When Begging Doesn’t Help You

Do you remember when you were little and you had told a lie and your parents knew it? It was probably about something small: Did you eat the cookie? Did you leave the back door open? Did you duct tape your brother to the drywall? It was stupid to lie but when you’re little sitting in the corner really feels like a terrible punishment. All of this changes when you are an adult (and should actually act like one). I’ve written about taking responsibility before but today I’m going to write about what happens when you don’t take responsibility. I’m going to write about begging.

It is the end of the semester and that means that students who haven’t done enough (or anything) during the course of the class have a decision to make: Do I take responsibility or do I beg? Too often, begging starts out as lying. Students make ridiculous excuses for reasons why their homework wasn’t turned in, why they missed so many classes, and why there were extenuating circumstances that are both legitimate and only apply to them.

As an instructor I can only ask things like: Why didn’t you tell me two months ago when this happened? Why didn’t you respond to the e-mail I sent three weeks ago? Why didn’t you ask that question after class the day we let out thirty minutes early. Inevitably when I ask these questions, and there are no reasonable answers, the lying turns to begging. “I won’t graduate.” “I’ll get kicked out of school.” “I’ll lose my scholarship.” While these consequences are terrible it is hard to say they are not deserved. Financial support is the prize for success, so is continued enrollment and eventually graduation.

Some of you are asking: “What have they got to lose? The teacher could say “yes” and cut them a break.” You’re right. The teacher could say “yes,” and I’m not suggesting they don’t go talk to their teacher but I am suggesting that they don’t lie or beg. When you lie and beg you might help your grade but you’re not helping yourself. Part of what you should learn is responsibility and personal ethics. Don’t sacrifice that for the possibility of a grade.