If I could change one thing about higher education it would be the grading system. I understand that in some ways it is a necessary evil, however, I think that grades promote a competitive sentiment in learning which I do not feel belongs. Students should not be comparing themselves to other students, but rather, should be trying to absorb as much information from a class as they can. I also do not think that our notion and language surrounding not passing a class should be “failure” because people learn things at their own pace. I would like to be in an education system in which not passing a class was not looked at with such harsh negativity, but simply an opportunity to try to learn the material again.
In this system, however, I would want the passing expectations to be more stringent than what we currently expect from students. I think that we generally push students through the education system as quickly as possible, without allowing them time to really understand many of the difficult topics. There are several classes which I passed with an A or B as an undergraduate that I feel I now need to go back and relearn.
I understand that these ideas would most likely slow down the education process and I can imagine that many people would not like that. It seems like people are in such a rush to finish school and go get a job that they forget how important the learning process is and also forget to enjoy being a student. I think that part of the problem is money and the cost of education. Students do not want to stay in school any longer than they have to because it is expensive and if they had to take out loans, they want to start paying their loans back as soon as they can. I had to take out significant loans to fund my undergraduate studies and can certainly understand these concerns. For this reason, I think that another important part of changing higher education is to make it more affordable.
I do not truly believe that we will be able to completely eliminate the grading system, but I would like to encourage my peers, many of whom could become the professorate of tomorrow, to consider how the grading system promotes an atmosphere of competition and how they can change that sentiment in the classes they will one day teach.