BARNES: I think you can make the case that she's one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously.
BENNETT: Yeah, well, maybe so. Did she get into Princeton on affirmative action, one wonders.
BARNES: One wonders.
BENNETT: Summa Cum Laude, I don't think you get on affirmative action. I don't know what her major was, but Summa Cum Laude's a pretty big deal.
BARNES: I guess it is, but you know, there's some schools and maybe Princeton's not one of them, where if you don't get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you're a D+ student.
Ta-Nehisi Coates promises to stop being amazed soon. I'm just curious what Latin honors, if any, appear after their respective degrees.
Look, Carleton was one of those places where cum laude wasn't that hard to attain. It wasn't D+ work (3.25 average, so B/B+), but it wasn't difficult. Magna (what I got) required a 3.5 average, which still was quite doable for a hard worker. But Summa sat at a lofty 3.9 average, and it was quite an accomplishment -- I'd say that about 10 people in our class of over 450 reached it.
Chicago's equivalent honors (honors, high honors, and highest honors) are given at 179 (B+), 180.5 (A-), and 182 (A) respectively -- but thanks to a curve where the median is set at 177, any and all honors require serious chops. Only a bare handful achieve high honors, and highest honors, in fact, only pops up once every several years.
In sum, I'd be very surprised if at Princeton, or any other college in the country, Summa can be taken for granted. But if a Latina woman can get it, I guess it must come cheap.