Thursday, April 09, 2009

Great Expectations

The twilight sky was resplendent as a cool breeze followed me across the Yard. Moments earlier, my professor had returned our mid-term papers to the class, complete with his written comments for each. I received a "B" on my paper.
The darkening sky matched my mood.
While I have yet to read the comments that accompany my grade my thoughts whirled as I second-guess my paper. Where did I go wrong? Was I not clear enough? Did I miss a citation or two? Did I not transition well enough between paragraphs? Too many questions and no time to find the answers. I will have them once I sit down on the train, though.
We only have two papers to turn in for this class - the midterm and the final. All week long I was nervous about this paper because I have yet to receive a grade in this class and I have no idea how the professor grades a paper or what his expectations are when he reads a paper. Logically I know that this class is harder then others I have taken previously and I should not have great expectations of getting an "A" right out of the gate. Illogically, that was my expectation.
After riding a short while on the red line with my classmate Justin (a smart, smart man who received an "A" on his paper and is deservedly pleased) he disembarks at Central and I take the time to read the comments on my paper. In the end, Professor Donoghue feels that my topic sentence was a bit too broad and he wishes that I had narrowed the scope a bit more. However, he likes my work. Still, I wish I had done better.
When I was in college for the first time (in 1983) I would have been ecstatic with a "B". Heck, I would have been beyond happy with this grade in high school. Now, not so much. While my time at NEU was not always as intellectually stimulating as I would have preferred (thanks, on-line classes) I was proud of the "A"'s that I received in my English courses both on my tests and for my final grades. Now I am taking classes at Harvard precisely because I wanted to be challenged more. My bachelor's degree - when it finally arrives - needs to be worth something; to me, anyway. I have to know that I worked for my grades and learned something in the process. I simply have to.
Thanks to the sage advice of people close to me, I realize that a "B" in a class at Harvard is worth an "A" anywhere else. Also, I was reminded that this is a graduate-level course that is also available to undergraduates like me and it should be more difficult. Finally, this is my very first class at Harvard and, according to a fellow Harvard student, a "B" on my first paper is excellent. Most importantly, all involved told me they were proud of me.
So, for today, I will be happy with a "B".
Tomorrow I'll be going for the "A".


Blogger Bridget said...

Bravo! Love the apropos.

You should definitely be proud of your "B", but I'm glad to hear that you plan on pursuing that elusive "A". Go for it.

2:17 PM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Fox In Detox said...

And she is proud of you... Congratulations on the B, and kick ass for the A.

7:38 AM, April 10, 2009  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I got some "A"s in college but when I got to seminary, things got kicked up a few notches--an "A" was very elusive, almost exclusive. I forgot that their expectations of me would rise as much as what I expected of my education there.

I admire you for not only challenging yourself but choosing to attend one of the most mind-bending schools in the Commonwealth. That choice alone deserves an "A" in my book.

10:28 AM, April 11, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home