I had an honors professor who once told me, “College is your last chance for a merit-based society.” As we all know, once we grow up and go into business, there is no one giving us A’s for stellar achievement. Additionally, many of us, myself included, are academically competitive, striving for a high GPA and success in our classes. For me, success is purely for my own personal happiness, while for others they may get a kick out of getting a higher grade than everyone else in class. The grading curve, which is a method teachers use to inflate grades, is something that can help or hurt many students. I think that many professors use the grading curve, at least an upward curve, to better the grades of the students in their classes, and in a way make themselves look like better teachers. A recent article for The New York Times argued that professors should stop grading on a curve and I agree.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think one of the best bonding experiences in a classroom is when everybody walks into an exam period and there is a comradery in knowing that everyone is going to do poorly and praying that the professor will curve the scores for everyone’s benefit. I do also believe an upward curve benefits everyone without necessarily taking away from anyone. However, when considering that college is the last time that you really get rewarded by merit for how hard you work, I think that students should be able to reap that to the full advantage. In other words, if you worked really hard and did well you should be rewarded with an A and if you didn’t work so hard, your grade should reflect that.
It might seem like a harsh reality, but I think it encompasses the meaning of the rest of college; it is preparing you for the real world in terms of success and failure. I think that if you were to enter a business setting and rely on the people around you who were more driven and worked harder, you might be able to ride on their coattails for a little bit, but after a while it is going to be found out that you’re not a good employee and that could lead to harsh consequences, like getting fired.
Also, I think that not grading on a curve helps students appreciate the material that they’re learning. If you were in a class that you had to study a lot for to do well, you would focus on the material and really try to learn it if you knew it was not going to be curved. I have had friends who don’t study as hard or even at all if they know that the professor will curve the scores of the exams. I feel that falling back on the curve is not conducive to learning. We have all cut corners to make studying and homework easier for ourselves, but I think that not only is it unfair if teachers notoriously curve so students don’t have to worry as much, but I also think that it hurts the students more if they are not taking the exams and quizzes seriously.
I have only been in a few classes at Fairfield that have used a curve when grading tests and I can’t say that it monumentally helped me succeed in the class. Therefore, I don’t see a lot of merit in the grading curve; I think it is a way of cutting corners that really cheats some students out of learning and some professors out of truly teaching.