Are College Students Paying for A’s?

Apparently if you want to get all A’s, go to Harvard.

Of course that’s easier said than done. This year Harvard admitted 5.8% of it’s applicants (2,029 students admitted from 35,023 applicants). Just shy of 10% of all applicants (3,400) were ranked first in their high school class. That means over 1,300 students who ranked first in their high school class did NOT have what it takes to get into Harvard. So it is a pretty elite group of young adults that get to claim Harvard as their alma mater.

In terms of grades then, is it that the students who do get in are so smart they all earn legitimate A’s? Or, are the professors more generous assuming the students are all worthy of A’s just by virtue of being accepted? I suppose it’s impossible to know unless you’re one of those Harvard professors doling out the A’s.

Either way, at Harvard everything is coming up A’s.

The median grade given to undergraduates is an A-, and the most frequent grade is an A. There’s no doubt students who get into Harvard are smart, however, some say this is further evidence of the “creeping ivy of grade inflation.” Or, suggests the students are buying A’s at the cost of $55,000 a year.

This also throws into question the purpose of college.

Is it to buy your way into a successful career after graduation? Or, is it to learn? With the rising cost of college tuition, it may just be the former. After all, anyone investing $200,000 plus in their education is going to be looking for a return on that investment.

I fear the focus on learning is being lost in the competitive nature of our society.

As I wrote in Breaking the Spell, the entire focus of high school is getting into college. I often have conversations with my daughter, who is in graduate school, about remembering that it’s more important to learn the material so she will be prepared to do her job when she graduates, than it is to get all A’s. But that’s not the message being drilled into students.

From the time students are young, the focus is on grades and competition.

I just wonder at what cost. What is the emotional and mental cost to the first-in-class high schoolers that get rejection letters? What does it say when being number one, and having a 5.0 grade point average still isn’t regarded as enough?




About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

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