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Students Too Uptight


By David W. Brown

The staff's criticism of grade inflation illustrates one of the most annoying facets of the Harvard experience--dealing with uptight, hyper-competitive undergraduates. The reason that some Harvard students seethe about "the mires of grade inflation" is because high achievement by most of the student body robs them of a perverse pleasure that they have grown accustomed to enjoying. That is, many undergraduates cannot feel happy unless they are demonstrating that they are somehow superior to others.

The staff claims that grade inflation hampers "employers who are trying to distinguish among candidates," ignoring obvious measures such as interviews. Their argument is even more ridiculous considering the overwhelming advantages that most Harvard students already have when they decide to enter the workplace or pursue post-graduate studies. Is grade inflation really preventing more Harvard graduates from seizing the best jobs on Wall Street?

One of the explanations for grade inflation is that this student body has become increasingly talented and diverse. When Harvard used to be little more than a finishing school for the sons of New England's old money families, many undergraduates were satisfied with the "gentleman's C."

It is disturbing for a student newspaper to criticize a policy that benefits students. It seems that opponents of grade inflation would like their classes curved around a B- or a even a C. Their hubris prevents them from realizing that if such harsher grading policies were instituted, they would not necessarily benefit.

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