Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Four Reasons Why My Students Think I'm Mean

  1. Blind Brian came to me, telling me the stories I asked questions about were not in the assigned pages. "Really?" I asked. "Let's look together!" I carefully flipped through each page---and lo and behold, each of the stories was right there! "Oh, ok, " said BB. But I, for some reason, did not want to let it go. "How do you think you missed them?" I asked----and the sarcasm was right there, plain even for BB to see. He didn't like that.
  2. I assigned a piddly ass 30 pages of reading for one week, and Struggling Sam complained to me that it took him two nights of no sleep to finish it. I told him bluntly that he needed to read more, because if he continued to read that slowly he'd never make it through college. He didn't like that.
  3. Trying Terry wrote me an e-mail, telling me "not to give up on her yet" even though she has failed everything so far, and missed the last four classes. "I'm having a very hard semester, but don't you give up on me because I am still trying!" I answered her that it was very hard, when life made it impossible to pass a class. She didn't like that.
  4. Writing-tutor Wanda went to the writing center instead of coming to class at least half of the time, and handed in all her essays at least two weeks late. She got a C in my class, even though her tutors gushed to me about how WONDERFUL she was! I told her (and them) that coming to class was important (class participation figures prominently on the grading rubric for that class), as well as handing things in on time. She didn't like that.

I get so SICK TO DEATH of their shit excuses and lame ass stupidity. That is all.


  1. Many students seem completely ignorant of the concept of accountability. And after they screw up, they want extra credit opportunities. I could tell them that since they couldn't do what I was already asking them to do, why on earth should I ask them to do more? They wouldn't like that.

    1. I do actually tell them no extra credit assignments. It's shocking for them because they have grown up in a high school culture where they can skip most assignments and then bargain with the principal at the end to do one extra credit assignment and pass the class.

    2. I agree. "If you can't get the regular work done because it's too hard, what makes you think you can do the extra credit work I would assign? "

      This stymies them, because of course they're used to extra-credit work being _easier_ for some reason.

    3. I agree. "If you can't get the regular work done because it's too hard, what makes you think you can do the extra credit work I would assign? "

      This stymies them, because of course they're used to extra-credit work being _easier_ for some reason.

    4. Ahh....extra credit... I once had a student complain on the course evaluation that one of the problems with my class was that I didn't give enough extra credit. H/she wrote that I didn't really understand how hard my class was for students and that therefore I should have been more understanding and given more extra credit opportunities. *sigh* I've lowered my expectations considerably since I first started teaching at my current institution, and this makes me think that maybe I shouldn't offer any extra credit at all. But then you know how many complaints I would get about my course...

  2. A few years ago, a parent-flake approached me saying that her precious darling was being home-schooled and failed the equivalent of Algebra 1 and the result was that she was going to enroll him in Algebra 2 anyway and that he would need "extra help".

    My response: "As policy, I only help with classes that students have successfully met all prerequisites for. I will gladly reteach him Algebra 1."

    She didn't like that for some reason.

  3. In all of my classes, I make a study guide for my students a study guide for every test I give. Because I teach 4 classes per semester and give an average of 5 tests per class, this ends up being 20 study guides. And then 20 answer keys. And the study guides are about twice as long as the tests, as I want to guide them through a thorough review of the topics we covered.

    This is a significant amount of work, and I feel that I'm going above and beyond my normal duties in doing so. I always hand out the study guides in class, but then I email the answer keys to my students so that they can check their answers (without killing any additional trees).

    Last week in class I had a student complain that they didn't get a copy of the answer key. I explained that I emailed it to each student's college email account, and then he said, "Oh, I don't check that. Can you send it to my personal account."

    When I told him that I would only send it to his college account, he gave me a look as though I was the worst teacher he had ever had. Because making study guides and emailing out answer keys isn't enough - apparently I need to personally deliver them to each student based on their preferred method of receiving them. What if he didn't have any email address? Should I FedEx him a copy?

    Honestly, if you can't be bothered to check your college email, or even have it forwarded to your personal address (which is pretty easy), then I'm not going to be bothered to give one shit about you. If you want a copy, I'll gladly give you mine, but I'm going to staple it to your forehead to make sure you don't lose it.

