The middle of the semester comes knocking. And the consequences seem real and immediate. The White Paper that a few weeks ago was a vague pledge to “donate when I get my tax refund” is suddenly an overdue bill, and the Definition Argument is still pretty iffy, while the Rebuttal Argument certainly can’t be accomplished until my Hypothesis is nailed down to something like a firm Thesis that another author might want to refute.
About half of my students are usually ready for this drastic rise in the sea level. The other half feel as if they’re suddenly drowning.
Right on cue, students who aren’t ready to fully commit to their research miss a class, maybe two classes. They ignore emails and texts from their professor, figuring that he’s too busy to pester them more than once.
Once the deadlines for the Short Arguments are past, they no longer feel like a weight around the neck. It’s easy to let those delinquencies slide for a few days. A week. After 48 hours, they’re already worth no more than 50/100 points, so “what’s the point?”
For some, this slide is irreversible.
For the in-betweeners, interaction with the professor is something to dread. Coming to class late, leaving early, or sneaking out to avoid confrontation, seems like a reasonable survival technique.
I get it.
I too put things off.
I do them when I absolutely have to.
I do them poorly sometimes because I haven’t left myself enough time to do them well.
But I’m an idiot.
You don’t have to be.
The people I have to report to are reasonable people who gladly work with me when I acknowledge my thoughtless procrastination, my dread at confronting the problem.
If you have to be like me, be like that version. The guy who acknowledges he’s late and his work is not up to par and whose committed to making it better.
Be the enlightened version of me.
Don’t miss classes. Don’t ignore my texts or emails. Don’t think you’re too late, or too far behind, or too confused to catch up, or too fill-in-the-blank.
IT’S THE HALFWAY POINT. (Well, to be honest, it’s past half way.)
You can turn this sucker around.
I will push you up that hill like nobody else who ever had your back.
But I won’t pull you up.
You have to take the first step.
If you haven’t posted your first Short Argument yet (Definition/Categorical), post it immediately, as soon as you can.
And if you’re not going to be ready to post your Causal Argument in two weeks, your Refutation Argument two weeks later, then post something that looks like a 1000-word Argument. Ask for very specific feedback. Get into the game. Pretend it’s essential to you. It might not feel like it right now, but I am your biggest supporter and fan. Until you let it slide.
Don’t. Let. It. Slide.
Very few of the 50% who start to fade at the middle of the term do well at the end of the course. Beat those odds. Right now.