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My mom Frieda teaches college English. Today she is sharing some over-the-top true excuses she has received from some of her students.
Somehow students don’t seem to understand that a grade is something they must earn. Here are some requests and complaints I had to deal with at the end of the semester that just ended.
One student said that her hours at her job had been changed half way through the semester, so she couldn’t attend class. She couldn’t afford a bad grade because she would lose her financial aid. She finished plaintively, “I don’t think I should fail English just because my hours were changed, do you?”
Another came to my office to explain that his job had interfered with his getting to class. I told him school was his job and other employment should be secondary. He said, as if this explained everything, “But I plan to be a lawyer, and the job I have will look very good on my resume.” I told him failing freshman English might not look very good on his resume.
I kept getting emails from a student who had quit coming to class about mid-semester. He said he couldn’t come for “personnel” reasons (meaning “personal,” I assume. A lot of his spelling was strange.) At first I answered his emails and told him what work he had missed and needed to make up. He never came back to class, but he wrote that he had paid for my class and his parents really couldn’t afford it, so he just couldn’t fail. Furthermore, he sent me essays of various sorts, which demonstrated much better grammar and spelling than his personal notes, but none of which had anything to do with any assignment I had given. His last message came after grades had already been turned in. He NEEDED a B in order not to get kicked out of school. He would do ANYTHING–wash my car, cut my grass. I explained as kindly as I could that I couldn’t assign grades for car washing and yard work and it was too late to worry about it.
You would think students would have some idea what not to say to a teacher under any circumstances. One young lady just had to have a B because she had applied to be accepted into some important program, but she hadn’t been able to make it to my class most of the semester because she was too busy with her job and her other classes!
As I opened an email expecting another such message, imagine my surprise to see that a student had written, “I think you made a mistake because you gave me an 85 on the final essay, and I didn’t write it. There is another boy in the class with my same first name, so maybe you gave me his grade.” He was right—I did made a mistake, although I hadn’t given him the other student’s grade. He should have had a D, but had a B up until the essay he didn’t write. I thanked him for his honesty and told him the grade had already been turned in, and I was not going to change it.
Elizabeth Grimes says
Wow. Don’t know if that is sad or funny. Guess a little of both!
Even the idea of not going to a class is foreign to me. I can’t imagine not going and then
expecting a grade I didn’t deserve. It’s the same as not going to your job and expecting to
be paid. I like the last story of the honest student. I wish more people were like that. 🙂
I heard all kinds of stuff when I taught high school. I was propositioned if you know what I mean by a male student to give him a better grade! What????!!!! No Mary Kay LaTourneau for me!
Well, I like the fact you didn’t change the boy’s grade — keeping it real, Esther’s mom! Love it!
That’s hilarious… I think I was one of those students when I was at university, but once I started teaching received many of the same…
Hahahahah! Hilarious! I’m just glad I wasn’t a student like the ones above. Maybe like the last one. Great post.
Oh Frieda, this was a treat! Love how “almost-adults” can honestly think their excuses worthy of the effort of making the excuses. At least it is a laugh-a-dousen/dousan/dousin/dosin moment every time the excuse comes.
I always loved going to my classes. I think that is so wonderful that someone spoke up about a mistake on a grade. There is honesty out there still, makes me a little more hopeful towards the younger generation :).
I love the last kid’s honesty and that you did not change his grade afterwards! It may encourage him to keep honesty a habit after he graduates in real life!
I like this post! I used to think that “my dog ate my homework” was just another silly excuse, until it actually happened to me several years ago. My dog didn’t just eat my homework, though. She ate the entire math book! Imagine trying to explain that to a teacher! It’s kind of funny looking back on it years later 🙂