Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nickels and Dimes!

Shel Silverstein was a great poet and philosopher (at least I think so!), and one of his best poems is entitled Smart:


My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!

And then i took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes-i guess he don't know
that three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And i took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
and the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then i went and showed my dad,
and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head-
Too proud of me to speak!

Why am I referencing this poem? To talk about grades and our self-reported grade form of course!

When you are comparing something, whether it is coins or grades, you have to make sure you are looking at things the right way. Just as one coin does not automatically equal another coin, one grade does not automatically equal another. When you look at a coin's worth, you need to look at the overall equivalency of it as compared to other coins. In the same way, you need to (at times) look at grades in regards to value.

At some high schools, grades on a transcript are given in multiple format types (semester and block grades are the most common). If you have one nickel and one dime, that 1 to 1 ratio does not mean equality. You are better off looking at it as 1 nickel and a coin worth 2 nickels (the dime). In the same thought, if you have 1 semester grade of an A, and 1 year-long full credit block grade of a B, that does not mean these two grades are equal. A year-long block grade is worth 2 semester grades. As such, you would have 1 semester grade of an A, and 2 B's in semester worth grades (1 full credit block grade converts to 2 semester .5 credit grades). So your grades would be 1 A and 2 B's worth of semester grades. If you want, grab a nickel and a dime, and mark the nickel with an A, and the dime with a B to better grasp this issue. As my accountant father would say in math terms, you want to work from a common denominator.

So when looking at your grades (and your money), make sure you are dealing with things in an equivalent way. In addition, when you enter your grades into the self-reported grade report (and this is explained there as well along with pictures), make sure you are using the lowest common denominator. We usually only see this with semester and block grades, so if you are at a school with only one grading type, you will not need to worry about this.

I hope this was educational and not too confusing!

Go Dawgs!


  1. My daughter's school used semester grades for 9-10 and then switched to year long grades when she was 11th grade. The semester grades are reported as .5 credits and the year long as 1.0 credits, is the self-reporting form going to make it easy to distinguish this type of grading system?

  2. Anon: The self-reported grade system makes it easy to enter in these grades as long as your daughter follows the instructions. Here is an example: Your daughter has five semester grades, all A's, and 2 year-long grades, 1 being an A, one being a B. As I said in the Nickel and Dime example, each year grade (the dime) is equal to 2 semester grades (the nickel), so her year-long grades would become two A's and 2 B's when converted to semester grades. She then would have 7 A's in semester grades (5+2), and 2 B's in semester grades.

    As I said, most schools use only one grading system, but for those that use multiple ones, this is how you would do it. And just so everyone knows, this is actually how we have to do it in our office.

  3. If my school gives out grades by semester, but also has a final grade, which one should I use?

  4. Anon: Good question, and one that I will answer and is also answered on the form. We only use the actual class grades, so we would use the semester grades only (or if it was trimesters or quarters or whatever, we would still only use the term grades). The term grades are the actual grades, while the final grade is generally an average of the terms. Again, we look at the term grades, so go with these.

  5. Clarification please. Algebra I and Spanish I taken in the 8th grade should or should not be reported? Both appear on the high school transcript.

  6. Anon: We receive some high school transcripts that list courses from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and I definitely do not want this. For the self-reported grades, we are asking only for coursework taken from 9-12 grades. We will still require an official transcript, and we will be able to see all that is on the transcript. But there are too many variables as to what 8th grade courses might count or might not to make for an easy form, so we only want your 9th-12th grade grades on the self-reported grade form.

  7. What is the criteria for Regents Waivers? Are they only given with other UGA scholarships?

  8. Hello. I see that you add a .5 weighting to AP/IB courses. Do you add any weighting for joint enrollment courses taken at a university other than UGA? Thanks.

  9. Anon: Regents waivers are given out only with UGA scholarships, and there are no specific cut points (but it is very competitive).

    Anon II: No, weight is not added for dual enrollment classes, although these classes are viewed as a part of the rigor of a student's curriculum.

