Section: Opinion

Academic culture should promote growth, not competition

Students at larger schools tend to compare GPAs, Kenyon Students thrive without pressure.

Grades aren’t a marker of our success here at Kenyon,  and thank goodness for that. The absence of GPA-obsessed courses lead banter on this campus is extremely beneficial to students; discussing grades isn’t conducive to anything but stress and anxiety.

So, what do grades mean to students at Kenyon? By not talking about grades, does this mean we have lost the ambition that got us to Kenyon? To the contrary, the lack of overt competition over our GPA makes grades here as beneficial to students as they possibly can be.

In conversations with friends, classmates and my uncle (who is a professor), I have concluded there seems to be no consensus on grades’ purpose and value. For some, it’s just a response to the assignment turned in. To others, a good grade is why a student wakes up every morning, why they go the extra mile. To my uncle, grades are indicative of his student’s work then and there. My own professors seem to agree. What you got on the last assignment isn’t indicative of what you’ll get on the next one. Our skills are always improving; continual assessment in our courses lead a student to progress. Without students constantly discussing their grades with each other, there is no one meaning for each grade. Students can come to realize that they are not the “B-” they received on that one essay or exam, and instead can use that “B-” to understand state of their abilities and push themselves to improve.

Compare our academic environment to that of under- graduate institutions where grades are heavily stressed. At these other, larger schools, students frequently compare their grades, which may result in the feeling that their grades define them. This isn’t the case at Kenyon.

Small class sizes allow us to know our professors well, so we can better understand the reasoning behind our grades. Thus, students are better able to understand that grades are a reflection of their abilities at that time and place, and that these factors change. Armed with confidence in their ability to teach, professors know more than anyone else that we will progress.

We are lucky that Kenyon isn’t so grade-sensitive. here, you are not judged by your current grades. We know that your current grades are nothing but current. They can change.

The academic atmosphere allows you to define the importance of grades instead of letting them define you.

Eve Bromberg ’19 is a philosophy major from Brooklyn, N.Y. Contact her at bromberge@kenyon.edu.

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