Dear students,
If you ask about your grade, I’ll gladly tell you that you’re doing well in the course, or that you really need to do better, as the case may be. More specifically than that I will not say.
The main reason for this is that if I were a hiring manager at a company, the very last thing I would ever think to ask you about would be your grades. When you interview for a job, you should show that you understand the company’s situation, that you have knowledge, skills and experiences that prepare you to do the job, and that your personality and way of working fit the company’s vibe (okay, their “culture”). And that you can clearly articulate these things. All this is so much more important than grades.
A problem is that many companies are now using algorithms to screen CVs. You’ll speak with an HR manager only if the A.I. approves your resume. And the A.I. looks at your grades.
You don’t want to work at a company that does this.
Why? First, many of these algorithms, trained on insufficiently diverse data, will discriminate against minorities and women. Even if your CV does not explicitly state your gender and ethnicity, the A.I. can still pick up on subtle cues in the document.
Second, nothing you can say will change the algorithm’s “mind.” In an interview with a human, in contrast, you can bring up something important you forgot to put on your CV, or react to a question in an appealingly creative manner, and in these ways rescue a conversation that may not seem to be going well.
When your CV goes directly to a human, it’s at least a small clue that the company believes in diversity and inclusion, and is a good listener. The human will probably not ask for your grades. If the human is your future boss, s/he knows that the ever-changing requirements of the job do not now really match the static job description that was sent to HR.
The old Bob Newhart show featured a young couple working at Newhart’s B&B. The young lady was kind of a princess. At one point, they broke up. In an unforgettable scene, she approached her beau, stamped her foot, and demanded, “What’s the least – and I mean the absolute least – I can do to get you back?”
I am not calling any of my students a princess. However…
My faculty colleagues tell me only the lower-performing students persist in asking about their grades, mid-semester. Maybe it’s generally true. I don’t want to answer with a specific letter or number grade, because the student’s next question is likely to be (in translation from student-speak), “What’s the least, the absolute least, I can do to get a better grade?”
I want to save you the indignity of asking that question.
Best regards, Your Prof