Monthly Archives: November 2014

The “Homestretch” email to Professors


My Great-Grandfather Murray down this particular  "homestretch" with a horse-drawn fire engine.

My Great-Grandfather Murray down this particular “homestretch” with a horse-drawn fire engine.

As you head into the homestretch before final exams (or mid-terms for that matter), it’s important to know EXACTLY where you stand in ALL of your classes.  I often poll my students during this homestretch, and I’m amazed at how many of them are unsure of their current grades.  They’re not keeping tabs, and they’re not checking in with professors. (Or their profs are slow to update the grades, and the students are waiting passively by.)

Don’t assume you ‘think’ you know where you stand.  Your perception (and math) may be quite different from your professors and, even though grading policies are all laid out on the syllabus, it’s always good to double check.  I’ve heard of cases where professors decided to drop the lowest test score or exempt students from their final exam if they were carrying an ‘A’ average.  I also heard of a student who THOUGHT she was doing poorly in a class, but the professors grading scale had her at a ‘B’ grade within striking distance of an ‘A’.  She dropped the class before checking in with the professor!

There is a better way.

Fire off a simple email to each professor to ensure you’re both on the same page.  Here’s a sample, and you can fill in your own content based on each course:

Dear [Professor Plum]:
I’m getting ready for the homestretch before finals, and I was hoping to run my game plan by you.
My records indicate that I have a –% grade in our class currently, and my hope is to do the following between now and finals:  
1).  Review [A, B,and C] with particular attention to [blah, blah and blah].
2).  Finish strong with the [FILL IN THE BLANK] project.
3).  Work with my study partners on [LIST IMPORTANT CONCEPTS].
4). Attend all the review sessions.  
Do you think this is a good plan?  Do you have any further advice?  Would it be okay if I came in to chat about this?  
Thanks so much.

NOTE:  If your professor is sitting on a stack of papers or tests, trying to wade her way through it, and if your paper is near the bottom of that stack, you could wait and wait and wait.  But if you’re the one who sends the email or stops in to her office to see where you stand, she just might move yours to the top of the stack and give you the quick answer you’ve been hoping for.  Why not act?!