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stevestl's avatar

The department chair at school failed me, what should I do?

Asked by stevestl (51points) December 3rd, 2010

So here’s the story… I was an English as a Second Language (ESL) student at a university in St. Louis, Missouri. I was there for only one semester, Fall of 2008. And then I transferred to a community college in St. Louis and started taking academic classes. I did not know that I received a Non-Pass (NP) grade in the whole semester in ESL until last month. Therefore, I set an appointment with the director of the ESL department to discuss my final grade, and she claimed that they don’t have my files from fall 2008. She was not even certain which teachers taught me back then. She said we have to send e-mails to all teachers in ESL to confirm that I passed all of their classes as most of the teachers don’t teach there anymore. Except only one teacher who is still a teacher there, the director asked this only teacher, whom I had three classes with, and the teacher said that I passed in all her three class with decent grades. So now there’s still two more classes to check their grades with the rest of the teachers. one out of 6 or 7 teachers replied that he does not have the grade book anymore.
In the Director’s last e-mail, her response was:

“Nope. Jenny may not be in St. Louis any more. I have asked some teachers to find out about her.

There is nothing I can do if I do not get a report from all the teachers. As mentioned in the meeting, the grades are final. I do remember checking all the Fs, as I do each semester, and I did not notice any mistakes of one student getting an F in the place of another. I checked the lists again recently, where we record final grades, and you were the only one in that part of the list.

In addition, the time to argue about final grades has a time limit, for obvious reasons. Among other reasons, teachers are not obliged to keep records for more than two semesters, and nor are we.

I am very sorry, but you need to recognize that you did not pick up your grades nor stay for the final appointments with advisors, which is when you would have had a chance to not only find out about your grade, but also try to argue about it.”

Speaking of meeting with an advisor, I did not have to meet with an advisor since I had already made my decision to transfer to a different school.

Now, some of you might think that well why am I asking to change the grade now, not earlier. And my answer is because now I’m applying to better schools with great education and good reputation, so they are asking me about the institutions and universities I have attended in the past, and an F in the whole semester in ESL program does not look good, and it might actually screw up my whole admission decision.

Please give me decent answer, DON’T be shy, please express your thoughts and ideas on how to solve the problem and convince the department to change the final grade. Your answers are appreciated, Thank you!

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12 Answers

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It seems you are doing everything you can to get it changed. The only other option I can see is for you to cop the fail, and do another ESL course at another institution so you can leave this one off your CV. If you didn’t contend the fail back then, could it be because you really weren’t very good at English at the time?

marinelife's avatar

I am not sure that you will be able to change the grade. Perhaps you can ask to test for competency at your new school.

You could appeal to the dean, but without additional evidence to offer, I find it unlikely that you will be able to change things.

WestRiverrat's avatar

In the long run, it will probably end up being cheaper to retake the course than to fight the issue. Maybe you can talk the original university into letting you take it at a discount rate as they are the ones that lost your transcripts.

submariner's avatar

Forget about it. It was your responsibility to drop the class by filing the appropriate paperwork, not just stop showing up, which is what it sounds like you did. It’s too late to do anything about it now.

An NP in a non-credit class is not going to prevent you from getting into a decent university. If you didn’t start taking academic classes until you went to the community college, you may not want to bother submitting a transcript from that other place anyway. If you aren’t asking for transfer credits from that one semester there, you may as well not bother, although it’s possible they may ask you what you were doing during that period.

snowberry's avatar

ESL courses are always pass fail for foreign students. My daughter is studying Japanese in Sapporo right now, and that’s the way it is for her.

A portion here was removed by me because it was irrelevant to the question.

This irritates me so much about ESL programs. If you are going to require students to have interviews, and you know that those students do not know the language well, then why for heavens sake don’t you walk them through the process!?!?!?! At some level a failing grade is also a bad reflection on the school! My ESL Japanese student says so.

snowberry's avatar

If you can do nothing about the failing grade, you can submit a letter of explanation regarding the F. The fact that you are speaking English well now should help to negate the pass/fail status of that semester.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

There’s no way that you’ll be able to get them to change your final grade, if you truly earned an “F” in the class. The allotted amount of time has passed in which you’re allowed to contest your grade. If you never even bothered to check what your grade was – or why it was that way – that is your responsibility. Professors and schools keep track of grades, but it’s not their responsibility to tell you what they are at the end of term.

Something you might wish to ask about, however, is whether or not your grade is a true “F” – or if the class was simply a “pass/fail” course. The reason this may be worthwhile to look into is because (in my state, at least) sometimes classes that are categorized as “pass/fail” rather than “letter grade” classes, don’t generally show up on your transcripts anyway.

That said, if you truly got an “F” (letter grade), your best option in my opinion is to simply explain why it happened. Don’t lie about anything, own it, and for good measure, maybe take another ESL class again. Depending on where you’re applying, they may also not care too much that you failed an ESL class. A lot of liberal-minded colleges don’t tend to take ESL classes into as much consideration as some other schools do.

tigress3681's avatar

You seem to have reasonably good written English skills now. Retake the class if needed. Take the TOEFL. Write about the situation during your application process, in essays or interviews. My experience has been that foreigners tend to be favored in many institutions due to either a diversity quota or stereotypes that they are better students than US students, so you should do well.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@tigress2681’s suggestion of the TOEFL is a great one. Also, if you were there for just one semester, when you apply to the next college, just have your community college grades sent, and not the university grades. You would not get any credit for any course work that semester at all. Talk with the admission office at the schools that you are applying to about this. I know people who have three years of university study, and didn’t transfer one bit of it, chosing to start over again as a freshman, and do the whole 4 years from start to finish with a new major.

stevestl's avatar

What should I write back to her?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Thank her for her time, and tell her that while you understand university’s policiies must be adhered to, and that while you are disappointed, as you had no idea. Tell her that she will be delighted to know that the grade is not an indication of your facility of the English language, and then ask her if taking the TOEFL at that university would expunge your failed grade from the university record.

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