Among the many things that pit students against one another, grade point average tops the list. The drive to maintain a high GPA can make school feel like a competition rather than a place to focus on learning.
Since the addition of the Cambridge program, the great debate about how GPA is weighted across Maritime and Cambridge has permeated the school’s culture. The contrasting opinions between the two programs are noticeable among the student body.
“Cambridge classes are divided into two upper level classes. There are AS classes, which should be weighed the same as AP classes, and then there is higher level A classes, which should be weighed more than AP and AS courses. A level classes provide the second year college level of rigorous curriculum as opposed to first year college level classes such as AP and AS,” Cambridge junior Matias Urcuyo said.
Meanwhile, students on the Maritime side of the coin argue for a different evaluation of grade point averages.
“AP classes should be weighed more than AS because they are more rigorous and it is a nationally recognized program. I have taken both AP and AS classes and have felt that the AP courses are more demanding,” Maritime junior Diego Leon said.
The main difference between the programs are the courses that are offered. Cambridge offers AS and A level courses, meanwhile Maritime offers mainly Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Some AP and AS courses are available for both programs.
To understand this debate, it is important to know what GPA is and how it impacts the life of a student and the difference between weighted and unweighted grade point averages.
“A grade point average is established by dividing the number of grade points by the number of credits earned. The weighted GPA reflects the bonus points that are earned from taking challenging classes. Honors and Pre-AICE classes offer 1 bonus point. Advanced Placement and Cambridge AS/A level courses offer 2 bonus points. The unweighted GPA does not include these bonus points,” CAP Counselor Stephanie Miles said.
In the midst of the struggle for maintaining a high GPA, people often forget that this is only one of the many important parts of college applications.
“Remember that the GPA is just one factor in the admissions process. Most schools take other factors into consideration, such as standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, community involvement, and personal essays,” Miles said.
It is also important to clarify that the belief that Cambridge has an advantage in the GPA race is a myth. Lead Teacher Melissa Fernandez has clarified that AP, AS, A, and Dual Enrollment classes all have the same weight, meanwhile Honors and Pre-AICE have a lower weight than the higher level classes but they are equal to each other.
Cambridge used to have an advantage when it came to their English courses because they started taking AS English in tenth grade, meanwhile juniors in Maritime took AP English Language in their junior year. This has been fixed by allowing Maritime students take AP English Language their sophomore year, matching the level of the Cambridge English course available in tenth grade.
At the end of the day, it is the student’s responsibility to maximize their GPA. Both programs offer the same opportunities to all students to choose the courses they want. Equal opportunities are there, it is just a matter of students own will to pursue the path they want.