On the first day of each quarter, I attempt to go over my 17-page syllabus without trying to crush students’ spirits. I understand that my thoroughness is a bit overwhelming for even the most organized person, but I want students to know that I have worked very hard on planning a stimulating and educational quarter. Within those 17 pages, I include the ways to get an A in the course. I have started to wonder if I should include the 5 simplest steps to fail my class. Here they are:
5. Ignoring the Attendance Policy—Globe University-La Crosse has a strict attendance policy that indicates that if a student misses two consecutive weeks of class he/she is withdrawn from the class. Now, for most weeks of the quarter, this may not actually lead to an F, but once week eight arrives, students who are withdrawn from a course automatically earn a failure in the course, no matter the grade at the time of withdrawal. As an instructor of a required course, it is heart breaking to see a student who had an A before the two consecutive absences earn an F due to attendance. We don’t want you to fail.
June Vatland, dean of faculty and a business administration degree instructor, says, “This situation has happened to me and many faculty at Globe-La Crosse. As an instructor, we want to see all students succeed. When things go poorly, we do what we can, but we have to be fair to all students. Even though it may not seem this way, failing a student is almost just as hard on the instructor as it is the student.”
4. Not Following Directions—College students are no different than anyone else. They want to get things done quickly, so they can move on to the next thing, and sometimes this means overlooking the instructions. “Students who don’t follow directions are mostly misinterpreting the assignment. When your instructor asks at the end of class ‘Does anyone have any questions,’ ask away, and then if you are still unsure about an assignment’s criteria, ask more because the response, ‘I didn’t know,’ when your assignment is due will not satisfy your instructor. He/she will then respond ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’” explained Jodie Liedke, general education coordinator.
3. Not Turning in Work On Time or At All—De Ann Perzel, program chair for the business program, wants students to know, “If you are not involved and don’t give 100 percent, you will fail and also take away from those students who are involved and giving 100 percent to the class.” Rhonda Staats, health care management program chair, tells of her experiences with late assignments and the excuses that come along with them. “I always reiterate to students that they should always store important, significant effort projects in at least two places. Then, keep thumb drives in the same place all the time – always put it away – never just drop it down somewhere!
“A student recently told me that he had dropped his computer down the stairs here on campus. I asked if this student had saved his paper anywhere else. Students often believe that, since they are working from their own computers, the single copy save will be sufficient.”
2. Not Putting One’s Name On the Work—It’s the same problem that students have in elementary school, but at the college level. No name on an assignment is the same as work not being turned in or turned in on time. “Why put your grade in jeopardy by not putting your name on your work?” asked Amy Miritello, Globe-La Crosse dean of students.
1. Not Following the Syllabus’s Expectations—A syllabus is a contract between you and your instructor. He or she is telling you how to earn that grade that you want. All you need to do is follow what it says. It is frequent that I get to the last week of my course and students are surprised they have to give a presentation on what they have learned in class and how that related to an individual project he or she chose to do throughout the quarter. It is in the syllabus as is the rubric spelling out all of the expectations. We talk about it on the first day of class. How can this still be a surprise? That is an easy way to fail the course, ignore course long assignments listed in the syllabus.
These may seem harsh realities and much too obvious, but they are the truth. Most students don’t fail because they aren’t smart enough to do so; they fail because they do not do the right thing, put in enough effort, or attend class. Don’t make these same mistakes: failure can be avoided in most situations.
This post was written by Ree Nae Roberge-Greene. Ree Nae is the Student Services and Online Learning Coordinator at Globe University-La Crosse. She has been employed at Globe University since January 2011. She moved into the role of Student Services Coordinator in August of 2011 and loves it! Ree Nae Roberge-Greene blogs for Globe-La Crosse, and she is enjoying the challenge of finding a new and exciting topic to write about each week.