Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I no longer care about my permanent record

One of the last classes I took in grad school was CAMB 600: Cell and Molecular Biology. It was pretty much a graduate level intro class to cell biology. This was of particular interest to me as the only biology class I took in undergrad was "Biology of Cancer and AIDS" which fulfilled the general education bio requirement without actually being a biology class. You see, my bachelor's degree is in chemical engineering, but it was traditional chemical engineering with no biology at all. I didn't figure out till my senior year that traditional chemical engineering is unbelievably boring. Given that, you might be surprised that my Ph.D. is also in chemical engineering, but I didn't really do chemical engineering research. My thesis was much more cell biology based. Hence, my interest in CAMB 600.

However, given that the only cell biology I knew by that point was what I had taught myself, I was at a slight disadvantage in a class full of BS's in biology. As such, I found the class to be a bit of a struggle and by mid semester I was facing the possibility of a C. This had me worried, because I thought that a class would not count towards my degree unless I got at least a B, and I didn't want to have to take any more classes.

I expressed my concern to The Doktah, and she said, "No, I think that we just have to pass all the classes and maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, so one C shouldn't keep you from graduating." This was excellent news, but I wanted to be sure and went to see the graduate advisor to double check.

"That's right," he said, "you just need an overall 3.0 or higher."

"That's great!" I said.

"But you don't want to get a C," he warned me.

"Why not?" I said. "What difference will it make?" This class was my last one, and I had already gotten mostly A's, so a C could not possibly lower my GPA to below a 3.0.

The advisor looked a little appalled at my cavalier attitude. "Well, it will not look good on your transcript," he replied.

"But who's going to see my transcript?" I asked. "Do employers want to look at your transcript?"

"Well, no," he said. "But you don't want to get a C!"

I realized the problem. I was talking to a young professor at a major research university, ergo, I was talking to an overachiever. Earning a B would have brought him shame; had he ever gotten a C he probably would have had to commit hara-kiri.

"OK," I said. "I won't get a C."

And I didn't.


Maggie said...

Do they make "My mom's a geek" onesies? :)

Seriously though, I bow before the smartness. I'm sending my kid to summer camp at your house.

Mo said...

Sadly, they do not. Blatant sexism, that.

Anonymous said...

this is why i'm making my student take the undergrad version.