Would you tell this student . . . ?

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I have a student who has blown off much of the class so far (we're about to enter the sixth week). She has been to her weekly discussion seminar twice. Both times, she has turned in her required weekly reflection paper, handwritten. The first one annoyed me. The second one floored me. I looked at her and said, "Handwriting again?" Well, her printer isn't working, and toner is expensive, and she commutes from [city an hour away], and . . . "And how about putting it on a flash drive and printing it out for 10 cents in the library?" "Oh . . . "

All right, so not the brightest or most proactive bulb. But here's the  bigger issue. She was supposed to co-lead discussion this past week. Since she was MIA for the previous two weeks, I was concerned and emailed the other co-leader to see if he'd been able to reach her. No, he hadn't. He did a very good job of preparing and leading the discussion on his own. The kicker: the flaky student was present at the discussion she was supposed to co-lead, apparently totally clueless that she has blown off 15% of her grade.

Theoretically, I could let her sign up for a different week, as a "third wheel" (typically students lead discussion in pairs), but that's not an ideal situation and I only allow it in unusual circumstances (like, I've agreed to let an extra student into the seminar so there's no choice but to have one set of students triple up). I suppose I could advise her that she may want to drop the course. But part of me thinks it's not my problem that she's apparently oblivious to the fact that she has failed to meet a major requirement of the class. For what it's worth, I know she participated last year in a mentoring program my department has been offering, which is supposed to teach things like "study skills." She got, I think, a C- in that.


It's not your problem. However, if there is some practical advantage for you in getting her to withdraw rather than fail on the merits as she no doubt will, then I'd advice her to withdraw.


But part of me thinks it's not my problem that she's apparently oblivious to the fact that she has failed to meet a major requirement of the class.
Bingo. She's in college now and expected to take responsibility for her grade.
I might (assuming she hasn't gotten much feedback in the course and just to show that I am a concerned mentor), pull her aside or shoot an email saying say: "Here is your current grade, you may want to start doing something differently."
I would not offer her a chance to third-wheel, but maybe I'm just a hard-a$$.

She missed her chance; there's no reason she should be allowed to make it up.  And no particular reason she should be encouraged to withdraw and avoid the consequences of her choices.

A few questions:
If the student gets her act together can she still earn a passing grade? Under what circumstances do your students participate in the mentoring program? Is it routine for all new freshmen? Is this an under-prepared student who is trying to catch up to freshmen level. Is it for students on academic probation, etc.?  Mentioning that she was in this study skills program suggests to me that you are getting something other than "routine slacker" vibe from this student.

If an F is already guaranteed, or highly likely, then I suggest emailing the student and cc her advisor. Inform her that she has missed X% of the course content, and she is in danger of failing the course.  If it is still possible for her to earn a passing grade, then remind her that she must have perfect attendance, all remaining assignments completed on time, etc. If it is no longer possible for her to pass, tell her that. Include information about when the course will next be offered, and recommend that she consult with her advisor as she considers her options. That is the point where a good advisor will step in and assess if there is more to the situation than meets the eye, guide the student to the right resources if needed, or advise the student to drop the course and start fresh next semester.


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