before you start hyperventilating over the smoldering wreckage that is your GPA, remember that you go to the UA. Not only are we the home to the largest confederation of fake blondes in the world, we are also one of the few universities that gives students the option of retaking courses for a better grade.

No doubt the GRO has salvaged countless GPAs across campus. It's an extremely progressive idea in education that more universities should adopt. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For those students planning to apply to graduate, law or med schools, the grade is not taken into account in the admissions process.

Despite the fact that the GRO proves useless to those pursuing something more than an undergraduate education, it still is a useful resource for other students.

For the students who need to keep their GPAs up to maintain scholarships or who just need those few extra points to get into a certain program, the GRO is a godsend. Though ambitious students wanting to get into grad schools won't see any effect on their transcripts, for other undergraduates, the GRO option is an invaluable opportunity.

The UA should continue to implement this policy, and perhaps, by example, other universities will see the value of the GRO and follow suit.

Though Susan Bonicillo thinks the GRO is a good idea, she thinks that grades are just another oppressive device created by "the Man." She can be reached at

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