Culture

Johns Hopkins Students Claim Giving Freshmen Letter Grades Will Cause a Mental-Health Crisis

Students claim the consequences will be ‘dire.’

Students at Johns Hopkins University are protesting the school’s plan to start giving actual letter grades to first-semester students — claiming that freshmen having to receive letter grades would create a mental-health crisis on campus far too severe for the school’s resources to handle.  

For decades, Johns Hopkins has concealed students’ first-semester letter grades — marking their performance in these classes as simply having been either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” — from potential employers and graduate schools.

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, however, the school has since decided that this policy might be encouraging too many students to take their first semester less than seriously (um, ya think?!) and that it therefore plans to change it beginning in 2017.

Now, you might think that giving grades for schoolwork seems like a reasonable thing for this school to do . . . but many of its students dont see it that way. In fact, the Sun reports that more than 20 student groups are protesting the change — arguing that not only would it cause widespread mental breakdowns, but also that, according to some groups such as the Black Student Union, it would be particularly unfair to minority students, because they often “must experience racial discrimination combined with difficult classes that some of their previous schools might not have properly prepared them for.”

To fight this evil, students launched an effort called #ReCoverHopkins, releasing a report warning the administration of the dire consequences if they dared to go ahead with the policy change:

If you continue to scoff at the idea of your graduates feeling like they have survived a “cutthroat,” “sink or swim” environment . . . if you continue to ignore that mental health and academics are intrinsically related, if you continue to put your perceived reputation above the dire needs of your students . . . if you continue to ignore that your own policies, inaction, and pride are the source of deteriorating health on campus while removing what few Band-Aids exist to mitigate the issue,

(Then, in big bold letters:)

Johns Hopkins University will be responsible for pushing the world’s brightest and most promising young scholars to feel worthless, unsupported, and pressurized to the point of breaking for four years only to deny the full source of the issue, remove care, and dismiss calls for help.

You know what, kids? How about this: Get a grip. I mean, seriously — the fact that you used the word “dire” here is insane. We’re talking about studying at an elite private college, not about storming the beaches of Normandy to fight the Nazis, which, by the way, is what many of your great-grandfathers were doing when they were your age.

#related#Yes, it may take some students more time to adjust to life at college, and the difficulty of that transition might be reflected in those students’ first semester grades. But so what? Those are the grades that those students earned. That’s not unfair; that’s reality. What is unfair is that, under the covered grade policy, a first-semester student who achieved an “A” in a course will have the exact same designation on his or her transcript as a student who received a “C.”

Having to receive letter grades is not a traumatic experience, it’s a normal one, and any potential students who think they can’t handle it should really just go somewhere else.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online. 

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