Harvard students have it easy these days.
In the '20s a student's chances of being placed on the Dean's List were less than one-half of what they are now and the chances of making Group I were less than one-fifth of what they are today.
Last year, the Dean's List included 78 per cent of the student body with 11 percent in Group I, 38 per cent in Group II and 29 per cent in Group III.
Overall grade point averages have been rising over the past 50 years. Reports for Harvard College show that in the '20s, about 20 per cent of the student body was on the Dean's List while the average for the '30s was 26 per cent. Thirty-seven percent made the list for the academic year 1949-50 and 65 per cent for 1967-68.
Group rankings are calculated annually. Group I comprises students with an overall grade point average of at least A minus, Group II at least a B plus average and Group III at least a B minus. The Dean's List includes all students in Groups I, II or III.
Sources contacted yesterday attributed the rise in grade point averages to more liberal grading and an increasingly competitive student body.
Dean K. Whitla, director of the Office of Instructional Research and Evaluation said yesterday Faculty tendencies towards more liberal grading "just came about of their own accord," independently of any University policies.
Barbara L. Norton '38, executive secretary of the Radcliffe alumnae association said yesterday in the '30s "people were not as motivated to seek honors and competition was less intense."
Whitla added that applicant pools have been growing over the years, contributing to an academically stronger student population.
Radcliffe women have always had higher grade point averages than Harvard men. Last year, 80 per cent of women undergraduates were included on the Dean's List with 77 per cent of the male undergraduate population on the list.
University sources yesterday suggested that a more stringent admissions procedure and smaller classes for women may have contributed to their superior academic performance in the past.
Others suggested that women perform better than men academically because they mature earlier and tend to opt for concentrations in the humanities which generally award higher grades than the traditionally male-dominated concentrations such as math and the sciences.
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