Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Are there too many A grades given out in college?

My boss keeps telling me I should write a blog about how there are too many A’s being given out in college classes these days.

Paul Lewis Siddoway
I haven't yet taken his advice. Obviously. Until now, kind of.

With the new school year, there comes new students, new classes and new teachers. One of these new professors teaches one of the lower division classes in my major and has declared that his class will be graded harder. He said most kids will get a “C”, the same amount will get a D as will get a B, and very few will get an F or an A.

In statistics, this is normal. Actually, according to all the grading standards I’ve ever heard of, this is normal. I was taught to expect a C if I met the expectations, a B was for exceeding expectations, and an A was for being outstanding.

It seems as though in my grade school days a D was a passing grade. It wasn’t a good thing, but it was acceptable. You got credit. Frankly, I was a B student. That doesn’t really sound that great, but it was 10 or 20 years ago. It was better than most. Now it’s just okay. Now it seems that most people who read and bother to show up for the test can get at least a B. Statistics says that 13.6 percent of people should get a D, and the same should get a B. But things have shifted. Now you don’t pass a class if you get a D.

I don’t disagree with that, but I think that when you raise the bar like that, you shouldn’t lower your expectations for the other grades. Now everyone expects to get an A, where before only about 2.3 percent got an A.

Growing up I was told that college was going to be harder than high school. I think it’s easier to get an A now then it was back then. In fact, after about the 2nd grade the only 4.0 GPA’s I’ve ever had were in college.

Growing up I was told that college was going to prepare me for real life and a big-boy job. Mostly it does, but only because I chose a major with classes that are based more on my skills and that really train me to do my general profession. However, if students had to compete against one another to get good grades, it would be more like real life. If there were only so many openings for graduates, it would make us better. Either that or we would drop out.

Growing up I was told that college was going to expect me to write in cursive. Now everybody types everything, and it mostly looks like cell phone text shorthand.

So there’s my soapbox, and my hope that my boss will stop suggesting the same thing to write about.

Paul Lewis Siddoway

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