I was bored and browsing the ephblogs archives when I came across a thread discussing tips at Williams. In this thread, someone mentioned the average gpa, claiming that it was 3.1. This got me to thinking; just what exactly is the average GPA and GPA distribution at Williams?

So far, the only hard numbers I have been able to find have been pre-1999 GPAs. From 1960-1999, the average GPA at Williams increased from a 2.67 to a 3.34. This is a staggering increase until you start considering how much more selective Williams is now than it was in 1960. Probably that doesn’t account for all of the change, but surely it accounts for much. Regardless of this increase, what I am interested in is the current average GPA at Williams; after all, 1999-2007 is a pretty significant period of time.

Looking at the most recent trend (from 1994-1999), it appears that the mean GPA had been holding steady at around 3.3. During the most recently documented period of 6 years, the average GPA has been a B+. Now, that seems astoundingly low; isn’t the average GPA at Harvard and many other elite schools closer to an A-? If, in fact, the average difference in GPA from Harvard to Williams is in the 0.2-0.3 area, than I think that this is a very serious issue that should be addressed…I doubt that even the most calculating of grad schools or employers adjust Williams’ GPAs upwards by that much when compared to Harvard GPAs (I would be surprised if Eph applicants receive any greater boost than Harvard applicants, in fact!). If this is the case, then this is a huge competitive disadvantage for Williams students!

However, 1999 is not today. Does anyone have more recent info on the average Williams GPA? Has it dropped down to 3.1, like the poster on the above linked thread seemed to believe? While Williams has taken measures since 1999 to curtail grade inflation, I doubt that they have been that effective (my guess is that at best they have halted the increase in average grades).

I am also curious if the average grade distribution has changed at Williams. I can report–from some of my 2007 friends–that the Cum Laude cut off was at the very lowest, a 3.6. Does anyone know of anyone who had a lower GPA than that but still was recognized as Cum Laude? What that means is that, according to the most conservative of estimates, 65% of Williams graduated with lower than a 3.6 average. However, if the current average GPA is a 3.3, that would imply that only 15% of the graduating class had between a 3.3 and a 3.6 GPA. My guess is that this percentage is too low, and that probably closer to 30% of the class had between a 3.3 and a 3.6. What does this indicate? It indicates that either the average GPA is above the 3.3 that our most recent data suggests that it is, or the cum laude (top 35% of the class) cut-off is below 3.6 (which the admittedly limited cum laude data we have access to suggests that it is), or some combination of the two.

Basically this thread is a long way of asking if anyone has any more recent information on the subject. I do think this is a worthwhile waste of our time; if Williams has 0.2-0.3 lower average GPA than similarly elite schools, then raising public awareness about this is important.

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