Sunday, March 22, 2009


Yesterday I found out I made a 72 on a major paper in my Brit Lit class. I was shocked, dismayed, hurt, angry, frustrated, embarrassed, flabbergasted. I cried for over an hour. Even now I'm struggling to understand.

I have nothing in my experience to suggest I would make a C- on a paper. I've made straight A's in my time at UIS. I've even had this professor before and made an A in her class. But more than that, I have never in my life tried to do well on an assignment and then made a C on it. I realize that could sound arrogant, but that's not at all how I mean it. It's just that this is an unprecedented experience, and it has completely thrown me.

My professor didn't criticize my writing. I think it would have been easier on me if that were the case. I was told that I wrote a theme instead of a critical essay, that I stated something that was obvious and then proceeded to demonstrate that obvious thing. Wow. I feel almost like I've been slapped. It's true that I've struggled immensely with this semester. Last semester, my first one to take classes and work full-time, was difficult, but my classes were really easy. This semester, I'm taking English classes again and it's been much more difficult for me to find my groove. But I thought I'd found it. I've been struggling to critically analyze what I'd been reading, but I thought I'd gotten there. I took two of what I thought were my best weekly posts and turned them into what I thought was a well-written, insightful paper. Obviously not.

And then I'm frustrated that, more than halfway through the semester, I've only received this one grade. I'm frustrated that I've had NO indication whatsoever that I was missing the mark, and missing it badly. I'm irritated that I had to wait this long. And then I'm worried about the other two grades that will be posted soon--grades on my weekly posts and on the writing workshop that accompanied this paper. If the best of my posts led me to this bad of a grade, what kind of grade will I get on my posts? And if I was so mistaken about the quality of my own paper, how will I be graded on the advice I gave my classmates? And, even more, I'm really irritated that the writing workshop was such a phenomenal failure in giving me advice on my paper. Both the students who critiqued my paper had very few suggestions to make; they thought it was good. So I'm obviously not the only one who's missing the mark, but then what the heck is the purpose of the workshop?

So I've thought about dropping the class if I find out I'm making a C or D (still flabbergasted by the idea), but this is not an optional class. I have to have a Brit Lit class to graduate. And I'm pretty sure I can't take one at MCC and transfer it in since it's a requirement for my program. And, too, it's already more than halfway through the semester; I don't want all the hard work I've put in to count for nothing. And then that's another source of frustration. It's not like I've been blowing this class off. Quite the contrary! I've been working hard, trying my best. I know I've had less than stellar work some weeks, but it's been the best I've been able to do. I figured I might make a B, but never a C-. Granted, there were only 5 A's and 1 B in the class, but the average grade was a 79.5. I did less than average. I'm not used to that. And, frankly, I have a really hard time with this. Even more, I'm mystified. I thought I was critically analyzing. It's not like I can look at what I've been doing and say, "Oh, here's where I can change something." I have thought about and analyzed (appreciate the irony) my performance in this class, and I just honestly don't see anything I can do differently. That's also a huge source of frustration.

So here's the thing. I can rewrite the paper, but I have to turn it in a week from tomorrow. This is not a good week in which to totally rewrite a paper, but I'm going to give it a shot. And if I make a C in the class, I make a C. I still get the credit and my GPA goes down some. I can live with it. I'm just really struggling with feeling a sense of injustice. I feel like I've been unfairly dealt with, and I don't know if that's a bit self-righteous, or if it's justified. I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm having a hard time putting all these feelings aside so I can get to the business of the rewrite. I don't think I can read my teacher's suggestions with a clear head, with a willingness to follow that advice. I'm still too irritated. I'm hoping that venting my frustration even more than I have already (thanks Aaron and mom. You guys rock.) will help me to move on.

This is a real bummer, too, because I just had my school Spring Break, and I took it easy. It was nice not having to bust my butt, and now I feel overwhelmed at what I have to do. It's not just about the rewrite. I have to do more posts for this class, and how do I know how those will be graded? I really don't.

I could use any words of encouragment and/or prayers you have. In a season of intense busyness and stretched-thin-ed-ness, this is a very real discouragement.



Anonymous said...

Now I'm shocked & dismayed and it just plain sucks. I know how intelligent you are and especially from what you just poured out in this blog - this has to be one wild mistake. You are already doing so much with work, school and family so I know this must be hard to deal with when you tried so hard. (kind of like the always getting the job thing before). ok, deep breath, shoulders back and I KNOW you can do this. I am thinking about you ~ love, laura

Angela said...

First of all, Aaron's comment is almost as awesome as you are.

Second of all, I get it. I really do. Believe me! It sucks, but my advice is practical: Take this as a wonderful lesson in the dog-eat-dog world of publishing and editing. There are going to be a lot of times when you'll disagree strongly with your future boss on issues like this. (I do almost on a daily basis.) But the thing you have to realize is the reason you have such strong opinions is because you care just as much as they do (maybe more so) and this passion will make you stellar in your field. You'll have to learn to swallow your opinion and do it "their" way, until you become the boss, and can do it your way... which will happen! Because you are a highly intelligent, passionate, hard-working, motivated person who is on the path to success. The road may be a little bumpy, but this bump will help you in the end. I promise.

Love you sweety. Oh, and I heard your teacher's a trollop who wears too much rouge.

andrea_jennine said...

I'm sorry; I know how hard that can be. My favorite go-to verses when I'm feeling wronged (whether my feelings are justified or not) are 2 Peter 2:18-25; those words about our precious Savior's example and gift of himself encourage me so much!

Clint said...

I've been there before. I think the prof was Dr. Losey at Baylor and I had never gotten a C on a paper before (and I had worked my but off and done the best I could) I remember crying all the way back to my car after class was over. I ended up making a B in the class (my first B at Baylor) and that was a bummer, but thinking back, I wish someone had reminded me that my identity is not in what any prof thinks or in whether I am intelligent or witty or can write a paper well. My identity can only truthfully be found in Christ. It doesn't really matter if the professor is undeservedly pooping on your picnic or not. Of course, you still have to jump through all their hoops and put forth your very best effort, but enjoy the freedom you have been born into.

sandy said...

that was me not Clint. I'm pretty sure he would just think of another insult for your professor if he was commenting. Sorry.

Amy said...

Sandy, I wondered about that. I couldn't picture Clint crying all the way back to his car after class! =) Thanks for the good reminder.