Grade Creep

Especially in the last decade colleges have become biased toward giving higher grades for poorer results. For a trigonometry test several semesters back, I ended up with 30 bonus points for acing the advance quizzes. While I got a modest 84 on the test, this turned into a mighty 114 with the extras. Mind you, my grade was not capped at 100, but the 14 overage would apply to other sub-par test scores. The net effect was an easy A in the class. The standard for a good grade is steadily creeping downward.

The standard maximum GPA was a 4.0, but now with honors classes, which are supposedly harder than their traditional counterparts, GPAs can soar to 4.5 and beyond. These classes do not compare to the college-level English and arithmetic taught to the students of Lincoln’s day. No–it was in those days that the condescending moniker, “higher education,” truly lived up to its name. It was not uncommon for half of a pre-graduate class to miserably fail.

Nevertheless, test scores are plummeting–it seems the more bonuses and concessions we pile on, the WORSE students do. All of the sudden mediocrity is excellence and is awarded A’s. A new standard for success emerges, one far more base than that of yesterday’s scholars.

Some teachers find students skipping vital tests or even finals. This is due to a new practice where the lowest score for any test in the class is dropped, as if the failure never took place. Often, if the test score on the final exam is higher than the lowest score on the junior tests, the final counts for both, erasing the lowest test grade. All of the sudden, a final that counted for 20% of the class grade gets a boost to 30%. This allows for amazing comebacks gradewise, at the expense of seriously downgrading the standards for academic achievement. Sometimes, even the final will be dropped if the previous tests warrant it, resulting in students skipping the most important test of they merited high marks on all the others.

I’ve even seen professors whore out bonus points for making donations to charity, attending far-flung theatre events or presentations that may or may not require admission fees, or, get this–putting your name on a test. Assuming the coursework is not significantly harder than the classes of other instructors (it never is), this is the equivalent of taking a gigantic dump on the grade scale. Is it a C or is it a D? Who cares, give it an A! Everyone else is doing it. Grades mean nothing anyway. This way, the school makes more money as fewer people drop out! It’s all about profit! Everyone knows college is a fraud designed to waste your time and drain your bank account anyway. Why continue hiding it?

Is that not what it is all about, anyway? Draining bank accounts. My calculus class requires a book that retails for $200 and second-hands for $150. Tuition fees are increasing exponentially as the Florida BrightFutures scholarship program and countless others face the chopping block. Degree requirements become ever more stringent–today’s Master’s degree is tomorrow’s Bachelor’s degree.

Especially with the U.S. economy and dollar crashing due to the sprawling American Empire (Roman Empire pt. 2), the artifical system of certificate == huge pay increase is going to fall. When it does, you will have to provide real value to make money. Save for a few advanced fields, your degree means nothing because it doesn’t amount to one-tenth the equivalent time in real experience. There are so many jobs that can just as easily be mastered with apprenticeships rather than multiple-choice testing. Teachers, librarians, doctors (general practitioners), photographers, musicians, artists, philosophers, sociologists, surveyers, social workers, even engineers; the list of what does not require a four-year degree goes on and on. This is why technical colleges are taking off: they cut through the B.S.

Can’t we just admit it? Higher education is a fraud. The standards become progressively lower as students become progressively more disgraceful to match. The college experience is no more than a disgusting excuse to leech off one’s parents for far longer than one should. Your degree? A steaming pile of crap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even make good toilet paper.

I will be returning to Daytona State College 2009 fall for Calculus II. I will be using the $200 book that is also good for Calculus I and III. I bought the teacher’s edition (free to teachers, illegal to resell) online for $46.

The next time someone tells you how smart their college educated daughter is, show them this article and stick your nose up.

Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Prove Me Wrong

One simple way to get motivated is to have someone else tell you you’ll fail.

Then, you’ll work really hard to do prove that person wrong.

This can be quite effective. Some people build their whole life around it, because it’s such a powerful source of motivation.

One common story you hear among hospital patients is this: “The doctor said I’d never walk again. Look at me now! I sure proved him wrong.”

