The University of Texas-Pan American wants its students to know the work they do here counts.
Starting this fall, UTPA will only calculate students' cumulative grade point averages (GPA) using courses taken at the University. Though students will receive credit for courses they've taken elsewhere, grades for those classes will not be included in their GPAs.
Last fall the University stopped allowing transfer grades to replace grades earned at UTPA to raise their GPAs.
The University's academic policies committee has been working on the changes since 2008 in order to assess all of its students equally, said Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa, associate vice president and dean of admissions and enrollment services.
What had been happening at UTPA was students who failed a class would take it again at another institution for a better grade. Accepting grades from outside institutions wasn't fair to students who have taken all their classes at UTPA in calculating cumulative GPAs, Hinojosa said.
"We have been putting our students at a disadvantage," Hinojosa said. "To even the playing field, we need to look at how (students) did at UTPA."
The University is not alone in only using grades earned here in determining cumulative GPAs.
Since the 1980s, universities throughout the country began accepting only credits earned from other places, not grades. The committee conducted its own research and found that only three institutions in Texas include grades from other schools in calculating their GPAs, Hinojosa said.
The result could be higher or lower overall GPAs for students, depending on how well they did on classes at UTPA.
Overall, it looks like students will see no change or higher GPAs, according to University data.
Of the 18,000-plus students at UTPA, about 13,000 will not be impacted by the change in GPA calculation. About 3,000 will see higher GPAs and another 3,000 could see a dip in their cumulative averages, Hinojosa said.
"Those are the students we need to target," Hinojosa said. "Why are they not doing well at UTPA?"
Some students said they didn't expect the calculation change to affect their GPAs, and some said it might translate to higher averages.
"Credit is good enough for me," said Mike Reyes, a senior majoring in computer science and math who plans to graduate in Spring 2011.
Reyes said he understood why the University might want to only count grades for courses taken at this institution.
"There's no guarantee you're getting the same quality of education" at another institution, he said.
For more information, contact the Office of the Registrar at 956/381-2481.