in , ,

Woman Torn After The Failing Grade She Gave An ‘Otherwise Good’ Student Cost Her A Job

VioletaStoimenova/ Getty Images

Having a good advisor during your college years can make or break your career early on.

But, your grades mostly rely on you.

Redditor Top_Morning7673 encountered this very issue with her student. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.

She asked:

“AITA for failing an otherwise good student on her last internship, costing her a job?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“So, I’ll try to make this quick.”

“I’m 32F and a physical therapist in Europe. For seven years now, I have been working with a local university, taking students in for their placements and it’s honestly one of my favorite parts of my job.”

“In February, I was asked to supervise a student on her final internship and as usual I agreed. On the day the student was supposed to start, she showed up late, looking like an absolute wreck, and when I asked if everything was okay she broke down crying and told me that her fiancé had literally just broken up with her that morning.”

“Like, over breakfast.”

“I felt so bad for her I told her that it was fine if she wanted to take a couple of days off and then we’d make them up later.”

“She apologized profusely for being unprofessional, thanked me, and told me she’d start in two days and she’d be better.”

OP didn’t see any improvement.

“The thing is, she wasn’t better.”

“Specially over the first couple of weeks, she would take multiple, long bathroom breaks and come out all puffy eyed. She did the bare minimum I asked of her, but she was often distracted, didn’t remember basic things about patients, didn’t know what to do unless I explicitly told her…”

“About two weeks in, I told her that unfortunately she wasn’t performing and that she needed to step up.”

“She said she already had a job lined up after uni, begged me not to fail her and promised she’d try. We had to have this same conversation multiple times over the three-month internship because she kept barely improving; I even reeled in her supervisor from school, who told me that the student was committed to doing better and asked me to have patience.”

“Things did not improve, though, and therefore I had to fail her.”

The student had a hard time.

“The student cried and was even a little disrespectful, saying that she wouldn’t be able to graduate because of me, that I had ruined her career…”

“I tried to explain my view, but she wasn’t very keen on talking and left in the middle of the last day.”

“Later, I got a call from the student’s supervisor at school, asking me to reconsider because she was otherwise really good (top of her class, apparently) and that she was sure she had at least done the bare minimum.”

“Which maybe she did, but I don’t think that the bare minimum is enough in this situation and I think she didn’t learn anything in this internship and would benefit from another one where she could actually learn.”

OP’s coworkers didn’t think it was fair.

“The supervisor ended up admitting that this student was going to be working for ‘someone she knew’ and that now she had to pass up on a great opportunity because of me.”

“They even implied I was petty for failing this student and that they would reconsider sending me more students to supervise because she felt my grades weren’t fair.”

“Honestly, as much as it pained me failing a student for the 1st time, I was somewhat confident in my decision, but now I feel bad, specially knowing that this has jeopardized me supervising any more students, which is a passion of mine.”

“Was I the a**hole failing this student?”

OP added some edits.

“Edited to add INFO: Some other users have pointed out that this information I added in a comment should be in the original post, so I’m putting it here:”

“‘It’s fully graded, meaning that we get an Excel spreadsheet with a bunch of criteria, we grade them according to each criteria, and then that adds up to a final grade. Her partial scores in some areas (being proactive, improvement, showing clinical reasoning…) were so low that it resulted in a failing grade.'”

“I communicated that what she was doing was not enough.”

“Unfortunately, due to character limits I couldn’t fully detail every conversation I had with her, but I was very clear with her (and her supervisor when I reeled her in) that she wasn’t doing enough to pass, hence the promises of improvement.'”

Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. I would suggest talking to one of the higher ups about her advisors actions, I get being loyal and protective over your students but attempting to convince you to change your mind about failing a student, who didn’t even do anything that she was supposed to, is highly inappropriate.”

“Just because she did barely the minimum doesn’t mean she learned anything. It’s a shame if their school only strives for the bare minimum which is what it seems like with her supervisor.” ~ Most_Disaster_79

“It’s not about what the school strives for, it’s about clearly and fairly communicated standards. If a professor gives a test, and tells students they need to get 60 questions right out of 100 to pass, and a student gets exactly 60 questions right, it would be fundamentally unfair to turn around and fail them because they should strive for more than the minimum.”

“The same seems to be true here. If a minimum standard to pass was communicated, then that’s the standard. If the student met that standard, even if she barely did, she should pass. It’s not wrong for the school to have a problem with shifting standards.” ~ hitchinpost

“As someone with a spinal injury and rely on PT, I appreciate that you failed her. I NEED someone that does more than barely pass. I need to know that they really understood they practical part of the education. Thank you for valuing the patient.” ~ QCr8onQ

“NTA. If the student didn’t meet the bare minimum criteria for her to pass, with repeated meetings and promises of improvement, then I can’t see why you would need to rescind or doubt your assessment.”

