site stats WhizGidget Wonders...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Striving For Mediocrity...
...Apparently that's what Stanford law students are going to be doing now because having people who are high achievers or over achievers is unfair.

Stanford Law School has dropped the letter grade in the interest of saving the sanity of law students and encouraging them to take more challenging courses. Oh, and that they're there to learn for the sake of learning instead of worrying about hard professors.

Excuse me? Learning for the sake of learning? If that's the case, then they should do away with the LSAT too, and I'll head there for the sake of learning. But I'm not too keen on the new grading system which would be pretty much a sophisticated version of pass/fail. Honors, pass, restricted credit and no credit are the categories. Excuse me? If I'm going to dump a whole bunch of money in order to get an advanced degree, I want to know that I've got an A or a B and not some anomalous description of how I did.

Yale has already made this change a few years ago; Harvard still has letter grades. It doesn't surprise me that Berkeley got rid of letter grades ages ago - they always do strange things that are against convention.

But how does a student with a transcript filled with Honors and Pass get a job? Especially something really elite? Well, apparently it's the Stanford name and reputation that will get them the job that they are after. At least that's what Stanford is implying with their statements about the change. That's the same thing that Yale has been saying too - after all, it's Yale. If you've come here and graduated then you *must* be good. And students who attend those schools are motivated to work hard in the first place.

Sure, you're in graduate school or some advanced degree program - most of the people there are motivated to work hard and get the degree. They're not there to screw around, like some are in college right out of high school.

I was a good student in high school and college. Straight A student in high school. Well, mostly. I did have a run in with a B in algebra in my freshman year and that's because I worked hard and did all the extra credit and spent lunch time with the teacher going over concepts because algebra was hard. Thankfully I remembered all of it in order to ace trig my junior year and manage calculus in college.

College grades were even more important to me, and the classes were harder. Granted, I didn't get straight A's. I came out with a pretty good average - lots of A's and B's and I think one C got in there. That was my own doing though - I took the hardest professors I could find for all my courses. I *wanted* to be challenged. I wanted to learn something from them. I was there to work and to learn.

The same thing that Stanford and Yale said - the students are there to work and to learn. But the best barometer of that while you're still there is how you're doing on tests and discussions and letter grades are what we're coached to believe in and trained to be accustomed to from middle school. Now you want to take that away from students? Especially law students who live and die by their grades?

Isn't law school hard enough without taking away a crutch like the glory of getting an A on something that was particularly difficult?

By passing, they're striving to be mediocre instead of a high achiever. Since when is high achievement a bad thing for students? For anyone? Society has really rallied around bolstering those kids who aren't doing as well as everyone else. Academic achievement awards at schools recognize the children who are getting as low as a 3.0 instead of the high achievers who have 3.75 and up for a GPA. I know that pushing children to get high grades at young ages can lead to them putting more pressure on themselves, stressing them out, and leading to bad behaviors in other areas of their lives. Parents need to teach balance and encourage children to do their best and to strive for those high grades - and not be disappointed in a couple of B+'s scattered in with the A's.

I just find it strange that students are supposed to take to this new grading system easily. A scant tenth of a percent can exist between an A- and a B+ on a standard grading scale. But if I get Honors would that be that B+ that's a tenth off? Apparently not. Honors would be A students. Pass has not been defined completely yet, which means Pass could be the whole range of B's and C's.

That's not cool. I would want to know by how much I passed by. Did I get a C? Did I get a B? And how close was that B to an A? Did I do my best, or did I do just enough to pass? There's no word on whether you're still going to know percentages over all when you get your grades, but I suspect that some of the more anal students are going to calculate them out and there will be an underground letter grade system running for those who want to be categorized as an A student.

I sure would join that underground. Darn it, I want that letter grade. Color me anal and high achieving and one of those students that makes other students look bad on the standard grading scale and really makes them want you dead on a curved scale. I want to know that I earned an A or an B- or some other letter of the alphabet. Either way me health is in danger - from other students wishing me dead because I got straight A's and ruined the curve...

...or because I'm deathly allergic to the letter F.