Living on the Curve

There is an urban legend that only few college students today know about. It is said that if your roommate commits suicide then you will get straight A's. Faculty would understand that you are too emotionally distraught and traumatized to really focus on school after losing such a close friend. What is frightening about this urban legend is that some students are actually so competitive that they consider staging their roommate's death. Not all of course, but when you share a room with the curve setter and he is the reason you are getting a getting a C plus in your Microbiology class you start to consider the possibilities.

The curve system is a current favorite in grading systems for college professors. The curving system is not one particular one, but rather individual to each professor's desire. One of the most popular curving styles is letting the top pupil set the standard by which everyone else is graded. If out of a hundred point test the top pupil get an eighty-six then eighty-six becomes the new hundred percent.

If on that same test a different student received a seventy-three then their score would be an eighty-four percent or a B. This system instills an aberrant competitive spirit within students and even friends. The curve setter is automatically ostracized by the group, because their excellence causes others to fail. The norm would be to congratulate someone who does well, but since everyone's failure is tied to the curve setters grand achievements good feeling for them becomes difficult. The curve system sets student against student which disrupts the tradition of class versus teacher.

Class is no longer a place where a student goes to be inspired or enlightened, but the classroom has now become the arena for battle. In survey most students would admit to preferring the curve system, but is what students want really good for them? Students feel like they have a better chance at getting a higher grade, but do higher grades really mean more knowledge retained. Classes graded on a curve only push students to work as hard as the curve setter.

Not every class is going to have a curve setter that receives the hundred out of a hundred points. Students also have to contend with the vicious competition to have the top grade. This stress is mounted upon the already existing stress of needing to study for test and quizzes. The curve system is detrimental to the students' moral and goodwill towards one another. It isn't right that professors turn students against each other and encourage laziness.

Teachers should attempt to inspire enlightenment, passion, and curiosity instead of competition, envy, and dislike.

Arin Trinity
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