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.