Showing up is not half the battle

ReAnne Utemark

The idea of getting decent grades to show up to class irks me. In a Feb. 17, 2009 article of the New York Times, reporter Max Roosevelt wrote a story about how some college students expect high grades because they show up and do the homework – not do well on the homework, necessarily, just complete it. This sense of entitlement to an “A” is, frankly, ridiculous.

Sure, President Obama wants to make it so more people can go to college, which is wonderful. The United States is lagging behind in the creativity race and already is being surpassed by many European countries and in particular, China. New perspectives in college classrooms will be good for the dynamics of those classrooms and will help us recreate and reform industry and academics. However, the only way the U.S. is going to “catch up” is also by making the students work hard and reward effort, talent and excellence.

Some students work really hard to do well, not just skate by. Sure, there are days and weeks when one does not read the assigned chapter or has just fallen behind. It is understandable, but to do that constantly is a waste of tuition money and professors’ time. It is also a waste of the students’ time who work hard.

In the New York Times article and even in some classes I have been in, students expect to be rewarded for showing up and maybe doing the reading. Professors also have to force participation by making it part of the grade.

The students reading this are now disregarding it because I am one of “those” kids – one who always talks in class and always shows up. Sure, I always talk in class because I am a loudmouth. Honestly, I write a 500-word column ranting about something every week. I have skipped class, forgotten assignments and even crammed for tests, but these are not habits. Students who expect a decent grade because they show up and play on facebook in class do not respect their education, which is infuriating to those of us who do. Being a brownnoser does not get you good grades, being smart and working hard gets you good grades.

Students rack up thousands of dollars in debt to only barely pass classes. They get nothing out of them and people who do care usually get partnered with them to do group projects.

On an unrelated sidenote, this is why group projects are terrible.

Students, even if you do not find benefit in general education, which you should, you should still work hard to engage with the class. An “A” grade is not for effort, an “A” grade is for excellence. Also, you should not expect to pass a class simply for showing up and napping, which is also fairly prevalent. Doing the reading, the homework and showing up is not half the battle, it is the beginning.