Tag Archives: grades

Fenno / Opinion  /  January 31, 2013  / 

Closes a Door, Opens a Bottle

Note: This series is fictional.  —- FROM: Lisa Burns SUBJECT: Fall 2012 Grades Now Available (gulp) —- Fresh off a resoundingly successful run of Solving Problems, Fenno was strolling to his first bit of Crim when his phone buzzed. In retrospect, you’d say “buzzed ominously,” but come on, that thing goes off about 85 times a day with crucial email dispatches (“Queueing Theory, Salad Bars, and You: A Message From Restaurant Associates”), and besides—three weeks of pass-fail stakes have a way of driving these sorts of things from one’s mind. But anyway. With the full benefit of hindsight, we can now say “buzzed ominously,” because that subject line sent a shiver down Fenno’s spine. —- To dispense with the suspense, Fenno’s grades were fine. I mean, they’re not going to be naming any buildings after him in 100 years, but on the whole things could have been a lot worse. The … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 28, 2012  / 

We Can Handle the Truth (About Grades)

We live submerged in information. Even when we don’t know it, we know how to get it. Anything is a Google search away. Arguments over facts still happen, but at least I, and my smart phone, know how to bring them to a quick and decisive end. I have had two great frustrations at Harvard Law School. Like many of my classmates, I arrived here last August with a little anxiety, a lot of pride, and overwhelmed awe at my presence at this institution. This was Harvard. I am the first in my family. In my excitement to be here at the best, among the best, I thought that everything would be the best. My first great frustration was finding that Harvard is a bureaucracy like any other large institution, and like its august companions, it keeps its secrets. Issues that seem to be fundamentally important in an academic environment … Continue reading

Fenno  /  January 27, 2012  / 

Fenno and the Ultimate Failure (Part 2 of 8)


Note: This serial is fictional. Fenno’s heart stopped when he saw it. The “LP” next to “Torts” was tiny, yet it seared him. A thousand thoughts ran through his head, and his tiny dorm room spun. He lay on the floor, wishing it would just swallow him already. He remembered his college friends teased him about becoming president one day. “Good luck with that now,” the positively gleeful voice in his head said. He tried to straighten the room, plot a new path, and count all his blessings, but it didn’t work. All he could see was that LP. That mark that would live with him forever. And then his computer started dinging. G-Chats flooded the room, “How’d you do?” “Bar Review to celebrate?!” “Yes! H in Crim!” He shut off his computer and climbed under his covers. He reached for his phone, but then he realized there was no one … Continue reading

Opinion  /  January 27, 2012  / 

Of Course Grades Matter, But Who Cares?

Yesterday, the vast majority of the 1L class was disappointed with their grades. Since the 25th percentile of the Class of 2014 had an undergraduate G.P.A. of about 3.8, an overwhelming percentage of current 1Ls were at least at the top 10 percent of their undergraduate class. Therefore, the vast majority of 1Ls, familiar only with stellar undergraduate academic performance, were probably disappointed by their grades, constricted by the infamous semi-mandatory grade curve. This of course led to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt and mediocrity. For many 1Ls, this was the first time they put forth their best effort and it did not pan out. The legal profession’s heavy emphasis on academic performance during law school during the hiring process makes matters worse. Law School institutions tried to counter these feelings of inadequacy. The administration tried to downplay the emphasis on grades by exchanging letters at the beginning of the alphabet for … Continue reading

Opinion  /  January 26, 2012  / 

Before You Feel Anxiety About Your Grades…

Student Government’s Faculty Grades Initiative distributed the following letter primarily to 1Ls (edited for style):  Before you feel anxiety about your grades, think about the following: Former Dean Elena Kagan received several B’s during law school, especially her first year. She went on to become the first female dean of Harvard Law School, the U.S. Solicitor General, and the 112th Supreme Court Justice. Tax Law Professor Daniel Halperin received his worst law school grade in: tax. Dean of Students Ellen Cosgrove received a Property exam back that had a note from the professor saying “this is exactly what I warned you not to do”—followed by her lowest grade since kindergarten. She went on to work at a top law firm before becoming a dean at Harvard. At the time Judge Richard Posner hired Professor Robert H. Sitkoff to be his law clerk, Sitkoff had received his lowest grade in law school in Law … Continue reading

Fenno  /  January 16, 2012  / 

Fenno and The Prophecy (Part 1 of 8)


Note: This serial is fictional.  “You will all fail on January 26.” The words had appeared mysteriously on the white board beside Fenno’s room in Ames dormitory. When Fenno saw it this morning, still groggy from sleep, that terrible knot that had occupied his stomach since the end of finals stirred and tightened. Just as he was about to erase the awful prophecy, Raj walked by, read it aloud, and shrugged. “I think that message is for you, Raj,” Fenno said, jokingly, but a horrible voice in his head whispered in reply, “No, it’s for you, Fenno.” He tried to brush the thought away, but it stayed with him all day, through the drone of another day of Problem Solving Workshop and through the sloppy group meeting following it. That night, at Cambridge Common, he sat with his section mates and played a game they had been playing every night … Continue reading

News  /  January 13, 2012  / 

The Unpublished Curve, Explained


In response to questions from The Record about the grading curve, Vice Dean for Academics Andrew L. Kaufman replied, in an e-mail