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Articles / Applying to College / My Teacher Didn’t Raise My Grade as Promised -- Can I Appeal?

My Teacher Didn’t Raise My Grade as Promised -- Can I Appeal?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | July 1, 2019
My Teacher Didn’t Raise My Grade as Promised -- Can I Appeal?

I had a situation at the end of the school year where I was about to get a C in Spanish. I asked the teacher if there were any extra credit opportunities and she said I could come in at lunch and help the students in lower Spanish classes with their homework. I did that for a month and she said she'd bring my grade up to a B. Today I got my report card in the mail and there is a C on it! That teacher left the school at the end of the year (it was her last year teaching) so how can I appeal this? If I can't appeal it, should I talk about it in my essays?

As “The Dean" learned from a Holiday Inn commercial many eons ago,“The Best Surprise is No Surprise." Obviously, your “C" in Spanish was a surprise you hadn't hoped for, and you can certainly attempt an appeal. Your teacher may have left the school but she's probably not off the grid. So first, you can try emailing her at her school address. (She might still be able to access it.) If you don't hear back promptly, your next step is to go to your school's guidance department. Most guidance offices stay open through the summer, at least with a skeletal staff. So if your own counselor is on vacation, reach out to the head of counseling, another counselor on duty or the department administrative assistant. Begin by asking for your teacher's current email address, snail-mail address or phone number, but — unless you live in Mayberry R.F.D (yet another reference to The Dean's" long-ago life) — this information will probably be kept confidential. If that's the case, request to have a note forwarded to your Spanish teacher via the guidance office.

When you write this note to your teacher, remind her of your agreement in a nice way. Provide a phone number or email address so she can respond easily. It's possible that your “C" was just a mistake she made in her haste to empty her desk and get outta Dodge, although it's also possible that you misunderstood the terms of the deal (e.g., maybe she said she would raise your grade if you volunteered at lunch and improved on the exam as well?). It may take a while to track down the teacher or even a guidance office staff member to assist you. So be patient (and polite!) while you go through the process.

If your grade can't be changed, “The Dean" suggests that you NOT use this situation as an essay topic. It would most likely come across as trivial — even whiny. You can, however, discuss it briefly in the “Additional Information" section of your applications. But, if you do, put a positive spin on it ... perhaps ending with something like this:

“Although I didn't earn the grade I'd expected, I saved a few calories by skipping a month's worth of lunches, made quite a few freshman friends and — best of all -- gained an understanding of the fundamentals of Spanish that I hadn't acquired in the classroom. So even if my final mark wasn't a B, I'd call it a C-plus!"

¡Buena suerte!


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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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