That’s sorted, then

I did nothing but grade, grade, grade all morning and early afternoon, and it looks like I’ve completed all the exams and papers for this semester, tallied up the grades, and even submitted everything to the registrar. I think. I worry that I’ve forgotten something, like the student who showed up to take the final this morning, and it was the first and only time I’ve seen them, including the fact that they never bothered to take the 3 previous exams or turn in any homework. They did manage to get 15% of the questions on the final correct, though, so I’ll use that to give them a letter grade.

If they could forget to attend class for 15 weeks, it makes me wonder what I might have forgotten to do now.

But otherwise, yay!


  1. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    the student who showed up to take the final this morning, and it was the first and only time I’ve seen them, including the fact that they never bothered to take the 3 previous exams or turn in any homework.

    I think that was me, in one of my nightmares.

  2. HappyHead says

    When I was teaching, I had a student I’d never seen before (only 30 students that semester, so I knew them all by name, including the two who only showed up to the midterm) come up to me and apologize for missing the midterm, and hand me a doctor’s note, telling me I should just wrap the midterm mark into his final exam mark. I started explaining why this was likely going to hurt his grade, and then he handed me his exam… which was for the course writing in the tables next to mine, the Prof for which was standing six feet away in front of the tables his class was writing their exam at.

    I doubt he did any better than your student, but apparently it’s a thing that happens a lot.

  3. magistramarla says

    I knew a student like that back in college. She would attend the first class to pick up the syllabus and assignments.
    She did all of the assignments and had a friend to hand them in for her. She would show up for major exams, and always aced them. She didn’t seem to have any obvious health reasons for doing this. She lived in the dorm and did socialize, so it didn’t seem to be because she was painfully shy or anti-social. None of us were sure what she did with her time, but many of us resented the fact that she could simply ignore most of her classes and still get good grades. IMO, she missed out on a lot of the discussions in class that are a very important part of a good education.

  4. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    Something similar happened to me when I was a junior in college. I was suffering from severe depression and was abusing alcohol constantly just to get through the day. I’d never had a grade lower than a B before, but I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to class at that point. It was a Friday. I managed to get myself to this one class for what I think was the second or third time all semester. There was a test. I knew nothing on it. I walked up and turned in my blank test; the teacher saw my name at the top and immediately started asking where I’d been, that none of the homework had been turned in. I think I said I’d been sick. I walked home feeling lower than I ever had, realizing I literally could not imagine being alive come Monday. It took hours to build up the strength to call my mom and ask her to drive me to the hospital, where I checked myself in for emergency mental health care.

    On the one hand, it was one of the worst moments of my life. On the other, I might very well be dead if not for that extreme moment that finally forced me to face what was going on.

  5. Broken Things says

    @1 That’s a recurring nightmare for me. I’m supposed to be in an advanced mathematics class which I can never seem attend, and the semester is drawing to a close.

  6. The Other Lance says

    Apparently this is a common nightmare. I, too, suffer from periodic recurring nightmares of walking into the final exam for a course I never attended or did any home work for.

  7. says

    My version has me realising that I haven’t attended a class in months, and that a major assignment is due that I’ve done no work on.

  8. peggin says

    I’ve had that nightmare plenty of times. I also seem to have a recurring nightmare where it’s just a couple of days before graduation and I find out I never took one of the required classes.

    Why I still have these dreams when I finished grad school 20 years ago is a mystery, but I guess those kinds of dreams are pretty common.

  9. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Ah, c’mon, it’s only biology. It’s not like it’s a proper science! How hard could taking the final exam without having attended a single lecture possibly be?
    Huh, what do you mean, “the process by which solvents move across semi-permeable membranes is not The Osmonds”?!

  10. moarscienceplz says

    Gosh PZ, you didn’t tell us you had Donald J. Trump as a student. I’m sure if you give them a grade less than a B, they are planning to just drop the class. Kinda like filing for bankruptcy.

  11. dick says

    I’m another that had that recurring nightmare for a while, (despite the fact that I only very infrequently remember having dreams, & the few that I do recall are very short & mundane). The dreams were very specific about the course, my lack of studying, & the extreme proximity of the final.

  12. says

    I know I’m just a bleeding heart softie, but I would genuinely worry about a student like that. And wonder if something could have been done to act on their absence a little earlier. Probably not by the professor himself, he has a class to teach, but perhaps some sort of student assistance officer in the university. If such a person (by whatever function title) is available there.

  13. Menyambal says

    I took a very difficult foreign language in college. During the final, a whole bunch of students from that country walked in, zipped through the test, and walked out. I had no idea they were in the class, or even that there were that many of them on campus. They could have been helping us, or tutoring us. The professor, bless him, took pity on the rest of us, and coached us through the test.

    (My substitute-teaching day today involved moving a lot of computers. I got a sorely-needed late breakfast and a can of soda given to me, so it worked out. No grading at all!)

  14. says

    I worry about students like that. I had assumed they had withdrawn from the course, since they skipped everything. Having them show up on the last day was peculiar and unexpected.

  15. Dutchgirl says

    I skipped algebra 1 in high school. I still dream I have to go back and take it. I’m almost 40. It truly is a nightmare.

  16. magistramarla says

    LOL. The nightmare stories bring back a memory for me. We got married the weekend before mid-terms in our Junior year of college. My brand-new husband was taking organic chemistry at the time. One night soon after the wedding, he sat up in bed and started patting all over the comforter. I asked him what he was doing and he mumbled “looking for the T-butyls”.
    I realized that he was dreaming, but I played along and asked if I could help. He just sighed, told me that I wouldn’t understand what they were, and went back to sleep.
    Nearly forty years later, and I still have fun teasing him about that one!