    1. I'll lend you my STAPLE GUN. Sorry about all the blood.

      I stopped sending e-mail to whole classes of students years ago precisely because it gave them the opportunity to whine that they didn't get it. Jeez Louise, do they ever act like SUCH young children!

  4. Well, at least you only have 4 reasons. I am definitely into double digits at this point.
    And, EMH, I get the prerequisite issue all the time when some slack-brained moron at the registration desk forces someone without math prerequisites into my Physics course. I drop them when I find out. They don't like that.

  5. I once had a student announce that s/he was going home a week early for winter break, as there was nothing in the syllabus saying that attending the final class meeting (a group discussion) was required. Could s/he turn in her work a week early? I checked the syllabus, and sure enough, it stated that not attending the final class discussion is comparable to a final exam and non-attendance constitutes a failure for the final project. I guess s/he didn't realize that I actually read my own syllabus.

    I would also get the request to send announcements to personal email accounts. Thankfully, they can set up their email to forward the messages to whatever account they like. Plus I would post everything on the LMS as well. My university has a policy that states that students are expected to check their university email accounts regularly. In my syllabi, I state they should check their email and the LMS daily. They can do as they please, but at least I'm covered.

    Formerly Academaniac

  6. You taught number one a very valuable lesson about not being accusatory until he has all of his ducks in a row. There's nothing more satisfying than having all of your evidence, arguments, and supporting documents lined up and just watch someone crumble before you.

    But that's nothing compared to the embarrassment of finding out you're demonstrably wrong twenty seconds after launching into an accusation.

    1. Conan, I admire you, wish I could have you as a student, and wish you would post again!

      That is all.

    2. Bella, never has admiration been so mutual. You straddle this line of patience and willingness to put in a jab or two and have the professionalism that really exemplify a professor in my mind. I also wish I could be in your class.

      Maybe teach an online class and I can attend.

  7. I'm a big old meanie because I must enforce rules like: if you fail a certain number of courses within a certain number of semesters, you can be dismissed from the program. The rules are there, in part, to keep students from racking up even more debt while failing to attain the degree that leads to the job that will pay off said debt. Even though, after their first course failure, we send them a letter explaining their growing liability for dismissal per rules detailed in the catalog, when they are finally dismissed they are shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to discover that there are rules that apply to their exact situation.

    1. Oh, and when I tell them that it's unethical for us to take any more of their money and/or that they can't get any more federal financial aid after they are mathematically unable to attain the minimum GPA to qualify for the degree...

      they don't like that.

    2. If the institution really cared about debt, it should reduce tuition costs, give the student a bursary or otherwise reduce that student's or every student's financial burden. Just pulling the plug when the student wouldn't have is just not fair. For all you know, that could be a wealthy student of limited intelligence whose parents really want him or her to at least get some kind of degree "like a normal person". Or maybe, on the contrary, this is someone whose opportunities are otherwise so limited that debt is always better than the alternative.

      Don't forget that dismissal is only leaving the student with some debt and no degree. It is not solving the problem of existing debt. It might be better to have even more debt (after all, above a certain level, it all becomes meaningless since it can never be repaid) but with a degree.

    3. For all you know, we've already given this a great deal of thought.

      We already hold the line on tuition.

      It is absolutely fair.

      Students are not admitted to the program, dismissed, or retained on the basis of their or their parents' wealth. Of course loans provide opportunities to those who otherwise might not have them.

      The degree must be earned for it to mean anything. The desire to get "some kind of degree" does not in itself entitle students to get THIS degree in THIS program at THIS time. They are free to pursue any other degree they or their parents wish; they can even pursue the same degree at another institution right away, or they can reapply to ours after a "cooling off" period.

      Don't forget that "even more debt and no degree" is worse than "some debt and no degree", and that they are being dismissed because they have demonstrated that they can't get the degree here and now. The debt is far from meaningless because it cannot be discharged. Perhaps with their particular strengths and skills they'll get a degree and/or job that will help with the debt.

