Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Why Didn't You Withdraw?"

It's over. The last chance to withdraw for the term with that little W on your transcript has come and gone and yet you are still here. Did none of you realize that you cannot pass? Did you not realize your GPA is going to resemble your IQ? Why didn't I warn you, you ask? Because some of you in days gone by complained when told face to face the best option was the W. Now, none of us say anything. We hope you go away.

Let me recap, shall I.

Meandering Myrtle: You failed the first assignment; you did not hand in the second; you wrote the midterm and when I handed it back you saw the big F. The reason for all of this is you have missed more than attended. Why are you still here?

Cheating Charlie: You were busted. The paperwork was submitted and I was sent the formal copy of the report at the same time you were. That big 0 of a mark means there is no way possible to even get a D, so why did you not just withdraw?

Disability Darren: I tried to help. I really did. You were allowed to take a cheat sheet to the exam. You were given a sure-fire format to follow. A blind monkey with a finger up his ass would have earned at least a C. But now you inform me that you didn't want to follow the format and didn't know what to put on the cheat sheet. This will make the times you have tried the course and failed number four. They won't let you try again.


Maybe I should talk about the other side of the issue. Due to the uni's grade inflation by altering the letter grade/percentage relationship, one popular discipline raised its entrance requirement to the stratosphere. That means students looking to enter the program, and stay in the program, must have a GPA of 94% or higher.

Several students withdrew because a B- was going to kill their GPA. Apparently a B is the new C. What bugs me is these were the basic hard working students.

I miss the days when I had to sign the withdraw forms as back then I could talk to students who I believed should stick around. I could also give the form to those who needed to go. All I can do now is hang my head and weep.


  1. It is only right and fair that their GPAs should resemble their IQs. A GPA greatly higher than an IQ is a sign of grade inflation. I look at awarding low grades as issuing warnings to prospective employers. While poor grades may reduce poor students' value, they preserve the values of the degrees earned by the good students.

  2. Why didn't I withdraw? Because no one has ever before held me accountable for my performance. When I've not withdrawn before, professors have just given me the passing grade I needed and I turned out fine. Look, that even got me INTO college, so it's likely to get me out of it, right?

  3. "Why didn't I warn you, you ask? Because some of you in days gone by complained when told face to face the best option was the W."

    That's the best part. If you were to do what's right, by being honest, the children will scream and cry and damn you to your superiors, and those superiors will take every word they say at face value, hook, line, and sinker. And all the while those children insist they are adults!

  4. I count on those too lazy/clueless to withdraw to counteract my slight (pre-tenure) grade inflation, here at Midsized State U where a B- is seen by students as punitive.

  5. I just sent out a slew of emails to students who has ZERO chance of passing my courses. I am polite about it and tell them they have a choice between an F and a W. I haven't had anyone complain (yet) and I've been doing this for about 7 years.

    1. It's cute that you think those students open your emails.

    2. LOL Nice! :-)

      Actually most of them do, thankfully. They usually drop now instead of wasting their time showing up to the final exam.

    3. You mean yours don't then seek someone to come beg on their behalf that they be given a chance to pass the class? That's what happens when I do this. Suddenly, those who DO open their emails (1/3 of them) go to our Tutoring Center to get someone to intervene on their behalf. It just means I then have to meet with an academic mentor to explain (again) why they need to withdraw. Then that academic mentor offers a plan that is not acceptable to me whereby the student COULD get an Incomplete. That's an hour of my time wasted. And I've long ago learned just to let them get an F if they can't figure out to withdraw on their own.

    4. If they try to pull that crap, I just tell them I'm not responsible for dealing with a situation a student created for themselves. But I must admit I'm lucky enough to have admin who actually back up the faculty. That being said, I think your way is easier, so I'm just not going to bother anymore. I used to email them when they were in DANGER of failing in the hopes that they would come see me for help and very few of them ever did, and the ones that did failed anyway. So then I started emailing them to help them avoid an F, but now that I think about it and see what other people have to say, I can safely say that's a waste of time too. Let them show up to the final exam; I just won't bother marking it.

    5. I've always just said nothing at all when it comes to the absent failures. At Eastern State where I had a section during grad school, they wanted official failure reports at midterm, and here, they want non-attendance reports in the third week or so, but in neither case have I ever chased students down through e-mail or meetings to tell them personally how they're doing or ask why they haven't been to class. If they e-mail me to ask directly, I tell it straight and they seem to appreciate it (part of that's the culture here, in which grubbing is still relatively rare and pretty clearly seen as suspicious, even or perhaps especially by peer students). At any time, since I keep grade records as up-to-date and transparent as possible, they are perfectly free to check the syllabus and do the math for themselves.

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  7. In my majors class, I've been pretty successful at warning The Little Dears so that most in danger of Fs withdraw. But recently my dept. chair noted that this class has the second-lowest "success" rate in our large department. "Success" means students finish with an A, B, or C rather than a D, F, or W.

    Sigh. At least I have tenure.