Oberlin Blogs

Trying to save my semester

March 1, 2009

Chris Gollmar ’10

I must have gotten off on the wrong foot—my work this semester is not really up to par. I seem to be falling behind in just about every class I am taking, even the ones with no homework. (This, by the way, is why I don’t blog as often as I would like.)

Last week, I stopped by a professor’s office before class. I had to tell him that I was struggling to keep up and that I hadn’t done that week’s readings or homework. I was disappointed that it had come to this, but after three weeks of just barely scraping by I had to do something.

I told him that I was considering taking the class Pass/No Pass in order to cope with the workload, which, all said and done, wasn’t even that much. I explained that I knew I was getting started late on the weekly assignments and that I knew I had to pay more attention to my readings but that it was just not happening, for one reason or another. He understood my predicament, though. Give it a couple more weeks—he suggested—try to plan out your work farther ahead of time, and do as much of the assignment as you can, even if you can’t finish the whole thing. Then, if it’s still not working out, working toward a Pass grade is a good option.

It felt good to talk about my difficult situation so frankly. What’s more, I was glad my professor understood my reasoning for considering taking the class P/NP. It wasn’t that I was trying to hide a C or a D on my transcript. In fact, I have never been fond of letter grades anyway, because they always seem to be so arbitrary. I have earned many A’s in courses where I learned little and put forth very little effort. This was new to me, though: taking a class without letter grades because all I could hope for, despite my best attempts, was a more rudimentary passing grade.

I still feel very frustrated with my academic performance this semester. It’s not like I’m not trying. I also don’t understand why this is happening now. I have fewer extracurricular commitments than in past semesters, so shouldn’t that be making things easier? Or has classroom learning just ceased to work for me?

I think whatever the outcome is with this class and my semester as a whole, one thing I am learning is how to take everything, right down to the grading, to a more personal level.

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