Tag Archives: grades

Family Grading

I don’t know who decided that college students should hand-write their exams, but I’m not a fan of that person. As the TA for an undergrad class, I spent 90% of my grading time trying to read illegible handwriting. 

Thankfully, my Mom and siblings are better at deciphering messy handwriting than I am. And also thankfully, I’m home this weekend, so I get the benefit of their hand-writing interpretations. And opinions. They are very opinionated about which students deserve what grade. 

It brings lots of welcome laughter. 

“I think he means ‘talk’ but that word looks like ‘fulk’ which is uncomfortably close to another four letter f word.” 

“Is there any reason this essay should be about…spiders? Am I reading that right?” 

“That is not the definition of a republic. Geesh, I’m not even in this class and I know that.”

“Give that kid a B+.” “No, dock points for how illegible that handwriting was! B-!” “It was FINE. We were able to piece it together. But actually, this other essay is way better so give him a B- anyway.”

“She was doing SO WELL and then she just abruptly ended. What happened?!” 

If only these students knew. 


The Slow Trickling of Grades

I think my last post should actually have been titled ‘Last First Week of School.’ But I haven’t had my coffee yet so don’t quote me. 

I still am missing grades from last semester. I don’t know what the professors’ excuses are, one of them I took on a scantron! 

Two of my grades are pass/fail and at the law school, if you pass, you get an “S” on your transcript. So my transcript currently reads:

B
S
B
S

And I couldn’t agree more.


FINALly Done

It is official: 24 hour finals are truly terrible things. 

It is not that the exam itself “takes” 24 hour. There are not 1400 short answer questions or anything. It is just that it is hard and so you spend the whole 24 hours second-guessing the answer you put down because it does not feel like enough.

From start to finish, I took 21 hours but that does include 9 hours of sleep.

But it is finished and I am halfway through 3L year!

Sort of. I kid you not, just as I clicked “upload” on my exam I got an e-mail from the professor I TA for asking where I was at with grading the students’ finals because they are due ASAP.

No rest for the wicked. 


#Didn’tFailFundamentalRights

My grades from last semester have sslllooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyyy started trickling in. Most importantly, despite all the stress the class caused me, I can officially say: I did not fail Fundamental Rights.

Actually, I got an A. Which particularly matters because out of all my classes, Fundamental Rights worried me the most.

First, it was a freshman level class. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be as a law student to fail a freshman level class? My classmates were 17 year olds who spent most of the class wrapped in fuzzy blankets, eating snacks, and catching up on gossip. In fact, on more than one occasion, the professor quit talking because you couldn’t hear him over the sound of the students talking. 

Second, I kept missing classes because the school administrators would schedule it for the same time I had other classes. Like Law of Information Technology, a way more confusing class I felt obliged to attend. Missing the first time or two left me vaguely stressed. Five weeks in a row and I was convinced I would fail Fundamental Rights. 

Third, probably because it was a freshman level class, the professors’ teaching styles…ranged considerably. The first professor said “rice” instead of “rights.” (“Human rice is the basis of our society!”) The second professor ignored my request for notes when I missed the class since she didn’t teach during the scheduled teaching times. The third professor usually ended our 3 hour class after an hour. (Appreciated, but not conducive to learning.) 

I had no idea studying abroad would leave me so expectant for pass/fail grades!


Class Time

I previously blogged about Thai Time and some of my difficulties adapting to a difference culture’s approach to school. As time has passed, I find this comes out more and more  in the guideline-like way the school treats class periods. 

Back in Wisconsin: You sign up for classes for a specific time. Barring anything seriously unforeseen, you know you will always have class on that day and at that time. (I once had a professor teach class while suffering from laryngitis!) If your professor needs to miss a class period, he or she alerts the class (almost always with over 24 hours notice) and reschedules, usually for a Friday or noon period when no one has class. Barring something truly, truly unforeseen, no one has make up classes on the weekend. 

Here in Thailand: You sign up for classes for a specific time. You then check a schedule posted every week to find out when those classes will actually be held. Sometimes they are held for the hours you signed up for. Sometimes they get rescheduled for earlier in the day, or the next day, or even on the weekend. Sometimes the professor tells you ahead of time about the change; most times no one tells you anything and you better hope you paid close attention to the schedule and didn’t miss anything important. Professors might cancel class 10 hours before class begins or even later. Hopefully the school or another student notifies you of the change, but no guarantees. 

On top of this unstable scheduling, I deal with a unique problem since I am enrolled in freshman, junior, and senior level courses. Thus, while the office seems to do a decent job preventing class conflicts for courses generally within the same levels, I often find my classes end up overlapping. I then get the joy of trying to decide if I should skip Law of Information Technology (new professor so probably should make a good first impression?) or Fundamental Rights (our attendance actually matters and she gives quizzes which count towards the grade.)

Tomorrow I have 4 classes scheduled within 2 class periods and I am still not entirely sure which to attend. 

Added to the changing timelines, most courses involve multiple professors. One professor will teach the first two weeks and be in charge of 10% of your grade, another will teach the next two months and give a midterm worth 40%, and a third will teach the final classes with a paper, perhaps, worth 50%. Keeping track of who is teaching when becomes extra confusing when you layer in make up classes and weekend classes and morning classes and guest speakers…

Honestly, law school back home will seem so boring and predictable in comparison. 


