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My Issue With College Grading Systems

Students can get a more well-rounded education if they didn’t have to constantly worry about their GPA. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons

By Edmund Zhen

Published: February 27th, 2019

“I welcome to the world, the graduating class of 2015.”

Like an explosion, an eruption of cheers and laughter shook the auditorium walls. The room started to rain black square caps as endless waves of percussive claps drowned out the sounds of ecstatic students. “I did it,” I thought to myself. “I finally graduated.”

To this day, my mind is emblazoned with the same euphoric feeling when I reminisce about that moment. I remember the specific feeling that vitalized me for what was to come. Prior to my last year in high school, my older friends had described college as one of the best things to ever happen to them. From experiencing giddy exuberant parties to receiving a well-rounded education, their description was surreal. Being the young naive teenager I was, I soaked in every word and expected my college years to be a new epoch in my life that would closely resemble theirs. Fast forward to today, I look back at the years I’ve completed and can only laugh at the stark differences in my initial expectations and my reality.

Discontent wouldn’t be the most fitting word to describe my experiences, but there were a few things I wish I’d done differently. I wish I were a little more daring. I wish I didn’t cocoon myself with people within my own race for the sake of comfort and safety. I wish I didn’t feel so obligated to make tactical decisions to stay in my academic lane and not explore other classes.

I am not saying Brooklyn College doesn’t advocate intellectual expansion, but I find it extremely difficult to pursue a well-rounded education when I have to constantly worry about my GPA after getting one bad grade. For example, if I took an acting class only to discover that I hate it, I would still have to force myself to perform well in order to save my GPA. But how come? Why must I force myself to comprehend something so uninteresting that my quality of work comes out mediocre? Why can’t I have an option where the grading system for the first two years is based on either a pass or fail structure that doesn’t affect our GPA? Wouldn’t that encourage more students to step out of their comfort zone?

In fact, I believe it would give students some breathing room and improve their comprehension skills if they knew that the consequences of getting a mediocre grade won’t cripple them. In today’s world, knowing multiple skills is a must. Having students exposed to different fields not only introduces them to new worlds and ideas, but I also believe it would allow departments to receive more funding as more students would be majoring/minoring in them. But even so, I am aware that this idea has its flaws. The slippery interstices regarding the mechanics of the grading system as well as the eternal political question surrounding how to fund this both pose problems.

Though I am not confident enough to state good solutions where funding can be acquired, I believe that if people truly think in terms of benefits for students, breakthroughs will happen.

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