Grade Capital

Instructor-review Web sites like are nothing new for today’s tech-savvy students. But even though online rants and raves can suggest which courses to take and which to avoid, they provide users with only a vague idea of how they would fare in a particular course. Until now.

A new site created and maintained by a Yale undergraduate is about to take online course shopping one step further. The site,, promises to give students a more statistically sound review by actually predicting the grade an individual student would receive in a course, reports the Yale Daily News.

Wired Campus: Yale Student Creates Grade-Predicting Web Site –, Caitlin Moran.

In theory, grades are like ‘money in the bank,’ as they say; it’s capital that you can invest after graduation to help ensure that you get a good job, etc. That’s certainly the general feeling students get– at least the competitive ones. The social capital– who you meet– and the institutional capital– the school’s reputation and history– might well be more important, of course.

What are the income differences are between A students and B students at Yale? My guess is that it is pretty minimal. Our current president, by all reports, was a C student there. So I think the reasons for this competition are a little mysterious. It’s less like students trying to get ahead and more like a drinking game.

Competition begets competition; competitive schools also attract and encourage the most competitive students. I think, though, that this might be a kind of ‘investment bubble’ that suggests the profound weakness, even decadence, of the old meritocratic system of assessment. This idea of a ‘grade’ as a measure of success is hopefully going the way of the standardized entrance exam.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation