Disclaimer: This article is meant to be satire. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author or of TRBC.
Boston College has updated the requirements its students need to meet in order to receive Latin honors upon graduating. This is likely to cause a much-needed boost in motivation and morale, as Boston College students have often received criticism for setting the bar too low concerning standards of individual achievement.
The Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences has officially laid down the law for Latin honors on its “Awards, Fellowships, Prizes” webpage.
“Starting with the class of 2018, the cumulative average for degrees with honors will be as follows
- summa cum laude — 3.9–4.o
- magna cum laude — 3.8–3.899
- cum laude — 3.667–3.799”
The reign of percentiles is over, no longer will students labor under the delusion that simply being better than everyone else is good enough. This tendency toward a kind of “survival of the fittest” mentality has cast a shadow over an issue that has long needed addressing. Worth is not determined by comparing oneself others. It is determined by whether or not one is able to achieve perfection.
This reminder could not have come soon enough.
University students in this day and age fail to appreciate the essentiality of personal perfection, and instead they seek comfort in weak imitations. The former system for awarding Latin honors did nothing to prevent – perhaps went so far as to encourage – the outlandish idea that outperforming peers can grant the emotional satisfaction and the lasting prosperity that nothing short of being perfect provides.
Students should not become dependent on the temporary comfort that is found in using classmates’ failures as stepping stones toward personal success. This dog-eat-dog approach will not do. The dogs are now called to chew on their own hides as they attempt to make the grades that will earn recognition. Maintaining perfect grades is all that matters.
It is important at this point to clarify that perfection is not to be confused with “trying one’s best,” as is so often propagated among the masses. Success is not defined by a good effort, nor a great effort, nor even the best effort. And it is certainly clear that it is not defined by a better effort than anyone else’s effort. Success can only be expected following a spotless record and continuous sure-footing.
Because success is guaranteed to perfect people, it is crucial that the university setting provide an environment of constant pressure and condemnation of failure in order to cultivate this perfection in its students, that they may one day become perfect people.
Many university attendees forget that college is a continuation of education; it’s school. Many also forget that school is not about learning. It is not a time to try and fail and try again. It is not a time to take risks, or to extend one’s comfort zone, or to open one’s mind to concepts never before considered and people previously thought unworthy of consideration. How could training kids up in that light possibly benefit the world?
The negative effects of previous protocol are evident in the most recent graduating class sent forth from a university operating under a system of Latin honors based on percentiles. Scattered across the globe, these post-graduates can be found hunched over tear-stained copies of academic transcripts, lamenting sub-par performances.
This last class was not encouraged to achieve academic perfection, and now many have shamefully fled the country, left with nothing but the fading hope that perhaps they might change the lives of those abroad. They spend their days teaching English and their nights wondering whether they ought to translate cume laude into the local language, or if the Latin is recognizable enough.
The graduating class of 2018 and those classes following might yet escape this fate. Discovery of new fields and skills is not worth the risk of failure, and an emphasis on GPA holds the promise of securing this attitude in students. In order for one’s time in school to be worth the financial and emotional cost, one must play it safe. Personal standards are meant to be held at the level of perfection, and perfection depends on the ability to predict what will come easily.
A word of caution to the students of Boston College under its new Latin honors system: Register for the classes that upperclassmen advertise as guaranteeing an easy A… because heaven forbid you risk your GPA to learn something new.
Photos courtesy of the author.