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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Precarious

Grades are out. I am happy with two of them, and unhappy with one of them. I also have found myself once again in the precarious situation of having to save my scholarship this semester so that I don't get hit with a full tuition bill for next year.

So here's how it is: the mandatory curve at my school is 3.0. That means if you do about as well as everyone else, you get a B, whereas in undergrad you might expect sufficient performance to yield an A. Most people will get some kind of B in a class, unless their performance on the exam stands out in comparison to the rest of the class.  The requirement for keeping my scholarship is a 2.95 GPA, which is just under a B average. I got a B in torts (as expected), a B in Civil Procedure (as expected, though I had hoped for higher), and a C+ in Contracts (much lower than I expected based on how I felt after the exam). Yeah, my heart stopped a little when I saw that grade. Contracts should be lower than my other classes, because I do understand the material less well, and I didn't put as much time into its preparation as I did for the other two. But I actually thought I had aced that exam when I walked out of there, and certainly thought I did no worse than a B, so it was a shock. Of course, there is no good way to gauge how you did, because your grade is relative to everyone else's, and the problem is we are all very capable people. What might be a very good performance in undergrad could be a completely adequate performance in law school.

So anyway, my current GPA is a 2.809, which means I need to compensate for the C+ this semester in order to save my scholarship. This semester we have 4 graded classes, 3 of which are worth 3 credits, and one of which is worth 4 credits. I pulled out my trusty GPA calculator, and determined that I need to either get all B's with at least one B+ in any class in order to get a solid 2.95, or I need to get an A, two B's, and no lower than a C+ in a 3 credit class. There are other such combinations as well. But the safest thing is going to be to try to excel in at least one course while remaining at least perfectly average in the others. A tall order, that. Normally I would say I can totally pull it off, but I am seriously doubting myself right now. I doubt my intelligence and my ability to crack the game that is the law school exam. But I need to put that behind me, because, unless I manage to totally F up, literally, I am going through with this goddamned law school experience, and I would like to be able to do so while only paying 1/3 the price. If I do lose the scholarship, I'm going through with it anyway, but I will be really mad at myself.

I have been in this situation before. In undergrad, I had to maintain a 3.7 GPA to keep my full tuition scholarship. In my first semester, I sort of underestimated how seriously I needed to take my 7:30 am ordinary differential equations course, and I ended up getting a C+ or a C in that class, and I got a B in my beginning German class, and with everything else, I had about a 3.3 or 3.2.  I calculated that the following semester, I needed to achieve a 4.0 without dropping any credits in order to pull everything back up to a 3.7. I ended up having to beg my world religions professor to change an A- to an A, but I was able to do it by the end of the year, and with those credits under foot, the grades in each successive course were of less weight when it came to how they would affect my overall GPA, and I did manage to save my scholarship throughout undergrad. Granted, I had to take syntax twice in order to replace an initial C with an A (goddamned sentence parsing), but I got it done.

This time, I feel like I have less control over the situation. I can reasonably expect to get B's, because that is what an average performance should yield. But I can't say with a surety that I can get an A or even all B's and a single B+. I will do my best, and in the end, that is all I can really do.

So, anyway, I'm feeling a little more down this semester than I felt same time last semester. On the bright side, my writing professor said I have a good chance of getting an honors grade in her course. I also am hopeful that I can win the appellate brief writing competition that we are having in that course. Not that getting an honors mark or writing a winning brief will do anything for my GPA, but, I can write, right? I still have something to say for myself, I suppose.


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3 comments:

B.R. said...

Previous comment didn't manage to get through. Here's a recap.
I also retook a Ling course in college because the B+ was too aesthetically displeasing to me. My people thought it vain of me. I thought it indispensable. The thing is, it helps to keep to one's standards (however bizarre they might seem to some who don't get your context.). You will most certainly keep your scholarship and this is why I think you will. It was only your first semester at Law School and based on my sources (the Law graduates) your grades are indeed good. Familiarity of a system doesn't come overnight. My first semester in grad school was very hard as well and I worried about being able to keep my scholarship. It all worked out as it will with you. You're learning the ropes and every semester will get easier. At least, in terms of grades. Gut gemacht!

Sra said...

I appreciate your comment and confidence in me. I'm trying to borrow other people's confidence in me right now, because my own is faltering. I'm telling myself that there is a learning curve, and now that I've done this once, it should be easier to do it better next time. I also am telling myself that three grades do not give an accurate assessment of what I can accomplish. I am trying not to equate my worth with what I see as a mediocre grade. I know I can do this, and I'm going to try to keep that in mind so that I can succeed. I'm going to closely examine my contracts exam to figure out what I could have done to get a better grade, and then I am going to practice doing that so I can apply it this spring.

B.R. said...

Previous comment didn't manage to get through. Here's a recap.
I also retook a Ling course in college because the B+ was too aesthetically displeasing to me. My people thought it vain of me. I thought it indispensable. The thing is, it helps to keep to one's standards (however bizarre they might seem to some who don't get your context.). You will most certainly keep your scholarship and this is why I think you will. It was only your first semester at Law School and based on my sources (the Law graduates) your grades are indeed good. Familiarity of a system doesn't come overnight. My first semester in grad school was very hard as well and I worried about being able to keep my scholarship. It all worked out as it will with you. You're learning the ropes and every semester will get easier. At least, in terms of grades. Gut gemacht!

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