Field of Science

How to run a university - value of the blanket C

Back in the good old days when you enrolled in a common curriculum course at university, you stood about a 60% chance of getting a C more or less for just showing up and sort of trying. About 10% of the class would be grade gunners and receive As; and the 15% who didn't quite make As but out-distanced the Cs would get Bs. The real screw offs and the academically unfortunate would get the Ds (10%) and Fs (5%).  This was called the "blanket C" and it only required faculty to distinguish those students in the upper and lower groups; everyone else just got a C.  You expected it. Grade expectations of parents, employers, and graduate schools were adjusted to the blanket C and anything on the sunny side of 2.0 was looked upon favorably. TPP will not mention his own undergrad GPA which was sort of embarrassing even in the blanket C era. Let's just say he lived up to the low expectations. Now the point here is that jocks were still jocks, but not one objected when the hulking brute sitting behind you in English passed forward a page torn from a spiral notebook with a couple of paragraphs printed on it in pencil, signed Hulkowski- Football in big, bold letters at the top, which you could not help notice as you covered it with your own page and a half typed essay that you slaved over for at least 2 hours.  When the papers were handed back, your own essay would be covered with red marks and emblazoned with a C, as expected, and as expected, Hulko's paper would also have a C at the top, but it had remained pristine and unmarked. Why should either party bother, because you see, it was OK for jocks to get Cs. Well, grade inflation has just shot the hell out of the blanket C, a grade now reserved for the no-shows, or maybe not used at all. As explained by a dean to a colleague who had the audacity to give no-shows Cs at a Carolina university (Luke, Puke, something like that), "We are a selective school; there just aren't any "average" students here."  Even jocks had to get As, and they had to take more courses than just "Coaching winning fill-in-the-sport 101".  This is the reason for the huge uproar at another university also in the Carolinas, which one doesn't really matter because this could have happened at more than two of them because this is just how things are, and it isn't even limited to those states, but if you want a list, check the national rankings in football. When it was just a blanket C, no one got upset, because the jock-student was actually there to turn in and receive the assignment back, but with grade inflation and rising expectations for better preparation of jocks for the major leagues, jocks could no longer bother any more with even the pretense of being a student. You got an A in certain courses just for existing and playing your sport. Those graduates and students who are actually at university to get their 3.8 GPA even though it has now been greatly devalued because everyone else also has a similar GPA get upset when their GPA isn't higher than that of the non-attending athlete, or anyone else for that matter. Alumni from years before who had a 3.8 in the era of blanket Cs (TPP will not mention Mrs. Phactor here, but he could.) are really upset because this practice just tears the lid off of the higher education, except for sports, problem. It means their prestigious institution of higher education has laxer standards and much higher tuition than the local community college. People are upset at finding out the whole system is broke because some careless people got caught, but it opens the door for the next step in this evolution by just making learning optional for big sports "undergrads" who want to play in the minor leagues hoping to grab the brass ring of a major league contract for millions of dollars paid for the 4.2 years of the average pro career and the physical disabilities there after. Then if they don't make it in the pros, and after they blow their life's earnings in 5.3 years, they can reapply to university with a different attitude about learning.   

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