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More than just a number

Students have the power to advocate for their grades. It’s very easy to overlook the fact that students can attend office hours and talk with their professors about their grades. Perhaps there was an ambiguous exam question, or an unfair online quiz — students can and should voice their opinions.

Not all professors are open to negotiating your grade. After all, they have been teaching for years, but there is no harm in trying. Perhaps students steer clear of trying to haggle over their grades because they fear the professor will assume that the student is more concerned over the letter grade that they get as opposed to actually learning the material.

Although students are portrayed as being solely focused on a number like GPA, they can have an impact on whether or not that number accurately represents them. Yes, school is about learning and not just a grade, but to students who plan on applying to graduate or professional schools, it could hinder their search to acquire higher education. Many jobs also ask for a student’s GPA. Unjust grades could also adversely affect scholarships, which often need a specific GPA every semester to remain active.

The larger the school, the more difficult it is for one to advocate for their grades. College Park has a student population of about 30,000, which is almost three times the amount of students enrolled at UMBC. Students here have the potential to benefit from the small academic community. With smaller class sizes, students are able to have more personal interactions with their professors, which include grade concerns. Students should take advantage of this and advocate for their grades.

At a highly populated university, professors see thousands of students a day, making it difficult for them to associate a face to a name. Students build their reputations by taking exams, earning letter grades and are ultimately represented by a single number: their GPA.

“As a pre-medical student, every grade is crucial for becoming a competitive applicant,” claimed Jasmine Gulati, a junior biology major. “My professor for biology 142 allowed us to negotiate and argue test questions. If we had a plausible explanation to defend our answer, she would allow our class full credit for the other answer choice.”

If multiple students complain about similar things, it could make an impact. Your professor may decide to take into consideration that they may have written some unfair exam questions, which could affect the curve. “I was able to successfully argue many questions, and impacted everyone’s grades,” said Jasmine. “The process also helped me learn the material even better because I had to argue my answer.”

After paying thousands of dollars, and spending countless hours studying, students should be able to talk to professors and negotiate grades freely, without consequence.