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News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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Eight Valedictorians in the Class of 2016
Last month, we asked how many top honors the College would award for the Class of 2016. What was once a singular achievement for two or maybe three of the very best and brightest students has become a running joke as grade inflation multiplies the number of 4.00 and 3.99 GPAs.
Yesterday we found out: Dartmouth crowned eight valedictorians — a new record — along with seven salutatorians. No doubt all are fabulous students and people, with impeccable resumes, and my goal is not to diminish their accomplishment. But it’s hard to look at recent history and not think that something’s wrong:
Students have not improved to this extent in less than a decade; SAT scores are flat:
Rather, the increase in honors is the inevitable result of the slow but steady upward creep of grades. After all, the only difference between the valedictorians and salutatorians is a single A- (it’s always fun to find which prof gave it). Likely another large group of ‘16’s received only two A-’s or one B+ for a 3.98 GPA. While this average remains a terrific feat, the likelihood of tripping up once has gone down, as medians grades inch ever higher.
In 2013 I wrote: “How long before Dartmouth has eight valedictorians? Ten? Fifteen? I’d like to see the College’s PR team try to ignore that.” And yet they have. As recently as 2010, the Dartmouth Now press release heralded four valedictorians as a stunning achievement. We now have twice as many, and the College purposely avoids any mention of a new record.
To avoid further embarrassment, administrators must be mulling the idea of changing the manner in which the valedictorian and salutatorian honors are awarded. The College has always used a straight GPA-based system, but many schools (including Princeton and Columbia) have a committee that takes other factors into account.
Addendum: Lest we think fraternity life doesn’t produce good students, nine of the fifteen honorees were in Greek houses, including six of the eight valedictorians.
The social and hard sciences also brought home a win this year. The most popular majors or double majors among the honorees were Economics (seven), Math (five), Computer Science (two), and Neuroscience (two). This result is somewhat anomalous: grades awarded in the humanities are significantly higher than in the other two divisions.
As a result perhaps, Wall Street’s reigns continues: seven of the fifteen are headed into financial services or consulting after graduation.
Addendum: One of the finest members of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars writes in:
Inspired by Brian’s latest post, I made a visualization of the geographies of all the valedictorians and salutatorians for the past six years. It is interesting how the West Coast produces such a disproportionately small number of honorees:
I wonder if the Admissions department is aware of the relatively poor showing by students from the West (click on the image to see it in a larger format).
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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