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Cathy
Cathy, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience:  Ms, MS.Ed., thirty years clinical practice
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OK, so I took this course in grad school- a philosophy course.

Customer Question

OK, so I took this course in grad school- a philosophy course. In the course description the professor didn't say anything about the grading system or breakdown- he only said there would be a single term paper at the end of the semester and that he wanted to see a 250-word abstract of it & approve the topic before we started working on it. I'm worried, because I'm not good at participating in class & so didn't say much, but I want to get the best grade possible & am willing to work hard for it. What are the chances the final grade will be based not only on my single term paper, but my level of participation as well? Do you think he would really give me a lower overall grade if I got, say, an A or A- on the paper?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Cathy replied 1 year ago.

Cathy :

Hi and thanks for writing,

Cathy :

are you here?

Customer :

Hi, yes!

Cathy :

Hi and nice to see you

Customer :

I'm concerned because I took an upper-level humanities course

Customer :

in philosophy

Cathy :

Yes I can see

Cathy :

here is the thing

Cathy :

you have to go and see the professor and talk to him or her about your particpation

Customer :

and usually the grade depends on participation, BUT the professor didn't mention participation at all in the syllabus. He only said "there will be a single term-paper at the end of the semester."

Cathy :

and if that matters

Customer :

can I e-mail him?

Cathy :

I taught for over 25 years at the graduate school level

Cathy :

and yes you can email him

Cathy :

but do get in contact

Customer :

the thing is, I am dealing with social anxiety & depression. I was diagnosed by a doctor 10 years ago & have been on medication for it but the anxiety has been difficult

Cathy :

okay I understand this but do you think your professor will?

Customer :

well, he's a liberal, open-minded fellow.

Cathy :

I think that if you were not upfront about this at the beginning of thecourse you can not use thisnow, but just do email him and ask him?

Cathy :

I would just email and ask about class participation

Customer :

He doesn't strike me as the type that would dismiss something like this out of hand

Cathy :

You know him better than I do

Customer :

like, if I told him I can get a "note" from the doctor explaining my situation in detail, I doubt he would just say no

Cathy :

but first just ask him about class participation?

Customer :

yes I just did

Cathy :

good and just wait and see what he says

Cathy :

and then take it from there?

Customer :

I think if participation were part of the grade, he should have mentioned that in the syllabus

Customer :

ok, do you think its too late to bring up this social anxiety business?

Cathy :

what is your graduate degree in? philosophy or is this just an elective?

Customer :

no it's my degree

Customer :

I'm in the Master's program and want to apply to the ph.d. program but to get in I need very competitive grades

Cathy :

okay and without getting very personal where are you studying?

Customer :

City University of New York Graduate Center

Cathy :

YAY

Cathy :

I taught there for years

Customer :

oh nice!

Cathy :

and am a twice masters graduate

Customer :

wonderful!

Cathy :

look, just email him about your concerns about class participation and leave the anxiety diagnosis out of the equation for now?

Cathy :

just say that you are concerned about class participation and want to do well

Cathy :

and see what he says?

Customer :

ok, I sent him a simple e-mail & the way I structured it was: I asked about something having nothing to do with participation- the term paper. THEN I asked whether the term paper would be our grade for the course, or if there was anything else I needed to submit

Cathy :

Good email

Customer :

So I obliquely skirted the issue of participation directly, & just left it up to him to tell me the grading breakdown for the course

Cathy :

Good email

Cathy :

I think you did the right thing

Customer :

BUT, I'm thinking, if I write an A or A- paper, would he really deduct and give me a lower grade because I didn't participate?

Cathy :

I think that is a separate issue

Cathy :

and you can address this once he responds to you, no?

Customer :

yes, I am getting ahead of myself, & just have to wait for him to respond to me

Cathy :

If he says, look your class participation was low you can ask what you can do about this

Cathy :

but I would wait for that response first.

Customer :

what would you do if you were in his situation and were dealing with someone like me?

Cathy :

I would respond to your email

Cathy :

and I would tell you what was needed to ace the class

Cathy :

but I tell you this much, even though I worked in the psych department and not the philosophy department and I am the most liberal person you ever met

Cathy :

I would not like it if one of my students sent me a diagnosis

Cathy :

so, go on your own merit and just say

Cathy :

Look, what do I need to do?

Cathy :

and let him respond

Customer :

what do you mean by "sent you a diagnosis?

Customer :

"

Cathy :

you are GOING TO BE FINE

Customer :

oh ok I see

Customer :

like don't even bring up the social anxiety stuff

Cathy :

well if one of my students said.........look I have anxiety and I have been under a docs care for ten years...........I would say?

Cathy :

so?

Cathy :

I think you are fine.

Cathy :

really

Customer :

Ok, so maybe I should definitely leave that out. I don't like using that as an excuse, its just a little harder to participate, is all, but I can just tell him I'm really shy

Customer :

Ok, thanks for your help!

Cathy :

I think you are fine. Drop me a line and let me know how it goes for you?

Cathy :

and remember one thing

Cathy :

all of us

Cathy :

even professors were students once

Cathy :

we all were

Cathy :

ya know?

Customer :

OK, will do. He's usually pretty quick responding on the other end of e-mail. So I should hear from him by tomorrow for sure, if not tonight

Customer :

true, true,

Customer :

he seems like he understands that

Cathy :

I think it is wonderful you are at CUNY and so so fortunate

Customer :

I feel great about it. I just want to get into the Ph.D program philosophy is my life.

Cathy :

you are on the receiving end of such a fine education and so lucky

Cathy :

you must be very very bright

Customer :

Yes, I feel lucky & am grateful for the opportunity.

Cathy :

Be more confident.

Cathy :

trust yourself much more and if you got into CUNY

Customer :

Well, its nice after being out of school for years to be back into academia & getting feedback from professional philosophers

Cathy :

you so deserve to be there

Cathy :

tough school.

Customer :

thank you, XXXXX XXXXX need to be more confident

Cathy :

absolutely

Cathy :

and do let me know how this works out for you

Customer :

I will, for sure. I'll be back in touch within 24 hours.

Cathy :

Warmest wishes from one CUNY grad to another.

Customer :

Thank you!

Cathy, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience: Ms, MS.Ed., thirty years clinical practice
Cathy and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I had asked you a question about grading & participation in this one course I took this past semester at CUNY. I heard back from the professor & he assured me that grading for the course would be based on the term paper alone, & not participation. So I lucked out, but this coming semester, I'm definitely going to participate more in class, just to be on the safe side & to combat my anxiety more effectively. I imagine it will be hardest the first couple of weeks, & will get easier after that. Anyway, thanks so much for your help last night!

Expert:  Cathy replied 1 year ago.
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