Guest Column: Sorry, you’re not on the list
Academic honour fails to inspire achievement
I was finishing my fourth term in April 2010 when I heard a student talking about “The President’s List” and asked him what it meant. The academic calendar states that a “student who earns twenty-four (24) or more credit hours in an academic year… with a Grade Point Average of 3.75 or higher will be placed on the President’s Honour Roll.” I had already accumulated 51 credit hours. My GPA was 3.94. Why had I not heard about this?
Mistake #1: starting in winter. Not only will you learn the ropes in a parka and boots, but you won’t find your program cohort, and you won’t be on the President’s Honour Roll. The academic year, evidently chiselled into institutional stone, runs from Fall to Spring, despite the “new January intake.” I speculated that a goal of the award was to discourage students from starting in winter term.
Clicking “Talk to the President” on the school’s website, I registered my e-disappointment that a January start precluded receiving academic recognition of the presidential variety.
An assistant “clarified” the position by referring me to the page 39 of the academic calendar, and to the Coordinator of Student Records and Transcripts, who helpfully reminded me “the honour roll also includes grades in the spring term.”
If I maintained my GPA, I would be eligible for the honour roll “which is ran [sic] at the end of September.”
This leads me to Mistake #2: taking spring courses. If you have the qualifying GPA and credit hours by April, take the summer off. The vast majority of students do. They have jobs or internships, and there are few courses offered that meet degree requirements. Maybe, I mused, a further goal of the award was to lower spring enrolment.
Actually, though, I believed it a clear case of the letter of the law subverting its intent.
Did Mount Royal really wish academic achievers to accumulate twice the credit hours required for the award? What are the goals of the President’s List? Certainly, they cannot include fostering academic achievement.
Only one other person I have ever spoken to here has even heard of it. He didn’t receive the letter asking his permission to add him to it, though, consequently missing out on this honour.
The Registrar’s office subsequently informed me that they were changing the policy, but I have not actually confirmed it.
When I bumped into the president on Main Street last year, I told him I had finally made the list. He congratulated me, and I then asked him where it was.
He phoned his assistant to find out.
I find it sad that so many students subscribe to the doctrine that “Cs get degrees.” I am not (yet) one of them, but with the lack of recognition for doing better, perhaps their attitude is not that surprising
Volunteer at an event? Get pizza and a T-shirt. Keep your grades at honour level for a year? Get your name in a book at the library that nobody — not even the President — knows about.
Miranda Anderson is a policy studies student and urges everyone to read the MRU Academic Calendar and SAMRU Agenda from cover to cover each year to spare themselves untold grief.