Home Section A - News RC among toughest graders in the U.S.

RC among toughest graders in the U.S.


Cara Cooper


An article from last year titled “Grade Inflation: Colleges with the Easiest and Hardest Grades,” has many Roanoke students buzzing.

The article, written by Lynn O’Shaughnessy, lists the sixteen colleges in North America with the toughest graders. Roanoke appears on the list, with other notables including MIT and Princeton and two other schools in Virginia, Hampden Sydney and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

O’Shaughnessy says that highly selective schools, such as those in the Ivy League, tend to give higher grades while those with a high acceptance rate, like Roanoke, tend to be much tougher.

Roanoke is known for tough majors, and even tougher courses within the major, like Business policy and English senior seminar.  RC Professors say they are tough graders, but that is because they have such high expectations for their students.

“I think I’m a hard grader.  I think most people don’t think I’m a hard grader, but I feel like I am,” said English professor, Dr. Virginia Stewart.  “I like to keep my standards high for my students.”

Stewart emphasizes giving students a lot of opportunities before finals to pick their grades up, and that way their final grade should be a reflection of the work done the entire semester.

A new professor to the school, Dr. Debra Melican in the Communications Studies department, said that her main goal is to keep grades honest with the work students have been doing all semester.

“Though it seems that I do write tests that students consider hard, my goal is not to create difficult measures,” Melican said.  “My goal is for students to take the knowledge they have learned and apply it. Ideally, I strive to have a course that challenges students in an enjoyable way. I came from a school that did not have a lot of grade inflation, and so my background is to keep grades honest.”

Several students who have transferred from other schools into Roanoke are surprised by how much more difficult the school is compared to others they have attended.

“It’s a tough school. I’ve been to three different schools, and I think this is the toughest,” said Jacob Andrews ’12. “You’ve got to really work hard to get your A’s.”

RC students can agree that, even though the work is tougher, it adds a sense of achievement after the hard work is over.

“It makes me feel accomplished to know they’re such hard graders and I’m still able to do really well,” said Tayler Kiser ’14.



Previous articleMaroon madness
Next articleXinachtli