    4. During the "cooling off" period, won't the student become even weaker by forgetting the material? On the other hand, maybe by trying again immediately, he or she would eventually pass the courses. If that's what the student wants to do, then the student is indeed earning the degree. It just takes longer. All he or she wants is the permission to keep trying until that happens.

      As for debt becoming meaningless, it's just in the sense that above a certain level, the individual might as well owe even more money because the debt is never going to be repaid.

    5. Monica, your responses don't seem to take into account the realities we face. I have witnessed first hand legislators in my state who made decisions based on the idea that students should be allowed to keep trying. Then those same lawmakers came down on us as if we were vultures (after THEIR rule about not refusing a student entry into a course no matter how many times they failed went into effect) for taking and taking and taking a student's money, allowing them to fail over and over again. We have a "three strikes and you are out" rule now. They fail three times, they are barred from taking that class again. It's a good rule, based on thoughtfulness, experience, compassion, and understanding of what students are going through. I guess you will just have to trust me on that.

    6. I would suggest allowing them to take the class again as many times as it takes, but for free. If the student gives up, at least it will be his or her own decision. Who knows? Sooner or later, the student may end up passing. By paying for any further attempts, the university would have an incentive to help the student learn.

      This could come with strings attached such as having to attend tutoring (also provided by the university) and perhaps limiting the student's course load without forcing the student to take no other courses whatsoever.

    7. For duck's sake, the federal government cuts off their loans if they take too long.

      I've had an advisee still trying to pass pre-calculus (her fourth semester at it, so she could get into calculus and once she passed that start her engineering major) in her fourth year at this place. And of course, the degree is highly sequenced and the advanced classes are not offered in the summer, so even a perfect performance from then on out (which means, in addition to engineering class two more semesters of calculus and differential equations) would take her a minimum of three and half years longer to graduate.

      But that wouldn't happen because you need something somewhere between competency and fluency with all aspects of calculus to have a chance at passing the upper division course work.

      Letting her keep hacking away at her Gordian knot wouldn't be doing her a favor, it would be pouring salt in her wounds.

    8. Why are you automatically assuming that the student is getting federal loans and if so, cannot find another solution once they are cut off? If one particular student proves that he or she can pay without those loans, why would that student be kicked out regardless?

      Sure, depending on loans must be a very common situation, but why base policy on what may not apply to a particular student? Some students may be able to pay without those loans. If the reason they eventually drop out is financial, let them reach that point. Why kick them out way before that simply because you assume that they may be in that financial position some day?

    9. Hmm. An infinite number of retries at no cost to the student. What could possibly go wrong with such a scheme?

      While that may be appropriate for some program or institution, it is not for ours. Our data indicate that while some students can initially appear quite good on paper and thereby gain admission to our program, once they are into it, they demonstrate lack of academic preparation and/or some other je ne sais quois needed to succeed.

      If they truly "want" to eventually apply the degree towards a useful endeavor, then they will use the cooling off period to find out what that gap is and fill it, e.g. take some lower level courses, study skills workshops, diagnosis of learning disability, etc.

      If they just want yet another chance to try the same thing that didn't work before, then maybe they just want a piece of paper with the word "degree" written on it. Later on, while on the job, they can present their clients with a piece of paper that says "your problem is fixed" that holds equal real value.

      We all love stories of the underdog who bucks impossible odds and succeeds, but this happens far more often in movies than it does in our program. At some point, our students must be weened from the idea and practice that they can just keep trying again till they get it right. Eventually, they need to learn to get it right (or very close to right) the first time, because their future clients will have very low tolerance for mistakes and "re-dos". Lives are literally in the balance.

      I do not claim that our policies are correct for all institutions or programs, but they are as close to correct for ours as we can currently get. It is right to question the policies and whether they have the right effect, which is why we do that ourselves, in agonizing meetings, many times a year.

