Note

I have not posted anything here in a while, and I am suffering "blog withdrawal" a bit. This morning, an email triggered this post!

I have been teaching at Austin Community College for over 15 years now. Every semester I meet a new crop of students "eager" to learn something new.

At least, that is my dream!

In fact, the faces I see have all kinds of motivations. And the longer I keep at teaching, the less surprised I get when certain things unfold.

My favorite (for now) is the "Withdrawal" notifications I get when a student decides to drop one of my classes.

This is a far too common notification I see:

Student 12345, Student Name has withdrawn from COSC-1315-001 Fund of Prog
with the following reason code submitted: To maintain higher GPA

What does that even mean?

It often happens after the first test in my class. More than likely, this student did not do well. The solution is not what I experienced (back before the Earth had cooled), which was to study harder, or seek help figuring out why this course was hard for me. The solution these days is even simpler, don't take that course. (Perhaps don't take a course from that instructor!)

The stated goal: "To maintain a higher GPA" tells me that student really thinks a high GPA is what matters most. That will certainly mean a good job in the future.

I guess Advanced Basket Weaving 101 will prepare them for nice future, as long as that produces an "A" on their report card.

Bull Pucky!

These days, it is not the GPA that ges you a job! Your GPA will help you get in the door, and in front of a potential employer. But employers are smarter than you seem to give them credit for!

There will be a test during your interview for a job. That test will certify that you can really do the job you are applying for. The "A" in the relevant class does not exempt you from that test. You have to prove your competence on the spot!

I have given such tests in my career. They are a sort of evil fun thing to do. I once sabotaged a network system in several devious ways (not during business hours, of course) so a candidate could prove to me that he could fix things. That candidate scrambled all over the place, following network wires to find the problems, and did just that. He passed the test with flying colors, and got the job!

I suspect "reality" will bite those students seeking nothing more than a "higher GPA". I hope it does not hurt too much!

Easy "A"s are not much of a goal in life. Sad to say!

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