Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Semester is Over (YEAH)

Well we are done for the semester. Finally. For some reason this has been a really tough couple of months.

Now as usual CM2 started out like gangbusters, getting all As and then by midterm he loses steam, practically fails his tests but seems to spring back into action for the final. I do wish he would learn how to run a marathon rather than do sprints. Its the sprints that don't work really well when you have to be on target for months on end. But he is done.

Also I just couldn't believe that a sophomore in college had no homework. Really, not a paper. Not an essay. No math homework even. I kept asking to see his syllabi and even the TA couldn't believe it. He told us that there was a lot of group work done in the classes and that they did assignments during class for computer and math. Now he did have to prepare some presentations for speech class and he did have to write some one-page summaries for his communication class, but this youngman skated by this semester with so little work you just wouldn't believe its college. Having seen CM1 at this school for the past 5 years and CM2 for one, I know that this is not typical of the education system at this school. CM2 just lucked out in some way.

Next semester is gong to be a totally different story. Not only does he have two science classes (his major and a hard science), calculus, psychology and creative thought, he has his class major to outline and get approved. He is going to go from barely any work to not being able to see straight. (I need the next six weeks to prepare for what is to come...)

Well today was CM2's last final. It was math. There, of course, was a glitch with a final he had taken Tuesday.  His computer final didn't get uploaded to the lab program. He received an email from the professor last night. (OH CRAP) She knew he did it because she was there watching him. So she told him he could go in today and redo the parts of the exam that were missing. Nice lady. I told him this time, save his work to his flashdrive and print a copy like he was told to do in the first place. Big shot had decided he doesn't have to listen to any advice any adult has to offer. So if it weren't for an understanding and unbelievably terrific professor, who let him come back and repeat his test, he would have been as they say "shit out of luck."

CM1 also seemed to be lost somewhat this semester. Granted he began the year by having to do schoolwork and study for the LSATs. The  LSATs that he decided at the last minute not to take. So that did set him back a month or so in getting started on his thesis.

Also in a class he was having issues with a professor. I wouldn't say so much a personality conflict as the professor was, well to put it mildly, one of the worst teachers we had ever come across. He not only did not know how to organize and lead a class, his lessons were haphazard, his syllabus made no sense and he refused to answer questions about the course. Taking great offense if anyone, meaning CM1, asked why something they did was relevant to the topic at hand.

I had had several discussions with the disability director about the professor and she basically told me that the real issue wasn't CM1 but that this individual had a number of problems with a number of students. I told her we were trying to teach CM1 how to deal with someone you do not get along with. We attempted to teach him that one day he may have a boss who is not understanding and quite frankly just doesn't like him. That he needs to learn to deal with people on every level so this was a good learning experience for him for later on in life.

CM1 on the other hand, wanted to go to the dean and the president of the university and demand they do something about the professor. We said no. He would sound like a whiny brat. Just keep quite. Stop "asking so many questions" of the professor. Do your work and get through the class. This too is a social survival skill.

The entire situation came to a head midway through the semester. CM1 having finished his take home midterm exam sent the professor the test. But the email the professor provided didn't seem to work so he sent it to the professor's school email account. The professor said not to worry. Next thing we know the professor refused to grade CM1's test because it had not been sent to the right email. The professor refused to use the school email or set it up so that his emails would be forwarded to a private account. Then when we asked the IT department to go and send CM1's test to the professor's private account, the professor refused to give his permission for the IT person to go into his school account and forward CM1's test.

This next move is not going to be believable: the professor sent a threatening email to CM1 saying if he showed anymore disrespect in class he would be thrown out of the room and not allowed back in until he learned proper collegiate behavior. That was let us say some of the more milder parts of the email. Luckily he also sent that email to the disability director. I called immediately.

She told me that we should not worry about CM1's grade for the course. We should keep copies of all his papers and in the end if we are unhappy with the grade we could challenge it. At this point I was also worried that the man would fail CM1 and ruin his chances for getting into graduate school. I did tell her however, that the email truly bothered me on any number of levels, the basic one being that the man is not only refusing to deal with CM1 (Don't forget we also did have a TA in that class with CM1 helping deal with any and all issues) but that he is now threatening him when there is no need for that. I did tell her that I may have to hire a lawyer because I am at my wits end. I do not want to sue the school considering how absolutely terrific they have been to both boys,  but I see no choice if this situation continues.

Listen its one thing when a professor doesn't like your child. It's one thing when your child should know better but has problems dealing with someone that is openly hostile to them. It is quite another when a professor threatens your child's education. The disability director said she was going to talk to the dean and seek some advice on what to do.

They replaced the professor before the next class. No I don't think it was all about CM1. As I mentioned my son wasn't the only one having issues with this particular professor. But I think the email to him probably was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. (See advocacy never really ends where your child is concerned.)We also learned a valuable lesson. If you are unfamiliar with a professor go to Rate My Professors and see what others say before you take the class. Apparently this professor's ratings were either a 0 or a 1.

Happily, midway through the semester CM1 got a new professor and the rest of the class went wonderfully. What kind of grade will he get? I am not certain but it will definitely be a fairer grade than he might have received otherwise.

So then CM1 started writing his senior thesis. He was half way through the semester and could not begin. He had writers block. Finally about three weeks ago it began to come together. The darn paper was due today before noon. Talk about last minute minutia. We woke him up early to fix footnotes, citations and finish some needed editing. All 70 pages of the paper was sent in on time.

I need a stiff drink...not wine...but maybe some vodka, bourbon or a really good margarita. We already had our celebratory chocolate cake. It just wasn't enough....

And yes I know there was a lot that we dealt with in these past three months on top of school: my father's death, my mother's major surgery, (meaning me flying back and forth several times during the semester to Florida), Hurricane Sandy and near-on two weeks without electric. Plus the typical normal ups and downs of life. I for one am glad that for the next 6 weeks the only things that we are going to have to do is: CM1 will study for the GREs, both boys will do volunteer work, exercise and workout, plus the family will go on a short vaca to visit my mother.

Relative peace and quiet.