    10. In my experience, students who take these courses over and over often fail because they don't do any work. I've had students taking English Comp for the 4th time, and it's not because they're working hard and just not making it. They're just not doing anything and/or missing classes left and right. Not everyone is cut out for college, and not everyone WANTS to be in college. It could be a parent forcing their kid out of the house. Who knows? But to just let someone fail over and over, ruining their transcript and wasting their money, is just utterly unethical. Legally, they're adults, but many of them are incapable of making reasonable choices for themselves, and end up ruining things, and all because everyone said, "Sure. Keep failing these over and over. Just keep drifting through your continual string of poor decisions."

      And as someone pointed out, the real world doesn't even function that way! Are surgeons allowed to fail over and over at removing someone's appendix? Are teachers allowed to get an infinite number of bad reviews/evaluations?

      So all of that is to say--No, Monica, they absolutely should NOT be allowed to take these courses as many times as they want.

    11. If it's just English Comp, they may have demonstrated the required skills by writing for other courses. If so, I can understand how they may see the course as boring and just a hoop to jump, but one that requires too much tedious work. Maybe they should be exempted from this requirement if they have the skill.

      If it is not deemed appropriate to allow students to make requirements disappear by just not doing the work, the solution is simple: allowing them to take a course that interests them more.

    12. Monica, you lost me when you wrote that offering free tuition would give a college an incentive to help students learn. I have often given you the benefit of the doubt, but as of now, I am DONE with you. You know NOTHING about what we do or why we do it.

      All of what OPH replied, especially the part about hashing our process and strategies out all year in agonizing meetings.

      And that stuff I wrote a while back about trying not to see things as insults? I dunno what the fuck happened to THAT....

    13. Something I'd been thinking earlier, but forgot to write then, is that while we initially go to great lengths to meet our students where they are, at some point during their time with us they must start meeting us where we are.

    14. Monica,

      I've mentioned before that we're kindred spirits. I often see either a much more radical version of something I think or at least a ghost or whisper of something I think in what you say. I'm going to go out on a limb here:

      Do you have Asperger's? I only say it because I've been diagnosed with it and tend to get this tingly feeling when I encounter people who also have it. It's like the light in me seeing the light in you. Just like I have gaydar, I have Asperger's-dar.

      I think your intentions are pure. For a number of reasons:

      1: You do not seem to take anyone's criticism personally. Perhaps I'm just green, but I've never seen you lose your temper or get genuinely offended by someone's response to you.

      2: You use a moniker and CONTINUE to use it despite the negativity that some have associated with it. That shows that, at very least, you believe what you say and you're going to stick to them.

      3: You stick around. You've gotten more abuse than I have and even that was from Anonymous posters, not from people with monikers like yours.

      I do think that you posting is coming from a good place, but what you're doing perhaps belongs in a different place. This is a place where professors come to vent. Nobody here hates their job, Monica. I don't care how many times they say they do. They don't.

      I've experienced what hating a job is like. You go to work. You work. You go home. You sleep. End of fucking story. If you hate the people you work with, same thing. You don't go online and vent about it. You know why? Because that's a coping mechanism. If you hate something you don't CARE enough to cope.

      I understand that your desire to inject nuance and technicality into these stories comes from a fundamentally good place: You believe, like I do, that people are inherently good and given the opportunity they will generally be decent. And when a professor trashes their students, that nags you because students are people too, and are therefore good.

      You're not reaching an audience that doesn't think students are worthwhile or good, Monica. The people who come here are among the good ones because, honestly, just look at what they write. Do any of these people strike you as not caring about their profession? A professor on this blog who one day writes that they need alcohol just to make it through the day at their job will write a dissertation-length comment on a post defending students' right to a quality education the next day.

      I encourage you to reread posts with this in mind. Please. Print out posts and read them. Pay close attention because it doesn't always come to the surface, but quite often when a professor on this site writes about a student's failure, even if it's done very sarcastically, there is a strong undertone of sadness and disappointment.

      We've all had teachers who didn't give a shit. And we all know that they were never sad for us.

      So please rethink interjecting nuance and technicality into everything. Because, really, it's already there. And I don't think you're bad, or even entirely wrong sometimes (though I think free failures are silly). Honestly, I genuinely value your perspective on a lot of things and don't want to see you hounded from the site for constantly pestering posters about nuance. That's why I'm saying this. And given that Bella, who has a reputation as one of the most patient and gracious among us (rightfully so), has given up, I really hope you take it to heart.