“Unless your assessment was subjective and didn’t meet the objective criteria, i.e. you failed her out of spite, which you don’t seem to have done, then she should suck it up and take it.”

“If she can’t perform under supervision, then what guarantees she will do a good job on her own? Especially if you had to guide her and remind her of patient-related issues that she should have memorized for their care.”

“You will be doing both yourself and her patients a disservice if you lie to pass her.” ~ GoofyGooberette

“NAH – you are hired to provide an accurate assessment of her performance, which you have done.”

“It’s up to her awarding institution to decide whether she merits mitigating circumstances to allow her to suspend or repeat her studies in order to make the grades she needs – it’s not her fault she’s been suffering a great deal of stress so I am sure they can and should do that; but it isn’t a case of allowing her to pass on a lower standard, it’s about helping her raise that standard.”

“Her supervisor can argue all they like (after 20 years working in universities I conclude that some academic staff sometimes get by with only the haziest grasp on the regulations and purpose of their own role) but there are other processes that can handle this situation more favourably to the student and you and she both have done the best you could – it’s up to the administrators, the student, and her future employers to determine how things work out from here.” ~ redcore4

“NTA. When I was in grad school for my Master’s of Social Work, we had a saying that B’s get degrees.”

“We said that because the classroom stuff honestly is way overvalued in our field. Obviously it’s important to understand the different theories and concepts and be able to utilize them in your work, but you aren’t going to be writing 10 – 20 page papers in your professional job.”

“However, our internships were Pass/ Fail. We didn’t get grades.”

“You either met the standards or you didn’t. And honestly, it was pretty damn hard to Fail.”

“They know you are going to mess up and not be perfect. The point is that you are willing to learn and improve yourself and engage in some self-reflection.”

“It sounds to me like this person was basically trying to coast by because her goal was to get a ‘job’ not to be a good physical therapist. Everyone has traumatic life events and if she was so concerned about her ability to perform (which in and of itself is a huge red flag, as she will have other traumatic events in her life) she should have spoken with the school about postponing her internship.”

“I mean, I highly doubt the school would see ‘my fiancé breaking up with me’ as a valid excuse over say, a family member dying or something.”

“At the end of the day OP made the right call. You cared about the integrity of your profession and not passing a person who clearly is not emotionally mature enough to handle a real job.” ~ jadedinsomniac89

“Just pass her. The world expects perfection and honestly its absolutely ridiculous.”

“This girl spent thousands of hours and dollars pursuing something society has told her will help make her successful. It’s clear the professional world has little understanding for mental illness in any form, especially depression.”

“Everyone must perform like robots in order to succeed in academia. If this girl truly is an ‘otherwise good student’ and a rough patch of depression kept her from a job that would allow her comfort and stability in life, then you did her a disservice and she deserves to pass.”

“We are all human, we have depression, anxiety, sickness, fatigue, etc. WE ARE NOT ROBOTS.”

“I await the day that society respects and understands that humans are not, and never will be perfect, especially in the eyes of corporate/capitalism.” ~ lowkey_stoneyboy

“Definitely NTA. I do feel for the student, having experienced a break-up before.”

“But work is work. If I let my personal feelings negatively affect the way I work, I think it is only fair I receive a bad grade for my poor performance.”

“If you make an exception to pass this student, you are going to have to break the rule each time a student has a personal crisis, family issue etc. Not saying this to be uncompassionate.”

“But it is necessary to be fair to the other interns who also put in their efforts and apparently did more than her. Rule of thumb: Don’t punish unfairly, also do not reward for nothing.”

“If you feel she does not deserve to pass because she did not put in the bare minimum, then don’t pass her.”

“As for her supervisor at school, if she has any issues with the way that you grade the students or if she felt you graded anyone unfairly, she can bring her concerns to the higher mgt or board directors. There’s no need to imply passive threats.”

“As a matter of fact, I think you should bring up the whole issue instead, that you are being compelled by the supervisor to pass the student, show the university of your records of that student.”

“I just need you to be clear on this fact. The student passed up on a job opportunity because of her own actions.” ~ KopiKid

“The question is, WAS she doing the bare minimum? Because truthfully, the bare minimum should warrant a passing grade.”

“Not a GOOD grade. But a passing one.”

“If she failed to perform the bare minimum requirements, then you have every right to tell her student supervisor that SHE failed her internship by failing to perform her basic duties.”

“If she did however perform the bare minimum, you failing her IS petty. Your job isn’t to prioritize her life for her.”

“If she got straight A’s and is an honor student . . . Maybe she just put more energy into her other subjects and fell flat with yours.”

“That doesn’t mean she deserves an F by default if she did need perform the expected duties.” ~ Rad-rude-DUH-bega

OP did what they thought was right, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to get a unanimous approval.