Thursday, November 03, 2005

"But you can't destroy my dream!"

"Could I talk to you about my grade?"

"Sure. Come on in."

"I know I haven't been doing too well this semester and I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to get a B in this class. I have to get a B, actually a B-plus, or I can't be accepted into the major."

"Hmm, looking at your grades here. We're 10 weeks into the semester. We have about five weeks to go. You have one major assignment left and then the final presentation. You have a 61 average. Looks like you failed to turn in one whole assignment. And you've missed a lot of classes."

"I know. My family made me come home that week because my brother was in the hospital."

"Anything serious?"

"Um, he needed an operation...for a hernia."

"And you had to be there? Are you a surgeon? Sorry. Just kidding. So you missed one of the six assignments and you skipped a whole week of classes. Not good."

"Is there anything I can do for extra credit or anything?"

"Not really. Your best bet is to drop the class now before the final withdrawal deadline. You're looking at a D at best. And that's only if you ace the final two projects."

(Tears appear.)

"But I have to pass this class and get into this major! It's my dream!"

"Your dream is to major in public relations?"


"Judging from your work so far...."

"You can't destroy my dream!"

"Tell me something. Did you work on your high school paper? Do you keep a journal? Have you been over to the campus paper to get reporting assignments? Covered any on-campus events? Are you doing any writing at all outside of class?"

"I really haven't had time this semester."

"Name anyone who's well known in the field of public relations."


"Anyone at all. In PR."


"Tell me in a few words what `public relations' is."

"Well, um, I think it's like you work for companies and help them do events and parties, right?"

"No, that's catering and party planning. For that you go to catering school. Look, if you came to me and said your dream was to be a chef and you had never studied cooking before, never cooked a meal, didn't know a wok from crockpot, couldn't pick Julia Child out of a lineup--and you were flunking Intro to Kitchen Basics--how serious should I think you are about your dream?"


"So there's nothing I can do for extra credit?"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So i give my best performance for 10 mins in front of you and you dont fall for it? Man so my acting sucks too!

12:26 AM  
Blogger Teaching Assistant said...

My first day of teaching Intro to PR, I asked the students what they thought PR was. They started talking about Entourage and such. I flat out told them that PR was not like Samantha in Sex and the City; one girl seemed truly disappointed. They also didn't seem to like the idea that instead of going to 3 martini schmooze-fest lunches that generally I ate at my desk. I don't mind them coming into class with those perceptions of PR. Really, I understand most people have them. But I damn sure don't want them to have those ideas when they get out of my class.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh -- these SMU ho's make me want to to puke. That school is unbelieveable!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Ianqui said...

Actually, I think this is pretty revealing. We get these kinds of excuses all the time, but either many bloggers don't write out the whole conversation, or we don't bother to show the student where the logic breakdown is. At the start, you might feel bad--if the student's dream really is PR. But the more you press her, the more you learn. Maybe I should be more forceful when I get these stories.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous a student doctoral said...

As a doctoral student, I've had a number of Masters candidates and undergrads come to me asking for the secret to get into a good Medieval program. For the longest time, I'd mumble something about good recommendations, a good writing sample, and so on. That all changed when one student pressed me on what I'd done. I started listing all the languages (nine of them), the hours or work, dealing with publishers, the strictures of research, so on and so forth. This student left the conversation rather crushed. I did feel bad for her - like I'd squished something inside of her. Only later did it occur to me that it was far better for her to be forced to think seriously about whether or not doctoral studies are really for her now than after she blew a ton of money on admissions fees.

I think the same can be said of young Ms. Dreamer.

That's certainly to say that one ought not be gentle, kind, and charitable in such things while maintaining one's integrity (something the Prof seemed to have done rather well). But, candor and honesty are good, good things.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration with students not doing their work, but chastizing this student for not already knowing what he or she is in college to learn seems a little unreasonable.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Welcome to the real world.

Does not matter what you do, the dues are due and payable in full prior to submission of the application. Blood and tears are the coin of the realm and you will be taxed accordingly.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WARNING: Explicit material not suitable for all readers.

I went to college to get as much pussy as I could and because most all my friends were going. I was immature and vaguely serious about school. I paid my own way through and ended up working hard to obtain a degree with a B average. I am now successful and have a better understanding of life in general. I had very little guidance from parents, school counselors, etc. I turned out fine, as I am sure many others do after figuring things out. The learning curve for an academic and social education is quite dynamic.

A wide array of personalities encompasses a university and not everyone is a word or book nerd. I would like to be better informed regarding many issues; that is one reason why I am participating in this wonderful free online writing class.

