Monday, May 09, 2005

Better not let me catch you slacking; better not catch my eye

I've now received final grades for this term from U of O's website. I'm disappointed in the results. I'm disappointed, you see, because my average for the term turned out to be 9.0, exactly A: three As, one A-, and one A+. That's my best sessional GPA since way back in the first term of freshman year, the only other one to have an average no lower than A, when I was so cowed by the university experience as to be terrified into massive overachievement. It's even boosted my cumulative GPA, if not by much, what with how it's been hovering around 8.6 anyway. The difference between then and now, however, is that these weren't first-year courses, and I really didn't put a lot of effort into them. Since January, I've been fairly busy with work for the quasi-self-employed job that's hit especially heavy just about exactly around the time of each deadline for papers and midterms. To be honest, I didn't think much of anything I'd written for most of my classes, read only about a third of the assigned readings, and skipped quite a few lectures, in order to frantically get some work done. My one night course, I attended only four times, and one of those was the midterm. It's also true that that one, HIS 2129 (for which I received an A) is a cross-disciplinary course compulsory for Engineering students, and consequently rather simple for being a 2000-level Arts course, but still. I'm not a go-getter. I have a tendency to procrastinate and slack off, when not under the pressure of immediate deadlines. Yet I've been rewarded for poor academic habits all the same; moreso, perhaps, than for the most earnest work I've done. One of my term papers even received the highest mark in the class, and verbal commendation for producing something on an incredibly obscure topic (the debate over mass transit in NYC, 1869-1874), far above the level of the course, as well as (unbeknownst to me at the time) in the professor's specific sphere of study. Granted, it was accompanied by a warning to make annotating my process of sourcing more explicit (as he could legitimately have been suspicious about plagiarism, given my odd and unexplained use of mostly primary sources), but still. All of this bothers me, accustomed as I am to the concept of appropriate cause and effect. No one should be able to game the system so, least of all someone like me, remarkably easily tempted into slacking off. I feel guilty about it, but I seem to have performed sufficient work for what's been deemed by the faculty and administration to be sufficient reward. Should the fact that said work wasn't up to my own standards provoke an ethical quandary, or not?

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