So, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm an incoming freshman at case. Hence, this past—hmm, Sunday through Tuesday isn't really a weekend—these past few days I was at orientation.
One of the most interesting sessions during orientation was "academic integrity." I was expecting this to be phenomenally dumb, and the episode of "48 Hours" they showed almost lived up to this expectation. Afterwards though, I was in a group to discuss the video with Dr. Deepak Sarma. He was extremely interesting to listen to, not only about cheating but general academics at Case.
He taught for a year at Yale prior to coming to Case. He said he could teach anything to the students at Yale and they would always get A's, but they never learned anything from the class. They could always do well on the tests, but they didn't really understand the material. At Case, he explained, he sees the opposite. The students may get mediocre grades, but they come out of the class with an understanding of the subject that the Yale students didn't have.
I'm not sure how much I believe this, or how much I agree with it. It has always been my opinion that many of the most "intelligent" students at my school act just as Dr. Sarma described. They can get an A in anything, but they learn nothing. But I'm wary of using this as an excuse for my own behavior. I also know someone going to Yale who I would never describe as Dr. Sarma described Yale students, but I know many other students going to similar universities who completely fit that description.
If nothing else, Dr. Sarma has made me much more optimistic about Case than I was when I decided to attend. At the time I saw the students with perfect A's and a perfect lack of understanding enrolling at Harvard, Yale, and similar schools. And I wondered why that wasn't me. When I answered where I was going to college, it was always in the most self-deprecating manner. Now I realize, maybe that was unfounded. They may be going to Yale and Harvard, but I know my stuff. To hell with grades, I'm here to learn something. That's the attitude I pick up from some of the people at Case, and I like it.
I look forward to starting classes. We'll see what happens.