Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grades and the farce of it all

I finished that paper late at night and sent it in knowing full well it was really terrible. Not the kind of terrible when you are just self-deprecating and it's actually pretty good. Terrible. The ideas were bad and unsupported and anyway, it was terrible. I got an A.

Weeks ago I wrote a similar paper for the same class that I felt really great about. I thought it was well organized and well written. I got an A-.

You may be thinking "wow, both A's, what's the problem?!" Well, this is what my professor says about grades:

"It takes a lot for me to give an A+. It takes a lot for me to give a B."

So basically she grades between an A- and an A+, meaning that the not so great papers get an A- and the fabulous ones get an A+. Isn't that bullshit? And that's the way it goes for all professors more or less in my department (at the graduate level).

This and the fact that I know that she misgraded those papers and also that I'm a TA who marks papers without even knowing the class material shows me how stupid all of this is.


At November 05, 2006 6:06 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is too cynical. The reason for the narrow range of grades is pure bureaucracy. It's best not to worry about it.

What you should be doing is challenging YOURSELF with your essays, not trying to seek confirmation from others, including your professors. You are probably right to recognize that some of the grades will be arbitrary. But over the long haul, if you are good, it will be recognized.

At any rate, if you want to get a headstart on an academic career (I don't know if it interests you, but), think in terms of writing for subsequent publication. That way, you won't end up writing mediocre papers because you think nobody really gives a shit about it. That would be a mistake.

At November 05, 2006 10:30 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

I don't know if it interests me either. I appreciate your comment, stranger.


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