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Why a traditional grading system is a necessary aspect of college

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March 21, 2016

9:33 PM

For some students from universities like Duke University, John Hopkins University and many others, the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SA/UN) Grading System is now available. This grading system allows students who fit in specific requirements to receive satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades in place of conventional grades. The question of whether or not grades matter seems to be debated repeatedly. However, in my opinion, traditional grades are still needed.

The first reason is that there will never be a more efficient grading system than the one we have. I’m an exchange student at the College of William and Mary, and I come from China. The number of graduates in China will reach nearly 7.7 million this year. What method aside from grades can you imagine employers using to select students from such a large pool? I agree that grades can’t perfectly measure students’ intelligence or their personal skills, but their abilities to learn and adapt can be measured through grades.

We are now living in an age defined by technology and globalization, therefore we should be ready to learn new knowledge and new things at any time. High scores mean a higher aptitude for learning, which I think is especially important for modern human beings who spend so much of their time studying. With better study abilities, an individual can better fit in this society. A grading system makes students with high study skills easier to select from a group of applicants.

I agree that grades can’t perfectly measure students’ intelligence or their personal skills, but their abilities to learn and adapt can be measured through grades.

Secondly, grades encourage students to work harder. Harvard University has stated, “We believe that learning is the most important thing that happens in our classrooms.”Thus, helping students learn more effectively is important. Without traditional grades, hard-working students and hard-playing students will have the same grades. What will be the incentive for studying hard? Since there are often many students in one class, studying doesn’t only mean to study hard, but also to devote time to interacting with teachers, finishing relative readings, polishing your homework, and succeeding in exams. Together, all of those things make you a high-scoring student. A 4.0 GPA gives the student motivation to get another 4.0. New grading systems without a function to distinguish between students can only make them slack off equally.

Last but not least, there isn’t any new system that is practical and universal. Even the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (SA/UN) Grading System can only be applied by specific students, such as non-degree seeking students. The grading system still has a long way to go. For now, however, one thing for sure is that we still need traditional grades to keep students striving for success.

Email Han Wang [email protected]

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  • Han Wang