|Proposal: ||At the University of Maryland – College Park, hereinafter UMD, the lowest qualifying GPA for graduating seniors to achieve cum laude is 3.5 on a 4.0 scale (College of Information Studies). Currently, 10 out of the 13 (76%) of the colleges at the University have requirements between 3.85 to 3.91 to simply qualify for cum laude, the lowest Latin honor distinction. In addition, UMD only considers the GPAs of the top 10% of graduates when determining the GPA cutoffs for the following academic year.|
After researching a myriad of universities including; Ivy Leagues, similarly academic ranked institutions, and peer colleges within the BIG 10 Conference, I found a stark disconnect between the high GPA threshold to achieve Latin honors at UMD in comparison to other comparable institutions. For brevity, I will discuss the schools with the same rank as UMD according to the 2020 U.S. News and World Report (https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national- universities).
Currently, the University of Maryland – College Park is ranked #63 under the National Universities category along with George Washington University and the University of Connecticut (U-Conn). According to their respective Offices of the Registrar, achieving Latin honors requires a GPA of the following: The George Washington University: 3.4–3.59 (cum laude), 3.6–3.79 (magna cum laude), 3.8–4.0 (summa cum laude). U-Conn: at least a 3.0 total GPA (cum laude), 3.4 – 3.69 (magna cum laude), 3.7 – 4.7 GPA (summa cum laude).
Latin honors distinctions are important to high achieving students, of which the UMD prides itself on. If UMD wants to recruit, retain, and graduate students who excel academically, the University must acknowledge and reward students of high academic performance to a proportionate degree of their peer institutions.
UMD graduates are competing against students from other universities for admission into the nation’s most prestigious graduate programs and job opportunities. However, UMD graduates fall short when graduates from other institutions are achieving the prestigious Latin honor titles and UMD graduates are not, simply because of the high GPA threshold. The limited honors acknowledgement for UMD students creates a disadvantage for them amidst these already difficult and competitive processes.
Due to the GPA cutoff to qualify for Latin honors at UMD, I believe the University is neglecting high achieving students by depriving them of the honored distinction. In its current form, UMD’s Latin honors policy is dismissive towards students of high academic excellence and ultimately does an incredible disservice to UMD graduates. Thousands of families and students have paid great sacrifices to attend the University of Maryland - College Park, and as it stands, this high threshold sends a nonverbal message that their academic achievements are not enough to be acknowledged or rewarded.
I believe the University should consider adjusting the University’s Latin honors system and GPA threshold to align more closely with other peer institutions.