People study abroad for many reasons. As a student enamored by comparative ecology studying abroad for the entire 2008-2009 academic year, I looked solely at biodiverse countries with different ecosystems than I am accustomed to, which is why I will study next year in Brazil and Tanzania. In some study abroad programs, students receive academic credit through an American institution, so there should be less discrepancy about the grades, which don’t need to be translated. Students enrolled through the School for Field Studies receive transcripts from Boston University. According to Alex Halpern Levy ’08, these programs are less challenging since they are comprised solely by a bunch of Americans, instead of receiving an elaborate cultural and language immersion (“EPC debates study abroad GPA policy,” April 29, Volume CXLIII, Number 44).
The Educational Policy Committee is mistaken in advising faculty to exclude study abroad grades as part of students’ grade point averages. While it may be true that grade determination is different among different countries, or even within the same country, not including grades in the GPA will not challenge students abroad, as indicated by Levy. Since students earning grades abroad will not have to worry about their GPAs, they may become more lackadaisical, resulting in a decreased interest in receiving stellar grades and instilling a belief that mediocre/good grades abroad are as sufficient as top mark Wesleyan grades.
I only believe slacking may occur since the University bothers to calculate grade point average, and formulaic graduate institutions still regard GPA as extremely important. The University would be much better off without calculating the GPA of students. This would prevent students from taking classes just for the sake of raising their GPA, and it also would decrease competition among students and create a less stressful atmosphere. Excluding GPA for courses taken abroad punishes students who want to study abroad, but may have received bad grades due to a rough first semester/year, who may have been hoping to increase their GPAs after a difficult transition to college. Excluding GPA benefits students who had an easy freshman year and to transition to college, who want to get academic credit towards their majors, in conjunction with having a semester-long low stress beach party in Australia.