Letter to Saharla



Dear Saharla,

I am giving you a C- on your essay. I am sorry. You are writing about an experience that was obviously very traumatic for you, and it is difficult for me to attach a letter grade to that experience. However, that was what I was hired to do.

The English Department has decided that essays that don't meet a minimum level of competency on all standards must automatically be given a C- or below. Your essay has a pattern of verb tense and subject-verb agreement errors. The minimum level of competency in grammar requires an ability to manage verb tenses and subject-verb agreement. You can see, then, that a C- is my only option. In fact, a C- is the most generous of all the options available to me.


Other faculty members - outside the English Department, mostly - are very concerned about the grade average on our campus. The average grade on our campus is a B-, which they think is too high. They think a better average grade would be a C. I find it very difficult to give a C, or, as in your case, a C-. A C seems very low to me, and I think about what it must feel like to receive it. I have never received a C in my life. The lowest grade I ever received was a B. It was for driver's ed, in high school.


However, rest assured that the other parts of your essay are meeting minimal standards. Your essay has a clear thesis, stated at the end of your introduction. The introduction grabs the reader's attention (it grabbed my attention). Your transitions could be stronger, but I am not confused by the essay's organization. The best thing about the essay is its vivid and engaging detail. When you describe the way the soldiers came into your house and killed your parents in front of you and your sister, I feel as if I am right there.


I am sure you will be able to manage verb tense and subject-verb agreement in the future, perhaps by the end of the quarter. Try not to let the C- bother you.



                                                                                                                             Allison Green