    15. When "I'm interjecting nuance and technicality into everything", it could be that this is actually based on my own experience. Because this blog is not about me, I tend not to tell you very much, if anything, about what actually happened to me.

      For instance, I had to put myself through university without any loans. My abusive parents (who, to their credit, eventually ended up helping me financially) simply refused to fill out their part of the loan and bursary application. Considering that, I certainly wouldn't have appreciated the university's concern for my own finances when deciding whether I should remain in my program or take a course, and least of all if I didn't even have the kind of finances they had in mind.

      Similarly, the hard-working student with a busy schedule and who did not come to classes directly from home could be me.

    16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    17. Well, I made no assumptions about you for that reason, Monica.

      We all have issues. I work full time while in college and even worked a crappy graveyard shift for a while. It's rough for sure. But the solution isn't to have society pay for failed classes.

    18. Monica, I am sorry for your hardships.

      In this case you seem to have latched onto a certain aspect of a group of policies that I mentioned. You don't need to answer, but I would ask: were you a hard-working student with a busy schedule and who did not come to classes directly from home, and who put yourself through university without any loans, AND WHO FAILED, let's say, 20 credit hours of courses within two consecutive semesters? If not, then my initial comment about applying my program's policies was most decidedly not about you.

      Please note that I said the reason for the policies was "in part" financial. The reality is much more complex and quite hard to get across in a few sentences in passing in a comment on a blog. The financial aid policies are actually separate from the academic policies, and we don't even discuss finances when deliberating a student's academic situation. We could easily strip away the financial aspects and the result would be the same, at least as it regards the reality that certain students must be dismissed.

      The fact is that once they've racked up a certain number of failures, students never complete our program. We could let them keep trying; after all, like the loan that can't be repaid so what's a few more thousand dollars, once they've got a few Fs on their transcript, what's a few more? But it never works out, and that's not good for them, nor is it good for the program. And what's not good for the program is also not good for its alumni -- if the program's reputation suffers, their diploma is devalued on the marketplace.

      I'll tell you something personal: I hate dismissing students. As do my colleagues -- it breaks our hearts all over again every time it happens. We agonize over whether we're doing right by the student and whether our policies could be improved, but we're just working our way through Kubler-Ross' Grief Stages to the conclusion that this is the best we can do. And we're still very far from happy.

      Where is our comfort, our relief from the heartsickness? It's not in the notion that we're helping to keep our time-to-graduation figures from getting unacceptably high; we couldn't give a flying fuck about such things in the face of the individual student's situation. It's not in the notion that we're "upholding standards" or otherwise checking the progress towards the slippery slope. The only straw we can grasp is that at least we won't be taking any more of the student's money, however they got it. But it's never enough.

    19. I didn't risk outright failure, but I was afraid of getting dumped from my more demanding program into the Major, which required a lower GPA. I was working too much but couldn't afford to do otherwise. When my parents started contributing, I was in danger of being cut off on a whim. I simply couldn't afford to fail.

    20. I'm sorry, but if you take off more than you can chew that's not society's problem. Education isn't and shouldn't be a human right. And attending a demanding program even less so. Don't demand that the hoop be lowered to you.

    21. The major with lower GPA requirements was not recognized by my profession's certification organization. I wasn't that ambitious. All I wanted was a meal ticket. If working my way up from an entry-level position to something that actually paid a living wage actually worked that well for me, I wouldn't have asked any better.

      I would actually have preferred for my program to have the status of trade school, specialized college for my profession, a highly prestigious kind of high school education, Associate Degree, community college or something like that. I didn't really want the false prestige of a degree.

    22. I teach at a community college, which receives most of its funding from the government and a very small fraction from tuition. When a student pays x dollars to take a class with us, it usually costs the college 10x dollars to cover everything associated with the class, and so the other 9x dollars are coming from the government.

