Where all the kids are above average

No, not Lake Woebegon, but Harvard, where the Crimson reports the median undergraduate grade is A-, and:

The most frequently awarded mark is an A, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris said on Tuesday afternoon, supporting suspicions that the College employs a softer grading standard than many of its peer institutions.

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    An A doesn't mean above average.

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    It means "excellent," or in subjects where more quantitative scoring is possible, near 100% performance on testing. There's nothing particularly wrong with a majority of people doing excellently in a class: it should be the goal, and in a school with highly selective admissions it shouldn't even be all that hard a goal to aspire towards.

    "Where all the kids are above

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    "Where all the kids are above average" is a reference to Prairie Home Companion. The joke, both here and in the program, is that it's impossible for everyone to be above average since that would just raise the average higher.

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    There's nothing particularly

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    There's nothing particularly wrong with a majority of people doing excellently in a class: it should be the goal, and in a school with highly selective admissions it shouldn't even be all that hard a goal to aspire towards.

    Yeah, if students lived in a vacuum. Poor academic performance is so often not linked to how intelligent someone may or may not be. Stress, depression, homesickness, illness, disrupted sleeping schedules, immaturity, inability to manage time, and maybe a major that isn't right for the student are much greater factors in my opinion. Having everyone in a class succeed at perceivably the same exact level is not realistic.

    maybe the college kids, but

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    maybe the college kids, but the Harvard GSD awards "Fail, Low Pass, Pass, High Pass, and Pass with Distinction", with the median being somewhere between pass and high pass.

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    they're 2

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    distinctly different institutions under the same umbrella...

    Yep, one gives degrees in

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    Yep, one gives degrees in actual subjects the other a certificate in bullshit.

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    I work at an institution

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    I work at an institution closely affiliated with Harvard, and one of the perks of the job is the opportunity to take courses for free. In the last ten years or so I have taken Harvard courses in physics, astronomy, mathematics and computer science.

    There is no grade inflation going on in those departments. The courses are brutal, and I only take one at a time. I have utmost respect for any student earning a degree in those disciplines.

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    I was a Math major

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    at UMass/Amherst and you're darned right about lack of grade inflation in those fields.

    I remember being in a class where the average on an exam was 60 and the professor didn't grade on a curve. He told us not to worry. If we got As on the final, we could still get a C in the class. There were only two exams in the class, no homework grade, no participation, no quizzes.

    Yours truly took it as a personal challenge and got a 98 on the final. I cried tears of joy when I saw that C. I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a grade in my life. Maybe that's what's missing these days - a sense of pride that comes from knowing that your hard work earned you the grade you deserve even if it's a C.

    Side Note: Suldog is the resident math genius here. The algorithm he used to solve the "visit every T stop in one day with a minimum number of fares" is something I struggled with in grad school.

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