Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Long Semester is Finally Over

Been updating far less than usual lately due to the time crunch of the end of the semester. This is not only a busy time for all the obvious reasons (grading, mainly) but also because this is the time of the semester when students suddenly develop debilitating problems that only effect them retroactively, which is why they don't deserve the D they earned but instead should really get at least a B. I mean, come on, if I don't get at least a B my GPA won't be high enough to get into the business major and this is somehow your problem even though you don't know me. It's a fascinating mindset.

So I've been digging out from under a deluge of panicked student e-mails. Sometimes they're at least legitimately hilarious, but it always makes me feel like if these folks put half the effort into class that they put into coming up with elaborate excuses as to why they did terribly in the class, they wouldn't have to make up said excuses in the first place. But then I guess they'd be forced to learn something, and that is most definitely not why one goes to college.

I thought I could head off a lot of this by announcing in class (multiple times!) that I would not entertain any e-mails asking for a change in grade (if something that monumental actually happened to you, it shouldn't take you 3 months to inform your professors of it) nor would I answer any e-mails asking when they'll get their final grades. Because the final grades come out in a pretty timely manner, and it shockingly turns out that knowing your grade two days earlier doesn't at all effect what the grade is.

While for privacy reasons I can't actually copy any of those e-mails here, I will say they take on a bizarro, almost gonzo spirit of making no sense. So far the winner is an e-mail I got literally less than an hour after a class meeting in which I repeatedly announced that any e-mails from students asking to get their final grade early would be immediately deleted with no response. Sure enough, by the time I grabbed some lunch after class and got back to my office, there was already an e-mail from a student asking if I could please send them their final grade. Leaving aside the notion that I am apparently able to grade 60 term papers and finals in less than an hour, I'd like to think this person was intentionally trying to be funny, but I fear that's giving them way, way too much credit.

What makes this even more aggravating/darkly hilarious is that in addition to my repeated announcements (and the inclusion of this on the syllabus), all students in our department are required to take an introduction to the major that doubles as college skills orientation in which I know for a fact the professor who teaches it covers exactly this kind of thing (e.g. what it is and is not appropriate to e-mail your professor over). So the students have gotten this message multiple times before they get to the point of annoying me, and yet either assume that such rules of decorum do not apply to them or (more likely) weren't paying attention the multiple times when they were given this information.

And that's the most dispiriting thing of all -- if they're not even able to listen closely enough to grasp what is already common sense even after hearing it multiple times, it doesn't give me a ton of faith that they're grasping any of the actual course content. Which is something I (and most other professors) already knew, it's just unpleasant to receive constant reminders of this fact.

But hey, I'm done with students for the summer. Here's hoping next fall brings a batch of folks who are interested in their education, or failing that, at least are able to listen to simple instructions...

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