- Studying Law at Yale
- Our Faculty
Centers & Workshops
- Centers & Workshops
- The China Center
- Cultural Cognition Project
- Debating Law and Religion Series
- Global Health Justice Partnership
- Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights
- Human Rights Workshop: Current Issues & Events
- Information Society Project
- John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy
- The Justice Collaboratory
- Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization
- Law, Economics & Organization Workshop
- Legal History Forum
- Legal Theory Workshop
- The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program
- Middle East Legal Studies Seminar
- The Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund
- Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights
- Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative
- The Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy
- Yale Center for Law and Philosophy
- Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
- Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges
- Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law
- Yale Law School Center for the Study of Private Law
- Yale Law School Latin American Legal Studies
- Quinnipiac-Yale Dispute Resolution Workshop
- Workshop on Chinese Legal Reform
- Student Life
- YLS Today
- Info For
Saying Goodbye to Grades
February 23, 2010
I didn’t worry about grades in college. I was in trade school (as I am now) and was sure that the jobs I would hold would be staffed by people unlikely to care that I had attended college, much less want to know my GPA or see a transcript. I was almost exclusively motivated by academic interest when choosing classes. Fortunately, this benign neglect of my GPA did not hurt me in the end.
Many applicants and, I believe, all current students find Yale’s idiosyncratic grading system—which includes a first semester entirely free of grades—appealing. We all thoroughly understand and appreciate the way it allows one to ease gently into the work of the law, establish relationships with classmates and professors free from the pressure of grade-induced competition, and direct energy to projects outside the classroom.
Each of these is invaluable. Each has made the first few months of law school among the most engaging and enjoyable of my life (I hear this is not always the case).
Less obvious, however, is the way they interact. This lack of grades is a life-long gift. It allowed me to construct my identity in law in terms more meaningful to me than grades. It let me choose metrics and commitments more suited to my goals than competition against classmates who share none of them.
The pleasures of a completely ungraded first semester are fleeting (we do, after first semester, receive evaluative grades of “honors” or “pass”). But the effect of this openness will endure, widening our grasp of and deepening our commitment to law and the causes it should serve.