How to Student

How College Grades Work

Rule #1: College teachers and courses are not all the same.

If you complain that Dr. Jones would have given you an "A" on this paper, that really does not mean much to Dr. Smith. They were probably looking for different things in the paper (and Smith would have a strong tendency to suspect that you were blowing smoke anyhow).

If Smith's course is all about understanding large concepts and Jones is encouraging you to remember small details, you should expect an "A" paper to be different in the two courses.

How do you figure all this out?

Read the syllabus. Ask questions. Don't just guess.

Rule #2: Yes, we do strive for some consistency and objectivity.

The university grade scale, which is used in this course, is consistent:

Course Grading Scale (%)
A = 94-100C = 73-75.9
A– = 90-93.9C– = 70-72.9
B+ = 86-89.9D+ = 66-69.9
B = 83-85.9D = 63-65.9
B– = 80-82.9D– = 60-62.9
C+ = 76-79.9F = below 59.9

Please notice that these grades are a range, so if you are desperately arguing for five more points in a 700-point course, you are looking at a very small change. If you are getting an A– (92% of 700 = 644), that desperate five points would push you to 649, not enough to shift things.

Rule #3: Don't expect a "Hail Mary" play to work.

A student who drifts through the semester doing little work and showing up very rarely probably cannot fix things with a stupendous final paper or extra-credit project. Few professors work that way. You need to work at being a good student from the first day of class.

Rule #4: College instructors respond very badly to outside pressure.

In my years at Ashland University, I have never gotten a message from a coach urging me to raise a grade because the athlete was just too valuable to the team! If anything, the coaches push me to be fair and consistent so the athlete must do quality class work and get good grades.

I have, however, had a few students who bring parents in to protest grades. It does not usually go well for the student. I send the student and parent to my supervisor, who listens to the whole thing and usually sends them home.

You are not going to pass a course here on the basis of outside pressure.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 6/14/19 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: