January 28, 2004

My law school grades

There's been a discussion in other places about grades. I've been thinking about this, and I've decided that keeping my grades secret is not what I want to do. So I will share them with all of you:

Con Law: A-

Torts: B+

Civ Pro: A-

------

I'm very disappointed in these grades. Why? Because I wanted higher ones. I'm under the impression that very high grades will help professors to remember me. And I want to be remembered by the professors. Since I don't know yet what I want to do after law school, I feel like I need mentors more than anything else. High grades, my thinking goes, will make it easier to find a good mentor.

I suspect that grades are just one factor among many, but I think I have reasonable grounds for believing that if I had earned higher grades, my professors would be more likely to remember who I am. More than that, I sometimes suspect that they'd be more eager to help me get to where I want to go (or help me to decide where I want to go). Perhaps I'm wrong about this effect of grades. But now that everyone knows what they are and how I'm interpreting them, they might be able to tell me I'm wrong. That would be helpful.

So now you know my grades, and you know some of my thinking about my grades. Sure, I have many other thoughts about these grades, but hey, this is only one post.

What I really hope is that this will stir up the pot a bit. Now, you have examples of people who don't reveal their grades, and examples of those who do. Now there's slighty less reason to speculate about grades, because you have slightly more real information about grades. (I know it's only one person, but it's still technically true.)

Posted by Carey at January 28, 2004 06:33 PM
Comments

Dear God.

Posted by: Heidi at January 28, 2004 06:57 PM

Carey......you're wrong.

Posted by: Nancy at January 28, 2004 07:03 PM

Okay, I'm with Nancy here--I don't think that high grades should make a significant difference in the ability to find a professor as a mentor. I don't even think they would. I think that finding a mentor is a case of getting up off your ass and talking to people and finding someone who clicks and can help you. And wants to do so.

The "Dear God" can be expanded into "Please don't set that bar, I'm not ready to go there, I can't I can't I can't."

Posted by: Heidi at January 28, 2004 07:18 PM

So, when you say how much you hate the herd mentality of law students....you, like, really mean it enough to act on it, huh?

You rock, Carey. Exceptional post.

Oh, and does this mean we can all stop talking about grades now? While we're stroking our egos, John Kerry is running off with the nomination...

Posted by: Julie at January 28, 2004 07:24 PM

Oh - no - you - didn't! Ha! Wonderful post Carey. I almost spit out the cornflakes I was eating.

Posted by: michael at January 28, 2004 07:31 PM

Thank you for telling me I'm wrong. I love you all.

Yes, Julie, we need to start refusing to let an obsession with grades distract us from getting Howard Dean nominated... ;)

Sorry about the cornflakes. If I had known you were eating them I might have chosen a different time...

Posted by: Carey at January 28, 2004 07:49 PM

I think that the effect of talking to your professors outside of class is probably much greater than the effect of grades on their likelihood to provide you with guidance and mentoring.

Posted by: Mark Ashton at January 28, 2004 08:33 PM

We love you too, Carey, even when you shock us to death.

Posted by: Heidi at January 28, 2004 08:38 PM

You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I am also a law student. And guess what- I don't think you deserve your grades. You obviously weren't smart enough to get straight A's, or "the A+" in any of your classes- yet you are dumb enough to complain about two A-'s and one B+ as if those are bad grades.

You want better grades so your professors remember you? Try saying something worthwhile in class. It'd get you a hell of a lot farther than bitching about a B+.

Posted by: No one you know. at January 29, 2004 12:34 AM

I've always considered that grades in law school (or any school) are like salaries at an office. You can bitch about them, talk about them in vague terms, but it's just impolite to talk about them. Why? Because the next guy might be doing the same job, just as well, but getting less money (for whatever reason). It's not fair, it's life, and it's polite just to leave that stuff off limits.
That said, grades aren't salaries. How well you did in a class is even less of who you are than the money you make, and that's a message everyone - not just law students - loses sight of. So, I have respect for you wanting to buck the trend of talking about grades without getting too specific. It gets out of hand.