To Take A Midterm

I have yet to take the bar exam, but I am pretty sure when I do it will take less hassle than taking a midterm here in Thailand. 

First, I needed a uniform: one white button up with short sleeves, one black skirt hanging pass the knee, a brown belt with a belt buckle showing the school logo, a pin over the heart with the same design, 4 silver buttons only available at the campus bookstore, and a lapel pin marking me a law student. Oh, and closed toed black shoes. How much of the outfit is required and how much is tradition I have yet to discover. The students treat it all as mandatory, but I talked to one professor who thought wearing the uniform was totally optional. So who really knows? 

Second, I needed a complete school ID. For most students, this does not pose a problem. But remember, I needed a photo of myself about the size of my thumb nail. I ended up getting it right before the exam. Except they would not just sell me one, so I now have like 9 thumb nail size photos. I have no clue what they are good for because they are too tiny to serve as passport photos and you have to squint to see my face. Maybe you could put it in a locket? 

Third, I needed to enter through a specific door. This might sound normal, but it was not the normal classroom door. I had to go outside and find an outdoor staircase. Exactly how this prevents cheating, I am not sure. But the instructors refused to let me in until I did it. 

Fourth, I could take a blue or black pen and white out with me to my desk but that was it.

Fifth, I then had to hand write the exam. I know people have hand written exams for hundreds of years, but if anyone suggested such a thing at Madison, we’d probably just stare at them in bafflement before loudly protesting. Unless your computer dies in the middle of a test, no one opts to hand write exams. We barely tolerate scantrons. 

Sixth, the test administrators checked our IDs multiple times and stalked up and down staring at us while we took the exam.

Seventh, they kept giving instructions in Thai. I would look confused and sometimes they would walk over and translate and sometimes not. 

Eighth, if anyone needed to go to the restroom, they needed to take one of the test administrators with them. 

Ninth, I thought the midterm started at 9:30 but it started at 2 so I had a lot of time to kill. That is not on the school and totally on me, but it sure made me jumpy. 

All these things would seem pretty normal if I were taking, say, the ACT or LSAT. But I was taking a midterm worth 40% for a junior level class. Overkill much?

Yet overall, in typical Thai fashion, though we jumped through a thousand hoops to enter the classroom, most students did not even show up on time. It seemed an unspoken rule existed that you could show up at any point at least within the first fifteen minutes, flip over the test, and start. It did not matter if we were all in the room. It did not matter when you left. You just came and took the test…all while keeping your ID on your desk so the test administrator could check on it a few times! 


Shifting Strengths

Law school does things to you; it changes the way you think and the way you interact with people. You start viewing language differently. You exist in a pressure cooker all semester and when finally released from it…the world seems different. I have struggled to explain the difference to people. I feel…firmer. Or grounded. More analytical. Possibly more capable, or at least developed. 

Yesterday I took the Clifton Strength Finders test and I might have more words now. 

The strengths test measures your inherent “talents.” It isn’t supposed to change much, at least not once you hit adulthood. Yet over the past year, my strengths shifted dramatically

I took the test the first time almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I was leaving my adult job to move to the mountains of Idaho to work as a camp counselor and hopefully attend law school in the fall. Uncertainty was my watch word. It shows in my strengths:

Adaptability
Activator
Positivity
Intellection
Includer

Roughly translated, that tells you I am a flexible, happy, smart, inclusive person. Which I like to think is true. 

I took the test again yesterday. This time my top five strengths were: 

Strategic
Communication
Positivity
Learner
Input

First off, I don’t think anyone has ever called me strategic before, much less ranked that my top strength. 

Second, while input sounds cool, it really just means I collect things like words, books, and ideas. 

Third, initially, these results really shocked me. They seemed so…different. But then I started reading about them. And, y’all, these are me. Future oriented, chatty, enthusiastic, thirsty for new ideas and intent on remembering them. Throughout, the test emphasizes my love of books and reading.

I really do love books. (Though the test also says I think speed reading is a waste of time because I want to ponder each new idea, which isn’t true by a long shot. But I do process things fast.) 

These results are not as far off from last year as I initially thought. Adaptability and Strategic strengths share a common theme of flexibility – just with the Strategic strength I have learned to pick an option and follow through on it. With Activator I got people excited about projects, now I use Communication to carry through on the whole project, not just the beginning. 

My main purpose in sharing all this stems from a broader theme I’ve learned over this past year. Going into law school, I felt a bit like a fraud. Detail-oriented people are supposed to go to law school. Not big-picture, idea people like me. You go to law school to put things in boxes, not to turn the box upside down and beat on it like a drum. 

Or so I thought. Over the last year, I have learned my talents aren’t that uncommon for the law, and are in fact quite valuable. Where I am weak, I have learned to adapt. And where I am strong, like in communication, I flourish. 

I am waiting for one last grade, but in all but one class so far this semester I’ve gotten an A or A-. You might find that par for course knowing me, but in law school that is hard. But I am learning and I am loving what I learn. It is a bit of a relief to realize that I am not a fraud and 6-year-old me wasn’t crazy when she announced she wanted to be a lawyer.

Moreover, I am good at this. Just saying that makes me feel a little bit crazy, but also happy. I see God’s hand at work around me and I cannot wait to see what comes next.