In Pursuit of Mediocrity

26 08 2010

My dad is a college professor. His employer recently introduced a new grading program. Professors aren’t (as of yet) required to use it, but we’re guessing before long it’ll be mandatory.

Computerized grading programs. They’re cool, right? Helping instructors save time, posting grades online, blah blah blah. Why am I even writing about this?

According to my dear papa, when students log in to view their grades, they have the option of pressing a “What If” button. “What if I don’t finish this assignment?” Press the button, and find out how your laziness affects your grade! This is especially useful in those pesky classes that weigh every assignment differently. You know, the ones where professors think tests are more important than quizzes, or papers are more important than class participation. Silly professors. You press a button, and the computer figures out just how much your inability to complete the necessary work will hurt your GPA!

From a student standpoint, this is a pretty fantastic development. I admit, I would’ve loved something like this when I was in college (you know, before I dropped out three separate times), which means we’re back to the question: why am I writing about this?

Because I’m bitter. I took an American History class and the final assignment was a 6-page paper. No biggie, right? Really, I could’ve popped that out without much effort, if not for the fact that I’d almost rather jab myself in the eye with a cocktail fork than write a paper. I’m not kidding. If you ask me if I’d rather write a 20-page paper or have another natural childbirth, I’ll have to get back to you with my answer.

So there I am, end of the semester, with a 6-page paper due in a week. If you’re waiting for me to tell you how I hunkered down and wrote the damn thing, you’ll be sorely disappointed. I did what every student does when faced with such a dilemma: I pulled out my syllabus and a calculator and did some serious math. I calculated weighted grades and percentages and grade points and made a little chart, and when everything was added up, I discovered that without the paper, I’d get a B+ in the class.

Good enough.

Thus, my major complaint in all of this? In my day, we had to work to be mediocre!

Kids these days. They don’t even know how good they have it. (Do you hear that sound? It’s my gums smacking together since my dentures are sitting on my bathroom counter. Because, you know, I’m old.)

———————————————————————-

You’ve waited patiently for my opinion about the doctor mentioned in my Legal vs. Ethical post, so here it is:

The prescriptions are perfectly legal. However, in my opinion, they’re unethical. I’d be willing to let the Viagra script slide (*snort*), and even give him a pass on a one-time tramadol prescription. But a new tramadol prescription for his wife every month? (I realize I neglected to mention that it’s a monthly occurrence. Sorry if that changes your vote.)

Lest you think I’m being hasty in my judgement, here’s what the AMA has to say:

“Physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families. Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member or the physician is the patient; the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered.”

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8 responses

27 08 2010
rachel

dude, i hate writing papers with a fiery flaming purple passion. i once got a c+ in a class i hated in the first place, because i was so sick of it that i decided not to write the final paper. good thing it was my last semester. i think i’d rather have a baby than write a 20 page research paper. thinking about writing a paper that long makes me feel nauseated and panicky.

26 08 2010
Mimi

I usually just didn’t do the project without figuring out what it would do to my grade… perhaps that’s why I failed out of college. hmmmm….

But yeah, I think it’s HIGHLY unethical to write prescriptions for your family members/friends. (Though I think it depends on the drug… I don’t think a regular scrip of Tramadol is ok.)

26 08 2010
Jenny

Gee. And to think this is what our world has come to… When I was in school I had to carry (up and down 102 steps several times/day) a very heavy backpack FULL of books (I NEVER read) for tests and papers, which I happen to slide by on with natural intelligence. I even had to waltz my rear to each class and read my grades posted on a piece of paper taped to the wall outside the room for EVERYONE to see! Now, “students” carry at most a very slim laptop accompanied by a fancy cell phone to pursue their higher education (and lower for that matter). And you are telling me they now get to determine a “what if” approach towards grades, etc.?!?!?! I am pretty sure I attended that very same institution! How disappointing! I could have used that! You know, I think I pulled that same “not write the paper and settle for the grade” stunt a time or two. Great minds think alike!

26 08 2010
Peter

Hey, forget natural childbirth–I’m just deeply impressed that you were so determined to not write that paper that you actually did some math. Wow. 😉

26 08 2010
Julie

I completely agree with your comment about having to work to be mediocre! That was me too!!! I also couldn’t agree more about writing a paper. I remember dropping a class because they required a 20+ page paper. I found one to replace it that only required 6 pages. 😀 That was me working toward mediocrity.

26 08 2010
Cecily

Of course, the “what if” button doesn’t take into account the possibility that they bomb that final exam–you know the one that if they pulled a C they could pass the class–and then be in the position where they would have to sweet talk another professor into letting them turn in those assignments that weren’t so important when they only needed to pass the class. I remember a student coming up to me and telling me that he needed to pull an A in my class because he would lose his scholarship if he didn’t. (He’d bombed his math or science class.) I didn’t let him turn in all the missed assignments or even let him rewrite his mediocre papers. I’m that kind of teacher.

26 08 2010
andygirl

goodness. the only way I like the “what if” is more of…crap (I almost cursed and then remembered whose blog I’m on an refrained. do you love me or what?), what if I bomb this final; will I still pass kind of thing.

but that what if button is awful for an OCD perfectionist like me. I’ll just keep calculating the what ifs until my head explodes. because, let’s face it, a 4.0 was all I’d accept.

also? I was an English major. I take your 6 page paper and raise you a 50 page thesis.

🙂

26 08 2010
Stay at Home Babe

Does it make us soul mates if I actually snorted right before you implied a snort?

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