Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grades in HD

Why on earth did I just get a "D" on this paper I worked my butt off on?

This is one of the many common questions one might hear an American say to themselves after getting an assignment back from a professor here in Australia. But this isn't a bad thing here--at least not to the Aussie students.
You may be thinking how on earth is a "D" a good grade? Allow me to explain. "D" stands for distinction. So to get a distinction mark is really good.
To an Aussie (pronounced ozzie), a "C" is the common grade letter to shoot for and the most common one to get.
For the American students coming to Australia hoping to keep up their GPA up,  this may seem slightly alarming, I was sure alarmed. In order to get a good grade you have to work really hard, and I mean more than back in the States. An "A" here is referred to as a high distinction and its apparently really hard to get them (plural because there are three levels to getting an HD or H mark). Grades here aren't called grades either. They are called marks.
Students at Wesley seem to not try to hard to get good marks and are perfectly fine with getting C's. Which freaked us all out. In our handbook, getting a "C" is doing a "good, above average level of achievement." No thank you! The number grade is still a "C" and it actually translates into a "D" back home (the US).
C = 74% - 65%  :-(
C = 60 - 55 no good
All the other grades are pretty similar, in that they are still confusing, but its such a long list I wont bother you with it.
With most of us are here on scholarship we all want to get good marks. This then leads to a little bit of Aussie teasing, because they first of all don't have GPA's here and second of all don't really care about their grades in the same way we do back home.  When we got here we found out really soon that Aussies don't really care about grades. Since the school we are at is a performing arts school, they care more about the experience. At least this has been my understanding so far. We get made fun of here too, for always having our stuff finished before the Aussies. Its rather funny actually because we'll be in class and have something due and the Americans (us) are the only ones in some classes that will have the assignment completed and completed on time. We also seem to be too early for all our classes. I found out quick that Aussies are never early and are always late or barely on time. So naturally I started to adopt that mannerism and always wait till the last minute to get to class, which I did back at home anyways, so, there's really no change there.
Another thing that threw us all off and continues to throw me off all the time, is their way of handing out assignments. On the first day of classes you get your syllabus and inside is the entire semester's assignments and its our responsibility to keep ourselves accountable for turning things in on time, asking our own questions and finishing the assignments without reminders from the teachers. Its really annoying and in my personal opinion, stupid. You forget about things so easily and I absolutely love the way Howard Payne (my home University fyi) runs their classrooms and I will never ever complain about my classes again. And they don't call it University here, its Uni. They simplify everything!
We also seem to have all our assignments for every class due on the same days. This gets really hard as well.
*Side note: My brain keeps thinking of things to say and this is getting longer than I thought.*
Something else I just remembered is the way we hand in our papers. You never ever hand in anything to your teacher here! And ones wonders why they lose papers all the time? There is a bright yellow sheet that you attach to everything you will ever turn in, and you have to have it filled out with all this information--its also really annoying. You then turn in everything to the assignment box in the foyer and after they receive it you get the bottom slip of your yellow paper back saying they officially got your paper. I love America!
These are just a few of the random things that are so different about grades, classes and papers here in the land down undah (cuz that's how you have to pronounce anything ending in an "r" here if you are Australian).


  1. WI student handbook used for grade quote.

  2. Whoa, this was super interesting, Dani! I guess I didn't realize there would be such a culture shock in the "Uni" setting. Then again, your new friends probably think you are crazy when you try to explain GPA.

  3. Oh my goodness, its so hard, They don't understand why we care about grades at all. Unless we tell them that our grades are part of our scholarship then they get why we want to keep up grades.