No time for fun at college today.–Russ Smith

Written by an old friend from my Johns Hopkins days, Russ Smith, who also founded the site Splice Today in Baltimore, after a successful career developing and selling alternative newspapers in Baltimore, Washington and New York. If you live in the Baltimore area, it is a terrific site. Heck, it’s a terrific site no matter where you live!

And, that’s me in the red shirt with a little alligator on it. Damn, I now need to lose a few pounds

As I found out this week, naiveté doesn’t diminish as one ages and winter turns to summer in two shakes of an artisanal lamb’s tail. I’ve followed the current brouhaha over the cessation of “covered” first-semester grades for freshmen at Johns Hopkins, and chalked it up to more of today’s very weird academic environment. When I read a Baltimore Sun story about it all, and learned that the practice began in 1971, two years before my own entrance to the university, I was curious. Never heard of it, never saw any of my pre-med friends—who, at least back then, would be most affected—wipe their brow after a dismal collection of grades.

1img310-2The other day I contacted an old buddy at JHU and he, who began as a pre-med and later switched majors, said it saved his bacon as an 18-year-old. I was one of four English majors in the class of ‘77—the undergraduate student body was just 2,000 at the time, but looking back I’m still astonished just a quartet of us chose English—so wasn’t subjected to the rigors of organic chemistry, physics and arcane (to me) math classes like the future doctors were. As it happened, my first semester was a success, four A’s and a B, but I ascribe that to still being in a high school mentality when every single grade was essential for admission to a preferred college. The remainder of my transcript was littered with Gentleman C’s, and I racked up the limit of two D’s by first semester of sophomore year. The classes I selected were reading-intensive, with no apologies from professors for workload, and were valuable to me, even if my grades were crummy. Then again, I had no plans for grad school.

Source: Pictures of You (#41) |

-Grading policy change draws protests at Johns Hopkins