Cox’s rise in success leads to rise in GPA requirements

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Photo credit: Caroline Sheridan

It’s only the first half of the semester and some first-year students have already had to re-think their future plans due to the rise in GPA requirements to enter the Cox School of Business.

While first-year Chandler Pike is working hard to maintain the new GPA of 3.5 so she can enter Cox, it is not easy.

“Some of my friends will not be able to enter Cox because they can’t maintain a 3.5 so they are already having to come up with a back up plan,” Pike said. “I understand because sometimes it can be difficult to balance school with all of the extracurriculars I want to be involved in.”

 

In early 2016, SMU’s Cox School of Business announced that it would be raising its GPA entrance requirements for the entering class of 2016. What used to be a 3.3 minimum GPA requirement for freshman and first semester sophomore year would now be a 3.5. Along with achieving a 3.5 cumulative GPA in at least 39 credit hours, students would also have to receive a 3.5 GPA in seven core business classes.

Cox is currently ranked #21 according to BusinessWeek and is special because unlike other top business schools, admission is completely objective and every student who meets those requirements will be admitted. There are no other applications or essays required, and as Cox continues to grow in ranking, the amount of people studying in Cox grows as well.

“We didn’t have the resources to meet all of those people’s needs,” director of BBA admissions Hilary McIlvain said. “Quality is extremely important to us and it really just had to do with the number of people continuing to get admitted.”

McIlvain said class sizes were rising beyond the desired 30 to 40 students per class and due to the objective application process, the only factor they could change was the GPA requirement.

Katie O’Brien, a junior accounting major studying in Cox, thinks the higher GPA requirement is a positive change.

“The student to teacher ratio was getting so big,” O’Brien said. “I think it was important to make the change to rein it in and give people the most opportunities as possible.”

O’Brien just accepted an internship this summer at KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms. O’Brien knows what it takes to receive coveted positions in the business world.

“I think people might be frustrated, but when you are looking for jobs and internships you are going to need a high GPA regardless,” O’Brien said. “Requiring people to have a 3.5 in the beginning just puts you in a better position for later on. It also teaches you the time management and work ethic you are going to need to succeed in those jobs.”

Many people say the GPA will be too difficult for first-year students to achieve. Between balancing leaving home, more difficult classes and an active social life, first-year students often have lower GPAs, pulling them up later. Caleb Underwood, a senior finance major, thinks this change is for the best and that the 3.5 GPA is a realistic goal for first-year students.

“Most [students] get lost their freshmen year between trying to figure out how to live away from home and trying to find their direction of studies,” Underwood said. “Raising the GPA admission standard will make freshmen buckle down. They may have to sacrifice a party or two, but in the end, that’s what we’re here for.”

While it may be obtainable, it still has Underwood counting his blessings.

“Personally, I’m just glad I got in at the right time when it was still a 3.3,” Underwood said. “From what I’ve heard, that’s how most upperclassmen feel about the [GPA] raise.”

Cox confirmed there is no plan to raise the GPA to a 3.7 next year, despite rumors that have spread around campus.

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