Not All Students Come With Straight A's


I am writing in response to Thursday night's forum (3/11/93) at the Institute of Politics on grade inflation. In particular, I am reacting to a comment made by panelist Dianne Reeder '93. Speaking in support of grade deflation, Reeder quipped that Harvard students, quite accustomed to getting 100 percent straight A's in high school, are unhappy with only 70 percent A's at Harvard.

Although both the "evils" of grade inflation and Reeder's estimation that most Harvard students receive anywhere close to 70 percent A's are questionable, it is her more general assumption that all Harvard students arrive in Cambridge with straight A's that worries me.

As a member of the Crimson Key Society, I take particular issue with Reeder. Crimson Key Society works very hard to dispel the stereotypes about the "typical" Harvard student. I feel strongly that there is no typical Harvard student. If a prospective student leaves an admissions tour learning nothing else, s/he has learned that there is no formula, no minimum criterion for a Harvard student.

Grades, be they course grades or standardized test scores, are one of many measures of a student's worth. I can say with certaintly that I was neither unprepared for Harvard academics nor am I in the minority having come to Harvard without straight A's in high school. While academic excellence is perhaps the one common denominator among Harvard students, to reduce excellence to straight A's is both indiscriminate and inaccurate. I was disappointed by Reeder's interest in advancing her side of the argument at the expense of Harvard's reputation for diversity of all interests and abilities. Eryn E. Ament '95   Crimson Key Society