Harvard: where the men play croquet, the women wear pearls, and everyone has an A average. Or A-, if we're being specific.
Jay Harris, the school's dean of undergraduate education, confirmed the outrageous grading norms yesterday during a monthly faculty meeting, the Harvard Crimson reports. A government professor reportedly asked whether it was true that the most frequently awarded grade at Harvard College is an A-, adding, "If this is true or nearly true, it represents a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards."
But as it turns out, the situation is a little worse than the rumor implied. Harris was reportedly hesitant to respond to the inquiry. "I can answer the question, if you want me to," Harris replied, "The median grade in Harvard College is indeed an A-. The most frequently awarded grade in Harvard College is actually a straight A."
The professor who initially asked the question later reported to the Crimson that an "embarrassed silence" followed the confirmation of his worst fears. But this isn't the first time apparent grade inflation has plagued the Ivy League, or even Harvard, which at one point was forced to award honors to just 60 percent of the graduating class after a year in which 91 percent of students graduated with them.
Princeton, Harvard's comrade in fanciness and sometime rival, instituted a policy of grade deflation in 2004, limiting scores of A and A- to 35 percent of grades for classes and 55 percent of junior- and senior-year independent work. Of course, that policy has sown bitterness of its own sort throughout the student body, and it's now up for review.
We look forward to the impending Battle of the Nerds.
[image via Getty]