Give me an “A,” give me a “B,” give me a “C” . . . .

My least favorite time of the semester just ended — when a very few students try to negotiate a better final grade or else they’ll lose their scholarships, will have to drop out and not be the first one in their families to graduate from college, won’t be able to get into law/medical/MBA school . . . .  We’re collecting anecdotes from colleagues for a book tentatively titled “College Kids Say the Dumbest Things,” but we’ll probably have problems with Art Linkletter’s estate and Larry the Cable Guy.  They want to know why they’re being “given” the grade instead of understanding how they earned the grade.  They take umbrage when their pleas are called negotiations or they’re asked why they didn’t complete the assignments or tests or other assignments which would have made the shortcoming moot.  I’m always bemused when I ask what their other professors have replied when petitioned to bump grades; “I know they won’t, but I thought you’d be sympathetic.”  They’re willing to waive the right to objective assessment standards and agree to have me subjectively curve their performance upward, never downward and only if they’ve requested such dispensation.  And there’s no acknowledgement that there are enough “easy” points during the semester — assignments which basically only require that they be turned in to earn full credit — that you really have to work at failing the class.  In higher education, the glib label for this behavior is “a sense of entitlement.”  One of the learning objectives is to prepare them for the professional world where a sense of entitlement ends with the first job application.  The vast majority of the students get it.  When it’s all said and done, I’d rather be respected by the latter for my fairness and objectivity than liked by the few for having greased their squeaky wheel.   From the ‘Boro, Go Blue !!  


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