I think there’s a doctor doing this as his full-time job. He drives between hospitals, goes to each patient’s room, and tells the patient he’ll never walk again. Even if the ailment is just a toe infection or a broken finger. It doesn’t matter who the patient is, the diagnosis is always the same. “You’ll never walk again!”

What better incentive do you have to resume walking, than to be told your situation is hopeless?

If I become terribly injured, but everyone tells me I can walk again with lots of hard work and effort, I might just lose interest and give up. I’ve already been told it’s possible. But if I’m told I’m hopeless and I should just give up on walking, I’d work ten times harder. It’s much more fun to do the impossible, than to do the expected.

There’s a lot of drama in being told you’ll fail. It should be dramatic to be told you’ll succeed, but it just isn’t. Everyone says you’ll succeed. Every day, people tell me how I’m going to “go far” and “do great things.” I’m not even sure what they mean anymore.

Most of my friends and family are going to fail. They’re failing right now.

I talked to one lady last week, and she said she’s going to be a pharmacist. I asked her why. “Because it’s easy.” It’s not that easy; there are lots of technical concerns to being a pharmacist. You have to read illegible handwriting. I’m not even sure what pharmacists do, but I’m sure there’s a good deal of complexity.

I asked her what she’d do if she had a big house and ten million dollars. If the answer was “be a pharmacist,” I could tell her she’d have success. But it wasn’t. She wants to find the cure for cancer.

I already know the cure for cancer. It’s fruit seeds. Millions of people know it. Most people don’t, but the cure is there and it’s been proven through extensive anecdotal evidence. All that’s left is to implement it.

2009-12-20 Update: This whole section is wrong and I shouldn’t have been mean to this lady. However, the cure for cancer is still apricot kernels which makes working as a pharmacist difficult because it requires you to support ineffective and dangerous cancer treatments.

I told her that she’s going to fail, miserably so, and she’s going to waste years of her life with something she doesn’t even want to do. She wants a stable job to support her mother and receive a regular income.

I’d prefer to support my mother with an exciting job.

To do something you love and make money from it requires extraordinary effort. It takes far more effort than doing something you don’t love. Finding a stable job is easy. Creating an exciting job which also pays the bills is hard.

I have an exciting job right now (my photography and writing on this website). It doesn’t pay the bills very well, but I don’t have bills. So once I have bills, I’ll have to take a dull job or put in an extraordinary amount of effort into this exciting job. Who am I trying to prove wrong? Society, for telling me I should take the easy way out. But what is society? It doesn’t exist. There is no hive mind, and normal people don’t care if you fill prescriptions or write poetry for a living. As long as you’re not hurting others and people are willing to pay you for what you do (no thievery or coercion), you’re golden.

You can’t work for free if you’re going to make money. Remember that when you give your time away, you’re saying that other people will use it more effectively than you. When you give money to a bum on the street, you’re saying that he deserves it more than you. To deserve something, you must make good use of it.

Is that true?

I’m writing this for free, meaning that you can use my time better than I can. The difference is that this isn’t just for one person; it’s for hundreds of people. So the answer is a definite “yes.” Other people will use the time it took me to write this far better than I could use it on projects for only myself.

There’s a problem with living to prove others wrong. Most of the time in most of your life, no one is against you. Only when you defy the hardened ideals and limiting beliefs of others, do they rise from apathy. Then, you’ll hear lots of people crying for your failure. But if you can’t get motivated unless others are predicting your failure, then you’ll pass up lots of great things you want to do.

Instead of proving me wrong, why not prove yourself right? I think that’s a far more empowering belief. Eventually, you rise past having to prove anything to anyone at all… I’m not at that level yet. So for now I prove to myself that I can do things. I prove to myself that I can write stuff that makes no sense.

The other problem with proving others wrong, is that the other people lose interest. You succeed in doing what your teacher said you could never do, but then he says it was just a joke or he knew you could do it all along and was just testing you. Your mission isn’t to hold your friends’ interest—it’s to define your life in your own terms rather than by the terms of others.

That means: stop proving things to others. When you want to prove something, you’re looking for approval. If you need friends to approve of you, then that means you don’t approve of yourself. Don’t ask permission to live.