A True 4.0

Andy Cho

What do we call education?

Education - noun: the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind, character, etc., esp. by formal schooling; teaching; training.

This is how Collins American Dictionary defines education.

Education - noun: the euphemism of the process of obtaining some grade point average so that one can receive offers from companies and graduate schools upon graduation.

Perhaps this is how college campuses see education. I have to acknowledge, however, that there are numerous students who arrive at college campuses and are ready to learn new topics, even at a cost of receiving a few low grades. Nevertheless, the pattern today tends to be that students are becoming more and more strategic in their course selection by asking upperclassmen, searching ratemyprofessor.com, and many other cunning methods to find the easiest possible way to graduate with the highest score possible. In a competitive capitalist society, there is no one person to blame; we just need to remind ourselves of the true meaning of education.

Education should be the end, not the means. In other words,we should be able to find joy and satisfaction by purely receiving education, or learning something new. This innocuous and simple idea encourages many citizens of underprivileged countries to work day and night so that their children,, are more aware of the world and see the new possibilities that one cannot see without education. Once true education has been served to the students, future careers and the independence needed to live a fulfilling life follow them almost automatically: an educated citizen is ready to serve society.

Nonetheless, as health and law industry are perceived to be the most certain path to success (however our society defines success), grade point average can only get on students’ nerves more and more. Admission to medical schools and law schools is becoming a prominent excuse for taking the easiest classes possible. One of my friends who should be in a 300 level class on a certain subject is taking a 100 level class, and complains whenever the quiz grade falls below 95%. Knowing 95% of all the material covered in any class is most likely to be quite difficult and if accomplished, very impressive. Yet from students’ point of view, these numbers are representations of themselves for future employers or graduate school admission officers, and students start learning for the purpose of achieving high enough grades in papers and exams.

How can one present oneself with a single number between 1.0 and 4.0? Don’t we learn during our first twelve years of education that identity, diversity, and respect for one another are important? In post-secondary education, the system which we follow sometimes undermines those exact values by oversimplifying the assessment process and making students obsessed with a single number printed on their transcript - a piece of paper that claims to record student’s entire academic history.

Arguing for the true meaning of education does not mean that students may slack off and get excused for most nonsensical reasons. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming number of students all around this country see the education system as a chore or burden and strive to find the easiest possible way to receive a degree without getting caught for cheating. Yet, the argument for true education should resonate among the majority of the students who want to truly explore their academic passions and callings, but cannot dare to do so for circumstances that may occur, such as a drop in their grades. In an advanced nation like the United States, every passionate and inspired student should be able to learn without the fear of receiving low grades. If true learning means that the admission process to graduate schools or companies needs to be more complicated in that they consider the applicants as a human being rather than a single number, so be it.

Andy is a freshman at Duke University.