Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ask the Blogger: Slept through Final Exam

Ask The Blogger:

I accidentally slept through my exam, which is worth 50%. Should I ask my professor for a redo, or would that look bad?


You should absolutely ask. The answer is probably “No”, but there is small chance of “yes”.

The one thing you should do is be honest, admit to the mistake, and see if there’s another administration of the exam possible. It helps if you already have a good rapport with your professor, attended office hours, asked intelligent questions, and demonstrated your willingness to do the work and learn.

If you try to BS your way through it, you’ll be flat-out rejected. Professors get this all the time. There’s a joke going around about the effect exams have on grandparents’ health in that they tend to die right around finals week, and somewhat surprisingly, a single grandparent will occasionally die more than once. Lies will absolutely come back to haunt you to the end of your career in that department.

If you’ve never talked to them before, you won’t get anywhere, either. It’s very easy to point to the clock and remind you that the information was in the syllabus that you obviously hadn’t read and that the course would be offered again. It’s harder for them to do that if they know that you have been working hard and been involved with the course.

Don’t get angry. You screwed up.

Don’t complain. It’s your fault.

There are no excuses that will work here. Only an explanation and a hope that there was some reason that an alternative final was already planned, and that you’d be allowed into that session.


Sadly, the answer was "no" but, in the long run, it all worked out for our student. They retook the course, got straight As, and found that this paved the way for a degree path that was much more fulfilling. Later, they found themselves doing research with that professor, earning second-line mention on the resulting paper.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Ask The Blogger: Admission Revocation

Ask the Curmudgeon:

If I was accepted by Early Decision, can the college revoke my acceptance? Are there typical grades that must be maintained for the HS senior year in order to attend the college?


“Senioritis” is students’ attempt to excuse lazy, selfish behavior. You may think this time is your “last months before getting serious” but it is actually not.

High school is for teens who are not quite ready to be adults. Senior year is the transition. Senior year is when you need to demonstrate to yourself that you can be an adult, accept responsibility, stand up under pressure, look out for your better interests, academically invest in yourself. (and to the faculty and parents, but mostly to *you*)

You need to arrive in college able to adapt to oddball professors, advocate for yourself (since advisors rarely do as much as you think they should), get out and learn rather than sit back and passively absorb whatever gets past your AirBud filters, discipline yourself with completing the workload, limit your distractions and maximize the education opportunities you’re paying a lot of money for.

If you can’t do that in the protected, slightly limited HS setting, what makes you think that you’ll magically be able to do so 6 months later when you are in college?

Why does anyone consider that doing nothing academically is a good preparation for spending $30,000 per year doing academic things?

Can the college revoke your acceptance? Yes.

If you prove that you can’t resist slacking off, if you aren’t ready for the challenges and sheer joys of college, then you should be grateful if they do.


Sadly, he heard the advice, but didn't listen to it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ask the Narrator: Flags

Ask The Narrator:

"I fly the Stars and Bars and a Trump flag. LGBTQ aquintances have said that it's hurtful. I said, 'You might as well de-friend me now because I have a Trump 2020 flag hanging out front of my house and a Confederate flag hanging in my office. I hope you don't de-friend me though.'  Am I the Asshole?"

Narrator: Yes.

If that is how you truly feel, that all the things those two flags represent is ok with you, why should anyone who has been targeted by people waving those flags say "Yeah, that's alright. He must be nice in other ways"?

What parts of those philosophies do you reject - any part? Are you ok with slavery? With white supremacy? You okay telling people that you support a President who will behave in such a fashion and say the things he said about POC, immigrants, etc, all while promoting policies that actively harm other people? If so, don't be surprised at the reaction you get.

I tell my students, "If you stand here and say 'You can't stop me from saying this or believing that, I don't care what you think" - don't be surprised if people accept your statement and shut you out."

Words have meanings.
If you don't agree with them, don't say them.

Flags have meanings.
If you don't really mean all that they represent, don't fly them. It definitely sucks if you believe in Libertarian ideals and consider the Gadsden Flag appropriate, but you also must realize that far more people fly that banner with very different intentions.

If you know that something you say (and flying the stars and bars is definitely speech) will aggravate, or anger, or depress, or disappoint someone else and you say it anyway, don't be surprised if they take you at your word.

You have rights to speech, but not to my company or to the company of people targeted by many of those who fly those two flags.

You *might* be the one holdout, the one nice guy flying those flags. But I doubt it.