Friday, August 19, 2011

Caveat Emptor

It is back-to-school time here in the Land of Flowers.  On Thursday, campus was a mob scene, I am told.  I missed it because I was chasing a cow across my neighborhood.  Yes, I am fully aware that if a student gave this as an excuse for missing an exam A would probably not believe her.  On the other hand, pretty much whatever your cockamamie excuse, you can get on the list for the make-up at the end of the semester which is convenient for no one (being slam before finals when, if you are taking any other classes you probably have other stuff to do), so you would be crazy to miss an exam for no-good-reason & burden yourself with the make-up, but whatever.

What was I saying?  Oh, right, Let The Buyer Beware.  Over at Poodle (and dog) a discussion has sprung up around a class action lawsuit wherein the students of a law school are suing the school for misrepresenting employment numbers for previous graduates.  Let me break it down:  the kids say the school told them they would probably get jobs after graduation because X previous students have gotten jobs & it turns out X is not a real number.  I mean an truthful number; X is of course a real number in that it is a number of quantity in a continuum blah-de-blah-blah.  The students are not alleging that X is the square root of a negative number, but that the school more or less made X up to make their degrees appear more desirable to the individual about to go in debt to the tune of tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars.  Got that?  Good.

So the discussion begins & there are a few different perspectives.  J** expressed it as an irony (I could be wrong, but I think it is actually satire because of the whole opposite-juxtaposition thing, but I might be wrong & also she is a nice person so I didn't go there on her blog but somehow felt compelled to mention it here.  Yes, I'm a bitch).  Next up was a recently graduated student who was not jazzed about the "There are too many bottom-feeders already & I do not mean catfish" tone.  J** was very polite to her (I think a "her", I could be wrong, what do I know); more polite than I would have been.  Suffice to say she did not respond with "Oh Kitten, if you cannot take the heat from a blog about family pets maybe you should get out of the courtroom".  The follow-up has been less sympathetic.  One person (not me) pointed out there has been a well-documented glut of lawyers so how could a person applying to law schools not realize this would be a factor, regardless of where they went?  I don't know the source but my own research (commercials on tv mostly) would indicate there do seem to be a lot of lawyers out there, but they also seem to have healthy advertising budgets so business is.....good?

I told you that story to tell you this one.  A used to (& will again, no doubt) teach a large seminar class taken primarily by future engineers.  There were a lot of them (there still are) & they were a mixed bag in the way all large groups are.  Among those in the bag were the handful who materialized at the end of every semester having blown off homework, labs, flunked exams etc. wanting to negotiate their grade.  By & large they were not so successful; with such a big group of students, the guidelines for how grades are handed out are largely determined by the department, or departments in a cross-discipline class.  That guy you are giving such a hard time to has not-so-much control over your grade as a real number, but PLENTY of control over what he puts in the letter of recommendation you will so foolishly request when applying to grad school (this actually happens; so far he has resisted the temptation to write:  she was a mediocre student who couldn't follow instructions & got pissy when she didn't get her way).

As for the rest of the students, so long as they work within the existing framework, things go much smoother.  The school will even let you take the class over&over&over again until you get the desired grade & each time your improved grade will overwrite the previous one, so only a review of your semester-by-semester transcript will show that you have ever been there before.  That and your bill.


  1. So a student could have a transcript with straight A's, but it might have taken 8-10 years to accomplish? But the 8-10 years would also show up on the transcript, right?

    Thanks for saying I'm nice. I thought the "do you want fries with that?" was a bit snotty.

  2. since you asked...undergrad credits have a shelf life & often expire after seven + years. Sooooo you could go to school for DECADES & only the grades in the last seven years (or the seven years preceding graduation) would show up. I cannot tell if this is better or worse.

    & as for nice well, my first thought when I read that post was this person is really not cut out for litigation & as a prospective client I would consider the you hurt-my-feelings argument not worth my cash. A friend of mine (a professor at a law school, but not the one up the road) once set up a hypothetical courtroom situation & then asked his class which lawyer would have won. A student who never did come forward said "the one with the biggest tits". He says since then whenever a ruling seems particularly stoopid he cannot help himself, he tries to google the attorneys' picture.