Grade Deflation’s End Leaves Students Looking for New Ways to Rationalize Failures

Illustrated by CO '15.
Illustrated by CO ’15.

Princeton students initially greeted the news of a potential end to a decade of grade-deflation policies with celebration, but recently the campus has been downcast, thrown into depression by the creeping realization that, in the absence of grade deflation, students no longer have an easy excuse for their sagging GPAs and inability to secure jobs after graduation and have to start creating their own.

The policy, which recommends restricting 35 percent of the grades given in any class to the A range, has for over a decade provided Princeton students with a cheap and easy excuse for slacking off, missing sleep, or simply not being smart enough. While the policy is much maligned, the recent recommendation of a committee to rescind it has forced students to prepare new and elaborate alibis.

“At first, I was thrilled,” said Jania Correa ’17. “When I heard the news, I was just so hopeful. I thought it would mean an end to unfair B+’s, to explaining why I only got a 3.4 to potential employers, to stressing out about whether I’d be competing against one of my best friends for one of a limited number of A’s in a class. But now that it’s ending, I realize that I have no idea what I’m going to complain about now. Maybe an Illuminati-Freemason conspiracy? Their children all get a free ride to Yale, so they inflate the grades there, right?”

Some students have already begun concocting elaborate fantasy scenarios in which getting A’s is simply impossible.

“I believe the letter A is collective delusion. It does not exist,” declared Obafemi Mba ’15. “Those who receive A’s merely experience the symptoms of the terrible worldwide psychosis. Just uttering the letter will further poison my mind. The only solution is to excise it entirely from my lexicon. From now on, I will be Obfemi Mb.”

Other students have attempted classic, tried-and-true excuses.

“I’m just always late to class; that’s why I didn’t get A’s,” said Maisie Kemp ’16. “Late to every class. It’s just so damn far from Scully to Thomas in the mornings, especially when I can’t walk at more than a snail’s pace because I’m worried about damaging my ACL.”

Sources confirmed that Kemp has no history of knee injuries and habitually ran five miles a day before learning about the new grading policy.

Regardless of the specific strategy used, the new efforts at rationalization appear to inevitably lead to madness.

“I think I’ll go with ‘A dog ate my homework.’ That’s good, isn’t it?” said Lawson Evans ’15, inadvertently marking the founding of a strange and terrible personal fantasy of canine domination: a constant, almost hallucinatory vision of a world not just run by dogs, but made by dogs; a world in which a human cannot possibly receive even the base distinction of full personhood, let alone succeed and get A’s at a school like Princeton…he sees them in the streets now, everywhere, dog heads on human bodies, kibble in the dining halls, a Rottweiler teaching his physics class, the endless barking of arch sings keeping him up at night, their vicious sharp teeth gnawing not just at his Practical Ethics paper but at his brain itself…a terrible fate indeed, but still preferable to admitting that he could have probably bumped up his COS 126 grade a bit if he ever used his computer for anything but League of Legends.

— AKS ’15

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