A Guest Re-Post: Great Expectations?
While perusing the blog Waiting To Go Home, by our reader, Sarah, I came across the following excellent entry about the low expectations of her college professors. A sophomore at Olympic College in Washington, Sarah has given Brett and I permission to share her post with the rest of our readers. Her insight is one that, sadly, very few young men and women come to understand before it's too late. We would encourage all of our readers to carefully consider what Sarah has written, and to take it to heart.I’m being cheated out of my college education. I made this appalling discovery when I received my worst ever grade on an English paper. Plentiful teacher scribbling covered the pages, and a note at the end included this sentence, “There is much room for improvement should you choose to revise.” I was shocked. Since I started college, I had not received such a devastating comment on any of my papers.
NOTE: Sarah, if you read this, could you please contact us ASAP? We are interested in the possibility of using your story as an example in our conferences. You may contact us at: rebelution [dot] blogspot [at] gmail [dot] com.
My most challenging English professor, Pearl Klein, saw right through my attempts to skim the material, and she didn’t give me a ‘one size fits all’ evaluation on my paper. She didn’t write, “Needs work, grade B.” She said ‘much room for improvement’, added lengthy comments, and I could tell she had read and seen potential in my pathetic paper.
I had to revise, but I doubted my ability to write any better. However, two hours of extensive reworking produced a much different draft, and a revelation. If I wanted to be truly prepared for adult life, I would have to take more responsibility for my own education. I could see now how much potential my other teachers had failed to elicit.
One might think that doing the assignment and fulfilling the professor’s expectations would produce a quality learning experience, but not when the said professor has created a class that should be titled, ‘Credit for Dummies.’ After a year at Olympic College and ten different professors, I’ve realized that five of those ten professors didn’t expect enough out of me.
At first I felt relieved by the low expectations; I could hold down my job, do the minimum amount of homework and still make the grade. However, when I revised one of my mediocre papers and saw how much better I could do if challenged, the light went on. The ‘Oh! I’m not actually learning anything’ light.
My own experiences, coupled with the realization that many of my classmates still didn’t have a grip on basic punctuation, make me wonder if college professors don’t demand enough out of their students.
Student supervisor Ralph Givens said, “Both high school and college classes are ‘dumbed down’ when they try to make one size fit all.” On a college campus where diversity and uniqueness are emphasized, the last thing one would expect is the ‘one size fits all’ attitude, which fails to provide an exemplary education.
I’ve written papers that I knew lacked originality, understanding, and professionalism, and yet I still made the grade. From past classes, I’ve realized that I can’t rely entirely on teachers to provide me with the necessary challenge and incentive to produce quality work. If I desire to turn into an educated adult, I will have to set my own bar, and exceed that bar.
A good grade may be easier to come by if you take the ‘easy’ teachers, but you’re only cheating yourself. Did you come to college to hide in your comfort zone or to prepare yourself for a career in the adult world?
Additional Reading: Do Hard Things