When grades are focus, students fail
The chorus has begun. As a professor begins to write on the board, his faithful students immediately ask the pertinent question: "Will we be tested on this?" If something should possess the instructor to say "no," he will be answered by the sound of a dozen pens dropping to the table.

Aggies have lost sight of the reason why they are here. Too many students are more concerned with their grades than the actual acquisition of knowledge.

It is ironic that the same students who burn effigies when a fee increase passes rejoice when their professor announces a walk. Considering how much they are paying for each class day, they should be outraged that class will not be held.

Many Aggies have lost their focus. Students view each class as a mere stepping stone toward their degree instead of an integral part of the education required to earn that degree. Unfortunately, after four (or six or seven) years of "stepping stones" students have a degree with little substance behind it. Instead of learning the course material they have studied the "tricks of the test" from Mr. Bill and managed to squeak past the minimum requirements.

This situation is similar to many Texas public schools which teach students how to pass the TAAS test instead of teaching them actual curriculum. While a large percentage of students may pass the TAAS and graduate, they are unable to respond to questions without a No. 2 pencil and a Scan-tron. This attitude misses the purpose of education. Instead of training students for the real world, they are trained for a two-hour, multiple-choice exam. Here at A&M, many students are trained for a degree audit.

Students who take classes merely to pass would likely find themselves doing much better academically if they were striving to actually learn the material. Every Aggie has noticed that they do much better in those classes which they are excited about and in which they have an interest.

Every great American has had the primary hand in his or her own education. The most successful Aggies will be those who are not content to merely attend class once every other week and buy the textbook the day before the exam.

Students should not be working to please the instructor, the registrar or even their parents or employer. Aggies should attempt to meet their own set of standards.

The whole notion of grading on a curve is rather disturbing, as well. For some reason, a majority of students are pleased to know they have done as well as half the students in the class -- even though they have only mastered 40 percent of the course material.

Students should not continue to justify themselves by pointing out that they are better than someone else. This is the whole logic behind a curve. Because a student can outperform almost everyone else in the class, they somehow have earned a high grade. It would be ludicrous to buy products which are valuable only in contrast to some of its competitors.

Too many Aggies have set low standards, and they are living down to those standards. Students should not limit themselves by only striving for an ďA,' but should learn the course material to the best of their ability.

Aggies should stop settling for mediocrity. Sufficient is not acceptable. They should instead demand to be the "best."

Besides bringing themselves to a higher personal standard, Aggies will find themselves putting more effort into their work, often with better outcomes.

While all students have a responsibility to the taxpayers who are subsidizing their education, in many cases they should stop settling for mere A's.

Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.