Wishing doesn't make it so.

It really is amazing how students expect grades to magically appear. Today, I had a student come by my office worried about his final grade in my class. He currently holds a D-. He needs at least a C- to graduate this semester. Because he is an international student, staying another semester may not be an option. He tells me this sob story in apparent hopes I'll take leniency on him and give him an unearned grade. I tell him, your grade is what it is because of you past behavior. I cannot fake a grade for you. My integrity forbids me for giving out unearned grades. If I caved with him, I could not face any other student asking for a higher grade and tell them that their grade means something. I could not face any employer asking why a student who graduated from our program does not have the basic knowledge that my class purports to teach. And yet, here he is, requesting me to destroy my integrity for the sake of his future. The gall!

But wait, there's more! The main reason why he has such a low grade is in part because he cheated on the first exam, which I caught and gave him and his fellow cheaters all zeros. He's lucky I did not pursue it further, but I was stuck in a place where pursuing it further may have required superhuman effort, something I'm unfortunately in short supply of. So while he's begging for a higher grade, he brings up the fact that his grade may be much higher if he had not received a zero for his cheating. Well, yeah, his grade would have been much higher. Perhaps next time, he will not cheat. The entire conversation rested on his assumption that his grade was arbitrary and could be changed by me at any time. He refused to take responsibility for his actions, which directly led to his grade. I must have said 4 times "your grade is what it is." Followed by silence.

If there is one thing I may change in the future, it will be to make it more clear that he has earned the grade.

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