uToronto law school considers scrapping letter grades to help ease student stress

April 18, 2012

After 2 years of studying how to make stressed-out students worry less about marks and actually enjoy their studies, the University of Toronto's law school is considering a proposal to scrap its letter-grade system in favour of 5 broader categories of marks: High Honours, Honours, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail. The school may also start telling faculty members roughly how many students should fall in each category in order to avoid wild variation in grades from class to class. "We’re trying to shift the culture and give students permission to really follow their interests and not just focus on what marks they get in a course," says the law school's assistant dean of students. It’s part of a larger effort to address mental-health issues across Canadian universities, she says, "and quite frankly, it’s good advice for your career as well." Stress-busting initiatives include yoga, foot massages, and "Doggie Day," where law students can play with and walk pooches on hand. One student says she appreciates faculty efforts to reduce the stress "that can sometimes run amok because of the competitive group of students law schools attract." Toronto Star