I’m X points shy of Y

At the end of the school year many students come out of the shadows (or wherever they were hiding during the entire semester) asking for extra credit, hope, or whatever else might allow them to pass a class that they largely ignored. Often if they’d paid attention just few weeks earlier they could have done some extra credit, completed that paper, or finished that group project that would have allowed them to receive a passing grade. I feel for these students a little bit. While I don’t take joy in giving a failing grade for anything, I also don’t believe it’s fair to invalidate the work of all of the other students by allowing one or two students to receive special extra credit.

But “I’m X points shy of Y” concerns me most when the “Y” isn’t a passing grade. When the variable “Y” is an “A” or some other grade I always experience a moment of inward pain. I understand the student’s desire to clinch the next letter grade up when they’re *only* “X” points from the threshold. While I do understand it, it is the same situation as if the “Y” were an “F.” The difference is that the person has already passed the course, often with a very good grade, but is not satisfied with their grade. Our “F” student hasn’t passed. Each of these students should probably be more concerned with their own performance in the class than the final grade they’ve been given. Best bet: Do your homework before visiting the instructor. Did you not do those assignments? Are you confused about why you missed points? Did you do all available extra credit if it was offered? Did you do an assignment but there isn’t a grade for it? While you can ask for additional points, don’t expect them. Instead, look for points already offered that you might increase. Even better, do the work in the first place. Don’t ever be “X” points shy of “Y.”

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