The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
I decided to learn the guitar, but I walked away learning more about life
Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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Mentally unchallenged

Coursework, grade inflation leave some students unfulfilled

Before registering for an upcoming semester, most studentswisely investigate their class selections by speaking to peers whohave taken the courses. Unfortunately, the most commonly askedquestion always seems to be, “Is that class easy?” Byfavoring rudimentary courses instead of seeking opportunities forchallenge and enrichment, we illustrate an alarming deviation inour educational values.

However, even more bothersome than the occasional guaranteed‘A’ are the academic majors offering a path of leastresistance. In these famed majors, which are typically open-endedto allow maximum flexibility, students have the option of taking aleisurely stroll along the beach or climbing Mt. Everest.

For high achievers, this academic culture has at least twosubstantial drawbacks. First, professors structure some courseswith underachievers in mind, since they hesitate to frustrate halfthe section with demanding coursework. Not only are academicallymotivated students denied an opportunity to learn more advancedmaterial, but faculty members become trapped in Professor Hell,repeatedly covering fundamental information instead of teachingtruly interesting concepts.

The Economics department offers a prime example. Students maypursue a bachelor of arts in economics, which requires no calculusand a paltry 30 credit hours, or the more advanced bachelor ofscience, which adds nine hours of calculus/statistics and “ahigher proportion of advanced economics courses than … theB.A. degree.” However, most economics courses have a mix ofB.A. and B.S. students, so professors are unable to employ calculusor complicated algebra, which is necessary for upper-level economicdiscussion. SMU has a truly exceptional team of economicsprofessors and many outstanding econ majors, but the departmentcannot realize its full potential unless it modifies its class anddegree structure.

Second, these paths of least resistance offer an almostirresistible GPA benefit. In today’s cutthroat recruitingenvironment, students sacrifice the opportunity forself-actualization in order to optimize that all-important gradeindex. Job recruiters and graduate school admissions directors haveno clue which professors and courses are more challenging thanothers, so a candidate with a 3.1 GPA who took four courses fromDr. Kobylka looks less appealing on paper than a 3.6 student with asimpler course load.

In Dedman, a 3.98 GPA is needed to be on the top 5 percent honorroll. Are we really challenging ourselves if one out of 20 studentshas a perfect GPA?

Tomorrow, we will outline a solution for these problems. Butfirst, we would like to hear your input on the issue.

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