At the upcoming graduation, many of our seniors will be honored by wearing white for academic excellence instead of the traditional blue gown. Too many. With nearly half the class sporting it, the significance of the white robe becomes trivialized and it nullifies much of the accomplishment. With the system we have currently, the graduates wearing white are dishonored and those wearing blue are dishonored even more. It’s time for change to wave through our sea of graduates.
4.0; it’s almost arbitrary. The lone requirement for graduating with honors is a 4.0 weighted grade point average (GPA). It’s quite ironic: the significance of a 4.0 unweighted means straight As, a perfect record. 4.0 weighted is certainly something to be proud of, but it is nothing close to a perfect record. Being perfect now means having a GPA closer to 7.0 (which is what this year’s valedictorian has exceeded).
The issue merely stems from a lack of keeping up with GPA inflation. It was proper to honor the 4.0+ in the 1970s, when only a few Advanced Placement (AP) courses were offered. It was proper to honor the 4.0+ in the 80s, when they were offered but only the brightest were enrolled in them. It was proper to honor 4.0+ in the 90s, when too many were enrolled but they still weren’t so inflated on the GPA scale. Now, a C in an AP course is worth nearly as much as an A in a regular course. As GPAs have ballooned to absurd heights, the requirement for “honors” hasn’t budged a decimal space.
A solution? Certainly. 5.0 sounds right. It easily eliminates the second quartile of our current white-wearers, so hopefully less than 25 percent would be honored. A smarter solution altogether is just having the top ten percent wear white each year, no matter what the GPA distribution is. In this case, it keeps up with GPA inflation/deflation in any scenario whatsoever.
This issue, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t such a travesty. It makes a lot of people good on their last day of high school. And I’m one of them. If only the top tenth looked like ivory, I wouldn’t be included, and would probably be disappointed. Still, I think it would restore more honor to academic excellence. Instead, it’s undermined and whitewashed by the minimal requirement currently in place.
Ben Schneider / Staff Writer