  17. wcorvi says

    When I was a senior physics major, the transcript lady forgot I needed to take freshman chemistry. To be sure to graduate, I took it, but pass/fail (not legal for a required course). I figured I could always take a grade in it and finish, if need be. I went to class three times, plus exams, but had to do the labs. My lab instructor was amazed I got the third-highest score on the exam, despite my (lack of) attendance. I told her my major – one exam question I remem- ber was, “The ____ equation governs the electrons in an atom or molecule.” I had spent a semester SOLVING the Schroedinger equation in Atomic Physics class.

  18. numerobis says

    I have that recurring nightmare. So does my colleague, who’s in his late 40s. It’s been more than 25 years since he took a course in anything. And he still has the nightmare.

  19. Ray, rude-ass yankee, Bugblatting Flibbertigibbet says

    PZ@ OP

    I worry that I’ve forgotten something,

    Did you remember pants? That’s one I always worry about.

    WMDKitty@19 Is that a slippery slope?

  20. madtom1999 says

    #3 I did an engineering course – 4 hrs of lectures every morning, 2 or 3 hours of labs or tutorials 4 afternoons a week. And sooo many parties to go to!
    I found out in the first year that I could copy up a friends lecture notes in half the time and checked them thoroughly as we all played games with each other. I had to see the head of department every term due to lack of attendance but, baring the first year where I got things a bit wrong, my work was above expected standards and I had a whale of a time.
    Some people find logical subjects logical and somewhat obvious – and dont need to do 16 hr days (as my friend who lent me his notes) needed to do. Most of our lectures were for 60 or more people and so there was very little room for interaction so a decent set of lecture notes was far more productive.
    I’d guess two or three percent of my university colleagues could just wing it like me. None of us has gone on to do anything spectacular – nearly but not quite – but most of us seem to be a lot more like high-performing drop-outs.

  21. bassmike says

    I too have the recurring nightmare and I’m over fifty! It must be a common anxiety thing.

    Also, my lab partner in my final year at University did not attend any lectures at all. Instead he would follow the syllabus using recommended text books. He was not anti-social or socially awkward. I guess he just found that to be the way he studied best. He still ended up with the same class of degree as me!

  22. jefrir says

    madtom1999, that suggests to me that maybe your friend needed better note-taking techniques

  23. sc_a5c68a34b2f6e431ec3e46c0a6153ea9 says

    This is a recurring nightmare I have too. Exactly this.

  24. shouldbeworking says

    I had a student who submitted everything late and school policy was that I had to accept it without penalty. The assignments were never of high quality. The student then showed up exactly 24 hours late for the province-wide standardized exam. He wasn’t allowed to write the exam.

  25. Anri says

    I ended up in almost the opposite situation in college.

    I was really enjoying my Into to Comparative Religion class – which was all but unique for my experience (I found college to be very much like high school, but way harder and vastly more expensive). I was doing beautifully right up until I utterly lost track of time getting ready for the midterm and got to class with about 15 minutes out of the allotted 2 hours on the clock.
    Amazingly, I though I failed the midterm, I still passed the class.
    Failed out of college in general, though. Graduated Magna Thrown Outie, as I like to say.

  26. =8)-DX says

    I have the occasional similar dream, showing up in a class with my head full of worries that I haven’t attended half of anything, have no materials no notes and my test paper seems all blurred. But for me the dreams seem to focus more on the stuffy hallways buzzing with attractive youngsters, the smell of wood and old buildings, outrageous ancient architecture stretching up or down in bizzare fashion only to reveal a classroom the size of a closet brimming with students inexplicably all there for a different lecture.
    I wake up with a strong sense of nostalgia and a feeling that, well I did my best but I was quitting university anyway… I’m fond of this kind of dream.
    The corollary to the last-minute student would be the one who showed up for every lecture, made notes and then found out to their great horror ans shame that the teacher had a completely different concept of which material was relevant and which trivial. I failed of course.

  27. says

    I have that nightmare where I have to take the final high school maths exam (Abiturprüfung) again.
    I’m usually naked.
    Here’s the thing: I never had to take that exam because I did two languages and biology in the oral exam.

    At my Uni there’s obligatory attendance except for the big lectures. In those lectures the profs usually make it clear that there will be questions where you can only know the answer if you’re there. You can happily pass if you just read the scripts, but you won’t pass well. There’s always bunch of idiots who don’t get that they’re not among those who can afford to stay at home. And then they fail. And then they don’t learn from that and they fail again and then they have to do an oral exam and if they fail that they’re kicked out of uni.

    All other classes you get kicked out if you miss more than twice. I clearly remember a couple of classes where I shouldn’t have been but I couldn’t afford staying at home because the term was still young and you never know when the kids will get a belly bug so I had to save my sick days.
    In classes where people often have to wait to get into getting kicked out without a good reason (doctor’s note) gets counted as a big fat F as well

  28. VP says

    I went through 1-2 semesters where I never showed up for my classes. I was suffering from mild depression, but had never been through it before so had no idea how to handle it. Instead of going to class I would sleep in till 3-4pm, and then start drinking around 5 and continue till I was drunk and passed out.

    And the cycle would continue.

    Fortunately, when finals and mid terms came around I would manage to pull myself together to study for those and managed to do well enough in them to get Bs and A. I failed the 2 classes which had significant grades assigned to attendance or regular homework.