because I can’t put this on social media but am so annoyed

Student, in October: I was super sick for two weeks and am struggling to catch up. Here are my medical forms (that do not cover the right date range), can I write the midterm later?

Me inward sigh: Yes, you can write the alternate date, which gives you an extra four days to prepare/catch up.

Student, day of alternate midterm: I am very unprepared and am not going to write this. (almost a direct quote)

Me: Ok, but you have to provide a medical note covering today for me to be able to shift the midterm weight to the exam, otherwise you will get 0 on the midterm. Do this by the end of the week.

Student: total and complete radio silence.

Me, in early December: Dear student, my records indicate you never submitted the required forms – I am willing to accept them at this time, please email them to me this week.

Student: radio silence for two full weeks. Writes exam. Exam mark decent, but with 0% midterm, student will fail course. Student notably also has a zero in class participation, the bonus marks of which would have allowed a pass in this situation.

Student, today: Can I come by your office tomorrow? Also, did I pass the exam, I am worried I might fail the course.

Me: Yes, come by tomorrow, we can talk about your specific situation. Braces for tears, histrionics, and the like, because I am not passing this student unless they provide medical documentation for the missed alternate midterm, which I guarantee they do not have.


2 thoughts on “because I can’t put this on social media but am so annoyed

  1. rainbowgoblin

    Does your university have a system in place for students who have a good excuse for repeatedly missing deadlines for medical excuses? On the off chance that this student has a mental health excuse, or something. Steffen had a student who got a failed semester removed from his record because he was freaking out because he found out his mom was a lesbian. Of course, the student in question subsequently failed Steffen’s course again, and I think that’s the real lesson: students who consistently have (potentially valid) excuses for not doing their work would probably just do the work anyway if they were actually good students. Consider how hard you’ve worked this year, even though you would have completely legitimate excuses for getting failed courses wiped from your record.

    1. labmonkeyftw Post author

      Oh I know, I find it so frustrating and heart breaking to watch them struggle, and then make choices that ultimately make things harder for themselves (deferring midterms, etc.). I have four who might fail who I think are in just that kind of situation – something went badly wrong, and they never recovered this semester. This one is one of the four, but also the one that has been least proactive about at least attempting to get the passing grade. I would not be surprised if they grieve the mark or grieve the semester entirely, and have it expunged, but at that point it is out of my hands and into the higher up admin. I *can* make an exception for them, but need to see what their reasons were for their choices later in the semester (it was a genuine severe illness that caused the original issue (and I absolutely consider mental health a legitimate illness)). A zero on class participation and not providing appropriate paperwork in a timely manner both do not predispose me to make an exception. If there are on-going issues are the heart of this, I’ll reconsider, but in this specific case I think the student has handled it badly to then expect more leniency than is mandated. The sad thing is that if they didn’t have the medical forms to skip the midterm (which I was clear they needed), and if they’d written it and failed it, they’d have passed the course. They only needed about a 10% on the midterm to pass, and given it was multiple choice, they could have achieved that by chance alone.
      I do try to keep the perspective that not everyone is as hard-nosed as I am about just getting their work done regardless of chaos around them – this is not always a positive characteristic of mine, and it does skew my expectations.


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