Grades for the first semester were finally released this week! I’d almost forgotten about the whole ordeal… particularly since I spent most of the break trying to ignore it all and hold off the potential looming clouds of stress.
First, the backdrop: the grading system at HBS is very “corporate”, using the same sort of system that GE (and my former employer) use to bucket employees. They award a “1” to the Top 15%, a “2” to the Middle 75%, and a “3” to the bottom 10%. The idea being that you recognize the top performers, eliminate the worst performers, and keep it such that it doesn’t interrupt or distract the vast middle majority.
Grading at HBS is not designed to be incredibly transparent — although class policies differ slightly, the vast majority keep it at 50% class participation and 50% final exam. So, how do you optimize your time to maximize your grade? Do you go for the highly variable (and seemingly random) top quality comments? Or do you place all of your hope on a single 4 hour final exam at the end of a semester? It’s not an easy puzzle to figure out — I kind of just gave up and went back to playing Guitar Hero (don’t tell)!
And… surprisingly!… my lack of focus seems to have paid off! I ended up receiving all 1 s! I think this is relatively rare, so I’m very excited. Of course, I can’t actually tell this to anyone. Mentioning it to my sectionmates would make me seem like an overconfident jerk, and talking about it in an interview would probably be perceived as arrogant. Ahhh well…