What happens to a student who is given a C, when he deserves a D or F?

He flunks the next course, almost all of the time. But they want me to be nice to them and pass them, when they don’t know the material.

One of the courses I teach most often does not transfer. It is the prerequisite for a college level course that will fulfill the math requirement. Students will sometimes try to persuade me that I should pass them when they don’t know the material. Sometimes they think that if I liked them enough, I would pass them. They don’t understand that is not doing them a favor.

Let me look at the two scenarios for the student whose knowledge of the material is inadequate to get a C.

1. He receives the grade he earned. He retakes the course, and either demonstrates he is not college material, because he cannot pass the course, or he learns the material and passes the course. If he learns the material, he has a reasonable chance of passing the next course.

2. He is given a C, even though he doesn’t know the material. He tries the next course, and flunks. He tries it a second, and even a third time and flunks again. Now he has to appeal to take the course a fourth time. If he asks his teacher what he should do, the teacher will probably tell him to retake the prerequisite course. Possibly he does so, and eventually makes it through the material. However, he has wasted three semesters taking a course he could not pass. In addition, he may have taken some science courses on the strength of that C. He may flunk those courses as well.

It’s not nice to pass a student who shouldn’t pass, and I’ve never hated a student enough to do it to them.


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