      This money covers instructor's salaries, administrator's salaries, other staff's salaries (tutors, secretaries, custodians, maintenance workers, our IT staff, etc.), all of the computers in our labs, heating the buildings, etc. We try to offer the most affordable education possible, but we do have a lot of costs, and so this funding is essential.

      The way things are set up, the government will cover its share of the costs for a student's class up until their third attempt. If a student wants to take the class again, they will continue to pay x dollars (either through their own money or through loans), but the government will NOT cover the other 9x dollars. So if we want to let the student take the class again, we only get 10% of the funding we need for that student; the other 90% is a direct loss for us. And we cannot afford to take that loss many times. So we rarely allow students fourth attempts, and we NEVER allow students fifth attempts. We just can't afford to do that.

      And even if money wasn't a factor, there are dozens of other factors involved, all of which generally lead to the common denominator of students doing very poorly after failing that many times. The only thing that usually helps is to have them step away from the program for a while. Do something else. Get a job. And often times the students come back just a bit more experienced in life and ready to tackle their education. Over and over again, I hear older students telling me that they struggled when they first attempted college, but once they left they got a sense of perspective that they couldn't have gotten from inside the college, and that helped them come back and become more successful the second time around.

      You seem to be biased in the fact that your one major data point (namely yourself) might have benefited from extra chances without taking a break. The rest of us are biased by the dozens and dozens of data points that each of us has individually seen, collectively making a set of hundreds or thousands of data points, where it's clear that the vast majority of students do not benefit from continuing to take the same class over and over again when they have already failed. And it's not right to let them think that the world will bend to their will and let them repeat something over and over again: in most jobs, if you can't get your ducks in a row within a reasonable amount of time, you're fired.

      And lastly, it was insulting when you suggested that the university continue to allow the student to take the class for free so that "the university would have an incentive to help the student learn." Despite the fact that we are often venting on this blog, we all dedicate a good portion of our lives to helping students learn. We bend over backwards to meet them where they are, but as OPH said, sometimes they have to meet us where we are.

  8. You are singing my song, sister! I had a kid argue with me for 20 minutes over a wrong answer- he just would not let it go, and just demonstrated to me that he really didn't know the material because when I asked him how "A" was a better answer than "B" he gave me a whole bunch of wrong examples. The went on and on that I should give him credit for "showing his knowledge" (presumably this didn't include the exam, but rather his rambling BS) Yes, of course, let every student have an oral defense of their exams. That is a great use of my time. He was just so ENTITLED the whole time he was talking to me. Another student followed me out after class because he needed me to "Alleviate his anxiety, since he didn't do well on the exam." This is a nice, smart student, I like him. But I am not a therapist!!!! So my students think I'm mean too.

    1. It seems we have a bifurcated student body. There's one type who overshares any manner of sordid stuff that (theoretically) should have little to do with my dealings with them. Then there's the other type who struggles academically but won't come to office hours out of fear that I will find them "weak" and judge them harshly. I wish these types could swap some characteristics.

    2. My grandfather Viktor (back when the family spelled it "Frankenstein") was an old hand at brain transplants, but alas, microsurgery didn't exist in his day.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I have a lot of Terrys at the moment (most in my inbox, one in my office yesterday). While I'm sympathetic, I agree with OPH: letting them take (and fail, or drop halfway through) the same class over and over again, without doing something to address the external conditions that are leading to that failure, does them no favors.

    In the case of the student in my office yesterday, who said that ze was doing fine in hir other classes, but had a mental block about writing, and was talking to a counselor about that, I could only say that a counselor sounded like the right sort of person to talk to about that problem, because that's really not my area of expertise. We already routinely do the basic things that someone might recommend for tackling a big writing project -- breaking it down into small, manageable steps, which admittedly can bring on anxiety themselves due to their quantity, but, as I tell students, if they just do all the little assignments in the course, they will find themselves pretty well-prepared, with some draft material ready to go, when they get to the point of drafting the big paper. Beyond suggesting that a student begin by tackling one of those little steps, preferably sometime well before the middle of the semester, I haven't got much to contribute.