  10. Hello DGraves,
    I have a question about the admissions process. I am currently a senior in high school applying for Fall 2011. When do you think the applications for First-Year Admissions will be available? (I plan on applying EA)
    Also, for the counselor evaluation form, does the form need to be mailed to UGA, or submitted electronically? I was wondering because I know the application itself must be electronically submitted.

    Thank you! I'm looking forward to applying to UGA!

  11. Meredith: I will be posting something this afternoon about the freshman application, so keep a watch on the blog. As for the school evaluation form, it is easier for both our office and the high school counseling office to do it online, but we will still have a printable pdf for both the counselor form and the teacher rec.

  12. DGraves,

    I have spent hours on this trying to figure out exactly what to put for this Self-reporting Grades section. At my school, everyone is on the semester block schedule. However, once you get into 11th/12th grade IB courses, we IB students go on the full year alternating day block schedule. The classes are technically the same amount of time, but appear differently on the transcript. Both semester and full year courses show as 1 credit on the transcript, but they show as Full Year or Semester to distinguish.
    Currently, I am following the rule that the full year courses count as 2 semester grades. Is this how it should be done, or should I count them all as single grades?
    Also, in the following question, it asks how many grades in the chart are AP/IB. I am in the full IB program and took last year (and am still taking this year) 6 full year IB courses plus 1 semester TOK course. So, I selected that 13 of the above grades were AP/IB. In the next question, however, it asks how many full year AP/IB courses I will have taken by the end of this year. So, I would then count my full-year IB courses as one course, so 6 full year courses each year in 11th and 12th grade plus 2 one semester TOK classes equals 13 full year classes. To me, this makes it look as if I am not taking any IB courses this year even though I am taking the maximum. Do I have these correct or should I change them?
    I want to make sure I do the application correctly so that there are no issues.

    Thank you very much.

  13. John Doe: It sounds like your school has some odd issues in reporting their grades, as I am confused and I thought I had seen everything. Here is what I would say. If the lowest common denominator is the semester, then convert everything to semester. In other words, count each semester grade once, and each full-year block grade twice.

    As for the AP/IB information, It looks correct that 13 of the grades fall into this category, so that is correct. This section is used for adding the .5 weight to any AP/IB grade. The next question is so that UGA can get a common answer from everyone to get an understanding of how many AP/IB courses you have taken as a whole. While you may think it looks odd, it does not to us, as these are two different questions, and are looked at differently. Generally, an IB student will take 12-16 IB courses during their 11th and 12 grade year, so it looks like you did it right.

    Think about it this way; there are two students who have taken 3 AP courses so far, and will be taking another 2 their senior year. Student A is on the quarter system, and Student B is on the block system. Student A will have roughly 60 quarter grades from their 9-11th grade years, with 12 of them being AP grades. Student B will have 15 block grades, with 3 of them being AP grades. Both of these sets of numbers are equal, (12/60 and 3/15), just stated in a different way. But both are taking 5 total AP courses through 4 years, which is why we ask the second question.

    Wow, that was long, but then again, so was your question.

  14. Dgraves,
    Yes, the scheduling is a little complicated. They just started the IB program at my school 4 years ago, so they are still smoothing some things out.

    Thank you very much for your help. Sorry my question was so long, but I wanted to make sure I was doing the application correct.

  15. Can you please explain this to me:
    So, my school adds 10 points for AP courses. So, when UGA calculates GPA, a 92 from my school will show up as a 102. Since weight has obviously already been added to this grade, UGA won't add any weight to it (this is what I understood after reading some posts on your blog). So, I won't be able to get above a 4.0 because UGA will not add the usual .5 they do to my GPA for AP classes? Does this mean I will have no chance at the honors program b/c my UGA GPA will not be able to go over 4.0?

  16. Hammad: The Honors program does not require a specific GPA to be admitted, as you are most likely looking at their average GPA, not the mid-range (and even the range does not give you every student admitted). Your chance for admission to the Honors program is based on your overall academics as well as your application to the Honors program.