In my entire college career, I’ve never taken under 16 credit hours a semester. I’ve pushed to get accepted into a limited access major, and pursue two minors. I’m a University Ambassador (campus tour guide for prospective students) and I’m involved in Greek life. Next semester, I’ll begin my thesis alongside battling 18 credit hours, and all my other extracurricular activities. But, even honors students aren’t perfect. Sometimes, we fail classes.
Spring semester has always been the more lax semester for me, whether it actually was or not didn’t matter. My attitude in spring is already set to summertime, no responsibilities, no worries and full of exploring new cities in new places. Last spring, I was in “French 2,” for my foreign language requirement and my minor.
Growing up in upstate New York, you start a four-language course in fifth grade. Yes, four. At 10 years old, I was learning to speak Latin, French, German and Spanish. When sixth grade rolled around, we chose which language we’d focus on. French was my pick. I loved the language and still do; it’s my minor. I’ve always been able to speak it pretty well, and I can read it even better.
My problems arrived when grammar came into the equation. I didn’t take AP French in high school and since the placement test includes a heavy amount of grammar, I was placed into the level 1 French course when I began at Florida State. Honestly, it ended up being an easy “A” for me; I knew most of the material and I figured “French 2” would be the same, but it didn’t exactly end up how I planned.
I strolled into my “French 2” class, and was ready for another easy “A.” My TA introduced herself and explained her grading would be strict, but overall she seemed nice and gave a good first impression to my class. As we went through the course calendar noting the dates of our exams, compositions and entretiens (an oral exam), she mentioned attendance wouldn’t count toward our final grade.
Finally. I had finally enrolled in a class in my college career that was NOT going to count attendance. This was big because in a limited access theatre major, most of my classes are capped at 12 so you can’t skip a few classes without being noticed (and they were all attendance based anyway). I relied on other requirements outside of my major to give me the freedom of skipping class that all of my other peers were experiencing. The idea of afternoon naps was now so tangible I could taste it.
So needless to say, I was a little excited when I discovered I would be able to miss a couple of classes, and since I knew the language anyway, I figured it’d be fine. As the semester went on, I was fine. I was doing the homework, acing the quizzes and doing really well on all the exams.
Fast forward to the last few weeks of the semester; our TA had an announcement for us…The attendance policy for the department is two unexcused absences total, and they noticed she wasn’t taking attendance. Turns out that at the end of the semester, she had to take the entirety of the semesters’ absences into account when calculating our final grade, and the way to calculate that was two percent off of your final grade for every unexcused absence past two. Ouch. I tried not to worry, freak out, breakdown or anything of that nature before I was absolutely sure of how this situation would play out in my favor (or not in my favor).
I hastily logged into Blackboard the day grades would be released, and felt my heart sink into my stomach. D+. But before I even looked, I knew my grade had tanked. Despite all the effort and studying I put into the class, I was penalized due to a TA’s mistake within her department. It happens, she’s human, I’m human and we all mess up.
Now that I’m retaking the class at 8 a.m. four days a week–thank you, grade forgiveness–I’ve learned to check the departmental syllabus, not just the schedule the TA hands out. And most importantly, I figured out that sometimes you just can’t find a way to tell your parents, so you write an article (Sorry, Mom and Dad!).