Superstition – Long Beach, California

In the city of Long Beach there is a hill covered with a bunch of trees. The trees are very close to each other and cover the entire hill. The superstition is that if a person can roll down the hill without hitting a single tree on the way down that person will get a 4.0 GPA for that semester.  It is called the 4.0 Hill.

Andrew told me that he first heard of the hill from one of his classmates during his first semester at California State University Long Beach. He said “everybody” knows about the hill. I asked him if he could show me the hill sometime and he obliged. When I first saw the hill I immediately realized why it was such a big deal for anyone to roll down the hill and not actually hit a tree. The hill was so densely populated with trees that it seemed to me that it would require a perfectly choreographed route which seemed to be impossibility to me.

I asked Andrew if he has ever rolled down the hill. He said that he has in fact rolled down the hill numerous times. I then asked him if he had ever successfully rolled down the hill, to which he promptly responded, “No.” To the best of his knowledge no one has ever actually completed a trip down the hill without colliding with a tree. I decided that I should attempt to roll down the hill and see if I could make it all the way down without colliding with a tree. My first attempt ended with an immediate collision into a giant tree. I made several attempts but could not avoid crashing into trees.

I think that if someone were to roll very slowly down the hill they may be able to avoid collision. Andrew told me that going slowly was cheating and would not result in a 4.0 GPA for the semester. I asked him if there were any negative repercussions from failing to make it successfully down the hill. He told me that he was no aware of any and also expressed his fear of how badly he would have to pay for hitting so any trees if it turned out that there were in fact negative repercussions or colliding with trees.

I asked Andrew what he thought the meaning behind the 4.0 Hill was. He said that he thinks it is a way for students to have hope in the event that their grades are not good. He feels that if someone is doing poorly in school they should visit the hill. He thinks that even if they collide with the trees or somehow make it all the way down it will give them more confidence. The result of this confidence can be a sort of mental trick that causes them to actually perform better in school just from having rolled down the hill.

I agree with him in that I also believe that a trip down the hill might boost ones confidence and contribute positively to one’s performance in school. After rolling down the hill myself I felt as if my GPA might have risen a few points. I think it serves as a sort of ritual that helps return a sense of control to a student’s life, especially when that student feels that his or her grades may be in danger.

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