Transformational Education > A new way of teaching
Donna Dubinsky (MBA 1981) on the difficulty of the first year
It was very difficult when I got here. I don't know that I was prepared for the level of intensity that I experienced, particularly the first year. I think things have changed now, but when I went through Harvard, the first year was a real grind. First of all, there was this forced curve, so the bottom 5 percent, or 7 percent, or whatever hit the screen, which meant you flunked out. And everybody, as far as I could tell, was in competition to stay out of the bottom 5 percent. It wasn't that you needed to be in the top 5 percent, you just needed to stay out of the bottom 5 percent. But that still created a competitive atmosphere.
In addition, as I recall, you didn't get any grades until well through the year, and so you got very little feedback. You had no idea what your standing was, and it made you very insecure about whether you were indeed flirting with the edge of the screen, or not. So I remember it being very intense, and perhaps unduly so. And I think that's balanced out a little more since then.