So, for all the pussy chasers, blow job providers, the career clueless, take your time, hopefully it will all work out. For all the instructors with little patience for people like me, please keep in mind that maybe we all did not have a good model to follow.

I have a degree in finance but own my own marketing company. How is my opening sentence for an attention grabber?

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Scarlett said...

Speaking as a college student, I can honestly say that we have NO shame when it comes to upping our grade. I have offered to babysit, offered to dogsit, and worn shirts that my dad wouldn't let me out of the house in.

The classic lines which I hate and never use..
"That stupid teacher gave me a D!"
"I totally got an A in that class!"

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous (former?) pussy chaser:


1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

Hmmm, her public relation skills were pretty good I'd say. She kept you going, attemped a tear or two, played innocent in-need-of-desperate-pity. If you were a man, she'd have probabily gotten her way.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think sometimes people want to do something simply by what they've heard about it. For example, smart kids become "doctors" and make lots of money. Smart kids do not necessarily become doctors who work long hours and save lives. One could probably think of a million examples like this.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous highschoolkid07 said...

Hey, hehe! That's great! My physics teacher (I'm still in highschool, but he loves this uni. He's an IB teacher) read to us a story sort of like that probably written by a prof. at this same university.

I just wanted to say that I love reading this blog! THanks for making it! :)

3:52 PM  
Blogger GrumpyGringo said...

When the hell did PR become an actual major? Why the hell does SMU claim to be a liberal arts school?

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My own approach to the subject of extra credit is to be clear that it can only be extra if it is over and above the basic requirements of the course. By that I mean in addition to, not instead of, the course requirements. It's EXTRA credit, not ALTERNATIVE credit or "AT YOUR CONVENIENCE credit.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HP kids are just followers, University of Chicago students have been throwing "Ghetto Parties" for years.


6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of when I was T.A.-ing a class and had given a student a C grade on the final. As I recall the exam paper was filled with misspellings and grammatical errors which made it difficult for me to understand what the student was trying to say. A C was generous.

The student, a Senior in the Journalism School, came to discuss the grade. When I described my reasons for giving the C, the student commented that I was "just taking off for English and this was a class in Archeology".

7:01 PM  
Blogger Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

Great blog! I've got you blogrolled; enjoying everything I read here. I'll be back!

7:31 AM  
Blogger SuperHolmie said...

I never, NEVER give extra credit to my students. It pisses me off when they come to me in the last week of the six weeks, with a 65 average, expecting me to give them an extra credit assignment. I just laugh at them. For one, they need to take the other five weeks of the grading period seriously, and two: if they couldn't do the work I already assigned them, how in the WORLD would they be able to do extra credit? Man, this chaps my ass. I also don't drop the lowest grade, grade on a curve, or round. I've given plenty of 69's to crying, whiny kids.

Sorry for the venom but this happens to be the end of a six weeks at my school and what you posted is what I've been dealing with all week.

11:50 AM  
Blogger DVE said...

I've recently had similar conversations with a couple of my students.

"Is there anything I can do to pass this class?"

"You do realize you've missed the first three weeks of class and all the assignments from that period? Chances are..."

This is my first term teaching and I'm realizing that even if you give students who've blown off your class a "second chance" they aren't going to work any harder the next time around anyway.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Frolic said...

So wait who is well know in the field of public relations?

I'm vaguely interested in PR (both my parents work in diferent kinds of media). I have friends who work in PR so I have a realistic idea of what they do but I can only think of names of PR firms not specific people.

Good job of getting past the sob story. Hopefully she'll revaluate why she's at college.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:52 AM  
Blogger echovillegirl said...

god all these annoying anonymouses are starting to bug the hell out of me! phantomprof, please, please PLEASE delete the haters...their opinions are stupid and off-topic anyways.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an adjunct teacher, I've heard the same excuse from students. One student approached me, saying that he missed the test, because his grandmother died. His eyes filled with tears when he told me. Naturally, I believed him. This was my first semester of teaching. After a month or so, I realized what a good actor he was.

As a former preschool teacher, I am tempted to label this behavior as "developmental," meaning that maybe these students are going through a stage. In reality, they learn to be good liars. A skill which, unfortunately, may get them a great job, someday. But usually, this behavior catches up with you.

It does challenge teachers, though. Especially new teachers. I sometimes wish college students could be as honest as preschoolers. Perhaps they've been well-trained by the adults in their lives to lie.


