Saturday, December 08, 2007

An Open Letter to a Student

Dear Student Who Called Me at Home to Complain about a Grade,

Don't. Do. That. EVER. Again. If a student calls me at home, she'd better be damn sure I wanted to hear from her. If you're calling to complain about a grade, you can be damn sure I don't.


  1. Sometimes it's fun living in a small town...

  2. I remember having a Teaching Assistance make a similar comment during my Freshman year. He said that just because his name and number appeared in the Student Directory, it did not give anyone the freedom to call him at ten o'clock at night. He said at that time he was either studying, partying, or sleeping and did not appreciate being bothered with any student's annoying call.

    That is why he had office hours. If anyone had questions they could either ask him during class, office hours, or try to schedule another time.

    Not during his time.

    To me his logic made perfect sense and I was shocked that anyone had the temerity to call a T.A. at night.

    Then a few years later I was surprised when a professor not only gave his home number, but specifically welcomed students to call him, up until eleven o'clock at night with any questions they might have.

    He even repeated his number and offer the day before each exam.

    The class was in the largest lecture hall on campus and had probably over 400 students enrolled. I thought he was mental for making such an offer, and no, I never took him up on it. I'm sure that his phone line was tied up all night long though.

    Here's hoping that no other student will annoy you in that same manner this academic year.


  3. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Well, at least she called and didn't show up at your house. rude.

  4. Anonymous5:43 PM

    One of my supervisors used to fail to respond to e-mail or come into the office where they could be phoned for weeks on end, leaving me no option but to ring them at home. I always felt awful about this, because I would usually get someone else who wasn't being paid to deal with me, or find the supervisor trying to feed their children, but they didn't leave me an awful lot of choice sometimes.

    I was not however complaining about grades. I was asking them if they could write references, about arrangements for vivas and so on. Stuff I couldn't solve without their input, however much I might have preferred to. Complaining about grades in the first place makes me at least raise an eyebrow, but being so pushy about it is downright objectionable, to say nothing of counter-productive. My sympatheties are in annoyance with you.

    Jonathan Jarrett

  5. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Well, at least it wasn't someone's parent calling you about a grade, which, considering the amount of college students I meet today still living with their parents far into their 20's, wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

  6. Honestly, I don't mind students calling me under certain circumstances; for example, I always give my home number to the officers of student organizations I advise, in case there's some kind of emergency. My student assistants always have my home number, and are encouraged to call it if they need to get in touch with me over the weekend.

    A grade, though, is not an emergency (unless MAYBE you are a graduating senior, which this student is NOT). It can be handled by e-mail, or, failing that, by a meeting at the office. Anyone calling my house Friday night after 9PM had better either be a close friend or someone with something urgent.

    As for the parents issue, one of my colleagues received a call on his cell phone about a week ago from an irate parent. He was professional about it, but if it had been me, I might not have been.