April 30, 2013

Life is Unfair: Two College Grades



It’s that time of year—raindrops fall on the ground as spring flowers wave in the breeze, showing off colors that no spring fashion show can equal. Restless youth, imprisoned in secure school buildings as the sun warms the air.

It’s the time that final school grades are revealed to students.

I’ve heard many students complain that their grades are unfair. Actually, I was one of them while I was in college—not once but twice.

The first experience occurred during the first year of my marriage. I’d done the penultimate—my first four-year college degree was an Mrs. I’d returned to college with an Associate in Applied Science degree from Erie County Technical Institute and several years of working experience. I returned to college because I realized another major—occupational therapy—was a more fitting career for me than being a medical laboratory technician.

We met officially In December, became engaged in June, and married in September.


That fall I enrolled in a woodworking II course. My project was a toy box—chosen in anticipation of my future children. I felt fortunate that my neighbor made his basement workshop available to me, allowing me to take my time on the project and to make a cutout of a squirrel that I added to the toy box.

The finished project was impressive—at least, to me. It must have been just as impressive to my professor, because when I received my grade it was a C.

When I questioned the grade, my professor justified it by saying he believed my new husband had done quite a bit of the work.

Yes, the grade was unfair and I had no defense except my word, which obviously wasn’t believable.

Although the grade didn’t help my grade point average I accepted the unintentional back-handed compliment—my work was so good I couldn’t have done it, so good my husband had to help me. I took satisfaction in the fact that it had to be an A-grade project.


Then there was my summer psychology course. At the time the majority of students in summer school were there because they struggled with the material and had to improve a poor/failing grade. I happened on a class filled with students who were trying to get ahead. All the best students.

The professor graded on a curve. Even in this unexceptional class he held to this grading process. I recall receiving a grade of 97 out or 104 points—and earned a C. Was this unfair?

Definitely…but sometimes, hidden within the coal of unfairness, there lies a diamond.

All this writing about unfair grades brings memories about another grading, this time of the penultimate reasonableness and respect. To read my story click on Thursday’s post, My Swimming Student.



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