With more than 250 student organizations and programs on campus, students don’t have to look far to find something interesting to get involved in and contribute to the Elon University community. But as the end of February rolls around, involvement doesn’t seem to matter. GPA is the only determinant of students’ housing registration priority.
Elon’s reputation is on the rise, with recognition by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, Institute of International Education and more. Elon’s commitment to enriching students in and out of the classroom is one of the factors that make it really unique.
“An appreciation for cultural diversity, an ethic of service, a strong work ethic, a commitment to civic responsibility and a love of learning” are Elon’s core values, according to Elon’s website. These traits collectively produce educated, inspired and well-rounded graduates.
Student housing in the form of dorms, apartments and off-campus houses help define our community. Because of this, students’ contributions to the Elon and local community should be a factor in determining their housing registration times.
While it is clear and understandable that class year does play a big part in the selection process, Residence Life at Elon would not disclose the exact GPA cutoffs that distinguish between time slots. Beyond seniority, a multifaceted, passionate and active member of the Elon community with a solid but not perfect GPA is deemed inferior to the straight-A student, no matter what the student is or isn’t involved in.
Many students recognize the flaws in this process. One student shared that many of her friends are involved in four or five organizations on campus, but sometimes it seems like that doesn’t matter.
Some students feel that Elon’s housing process leads students to play the system and use other students for their GPA, as housing priority is based on the roommate with the highest GPA rather than the average of all roommates.
The selection process used by Marist College, a New York school of similar size to Elon, seems to be the perfect solution for Elon. Marist uses a “Priority Points” system, designed to “reward the student who excels academically and who contributes productively to the Marist College community.” Points can be distributed based on GPA, involvement in extracurricular activities, disciplinary history, and the condition of their residence area. Rather than basing priority on the highest member of the group living together, Marist uses the average points of all students living together. If Elon adopted this system, then student’s efforts in the community will be rewarded.
The opportunities that Elon offers its students and the passion with which it encourages students to get involved are positively distinguishing factors for the school. It is both unfortunate and surprising that they are not a consideration in the housing selection process.
Further, our school engagement, community involvement and internship experiences may potentially be more valuable in the job market than small differences in GPA. Thomas Brinkley, executive director of Elon’s Student Professional Development Center, noted, “Although some employers do have a firm minimum requirement, GPA alone is often not the sole determining factor for our employers.”
It is clear that students’ top priority is schoolwork, as the main purpose of college is to get a good education. GPA deserves to play a part in differentiating students, but we shouldn’t ignore the bigger picture.
In the “real world,” character can more profoundly shape how we are perceived. The experiences that Elon students embrace to help them learn more about their field, about themselves and about the world around them will matter then, and should not be forgotten now as we choose next year’s housing assignments.