Interesting Editorial on Brown's Grading

<p>I stumbled upon this editorial in the Brown Daily Herald yesterday concerning Brown's grading (specifically, the lack of a plus/minus). I don't necessarily agree entirely, especially from a practical standpoint, since I know people who put less work into their classes, knowing that there's no difference between a 90% and a 100% as far as their transcript is concerned, but I think it's important for prospective students to see this article and its view.</p>

<p>The</a> Brown Daily Herald - Scott Lowenstein '10: A is for 'about'</p>

<p>i don't take many writers seriously who start their essays with "as a generally neurotic person"</p>

<p>Not sure whether this post really fits with this thread, but I don't want to start a whole new discussion.</p>

<p>Brown has the reputation as the "Easy A School:" take ridiculous classes in whatever field you want, do whatever, and still get an A. And if it's still too hard, take it S/NC. It's the antithesis to Chicago, Swat, and all those other schools known for grade deflation, where anywhere else it would be an A.</p>

<p>Sure, we have grade inflation at Brown, and the lack of pluses and minuses make differences within (and between) grades very blurry. If Person 1 and Person 2 take the same class and both receive A's, was their performance comparable? Or was one an exemplary student and the other had a B+ that was bumped up to an A? We can't know, but, as modestmelody and countless others have explained, there is a logic and a philosophy behind Brown's grading system, and it is what it is.</p>

<p>That doesn't mean that Brown is easy. As a science major, I think Brown is challenging (and I went to one of the top private schools in New England). While I've had some busywork, most of my assignments forced me to think in ways I hadn't before. Some of the work was just difficult. My friends in Orgo and CS (computer science) struggled for hours over their work, trying to wrap their heads around problems and projects. It's not uncommon to pull all-nighters, and procrastination isn't always the culprit.</p>

<p>And we don't always get A's. Many science classes are graded on a curve, where there isn't an A for effort. If we want A's, we have to work really hard and/or have a natural ability in the field. Help is always available, but your friends, TA's, and professors can't do all the work for you, especially in departments with strict collaboration policies.</p>

<p>Humanities aren't always a cinch, either. There are plenty of difficult humanities courses (history, philosophy, for instance); sometimes because the material is complicated, and sometimes because the professors are hard graders. And, as with anything, if you're not naturally talented and aren't willing to put in the effort, you may not do well. There may be more grade inflation in the humanities, but the trend isn't representative of all the courses.</p>

<p>And even when there is grade inflation, be it humanities or sciences, it's not proof that you actually know your stuff.</p>

<p>My friend in Literary Arts put it well: "You can BS your way around in humanities classes, but to write really good stuff, you have to put in the effort. To earn respect as a good writer or thinker, you need to prove it; it's not enough to get an A because sometimes it's not that hard to do that."</p>

<p>Just some thoughts.</p>

<p>^Brown considers History to be a Social Science. The humanities in general have <em>insane</em> grade inflation. The social sciences and sciences, not so much (though more than the schools known for grade deflation).</p>

And even when there is grade inflation, be it humanities or sciences, it's not proof that you actually know your stuff.


I don't think this can be stressed enough. There's more to things than the letters on your transcript. And if one does get As while not understanding the material, one's employer or med school or grad school etc. will quickly figure it out, and you won't be any better off in the end.</p>