Dear Class Deans,

Lately, the campus has been abuzz with a topic previously rarely discussed – individual students’ own grades. The catalyst seems to have been lists posted on the Class Deans’ blogs of students with GPAs in the top 10 to 20 percent of their class.

Students at Wesleyan greatly vary in their goals and ambitions, and thus value their GPAs in different ways – ways that are often personal, sometimes private. In the past, students have received private letters of congratulation from Class Deans celebrating their academic achievement, but it’s hard to justify posting a list in public. It may spur competition, but is more competition what we want?

Knowing that small, private liberal arts colleges are frequently accused of grade inflation, it’s hard to see why Wesleyan would want to drive up the average GPA by encouraging students to compete more lustily – or take easier classes. (Not to mention that sophomore CSS majors don’t get letter grades at all, and can therefore never be recognized on this list – whatever happened to the praiseworthy trend toward narrative evaluations?) It seems inimical to Wesleyan’s values of collaboration, community, and learning for learning’s sake to force the quantitative discussion of individual students’ grades into the open. Let us appreciate our education on our own, individual terms, not necessarily as a means of approval from some outside party. Most of us have seen enough of that competitive, grade-grubbing attitude back in high school.


Pincus is a member of the class of 2013.

The following students undersigned this Wespeak:

Hannah Baker ‘14, Julia Black ‘13, Stratton Coffman ‘14, Julia Conrad ‘14, Aria Danaparamita ‘13, Eliza Fisher ‘13, Ari Fishman ‘13, Piers Gelly ‘13, Angela Goldberg ‘14,  Chelsie Green ‘14, Dylan Keegan ‘14, Jesse Ross-Silverman ‘13, Hilary Rappaport ‘13, Mia Rossi ‘14, Zach Schonfeld ‘13, Daniel Fisher ’12, Rosy Capron ‘14.

  • David Lott

    Horrors! Competition! What will we have next?

  • Jared Gimbel

    People who act upon the desire to compete. More so than is healthy for a place which tolerates everything (or has a reputation for such).


  • Law Student

    Wesleyan could use some more competition and rigor.