Every semester, there is a magical time of the year when students start worrying about their performance in their college courses. This time is usually right before finals. Thus begins the yearly ritual of hunting down professors (even though said students have never visited or e-mailed the professor before) and begging, pleading, asking, or just down right rudely demanding that she or he be given a grade higher than the one earned. I myself, have had plenty of out-of-line run-ins.
I had a mother try everything in her power to have me reprimanded when I told her child that she needed to do her school work instead of her mother. I still remember the woman saying, “It’s my job to help my child with her schoolwork.” Maybe it is when she’s in third grade, but not when she’s in her third year of college. I had a student tell me that because of his profession, he was incapable of doing anything dishonest so my plagiarism claims about his coursework were without merit. I’ve even had a student literally fall to his knees, put his hands together, and beg me for a higher grade. For fifteen minutes, he moaned and pleaded and, quite frankly, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more uncomfortable with a student in my office, in my career. And then there was that experience with campus security. Multiple college staff were hiding in the offices and hallways near my office after a staff member feared for my safety when a student stormed out of a room seething after getting back a grade from me. The student snorted, “I’ll take care of this” and for over an hour I sat clueless in my office while my colleagues made sure I wasn’t harmed.
Now some students reading this will just think we professors make it all up, that it’s never really as bad as we make it sound– students don’t demand or pressure professors for grades. Those students would be wrong. This semester I’ve noticed more and more friends sharing their own tales of disrespect from Grade Hunting Season. Here is just a smattering from the end of the season hunt.
Professor No. 1, Illinois
in the interest of saving your precious time, as it is vitally important
a) that you know what your grades are before you go home (because, you know, they’re not posted online for you to see or anything), and
b) that your grade should be what you want it to be rather than a reflection of the quantity and quality of your work for the past three and a half months, let me provide a blanket answer to your questions. NO.
1. NO – a baboon did not fly overhead and drop extra credit points out of its rosy behind. Thus, I cannot raise your grade.
2. NO – I do not agree that cleaning up after your fraternity’s “hella rad” party last night counts as community service.
3. NO – I do not care that your roommate took a different section of the class, did no work, and will make a higher grade than you.
4. NO – I do not need to tell you that spelling and grammar matter, and thus you will be penalized for failing to have a working knowledge of either.
5. and NO – I do not intend to meet with you to discuss any of these matters further. That syllabus that I posted before the semester started? That you indicated that you had read? IT’S IN THERE.
Professor No. 2, North Carolina
No, I will not and cannot give you a last minute extra credit opportunity. Yes, this means you’ve failed my class. Yes, I’m aware this means you’ll need to find another major. No, I will not issue you a permit for next semester. Yes, I realize this is an upsetting situation. No, I will not and cannot give you a last minute extra credit opportunity. Yes, this means you’ve failed my class. Yes, I’m aware this means you’ll need to find another major. No, I will not issue you a permit for next semester. Yes, I realize this is an upsetting situation. No, I will not and cannot give you a last minute extra credit opportunity. Yes, this means you’ve failed my class. Yes, I’m aware this means you’ll need to find another major. No I will not issue you a permit for next semester. Repeat, repeat, repeat, all afternoon…
Professor No. 3, Pennsylvania
I feel it’s important to let you know that I am not new at this game you’re playing. I have offered you multiple opportunities for a make-up, and you’ve agreed to but not shown up for any of those opportunities. Please get your business together and give your final presentation this morning, or I will have to give up on you. I don’t like doing so, but I feel let down, hurt, and insulted when I try and try and try to no avail; it pains my heart when you don’t succeed.
Professor No. 4, Missouri
Long time since this sort of thing has come my way. I’ve received an email from a parent of a student, who tells me that said student is anxious about his/her course grade, and doesn’t want it to prevent him/her from following in father’s lawyerly footsteps. Ahem.
Professor No. 5, Illinois
OK, gang. Just gotta vent. I have a group of students I’m finding a real challenge. Aggravated at students who do not read, listen, follow directions, note the day of their presentations, or due dates of assignments. One just emailed me to ask for it all to be repeated again, because she went home early for Thanksgiving. (I referred her to the handout that I BOTH gave out in hard copy in SEPTEMBER, and attached to an email a week ago.) No, I don’t know when your group is presenting. Believe it or not, I did not take that information home with me over the weekend! It’s called self-responsibility. Look into it. ARGH!!!!!! I am counting the days till this semester is over. I welcome clicks to indicate empathy, but please– no advice. Thanks!!!
Professor No. 6, Missouri
I am entirely confident that I just spent more time pulling together the documentation for this plagiarism report than the student spent plagiarizing his essay.
My statements on this matter in the syllabus are getting more passionate by the semester. The latest line I’m adding: “…. If you fail to behave honorably in completing your assignments, then you fail the course IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY.” And, you know, life. You fail at life.
Professor No. 7, Minnesota
This is how today is going: