Thursday, May 2, 2013

This Week's Big Thirsty from a New Correspondent, Zora from Zanesville.

I've just learned that my advisee is going on a two-week luxury Caribbean cruise this summer, courtesy of his parents, as a reward for his academic achievement. And what an achievement! He achieved a gpa below 1.0, failed a course called "College Success," and failed the remedial course he has to pass before he can begin taking courses in his selected major--all in his first year! (Of course, he hasn't earned enough credits to climb out of the "freshman" bracket, so he'll technically still be in his first year well into his second year, if he is permitted to return.)

Achieving this level of academic excellence must have been a bit overwhelming, because he ignored every message I sent him all semester long and then showed up in my office on Friday afternoon - the LAST class day of the semester - and announced that he needed to register for fall classes, like, right now. Had he looked at the course catalog, the course schedule, or the requirements for his major? Of course not! How could anyone expect him to spend time messing with all those pesky details when he's so busy piling up these amazing academic achievements?!

If this level of academic achievement deserves a two-week cruise, what kind of reward would be appropriate if he were to earn, say, straight B's? Round-the-world cruise? Lamborghini? Trip to the International Space Station? And more importantly, why aren't his longsuffering advisor and professors raking in rewards for putting up with his insufferable sense of entitlement?

Q: Is it wrong to hope he gets food poisoning on his cruise - sort of a consolation prize for the supreme privilege of teaching a student capable of such achievement?


  1. He's earned his way into the Square Root Club! A challenging achievement, because it _does_ take a very special 'flake, and significant work, to achieve a GPA that actually _increases_ when you take it's square root. No easy accomplishment, though I do wonder if he told his parents about his achievement.

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  2. I hadn't heard about the square root club. That's a useful term.

    Alan might be correct - the student got this cruise because he lied to his parents. Since the ship probably won't have an internet connection, he gets two weeks before his parents find out the truth.

    Alternatively, the parents bought the cruise for their budding genius after graduating high school. Given the rigorous methods high schools use to separate the wheat from the chaff, this dope could have earned a high GPA.

    A third possibility is that the parents measure outstanding academic achievement on a relative scale. Perhaps they are complete morons, making their son noticeably more talented than they are. I'm skeptical of this because it would require the parents to reflect upon their own limited abilities. Honest self-evaluation is not the strong suite of most people, especially idiots.

    Sorry, I got distracted by all of this. To answer your question: It is not inappropriate to hope for food poisoning, nor is it morally wrong to imagine him tipping overboard as he leans too far across the ship's railing when he barfs.

  3. I had a student like this one during my first year of teaching. He knew he was going to take over Daddy's business some day and he was at the institution just to get the magic piece of paper. As a result, he only put in a marginal effort, barely passing my courses.

    Shortly before the final exam in one of them, he came to my office and asked how much he needed to get 50%. I gave him enough information to figure out his grade up to that point and he left. Exam day came and he put in only the required amount of effort, leaving after about 20 minutes in a 2-hour exam. He got his marginal pass.

    During the summer, he went on a windjammer cruise somewhere in the south Pacific. He returned for his second year and graduated. I wouldn't have been too upset if he didn't come back or something mildly unpleasant had happened to him.

    Despite a somewhat snotty attitude and his sense of entitlement, he wasn't a bad kid.

  4. The chance to go hunting with Dick Cheney should have been his reward.

  5. It is not wrong, nor is it wrong to wish for abduction by Sumatran or Ethiopian pirates followed by rescue followed by shipwreck followed by months on a tiny lifeboat with the Speluncostani Olympic weightlifting team and a monitor lizard. They'll be blown around the great southern ocean, finally to be rescued yet again by dog-drool excreting giant, tongue-like aliens whose survival depends on consuming human sweat and skin cells. After decades with them in a small time dilation bubble will he return, finally aware of how much suffering a B- in College Success could have helped him.

  6. I just keep thinking of how he is going to be SOOOOOOOOO surprised when they don't celebrate his boogers someday, in three short years I guess, when he tries to get a job, and maybe gets one, for a little while at least.

    No, I don't think you are evil to wish food poisoning on him.

  7. Bella, I doubt he's gonna graduate in three years. He sounds like he's on an 8-year plan, minimum.


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