GPA prediction season is here.
Everybody from the IST building to Redifer Commons will be on eLion’s unfortunately useful little tool running the numbers trying to figure out the amount of effort they need to give to achieve their desired GPA for the semester.
Every scenario will be run; from the doomsday, not even take my finals scenario, to the, what would have happened if I decided to put in more effort this semester and pulled of the ever coveted 4.0?
The culmination of our semester, really our entire academic careers come down to this two-digit number.
At least it’s supposed to be two digits. All the jobs we will apply for have minimum requirements.
The graduate schools we try to get in to discriminate based off of this number.
Our future earnings potential are directly affected by this number.
Is this what academia is supposed to be?
Does this obsession and devotion over our grades represent a well rounded education of higher learning?
All of this feeds into an idea I’ve had for electives at Penn State ever since I have been here.
Most programs at Penn State require at least 120 credits to graduate, with 20 of those credits coming from elective courses.
Courses that don’t contribute to any other specific degree requirement so that students are at free will to take whatever courses they want, ideally a subject matter that interests them that they would not normally take because of their other requirements.
But in my experience I find this typically is not how the elective credits are utilized. Instead of trying to make yourself a well-rounded scholar, it is not only easier, but much more beneficial to find the easiest opposed to the most fulfilling classes available.
They are 20 credits that most view as free A’s contributing to artificially boost their GPA.
Instead, why don’t we have our credits that are designated for electives not count toward our GPA or just be graded on a pass/fail basis?
Students would still have to take the required 20 credits but would have more free will to choose classes we actually want to take.
Students can opt to pursue topics that have piqued their interest before but have strayed away from due to the fear of slipping academic standing. Sure it is easy to say, “Well, if they’re interested in it why wouldn’t they get an ‘A’ anyway?” Well maybe it’s an esoteric topic they haven’t delved into before or a student has to focus more on their larger major courses that semester.
I, for one, would love to learn more about theoretical astrophysics or ancient eastern Asian cultures, but it is so much easier to take a course dealing with the history of rock ‘n roll.
I don’t feel like I am a better student because I have gone through the motions taking a random online course when I could have been expanding my horizons and becoming a better citizen of the world.
Academia has used the same method of evaluation for years now without evolving much.
Technology, sports, civil rights, just about everything you can name experiences an aspect of growth.
Why can’t grading change as well?
Tim Wessel is a senior majoring in a finance and is The Daily Collegian’s Thursday columnist. His email is email@example.com.