College is hard. This is just some advice to help students get through.
Finishing up my Freshman year came with some pretty big academic setbacks. Two grades derailed all my hard work and effort. Understanding enemy #1, however, would have saved me a lot of time and stress. This enemy is complex, and would take a lot of analysis and explaining. Put simply, they are your professors. The first professor I tried to contact regarding my grade, simply wouldn’t respond. Don’t let this discourage you. Luckily, I tracked her down on campus before she left for the summer. However, there was another student already speaking to her, so I waited in the hall. While there, I overheard her discussion with them (it wasn’t eavesdropping, professors can be quite loud, and she left the door open). The student was a senior, and the professor kept saying how easy it is to spot seniors because they just put so much more effort into the class, turn in so much better work, are better learners, eager learners, have more fun… As opposed to freshman/sophomore… they just try to skate by, barely get their work in, and just don’t care.
Now I was hearing this and it was upsetting because I knew I put in just as much work as the seniors, and more than some of them. I didn’t find out the reason she thought this, till I was a senior. I discovered professors get printouts of all the students names with their standing written next to it (freshman/sophomore/Jr/Senior). They know that, and they’ll treat you accordingly. Seniors get better work, are treated more respectfully, are listened to more, are taken more seriously, and get better grades. This brings me to my second grade, but first I want to explain what this professor told me (when she finally finished with the other student).
She didn’t think I was a good student because I didn’t sit in the front row, I didn’t talk to her, and I wasn’t verbose in class. She wasn’t grading my work, she was grading me. I still never became that verbose, or buddy buddy with my professors, but sitting in the front sure boosted my numbers. There are other reason’s for that as well, but that would take up another post. Either way, if you sit in the back, your grade will suffer.
For my other class/professor, I manually calculated my grade, and it didn’t match what she gave me. I’ll just say this now, Don’t trust your professors or school faculty. Seriously, don’t. One of my professors, when I was a senior, actually explained what their job is. The purpose of a professors job is to make classes harder than your job in the ‘real world’. Their job is to wear you down, and eliminate weak students. It’s like mental boot camp. If you think I’m joking just look at graduation rates. Professors will mess up your confidence, self esteem, and future outlook. He thought it was ironic that kids try to befriend their professors when they should be guarding against them.
Now, there was not some epic ulterior motive behind my professors flawed grading. So don’t think they always know what they are paid to do. She simply didn’t like me. She was biased and mean. And since I didn’t talk much in class, she thought I would be an easy target. Hint, quiet students are viewed as easy targets. I went high up in the faculty ranks to find someone who could help. I think a lot of people get stuck there, because faculty doesn’t mind lying as long as you go away. I was sent to some random professor who told me there was nothing, nothing, nothing, I could ever do to make the professor change my grade. Professors have final say, not even the Dean or the Chancellor or the Police (he was a bit dramatic) could change a grade.
This is another setup for students. 99% of my classes, at the beginning of the semester, started with a lecture about students not being able to change grades. Then they repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it all semester. They will say there is nothing you can do, in simpler words, they lie. Think about it, if there was nothing you could do, why would they feel the need to keep reiterating it? If students couldn’t change grades, they wouldn’t even bring it up. No, they know there is a grade appeal process that gives students power over unfair/unkind and just plain bad professors. It’s not hidden either, it’s typically in the course catalog. So don’t be fooled.
In my process, I finally got to a person with actual authority, which was the department chair. There were quite a few back and forth’s with the professor until she finally stated that she would not come in, not go over my grade, and their was nothing that would change that. Then the department chair (having been watching our online conversation), stepped in and gave her a date to come in and meet with both of us. This she agreed to (well she had to if she wanted to keep her job). During the meeting she couldn’t look at me or come up with any legitimate arguments. I spoke, and none of her defenses stood a chance. Student’s have more power than they think. The points were all accounted for. I was right, and she was wrong, and no amount of bickering, groveling, or finger pointing could get her out of it.
Also important, stick to the facts when dealing with these people. The department chair had a Phd in Psych. He kept trying to sidetrack, and bring up discussions like why I was upset? I politely informed him that it had nothing to do with my feelings. I wanted the grade I earned. You deserve the grade you earn, not the grade they want to assign you. It’s not just a grade, it’s a representation of what academics says your worth. It can make or break a students confidence. I’ve seen it. Student’s take the grades they get and apply it to themselves. Oh, I got a B, guess I’m a B in life, or a C, or an F.
Above all, do not let them tell you what you can or can’t do. Professors are biased (especially the one’s who say they aren’t). I mean come on, their only human, though sometime I question that. The good one’s are very far and few between. Be wary, be smart, be careful. Believe it or not, it’s your future that’s at stake.
Hope this helps!