My department is fairly good at upholding what remain of our university's standards. One big one is that nobody can enroll in our introductory chemistry class after the first week of classes.
(Unless there's a monumental screw up in the Registrar's Office.)
(Or the Dean needs us to do him a "favor.")
By coincidence, the Registrar did screw up and the Dean needed a favor, both in the same week. Two different students were allowed to enroll mid-way through our semester - a senior and a freshman.
Seniors taking a first-year course do pretty well. If they've made it that far, they know how to turn in homework online and can piece together enough nouns and verbs to create a lab report. They generally aren't a problem. Freshmen are, well, freshmen. They don't know their ass from a hole in the ground even when the sun is shining.
Both students were enrolled in my class. Oh, boy.
I met both separately. The freshman was entirely new to campus. I drew him a map to the bookstore. My years of experience told me that he was going to be a big headache.
The senior was gung ho for chemistry. He apologized repeatedly for his various mistakes that led him into the situation and the inconvenience he caused me. He was going to get caught up on all the work during spring break and ace the class. He knew what he wanted to do - graduate this semester - and had a plan to succeed. With this kind of attitude, he'd do well in the class. It was obvious to me, a professor with years of experience dealing with good and bad students. I'm no idiot about these matters, after all.
I'm an idiot. Well, not exactly but I sure as hell didn't foresee that the freshman would actually follow my map to the bookstore, buy the book, and start reading. I didn't realize that he would study hard and actually do well, at least for a guy who joined the class halfway through the semester. I was impressed.
Nor did I expect the senior to completely flake out. All his grandiose claims of superior time management and dedication to graduating this spring were empty, as empty as the zeros I recorded for his incomplete homework assignments. As empty as the exam page where he should have shown his calculations for a 20 point problem. As empty as my beer right now (though not quite that sad).
I don't know what's in store for the freshman. He's probably going to scrape by and maybe graduate some day. The senior will probably graduate too, but not this semester.