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The Amount Of Time I Have To Devote To Your Class Is Fairly Inelastic

May 23, 2018

I’ve never been a great student. I think a big part of it was growing up with undiagnosed ADHD. Regardless, I did well enough to graduate from high school and get into a good school.

Adult life started fairly soon after college did. I got married. My lovely wife had a baby and I went to work. And college had to wait. Don’t get me wrong, it was a trade I was happy to make. (And still am.)

Later I went back to school. In fact, a did it a couple of times. Each time making a little more progress and struggling through my classes. But, life kept pulling me out of the halls of acadamia.

But, there was one semester. One glorious semester where it all clicked. I had enough money (temporarily) to go to school fulltime and not need to work.

I’d had good success in business. I was starting to get a feel for project management. And I approached the semester as a project. It really fit most of the criteria:

– Projects have a start and end date
– Projects have a defined budget
– Projects have a list of features/deliverables

I also found a study partner. Fortunately, our classes matched up closely. The fact he was 15 years younger didn’t bother him, so it didn’t bother me.

I did everything that your counselors told you to do to succeed at college. I sat at the front of the class. I did the reading before class. I worked through every homework assignment until I understood it. I got to know my professors. (It’s easier for them to give good grades to someone they know.) I went to campus in the morning and stayed there all day.

And it worked. I found I had an aptitude for the subject matter. I soaked up the material like a sponge. The labs, typically my nemesis, sailed through the automated graders. My lab partner typically submitted his first and explained to the TAs where their grader was broken. I was often the second person to submit them.

And then disaster struck. My hard drive failed. It took about a week to get it replaced. With most classes I did okay, but I fell behind in one class by a week. The class was 100% labs and tests. I did all the labs, but turned them in a week late, suffering a 10% penalty. I couldn’t seem to get back in front of the calender.

Finals time came around and it came as an utter shock to me that I was carrying a 4.0 GPA. Well, I was in every class except that lab class. I ran the numbers. Even with 100% on the final exam, I would fall below the score for an A.

Did it matter? No. Did I care? Absolutely!

I went to see the professor.

I wonder if I could ask for some consideration on my class score?

What did you have in mind?

Well, I’ve done all the work in your class. I’ve been in class every day. I got a 97% on the mid-term. I’ve turned in every lab assignment. I’ve done the work. It’s just that my laptop crashed halfway through the semester. That put me behind.

Why didn’t you get caught back up and on track?

Well, the amount of time I have to devote to your class is pretty inelastic. I had enough time each week to do one assignment, but not two.

What would you suggest?

I was hoping that if I get an A on the final, that you might waive the late penalties for my labs. It would give me an A for your class and I will achieve a 4.0 this semester.

Well, I don’t know that I can commit to that right now, but let’s see how the final goes, shall we?

I never studied so hard for an exam. I achieved a 98%. The rest of my classes also went well and I was waiting on my professor to see if I’d achieved my one (and so far only) perfect semester.

I didn’t talk to him again, but when grades were posted, it showed a solid A for his course. I wasn’t even disappointed that I’d missed the Dean’s List. One of my classes was listed in the course catalogue as 3 credits, but it was actually only 2 and at 8 credits for the semester, I fell one below the minimum needed to qualify for the Dean’s list. It didn’t matter.

The next semester we took the rest of my college money and adopted a group of three sisters from Colombia and I had to go back to work.

But, for one glorious semester, I succeeded at college.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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