Phi Beta Cons

Grade Inflation Isn’t Everywhere

The subject of grade inflation has been hot recently, and I just received this e-mail from a reader:

I’ve been reading Phi Beta Cons since it started and love what you guys are doing there, but wanted to comment in particular on the topic of grade inflation. Our founder (Claude Comair) has always given us a clear direction with the quote “we do not reward effort — we reward results.” There have been core classes at DigiPen where half the class received a failing grade (yes, the students were mad, but the administration backed the faculty). No student has ever made it through DigiPen with a 4.0 GPA overall. The most popular instructors are also the hardest instructors. We warn prospective students that the first thing they will have to do when they get to DigiPen is to stop playing games (they will not have time because their courses are so demanding).


As a result, our graduates are highly sought after by companies like Microsoft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Valve, Bungie, etc. (Microsoft puts our graduates in the same category as those from MIT). Those kinds of results would never be possible if we compromised on grades, and the entire school is clear about this. That high standard is the product we are selling — colleges that allow grade inflation are destroying the only thing of real value they have to offer. However, pleasing weak students through grade inflation is the natural state any school will fall into if it does not have clear, consistent direction from the head of the school that hard classes and high standards are the entire point of the school. The first question that should be put to any new college president is “How will you maintain and increase the educational standards of this institution?” Everything else is secondary.


Thanks for your time,

Benjamin Ellinger

Well, thanks to you, Mr. Ellinger — not just for the nice words about PBC, but also for standing firm against the destructive entitlement mentality.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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