An Aside

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I propose a change to Hofstra Law School’s grading format.   If you are not aware of Law School’s mysterious ways, most classes are based upon a single final, which covers all the materials learned throughout the semester. Individual point totals are then compared with each other and a grade is given depending on how one point total fared against all the others. If the Median score is a 40 out of 100, and I receive a 40, I’m most likely getting a B. Now to the meat.

Hofstra’s policy provides a great amount of variations in grades, A, A-, B+, B, B-….etc. To me, the plus-minus distinctions are abitrary and useless in terms of assessing the capability of an individual student. For example, in Contracts, I got one point more than someone else and received a B. That person got a B-. There can’t be a truly objective way to give that extra point. Did I include one sentence extra that may have led to the professor to believe I had a firmer grasp on Contracts? Not likely.

Why create competition founded on arbitrary standards? The atmosphere in Law School is, to put it lightly, uncomfortably tense with competition. The school even posts class rankings down to your individual placement! It can’t feel good to be placed 50 spots below someone who has .2 more in their GPA. Competition is good in certain quantities, but at Law School it forces students to focus more on their grade than what they have actually learned. Other grading methods have been used in the past.

Over the summer, my Attorney-boss, who graduated the Law School at University at Buffalo, explained the grading system he went through. Three levels were available. The best of the class got one grade, the majority another, and the worst of the class another. Basically, Check +, Check, Check-. Something of that variety should be used at Hofstra. I propose an A, B, C. Anyone who gets below a C fails. Instead of having 11 potential grades, my proposal would have 4. Unfortunately, this kind of reform is not likely to occur. The reason? Think money.

On the glorious day I received my acceptance and scholarship from Hofstra Law, there was some fine print that I had to sign off on. To receive my $ 20,000 Merit scholarship, I had to acknowledge that if my GPA fell below a 3.25, there would be no more free money for me. At first glance, a 3.25 doesn’t seem too hard to maintain. After all, the median undergrad GPA for incoming Hofstra law students is circa 3.5. This 3.25 benchmark serves as a an efficient, convenient way to shape fiscal policy for the Law School. The latter knows(because of the curve system) the exact(or damn well close) number of students that will fall below the line. With a 4 grade system, it would be harder to justify who gets to keep their scholarship and who doesn’t. If the majority of the class got one simple grade, then what? A difficult enterprise. Nonetheless, the financial standing of Law School should not trump a fairer, less arbitrary evaluation process.

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