2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason they do that kind of crap is because they hope it will work. They reason they have this (false) hope is because it has worked for them, or for others, in the past. Putting a stop to that actually helps them in the long run. Keep with it -- they won't get any "do overs" in their actual PR jobs... they screw up and mis-manage a situation or blow off a deadline or a week of work and they won't get another chance.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Denise said...

It's always amazed me how so many people do not research their major choice at all. I can understand maybe not knowing a prominent PR rep, but some remotely accurate answer to "what is PR?" should come readily if that's what you think you want to do with yourself.

Also, I agree strongly with the anonymous above who said extra credit is extra credit, not "at your convenience" credit. So many students don't believe the general chemistry profs here when they say, "There is no extra credit in this class!" on day one that they repeat it right before the late drop deadline and again at the end of the term. When I'm actually the instructor instead of the TA, I might be happy to give an upper level class's students an opportunity for a small amount of extra credit for attending seminars by visiting profs, but no way am I going to violate stated course policy for freshmen who didn't do the work to earn the grade they wanted when they had access to free extra help from TAs and advanced undergrads at pretty much every time imaginable except Friday/Saturday night.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Gardner said...

Each student who enacts such manipulative drama corrodes not only the mission of higher education but the trust and empathy that mission depends on.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a similar situation recently, but this student had gotten solid (and low) F's on two test of the semester. She wanted to know if I could "guarantee" her a C. Someone suggested I should tell her I can't even "guarantee" her an F.
This student has a documented disability, but tried to use it to explain why she didn't pass, even though I had made all the accomodations requested at the start of the semester.
My problem is also determining who is lying and who isn't. Without proof, unfortunately, you just have to assume everyone is lying- which isn't the best way to work, but these days seems to be the only way to be fair to everyone. More often than not, when asked for a written excuse, the students disappear and never talk about their missed assignment again.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It used to be that extra work meant extra credit, wasn't it?

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous above:

Did Elaine call you out about something? Your post seems like you've been called out by Elaine. Why else would you be so concerned about posting immature messages on her site? Post your name so we can all make fun of you for being a weasel.

1:52 PM  
Blogger milowent said...

elaine liner is awesome!!!
real question: why don't more professors just grade on a curve?

2:23 PM  
Anonymous handworn said...

More and more, I'm struck by the truth of Emerson's statement that the force of character is cumulative. These kids were never stretched; never had much real-life experience. A year living and working out on your own between high school and college ought to be mandatory.

And to the pussy chaser, who thinks maybe he didn't have a good model to follow: look to your parents first who had you (put up with you, sounds like) for eighteen years before you look to a professor who had you and thirty other kids one hour a day for eighteen weeks. Finally, though, look in a mirror.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Decklin Foster said...

My mommy says i'm special, and the world revolves around me!

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor, poor Handworn. Your name says it all.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Roberta said...

Elaine Liner, foul-smelling? You *must* be joking. No, wait. You *must* be some lame-assed SMU student who tried once to bluff her, and (inevitably) failed. The Prof's hard love is the best thing that could happen to the cream puffs of that campus. Repeat after me: Someday, you'll thank her.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Sarah M said...

It doesn't surprise me at all how misguided the general public is about the field of PR, since real PR is such a behind-the-scenes job. What's ironic is that dispelling misinformation and disseminating carefully-chosen correct information is one of the main things PR professionals theoretically do best.

To the above who asked: For a prominent PR professional, try Dee Dee Myers.

(So glad I majored in PR at UNT instead of SMU... PhantomProf, if you ever get a hankering to teach again, you might really like it there!)

2:38 PM  
Anonymous English Prof said...

Here's a course policy I put together that has helped reduce grade grubbing in my classes.

"I will not change you final course grade except in the case of a mathematical error. Please do not take up my time with last-minute requests for extra credit or tales about how you need a better grade so that you can get into law school, get into graduate school, get back into your parents’ good graces (or other similar irrelevancies). I will not participate in any conversation or answer any email message whose subject is grade grubbing. If you wish for me to reconsider your grade on a given assignment, re-submit the graded copy of the assignment along with a one page note explaining why you believe the grade should be raised. If I find your argument frivolous, I will lower the original grade. That said, I encourage students to come to me – early in the semester – asking for advice on how to raise their performance (and thus their grade) in future assignments."

3:13 PM  
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8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in highschool, and I take all Honors courses. On my report card I have As and Bs. I try very hard in all of my classes, but I am not very good in algebra. I currently have a D in there(one point from a F actually). My teacher says that it is because I talk to much, but honestly I do not talk in the classroom. I take my notes and try my best. However, obviously my best is not good enough. We have one week until the marking period is over and I really want to bring it up to a C at least. My teacher will not allow extra credit though.

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