You are currently browsing articles tagged grades.

Last week, I had a depressing blog about my experiences with the (unavoidable?) demon popularly termed Sophomore Slump. BUT! I’m back a week later to uplift your spirits, happily reporting that this week has taken a turn back to happy norms – or as happy as possible in the gloomy presence of midterms and deadlines. Although the workload conditions haven’t altered much, the difference is that I’m not hating existence and my professors are once again able to heighten my intrigue with binary numbers and Aspartic catalysts, can I get a WOOT WOOT?

I pinpointed the root of my slumpish nature as my anxiety revolving around my summer plans and the big possibility of not being immersed in the love of the people I spent my first 18 years of life with; the alternative would be a cultural and/or scientific immersion. So the moral of the story is: I’m a brat. Clearly, I don’t have much to say on this topic because it happens so rarely ….… but having rough weeks is actually a great experience because I wouldn’t appreciate the good as much if it were good all the time.

There were two prominent things that helped me cope with my disaster week – one of them being my upperclassman house, Mather! (You can’t say it without an exclamation mark!) As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been feeling pretty stagnant with regards to my Spanish learning curve which has catalyzed my desire to study abroad. But since I’m a 20 year old brat who still gets homesick, I’d never be able to stick it out as a foreigner for a semester, so I’d ideally like to go somewhere this summer where I can think, speak, live, breathe and blink Spanish. My resident tutor (freshmen here call it proctor, but it’s more widely known as RA: Resident Adviser, basically someone older/wiser who lives in the dorm and repels chaos) and current Spanish 50 class TF (Teaching Fellow) holds a “Spanish Table” every Wednesday during dinner time and last Wednesday was my first (but definitely not last) partake. Spanish Table gives students a chance to have a meal over Spanish conversation. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. The atmosphere is really chill and not intimidating at all! Thinking and speaking Spanish outside of the classroom, in a casual setting, really refueled my excitement about the possibilities of going abroad! Southern California, I’ll thank you endlessly for literally being one of the most influential factors for shaping who I am – from the way I dress, think and speak – but I’ll be okay if we don’t see much of each other this summer.

Studying at a college so far away from home and with seemingly endless possibilities has really made me feel like a globalized person – or maybe just a country-ized person? I’ll earn the term “globalized” if I do indeed go abroad this summer (I’m typing with my fingers crossed here). Harvard offers a plethora of opportunities I never thought existed and recently, its international opportunities have really caught my eye. Everything from Harvard offered programs to non-Harvard programs (campus organizations like OCS: Office of Career Services will work with you to apply and even transfer credit!) to professors who offer to connect you with organizations such as WHO: World Health Organization (my Bioethics professor, Dr. Daniel Wikler, offered to do so!) is just so extraordinarily unbelievable that I can’t wrap half my mind around it. Living and thriving in an environment with massive opportunity, filled with driven people is truly a humbling experience, which brings me back to the second thing that helped me during my disaster week: talking with my best friend from home.

It’s strange how, for me at least, the beginning of college came concomitant with living in a split dimension: your high school life vs. your college life. It’s easy to get caught up in your busy college life, but during sophomore slump weeks, you just want to escape and I accomplished that by catching up with my besties from middle/high school.

I’m pretty confident when I claim that the Sophomore Slump has been a nationwide epidemic because a handful of both friends from home and Harvard have had rough weeks recently. (I partially blame pre-Spring Break Fever) So my best friend from high school, Emily, and I were retrospectively examining our lives (some pretty profound stuff if I dare say so myself) and she mentioned how college is an incredibly humbling experience in the realm of grades which help you realize how smart you are not. I wholeheartedly agreed as I thought about all my premed classes and how students legitimately earn A’s without the curve – snaps AND kudos to everyone because one form of encouragement wouldn’t be enough. This makes it really easy for the majority of students to feel stupid and unworthy, but I’d like to point out that these two things are mutually exclusive. I’m not sure if that makes things better, BUT at least it’s true! I’d like to remedy this situation by telling myself (and you!) that college isn’t all about the grades – it’s about the experiences too. When I look back at college, I won’t remember the 100% I got on my organic chemistry final (not based on a true story), but what will indeed stand out is that time my roommates and I watched scary movie trailers all night for no reason.

My take-home message would be to relax! I feel like 149% of the prospective students I come into contact with (their parents representing the extra 49%) expect that Harvard students are the definition of perfection and that our records/transcripts/etc. should have their own exhibition in the Smithsonian, BUT this is so wrong! Your imperfections shape you just as much as your more admirable qualities and admissions officers realize that you, buddy, are a package deal. Harvard students have their fair share of imperfections and rough weeks – and that’s perfectly fine.


Preemptively striking, Housing Day – the epic day that freshmen find out which upperclassmen house they’ll be residing in for their remaining years as an undergraduate – is in just one week! See for yourself why Mather! can’t be said, but only exclaimed!

*props to Scott for helping me share Mather! Love

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Another semester has ended which means another set of 4 (or 5 or 6!) letter grades have come out! Harvard students not only work hard throughout the semester, but we’ll also have to earn the privilege of seeing our grades early.

I’m pretty much obsessed with Harvard College, but that doesn’t mean it’s the epitome of perfection. I think Harvard’s grading system could be more transparent. My public high school used an online system where teachers would input individuals’ scores in varying categories and compute these scores into an overall grade. The online system basically served as a real-time progress report which personally helped me gauge and evaluate what I needed to do more or less of in each class. Although all my assignments and exams at Harvard have been promptly returned, it would be nice to have a similar online grading system, especially because I feel like most of our grades are ultimately relative to other students. This grading system may not exist (yet?! Heyy computer science concentrators, get on this!), Harvard College does offer a singular website where students intricately critique/compliment the classes that they’ve taken during the most recently passed semester. As an incentive to participate, the registrar allows students who have completed course evaluations to view their grades a few weeks earlier than the nonparticipants.

This compilation of student reviews is called the Q guide (which I believe is formerly known as the cue guide; you can’t really see much without a student ID but it doesn’t hurt to browse!). It asks general questions about the course itself (i.e. general thoughts about the course, how it can be improved, difficulty of assignments, etc.) as well as commenting on individual professors and teaching fellows (TFs). It’s really open ended – you can talk about how approachable they are, how timely they are, or even how funny they are. I’ve always done my Q guide evaluations (as a source of procrastination during Reading Period) and I try my best to be comprehensive and extensive as possible. Last Spring semester, my organic chemistry TF was always there for me via email or person. He was the funniest, most patient and down to earth guy! I spent more than an hour basically writing him a letter of recommendation, raving about how he really goes above and beyond his call of duty to make sure that his students understood the material.

I’ve put in a good amount of time to this Q guide because you really get out of it what students decide to put in. I feel like most students look at the Q guide when deciding between both mandatory courses and electives because it can be a good gauge of expected time commitment and what background knowledge is necessary to understand the underlying concepts. However, it’s definitely not something to swear by because a lot of times a class may seem easier on the Q guide than it actually is or vice versa. This Q guide has become a pretty substantial player on campus because I remember my prefrosh (aka Visitas) host telling me how helpful it is and many online course catalogs include an overall Q guide score (ranging from 1 to 5, 5 being the best). The internet is taking over! Are you ready?

Tags: , , ,