School is a pressure cooker.
This week alone, I've studied for four midterms and written three papers. It's been rough. As of right now, you could ask me just about anything about the philosopher Thales of Miletus – the "Father of Science," who first correctly predicted a total solar eclipse – and I'd probably know the answer.
During the course of my late-night study sessions, a thought struck me: it's not fair that some students have to work harder than others. It isn't fair that some are naturally gifted in disciplines where others struggle. It isn't fair that some students received a better high-school education than others; after all, not everyone can afford to go to expensive private schools. Finally, it isn't fair that students who come from privileged backgrounds can devote full time to their studies, while others have to work to pay for school.
Clearly, our educational system is fraught with inequality. Nowhere is this more visible than in our Grade Point Average system of measuring scholastic achievement.
Obviously, some students benefit from opportunities others can only dream of and circumstances often dictate success or failure in college. I, for one, believe that if all my exams and papers hadn't taken place during the same week, I would have done better on each individual assignment.
We need to address this issue. Injustice of this sort shouldn't happen at such a large public university.
I have already taken the initiative to solve this problem. I submitted to the Big Orange Ideas Campaign a plan that will solve the issue of unequal grade distribution – regardless of upbringing, work ethic, inherent aptitude for the course material or circumstances.
I call on the administration to instruct professors to total up the grades at the end of the semester, divide the sum by the number of students in the course, and then assign the average to every student regardless of academic performance. This simple process will ensure a uniform distribution of grades – which is only fair – and help everyone succeed. The redistribution of grades will keep poor students from failing and administer a needed dose of social justice to students who are naturally smart or have the temerity to work harder to earn higher grades. It's a moral imperative that we institute policies of equality.
Miraculously, this suggestion has caught on with the administration, and they plan on instituting my idea next spring.
I imagine some readers are screaming at their papers in disbelief. Those of you who oppose the policy of grade redistribution will be relieved to know that I never officially suggested this. It would be a disaster.
If my professors averaged grades in this manner, I wouldn't have studied as hard as I did. Why? Because there would be no reward for hard work. Grade averaging kills motivation. You'd have been more likely to find me casting crank baits into Norris Lake than between the stacks at Hodges.
I believe you would have done the same.
This example illustrates the distortion of incentives that occurs when government socializes or "redistributes" resources. In this case, the professor acts as the arbiter addressing the issue of injustice. Grade redistribution would suppress any motivation to study hard and make the highest grades possible – just as redistribution of wealth reduces motivation in the real world. Centralized intervention designed to produce equal outcomes, whether instituted by the government or a professor, results in a net deadweight loss to society.
Don't mistake my satire for viciousness. The redistribution of grades draws many parallels to redistribution of income. This is why we can't make economic policy from platitudes: "fair" and "affordable" are just two examples of buzzwords used by politicians to garner support for their legislation – despite the unintended consequences of that legislation.
While buried in my books, I read that Thales was walking along one night with his head held aloft, awestruck by the majesty of the universe and the stars. Because he wasn't watching where he was going, he tripped into a well and nearly drowned.
We cannot walk like Thales, ignoring the physical realities of our world. We will drown. Using government policy to redistribute wealth might sound like a good idea, but it's counterproductive in the long run. Undermining the axiomatic economics of our society through these platitudes will leave everyone worse off.
Adam Prosise is a senior in economics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.