>While enjoying my mandatory cup of coffee, I came across this article in the New York Times that explores the idea of how college students’ sense of entitlement can cause friction between them and professors when it comes to grading.
The article basically explores why professors think they are seeing more students show up at their lecture halls, demanding an A for effort. Here’s a portion of the article:
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.
“I noticed an increased sense of entitlement in my students and wanted to discover what was causing it,” said Ellen Greenberger, the lead author of the study, called “Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors,” which appeared last year in The Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Professor Greenberger said that the sense of entitlement could be related to increased parental pressure, competition among peers and family members and a heightened sense of achievement anxiety.
Aaron M. Brower, the vice provost for teaching and learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offered another theory.
“I think that it stems from their K-12 experiences,” Professor Brower said. “They have become ultra-efficient in test preparation. And this hyper-efficiency has led them to look for a magic formula to get high scores.”
The article goes on and quotes some students who perpetuate the myth of entitlement:
Sarah Kinn, a junior English major at the University of Vermont: “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.”
Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland: “I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in? If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point? If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”
As a 2006 graduate of a four-year institution, I must say that I agree with these professors. Coming from a working class background, I was taught that nothing will ever be given to me. I had to work for everything I wanted. These ideas were also reinforced by my social experiences as a young black woman growing up in a patriarchal, white-centered society.
I was forced to take classes with these same type of students. Often, these students would come to class in their pajamas, hungover from last night’s drinking party, barely take notes, blow off studying and complain when they got a C on an exam. These same students will often try to set up meetings with professors when they are on the verge of failing and plead with them by exposing their so-called screwed up lives, their latest sob stories, hoping the professor/instructor would cave.
For example, I was in an upper-level international relations class and there was one student who rarely came to class. Even when she came, she would add nothing to the discussions that were held during the course. When she was on the verge of failing, she set up a meeting with the professor to explain as to why she should pass the course, even though she didn’t even attend half of the class sessions. The end result: she ended up failing the course, with her sob stories falling on deaf ears.
I also had an opportunity to get to know a fratty who seemed amazed that I earned an A on an exam when he earned a C (or he may have failed–I can’t remember). He said with shock and a little sarcasm: “How did you get an A?” Fortunately, this kid didn’t take his case to the professor. He just didn’t care.
Too often, I see these middle-to-upper-middle class students waltz onto college campuses, expecting their experience to be a breeze. Sure, they are told that college is “serious business,” but they still seem to think that the charm offensive (and their parents’ arm-twisting) they used during their K-12 years will work on college professors.
These students are often burned (and rightly so) when they soon realize that these professors don’t give a damn about your girlfriend’s break-up, your parents’ divorces, your recent trouble with your girlfriend, etc. They then become jaded and think the professor is out to get them. Or, as I often hear, the professor is either a bitch or an asshole.
No, these professors aren’t bitches or assholes. They are just trying to do their jobs. They are just trying to prepare you, the whiny, privileged student that’s had everything handed to them, for what to expect when you get a job in the real world. They are trying to break the same sense of entitlement that will end up being your downfall once you break out into adulthood.