What would you do for a 4.0? At the University of Rochester, we pride ourselves on answering that question with immediacy and almost disturbing bluntness. “What wouldn’t I do? Whatever I have to do. I’m serious, nothing is beneath me.” These grades serve as our validation and livelihood. They are why so many of us continue our education in graduate school. Without a report card, we’d have no sense of purpose or self-worth. “I judge myself only on the grades I get,” said freshman Seth Eber-Douglas, “Happiness comes solely from dominance.”
If dominating your classmates in grades is all that matters, how can one ensure that? Sophomore Aslan Noil, who was able to secure that glorious 4.0 said, “I went to every professor’s office hours until they could pronounce my name perfectly.” Aslan Noil added that he’d “annoy every one of [his] classmates [in an effort] to drop the average grade and increase my relative grade.” Good going, Aslan.
There are some students who seem bent on using the old-fashioned method of dedicating themselves to their studies. “I actually work my ass off,” Sophomore Steve Williamsburg said. “Most kids don’t actually work to their potential, and then they complain about their grades afterwards.” As admirable as Steve’s strategy is, we all know it is unrealistic and naive. Many students understand that the heart of the problem lies not in the material but in the professors themselves. “I would hold my professors hostage until they promised me a B+ or better,” said an anonymous junior. She went on to admit that there were other methods to success, like the tried-and-true art of sleeping your way to a 4.0. “If I knew the best I could do was an A-, I would offer services. If I knew the best I could do on my own was a B+, I’d offer anything.” This commitment to do whatever is necessary is what makes the student body here so impressive. Students have admitted to every act of cheating the system they would commit (short of earning the grades) to succeed, with Seth Williamsburg even adding, “I would degrade myself to a pathetically low level for that A.”
The key to all these tactics seems clear: distinguish yourself from the competition (your friends and classmates) not by building yourself up to excellence but by tearing everyone else down to squalor and C’s. TAs should not inform their students, but instead should purposefully feed them incorrect information so they can then ridicule their weak performances on tests. Students should not help each other with Webwork, but instead should learn to sabotage one another by destroying each other’s laptop chargers and keyboards. Competition, not cooperation, has been the driving force behind success in this institution and, of course, in this nation. So, the next time you’re asked how you think you can improve your GPA, use Seth Schoenhaus for inspiration: “I definitely wouldn’t work harder if that’s what you’re asking.”
Mistler-Ferguson is a member of the class of 2018.