    Well, there's always the old "apply seat of pants to seat of chair" advice (and the modern addition: after downloading a copy of the assignment and any necessary sources, disconnect from the internet, and just leave notes in the text if you feel the need to look something up). But they probably wouldn't like that, either.

  10. Generally Confused

    I have started explaining to students that they don't really pay the full cost of their education. The gov't pays 50%, because their tuition could not pay for everything we have. Sure, the gov't use to pay 75%, but regardless, their seat in a class represents an opportunity that tax payers are investing in. So if they don't do their work--or if they need more time to develop--they need a different approach.

    Most of my students are overloaded according to the accreditation board which attaches 2-3 hours of homework to every 1 hr of credit per week. Can they cut back their class load and take time to appropriately absorb the material? I know that time is money, but the solution isn't to let someone keep sitting in class and using taxpayer dollars.

    What we really need is more employment opportunities all the way around. At one time, college students were considered adults who were capable of learning from the best minds our nation could provide.

  11. I once was bitching to my mom how some of my students were yelling at me that I gave "trick questions" on my exams. They weren't "tricky" if you knew the answer, but my mom bypassed that idea and simply said "Who said you weren't allowed to ask trick questions?"

    That little bit of wisdom came far too late to save me from quitting teaching, but, damn, I hope it helps some of y'all:

    Who said you weren't supposed to be mean sometimes?????

    I have been in OP's shoes for each of her examples above. Multiples times over! And accused of being "mean" more times than I care to remember. And each time, all I was trying to do was snap some slack-jawed doofus out of his or her idiot-brain and start engaging in the education I was struggling to provide. And, you know what... sometimes it works!

    P.S. to OP: One of my Blind Brians (a Blind Breanna) actually accused me of grading her paper for things I didn't ask for. So we went line-by-line through the instructions and I asked her to show me where she discussed those topics in her paper, just to see if I missed it. It was 10 painful minutes of her screaming at me (in a hallway) that I was being unreasonable as I showed her that I asked her to discuss a minor topic in the instructions and she skipped it. I ended the meeting after she began, very loudly, telling me what a horrible teacher I was. She was literally in an insane rage-spiral. If I hadn't been a lowly adjunct, I think (in retrospect) I would have had her removed from the class permanently. She and her cronies poisoned the whole rest of term.

  12. OPH said: If they just want yet another chance to try the same thing that didn't work before, then maybe they just want a piece of paper with the word "degree" written on it.

    Then Monica said: The major with lower GPA requirements was not recognized by my profession's certification organization. I wasn't that ambitious. All I wanted was a meal ticket...I didn't really want the false prestige of a degree.

    Apparently, the prestige associated with the degree is not false; rather, it is earned through attaining the degree program's higher standards and thence acceptance by the profession. Otherwise, the profession would not likely have set such standards.

    Monica would not be the first to desire the benefits of the grapes but not the rigors of the climb to reach them. Nor would she be the first to disparage the worth of a degree or those who had attained one. This illustrates why the asylum is best kept out of the hands of the inmates, as they are far from the most qualified to know how it should be run.

    Had Monica been enrolled in my program, if her need to work to meet expenses had left her with too little study time, we could have devised a decelerated academic schedule such that her GPA could be maintained. This would have increased her time-to-degree, but life is a series of trade-offs. There is no shame in making the grown-up decision to work through the program at a feasible pace.

    Some students are able to work part- or full-time and maintain the minimum GPA, but some are not. When they repeatedly choose both to bite off the full course load and to work too many hours, and then drop below the minimum GPA as a possible result, they have demonstrated themselves incompetent to set feasible goals, and they will not succeed at the job for which they are training. Sometimes, we have no choice but to release them to succeed elsewhere or to return to us with their academic and/or non-academic issues squared away, such that they can perform at the level the program demands.

    We try to accommodate the many real-life scenarios of our students, but there are some things we cannot do. The desire for a degree or a meal ticket does not trump our need to maintain certain standards.

    If the students really cared about mastering the material for use in their future lives, they should do what it takes to make that happen. If fear of failing a course alone is not enough to goad them into learning it the first time, then, by paying for any further attempts themselves, they would have additional incentive to help themselves learn.