There comes a time in one’s collegiate life where the realization sets in — learning is not the most important part of college. While the administration and faculty preach about the analytical and problem-solving skills that come with a liberal education, students come to realize that attaining a higher grade point average is far more advantageous. While the two can coexist, one is far more valuable than the other.
The responsibility of the university administration is to best prepare their students for success in the next phase of their lives, whether it be in further education or the workforce. This is undoubtedly achieved through allowing students to learn while earning their highest possible grade, and this is where the administration has strayed.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, Miami decided to remove student access to course grade distributions. The original reason behind removing access was due to privacy concerns, but that assertion is simply ridiculous. In classes where there are over 20 students, there is no conceivable manner in which a particular student’s grade can be deduced.
The distributions allowed students to decide which courses best suit their intellectual and academic interests. They provided the courses that were taught by each professor and how many students achieved each grade, culminating in an aggregate grade point average. In total, it provided greater information for students to become informed about the courses being offered.
The counter argument to releasing the distributions is that students will avoid courses, and professors, where other students have not performed well, and taking that action is precisely within the student’s best interest. It has not been demonstrated that in courses that provide many professors teaching the subject there is a greater amount of learning in classes where grades tend to be lower. In many cases, the low average is due to an antiquated view of academic procedure where only a certain number of each grade can be earned, or the professor simply not teaching well. Under which circumstances is it within the best interest of the student body to take classes that are unnecessarily hard?
There is also a recognition that many courses and subjects are very difficult, and that is reflected in the grade distribution charts. In many classes there are more failing grades than A’s or B’s, and that is understandable. What cannot be understood is classes in which the average of one section is far greater than that of another. There are few, if any, legitimate reasons for the discrepancy.
Viewed pragmatically, it appears the university is attempting to hide information that would divert many students from taking classes from certain professors. But what they are really accomplishing is putting some students at an advantage over others. There are many students who still have access to the distributions, all of which were previously downloadable. Since the fall of 2016, which was the last distribution that was made available, few courses and professors have changed. The students who still have access to the distribution are able to choose courses and professors fully informed, giving them a considerable advantage over other students.
The administration has taken an implicit view that the student body as a whole will seek out the easiest classes and avoid classes where the grading is less “generous.” In reality, what they are achieving is taking individual choice away from the students under pretenses that have not been proven to be true.
Further, when applying for employment or graduate school, the two most important factors are grade point average and standardized test scores. If Miami does not provide full transparency to students regarding the realities of certain classes, they are putting the student’s future in a precarious situation.
Miami should re-release grade distributions to the student body. They have taken decision-making power away from us over matters that should be solely within the discretion of each student. They have forced their preconceived notions onto each student within the university, when simply allowing for a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding one’s education is in no manner harmful to Miami’s integrity. They have unnecessarily put students, especially freshman, into a precarious situation of being disadvantaged from many of their peers. The remedy for this is clear — the grade distributions should be released to students before the start of the upcoming academic year.