Why do they wait until it is too late?

A few students come to my office and ask me how they can do well in a course. There are two types of students who do this:

1. Those who come very early in the semester

They usually come the first week. When I tell them what they need to do, they usually do it. They are willing to work hard to get a good grade, and they get the rewards of hard work, done consistently throughout the semester.

2. Those who come late in the semester

One came the day before the final exam, saying he had to pass the course because this was the fourth time taking the course. He missed approximately a third of the classes. Although I remained polite, I was not very sympathetic. Others come when sufficiently late as to make it impossible for them to pass. If they have not learned the material from earlier in the semester, they probably don’t understand my lectures. Learning everything in a course in less than half a semester would be difficult for a good student, and these are not good students. It is pointless to come this late in the semester, because there is nothing that can be done.

Unfortunately, that is the point. If they come early and do what I tell them to, they have a very good chance of passing, but that is work. If they come late in the semester, I don’t give them false hope by telling them to study hard, because it is too late to catch up. They come to me too late for me to tell them to work hard.

But then, it is hard work to take the course again.

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