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For the kids who freak out about an A-

November 12th, 2009

I have to say, I love taking honors classes. Not for the academic rigor, not always for the material — for the other people in the class.

Honors students tend to epitomize those students who are absolutely obsessed with their grades. For me, watching their faces as a professor hands back papers or tests is arguably better than Christmas morning.

Newsflash: grades are not the end of the world. That’s not to say that you should be riding a 2.0 GPA, but is the difference in work that it takes to get a 3.7 instead of a 3.3 really worth it? I don’t think so.

I think you all know the student I’m talking about: the one who will follow the professor down the hall after receiving a paper back and is so worked up that he got an 89 and not a 91 that he is speaking almost incoherently. It’s those two points that are really going to change his life.

I had a philosophy class here several years back where we randomly had “participation days” and if we were there and participated we got credit — each “participation day” counted for one percent of our overall grade.

One day we (probably mostly me) were a little chatty, and the professor decided that no one would receive the one percent that particular day. Boom, roasted; we all were now starting with a 99 percent.

I joke, some didn’t. There was a girl who I think almost had a heart attack. She was beside herself, and it was excellent. I personally would have paid to see the show that followed, but lo and behold, it was free. She cried and complained and I think she actually earned that one percent back for herself — well done, it was totally worth it.

When I’ve told this story before there are people who have said my reaction was “mean” or “insensitive,” but I don’t think so. Writing a solid paper is important; losing one percent is not.

I took an honors class last year where, after receiving back the first paper, the professor later told me a student told her “Well, I know I did C work, but I figured you’d give me an A.” Uh, wrong.

There is so much more to learn in college than what is taught in the classroom, I think it’s high time some people started to respect that.

If you leave here having never skipped a class (and I know someone who did), then I say to you: wasted opportunity.

You think you’re going to be able to pull that once you’re in the real world? Wrong. If you think there will ever be a day where you can simply say “screw this test tomorrow, it’s karaoke night” once you’re out of here, you’re crazy. And wrong.

In my view, the most mature people in college are the ones who have respect for their particular situation and are willing to have a little more fun in exchange for the B+ instead of the A-. You can either waste your time here, or enjoy it.

So next time you’re faced with this decision, I say: grow up and live a little.