Thursday, April 19, 2007

Surprise! You're Not In High School Anymore!

It happened yesterday:

I was wondering if there is any extra credit or extra work I could do to raise my grade in your class, because I'm not doing as well as I'd like to. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. Thanks.
Student X

I usually get 3-4 of these a term, depending on how many sections I'm teaching, and while the one above is paraphrased, they're all pretty much the same. And my response is always the same:

I'm afraid I am not allowed to give extra-credit work to individual students, particularly in a common class. This is a department policy, and I won't be allowed to teach here anymore if I break it. If you'd like to come in to my office, we can discuss how you need to do on the final exam, and what you should be studying.

That's my "official" response, anyway. My unofficial response, the one I occasionally wish I could send, is this:

If you'd like to do some work to improve your grade, here is what I'd like you to do:
1) Build a time machine.
2) Travel back to the third week of the semester, when you apparently decided that it was no longer important to attend class regularly or hand in homework.
3) Come to class, hand in your assignments, and study for the exams.
If you can accomplish this, I'm quite certain I'll be able to improve your end-of-term grade.

I've come to believe that grades are like money. Some people work very hard for what they get, others hardly work at all. Some people do very well, some barely get by, and it isn't always correlated to how hard they work. Most people earn what they get, but a couple choose to beg.
With few exceptions, my "grade panhandlers" have been students who can't be bothered to come to class, don't do any work outside of class, and then wonder how I can deny them the D they feel they are entitled to.
Folks, when you've got a job to do, the Xbox needs to be turned off. Tonight's party is not the last party that will ever be thrown. No one's ever going to tell you not to take time for yourself, but consider the possibility that you need to give more time to other things.


Shuttsie said...

I think building a successful time machine should guarantee an "A"!

J. Bowman said...

Yeah, but if I let them know that, they'll just build it and not use it.