Every Time A Student Complains About Their Grade

Every time a student complains about their grade via email, my tiny bat like brain does the following things:

First reaction:

When Students Complain About Their Grades {New Faculty}


Second reaction:

When Students Complain About Their Grades {New Faculty}


While I’d really like to send back the honey badger or the bear, I am finding myself annoyed on the last day of the semester. My (grad) students were given rubrics, outlines, and have been able to track their grades religiously all semester. I’ve been a studious reader/grader each week on purpose. DO NOT think I’m going to change your grade because you failed to show up for the final paper (also worth the most points).

I was pleased with my class all semester. Many were able to synthesize and analyze their professional lives. As graduate students, the work becomes more reflective and I push them to drill deep and think about how to enhance their professional careers. I have to say, I am disappointed in the group of final papers I received. Many students “softballed” the assignment, doing the bare minimum and then expecting maximum credit. Half of me thinks, “what could I have done better?” and the other half thinks, “hell no.” Yes, I can always improve as a professor, I’m aware of this. However, I also know that your sense of entitlement and the way you communicate are NOT HELPING your cause. Using phrases like “my friends and I think” and “you didn’t do enough” are NOT ways to get me to respond positively to you. If you wanted more than once a week feedback, you probably need a therapist, not a graduate level professor.

Grade grubbing isn’t a new thing and it’s not my first rodeo but I’m a little disgruntled at the number of emails I’ve received from graduate students who think they’re entitled to a better grade. I can always do better as a professor, but I implore my GRADUATE students to STOP GRADE GRUBBING. Stop complaining because you LOST POINTS and change the conversation into “HOW CAN I DO BETTER NEXT TIME?” You will have a thesis, dissertation, or final project of some sort and instead of putting the blame back on ME, change the conversation to IMPROVE for next time.


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One thought on “Every Time A Student Complains About Their Grade

  1. Michelle says:

    I feel you. My first thought is that it’s the patriarchy. I had a student pull the “all the other students think I did great” and my response was “Unfortunately I am not grading based on their assessment of your work.” You could have tried harder they say? I highly doubt they would ever say that to a male professor… It makes me wonder if you overly empathizes with them about something or talked about how you wished you could have done more for them at some point in the quarter. I have noticed that if I do stuff like that, they appreciate it at the time but it usually comes back to bite me in terms of entitlement or blaming me for their performance. Grade on, sister! We can do this!

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