After getting a 44 in Dynamics of European Business, I am forced to consider the consequences this failure will have on me into the future. Particularly, this mark makes me question whether it is fair that I would have received a more positive transcript, an indication that I am more intelligent, by never attempting to study the course in the first place. Instead I tried, I failed and I will have that mark standing out on my transcript from now on.
My angst is not directed at the fact that I failed and will have to repeat the course. I accept that I have lost $800 of my own fault, and if I don’t complete the course in my second attempt I will not be allowed a third. My issue is with the fact that my university is marking a stone dunce on my record to inform my future employers of my failed attempt. Logically, my 44 should be nothing but beneficial on my transcript. Whilst it hasn’t served to contribute towards my degree, I will probably know more about the Lisbon Strategy then Johnny Actuarial next to me. Yet my university will tell my employer that I am a student who couldn’t commit, and invites interview discussion time as to why this was.
Those who have witnessed their marks fall short of 45, know it will result in a resounding and eternal N imprinted on their transcript. A demoralising reminder of failure and of thirteen weeks of a wasted academic semester. Whilst it is largely true that a fail is the result of a lack of study, this still does not make the system fair. A clinched 44 isn’t exactly the same reflection of academic skill when you are studying Advanced Econometric Modelling 8014 as opposed to Introduction to the Novel 1008.
So is an N really a true academic reflection of a student who may take two attempts on a particularly narky subject, but gets there in the end? Or those that couldn’t get their applications for special consideration through Terry Embling, notoriously the most ruthless and intermittent granter in the College of Business and Economics? I say that when a student passes his subject then slap it on a transcript, a hearty nod to a student who knows his geography. If he fails, simply do not put it on. An indication that he does not receive the ANU’s recognition, and will not until he goes back and does it again correctly.
We are told from kindergarten “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”, an expression to alleviate the shame of failure and pick us up from when we fall. The consequences of a student’s failure should be the time they spent, however great or small, in studying for that subject, as well as the $800 they forked out. Yet they will be engraved with an expression that spits in the face of our preliminary education and states that trying and failing is worse than not trying at all.
Therefore, as I approach my semester of studying Advanced Macroeconomics, a subject with a 20% fail rate and a 30% pass/supplementary rate, I consider following the approach of some of my fellow students who have nightmares about the dreaded N. Study the equivalent subject part-time at the University of Canberra, and transfer the credit over for an easy D.