A's for Everyone!

John Watson, who teaches journalism ethics and communications law at American, has noticed another phenomenon: Many students, he says, believe that simply working hard — though not necessarily doing excellent work — entitles them to an A. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a student dispute a grade, not on the basis of in-class performance,” says Watson, “but on the basis of how hard they tried. I appreciate the effort, and it always produces positive results, but not always the exact results the student wants. We all have different levels of talent.”

It’s a concept that many students (and their parents) have a hard time grasping. Working hard, especially the night before a test or a paper due date, does not necessarily produce good grades.

“At the age of 50, if I work extremely hard, I can run a mile in eight minutes,” says Watson. “I have students who can jog through a mile in seven minutes and barely sweat. They will always finish before me and that’s not fair. Or is it?” —Alicia C. ShepardA’s for Everyone! (Washington Post (will expire))