Posted By: Zeya Yang on May 8, 2010
Disclaimer: I am writing this before all the marks come out to try and limit bias as much as possible. Also, I am not criticizing the program in any manner. I just believe that having actually completed a year of university, the presence of a ranking procedure leads to some engaging food for thought, and that perhaps it may interest prospective students.
Queen’s Commerce ranks its students. Prospective students may want to at least acknowledge this fact in their decision making process. It’s very easy to overlook, many people probably don’t care, but it’s there.
Personally, when I was considering all the factors, I thought a system where the students are ranked would be a definite plus. My feeling was that since the majority of everyone’s course load was comprised of the same courses, the rankings would actually set context to our marks. This is significant because in a program like Queen’s Commerce, the averages by themselves don’t really mean much. Very few students each year get averages in the 90s and those are almost always low 90s, whereas there are students in LifeSci and Engineering with averages in the high 90s, students at Desautels with 4.0 GPAs, and ones at uOttawa with 10/10. But at the end of the day, everything should be taken relatively, and a rank adds value by giving context to an otherwise ambiguous average – top 10 in a program like Queen’s Commerce sounds pretty legit. And why does this matter? Jobs and grad school, aka, the future.
(Add-in: the rankings are requested by employers and provided to them by the BCC with the student’s consent, but never published publicly, and rankings are also used for upper-year awards purposes.)
Now emerged in the system, my outlook has changed a bit. While I do still believe ranks should exist, I feel that the rankings could be done better, and that perhaps the current methodology has some drawbacks. For instance, the inclusion of elective grades in the average used for rankings will sub-optimally influence elective choices of students and heavily favours quantitative electives. David Veitch, a Comm12, recently wrote an article for DayOnBay exploring the argument against rankings in great detail. His main arguments are that the ranking of students in an already competitive environment will 1) “unnecessarily fuel the competitive environment,” 2) “lose their meaning after a certain point,” 3) “discourage academic risk taking,” and 4) “distort the focus of business school.” He also gives some suggestions for solutions to mitigate the negative effects of rankings. For those interested, the full article can be viewed here.
Of course, there is no absolute, correct stance, and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to write a blog on this topic – to provoke some thought. Given the feedback on David’s article through DayOnBay and Facebook, it is evident that it has done exactly so.