Is college becoming too easy?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot. I recently saw the statistic that As make up 43% of college letter grades. This is surprisingly high, especially considering it was 15% in 1960.
Sure, grades are only one measure of success, and grade inflation doesn’t necessarily mean that school is getting easier: Students might just be receiving higher grades for the same work. But given my college experiences so far, I’m not surprised that students are doing better, or at least being graded as if they are.
This term, I had one professor who allowed students to retake a test, and then she curved the makeup, mostly because students complained about their grades. While professors’ expectations are sometimes too high, this was a straightforward exam: It was multiple choice and based on the class readings and lectures.
So why did so many students fail? It’s a large lecture class, and on a good day, 70% of the class shows up. From an informal poll of my friends and classmates, less than half of them brought the textbook. I don’t want to know how few students studied for the test.
What did all of this laziness lead to? A higher percentage of students getting As on the test. I was even surprised that my 92%, an A minus I was proud of, was curved to 100%.
Of course, it is easy to put the blame on professors; they are the one giving out grades. Although most professors wouldn’t be so lenient, it seems that there is an overall trend of professors being too nice to students.
A relaxed relationship between students and professors should be encouraged: Being able to meet for a casual coffee and drop the “Professor” or “Doctor” is refreshing. But has it gone too far?
People always say you should take your education into your own hands, but it seems that students are becoming too reliant on the goodwill of professors to get that A.
My friends and classmates often comment on the fact that I work too hard in school. But for me, “working hard” means going to class, doing the homework and studying for tests — nothing revolutionary. It’s frustrating to be the smart friend who people turn to at the last minute to explain the whole entire term before the final, but that has become the norm.
This makes me nervous for my generation. Often, I’m hesitant to label Millennials as lazy bums whose post-college plans are moving back home and working the same dead-end job they did in high school. While some of this is true, (about a third of 18- to 34-year-olds live at home), Millennials are graduating with an unprecedented level of college debt (almost $30,000) and no longer have the same job opportunities: 16.3% are unemployed.
While some might argue that this is no different than previous generations, what might be even more startling than changes in grade distribution is the fact that over the past 28 years, college tuition has increased 538 percent.
Consequently, students are facing more stress than previous generations. I have friends who work three jobs to pay for college while also juggling classes, sleep and an occasional social life. So it’s not shocking when they don’t have the time to do homework. But ironically, it is these friends who are most often “academic overachievers” like me.
I hate to admit it, but almost halfway done with college, I’ve seen the stereotype of the lazy college student proven to be true, and worse, it seems like it’s being rewarded. Even though college is becoming more expensive, for many, going to school is no longer viewed as a privilege. It’s viewed as a right.
Arguably, there is no point in working hard in college when that work won’t be paid off with a post-graduation dream job. But if students think they can half-ass their way through college, they will be thoroughly unprepared for the “real world,” where you can’t sleep through lecture and do the homework five minutes before class.
Of course, not every student is this lazy, just as not every professor gives most students A grades. But I sometimes wonder how many students really put in the work.
In her class presentations, an infamous journalism professor scares undergraduates by saying that 10 percent of them will get a job in the field after they graduate. While I usually roll my eyes at this, I wonder how much of this low percentage is due to the job market and how much is student motivation. Journalism is not the easiest field to get a job in— just see “Employment Rates are Improving for Everyone But Journalism Majors.” But what can we as college students do to change this?
While Millennials can’t go back and change the current economic and job market created by our parents’ generation, that doesn’t mean we should be content barely passing classes. Besides learning for learning’s sake, which is a powerful idea, it is still easier to get a job with a college degree.
It’s inevitable to feel the stress of getting that first job after graduation. But that doesn’t mean you should slack off in college. College is unique because it’s one of the few opportunities people have to take chances and make mistakes with few consequences. Instead of exploiting the forgiving nature of higher education, more students should take it as a challenge to succeed.
Hey, they might just learn something.