Sunday, February 20, 2005


Maybe he shoud just go to Benedict College

A story in USA Today discusses the downside of self-esteem without competence:

"One of the things the managers talked about is an incredible sense of entitlement for people who don't deserve it," she says. "They'll come in right out of college and don't understand why they're not getting promoted in three months."

Hey, this expectation of promotion without merit starts well before graduation! Here's a exerpt from a recent e-mail exchange with one of my students:

Subject: geology 1330 grade

I never received a response to the following e-mail and I thought perhaps you never received it. I still feel very unsettled to have received a D considering all the time and effort I put in. I plan on applying to the College of Business and they won't accept any classes with grades below a C, so this class won't even count for me. Is there any way that I could do some extra credit to bump my grade up to a C? Thank you for your consideration.

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2004 6:07 PM
Subject: geology 1330 grade

      I just checked my grades and was rather upset to see that I received D+. I tried very hard in your class, I did all the reading, attended all of the lectures, and I studied really hard for all the tests. I just don't understand why I did so poorly. Is there any way you can please reconsider the grade. I am willing to do anything for extra credit.

Thank you for your time.

----- my response -----

I won't be changing your grade. As far as I can tell, you got the grade you earned. Last semester I had twelve people who got more points than you who did not get a grade of C or better. On what criterion should you be favored over them? Your final score was 225 out of a total of 450 points possible. You got as many questions wrong as you got right but you think you deserve a C. I disagree.

As far as how hard you worked, I'm sorry you feel that a lot of effort was put without a satisfactory result but I'm not in the effort measurement business. However, the next time you want to impress one of your professors of your diligence, I suggest you take all of the tests and do any extra credit exercises offered.

This guy actually thought his grade should be elevated from a D+ to a C even though he didn't show up for all of the four tests offered. David Foster at Photon Courier has wonderfully termed this "Superheated 'Steem". I didn't bother to use it on this guy but I usually ask students claiming how their hard work should be a factor in thier grade whether or not students who had not worked very hard but managed to get good grades anyway should be punished for thier lack of effort. This usually shuts them up but I suspect this guy will only shut up following real and significant failure.

Let us all wish this student well.
If we replaced the word geology with the name of my field these could be email messages sent to me. Your post is validating but also frustrating because I really want to hold out hope that it's better elsewhere (although I know that's unlikely).

BTW, I will not discuss grade issues via email; students must come by the office for these matters. This policy has cut these rude emails by about 75%.
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