Was talking to Amanda the other day about grading at Olin, and she made a very good point.

There needs to be a way for external people to see us and understand who we are and what we've done. Heck, we need to understand who we are and what we've done. The thing is, the grades we give now - what do they mean? They're constrained to what the rest of the world thinks they mean: "A" means you did well, "B" is just barely passable, "C" means you must have slacked and been an idiot all semester. (I can assure you this is not universally the case. I know more from some of my 'C' classes than I do from my 'A' ones.) According to our official school papers, the grades I've just cited are all bumped up a whole letter. But since we've got to compensate for what external viewers will think when we speak this language of grades, we end up with this.

Instead of patiently trying to transcribe our A-B-C grading system into theirs, if we actually want to evaluate ourselves differently, we should just speak a different grading language entirely and give them the keys to translate it. One of the first things we learned in Human Factors was that "slightly off" things are deadly because people assume they're not off at all. If you're going to be different, be so ridiculously different that nobody could possibly mistake your foobar from the classic ol' foobar. Make them examine it and assign it their own meaning, not the "automatic" meaning they assume when they see a normal ol' foobar.

Humans are curious, Amanda argued. And they'd be willing to give us a chance. We're no longer crazy nobodies from a nowhere school; people know us, they've heard of us, they've heard of the people we work with, and they'll actually take a second look at us It's the difference between "Eh, 2.5 - I know what that means; toss it" and "An E in teamwork? What does this mean?" and a closer look at your application.

Becoming the same as the rest of the world is no way to change the world.