I certainly recognize that Princeton cannot afford to lose prospective students who are worried that an old-fashioned stricter grading system will hurt their chances of going to top graduate schools (On the Campus, Sept. 17 and Nov. 12). The grade-deflation program was doomed when other Ivy League institutions failed to join, perhaps out of fear of antitrust litigation. On the other hand, I also can sympathize with professors who would like some way of recognizing work exceeding the standards for the new gentleman’s A that comprises a large fraction of their grades.
My compromise solution is to retain the A with 4.0 grade points for transcripts sent to external institutions, while distinguishing different types of A’s internally. We could move past the A+ to an A++, A+++, and even A++++, corresponding roughly to the B+, A-, A, and A+ of the system used in my day. I believe an even better idea, however, would be to call the new marks Yuzz, Wuz, Um, and Humph, letters created by Dartmouth alumnus Theodor Geisel in his masterwork On Beyond Zebra! I can assure the registrar’s office that a Google search finds a font with the necessary glyphs.