End Notes

At 2:32 pm Friday I clicked “submit” and sent my last set of grades to the registrar.  The academic year’s end always prompts reflections, big and small.

  • For the past month I’ve been going to bed at 11:00 waking at 5:00 to read emails, grade papers and projects, work out, and otherwise get a jump on the day.  The last few days I dragged, fueled with caffeine and fighting a low-grade cold.   My last exam was Thursday, two sets of grades were in, another was 99% complete, the fourth was underway.  Judy told me to go to bed early and get more sleep.  I followed her good advice, retiring at 10 pm.  At 4 am my eyes opened.  I was awake–middle-of-the-day alert awake–and knew better than to fight it.  I got out of bed, read emails, graded papers, biked, and met friends for coffee, all before 6:45.   There was no extra sleep then or any night since.
  • More students than usual seemed to be sick with colds, sore throats, and other ailments that feed on lack of sleep.  Maybe I noticed their condition because I shared some of the symptoms.  The SMG building can be a huge petri dish, home to varied and various viruses, germs, bacteria, bugs, and unnamed cooties, and we all spend too much time within its walls.  It’s like summer camp for airborne diseases.
  • Grade complaints have been down.  (A friend responded to this news with “must be grade inflation.”)   There have been a few legitimate inquiries but, so far, no one has said  “I really needed to do well in this course.  Can I do an extra project to raise my grade?”  I’ve received no emails or phone calls from parents.  I would like to think this is fruit of the transparency and fairness of my grades.  I would also like to think that students actually read the syllabus and assigned material.  I’m told a healthy fantasy life is a sign of mental health.
  • Last fall I very carefully plotted out project and paper due dates for all of my courses to avoid a pile-up at the semester’s end.   Wading through the enormous clot of projects and papers over the past few weeks I wondered how a schedule that was so smart last December became so stupid five months later.  I’m sure many students shared this sense of wonder.
  • Every April I think my courses need to be revised; this year they need major, put-the-ship-in-dry dock overhaul.  Free Culture, Code 2.0, Who Controls the Internet?–gone.  Jennings Real Estate Law 8th Ed–gone.  In both electives I need new cases, outlines, assignments, the works.  I’ll be using the 5th Edition of the Beatty and Samuelson Business Law and the Legal Environment Standard Edition.   One hears of of teachers (not SMG colleagues, I must add) who, year after year, use the same syllabus.  I cannot imagine what that would be like.

5 thoughts on “End Notes”

  1. This is the first semester I’m actually acting on a grade complaint. My problem is, I have no idea how to go about doing it. I’ve been exchanging some harmless emails back and forth with the professor, and finally when I started getting into a meatier topic (along the lines of: How far away was I from getting THIS grade?) I got a response like, “I’m on vacation. Can’t deal with this now.” Awesome.

    But you know what’s really weird? There’s another class where I know I could totally get my grade pushed up (a fellow classmate argued up 3 grades!! From a D to a C!) and even the professor admits it, and yet I can’t bring myself to act on it. Something awkward about it and I almost feel like I’d be disrespectful in asking her to change my grade.

    So of course, the hypocrite in me acknowledges that there must be some fine line that I’m ultimately willing to cross without fear of being disrespectful.

    What I find interesting is that the ultimate goal is not so much raising my abominable GPA as it is a matter of justification. Or else I’d just go after the professor that I know would change my grade without going through this lengthy verification process.

    I suppose it’s equally a matter of principle and chutzpah. And my inability to muster up apathy towards the situation.

  2. I as well haev a sore throat/cough/stuffy nose. THe interesting thing is that I stayed healthy during finals and only got sick once I was in Atlanta for my sister’s graduation. That’s really when I was going to sleep late and waking up early. Ironic.

    I guess I can’t resell my books to next year’s class. Typical that a book is onmly good for one semester. On the bright side, they’re not textbooks, so I can put them on Amazon.com and hope for the best. Have fun finding new cases. I guess this accomplishes two things: 1) The cases are more up-to-date and fresher in the minds of students should they be keeping up with current lawsuits; and 2) I can’t allow friends to “read over” or buy the rights to my past cases analyses. Good thinking Professor Randall.

    Also, since not too many people have requested grade changes, I guess I might as well take advantage of this:
    I really needed to do well in this course. Can I do an extra project to raise my grade?

    Have a great summer!

  3. Rdesai, as someone who also utilized exam review when I was in undergrad I would recommend initiating any grade dispute/exam review in person. As you found out, emails provide too much room for indirectness and vague answers, but a face-to-face chat is much more effective at getting your point across and learning from your mistakes. If you’re away from Boston for the summer, try phone calls instead.

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