Still, I'm not sure this was such a good idea. I respect that you posted them on your page, which while a broadcast (and a bit of a sneak attack to regular readers) isn't in everyone's face. I admire your guts, honestly, and I'm glad you did pretty well. I wonder if you're not giving yourself enough credit, though, but hey, that's just me.

This is the bad idea part. Clearly, not everyone in your particular class or section did as well as you did, if you look at the prescribed curves. In fact, probably a lot of them didn't. And I'll bet most of them feel the same way you did - not because they wanted their professors to like them, but because they wanted to have the kind of compensation for three months of hard work only a letter and a number can give. (Sarcasm intended). Those people - who are on the same hard grade curves you were on, and who (erroneously) compare themselves to you - may very likely consider your post to be fairly insensitive and insulting.

I hope you realize that's the risk you run publishing that sort of information on the public net. These are not just the people you are with every day - they're also your future colleagues and friends. Making that statement - while effective and certainly useful in the ongoing grade discussion - might not be worth the potential future ramifications. Read in the most unflattering way, on its surface and underneath, it sounds as if you care much more about your professor's opinions of you than your classmates. Maybe that's true - I hope it isn't - but if it is, don't tell -them- that.

That's probably not what you want to hear, but it's what came to mind and I felt compelled to say it out of a sincere feeling of "I-Hope-He-Knows-What-He's-Doing"-ness.

I guess what I'm saying is, good luck.

Mike

Posted by: Mike at January 29, 2004 01:06 AM

I compliment you for posting your grades. Although it had many negative elements, something was lost when law schools stopped posting grades in the hallways. Also, I donít see grades as barring interaction with professors.

Posted by: Joseph at January 29, 2004 02:44 AM

Yo, someone who doesn't know Carey--

Let's not get into the grades-as-some-kind-of-desert thing, or the "say worthwhile things in class" thing as a shockingly weird method of improving grades in a mostly-grade-blind institution. Personally, I think it's sillier to say "Well, I got my grades and that's just the kind of person I am" than to hope for improvement.

But then again, what do I know? -- Oh wait a second, I know Carey! Ahhhh.

Posted by: Heidi at January 29, 2004 06:50 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone. Mike, I agree with you that posting grades and then commenting on them can and will seem to some as insensitive and insulting. For that I apologize. I don't mean to make anyone feel badly by telling them what my grades are.

Unfortunately, though, I can't control the opinions other people form of my actions; I can only try to treat people with respect. Posting my grades is for the sake of making an argument about their meaning. They don't mean enough to me to keep them secret. Because I trust the people around me to recognize that my grades aren't me, but an evaluation of my final exam by my professors, I'll trust that they won't tear my head off when I decide to post them.

I'll also post them because I want to stir the pot, and get people to think about grades in new ways.

Many people didn't do as well as I did. Some of them are happy, some of them are disappointed, some of them are proud, some of them are angry. The same is true for all the people who did better than I did. My point is, I'm not going to make a judgment about whether anyone's reactions to their own grades, or to mine, are "appropriate." That's not for me to say.

Posted by: Carey at January 29, 2004 07:36 AM

Carey, you're cool. You'll be fine. And the way to get a professor as a mentor is a combination of doing reasonably well in classes, so they know you're not a numbskull, and showing genuine interest, personality, and promise. I think you've got it licked.

Posted by: Scheherazade at January 29, 2004 09:30 AM

Everything you write in one of these "blogs" is social masturbation. You're writing this for you. Don't get caught up in the whimsical notion that you write this "for other people." When you write these things, think to yourself, "Why am I writing this? For whom am I writing this?" I bet that's a tough one to answer.

I would bet the farm that all this "discussion" bloggers want is really just a cry for social help. Go out somewhere. Talk to people (in real life) about something non-law-based (yes, that means not grades). It's healthier.

You posted your grades. Great. You did pretty well. Great. But this self-effacing act where you question your "future" and your "friendship" with these professors is absolutely ludicrous. You must realize that this is a competitive atmosphere. No one cares what you got, and it makes it worse that you cry about the high grades you did get.

I'm sure somewhere inside you were hoping that everyone would reply with things like, "Wow! You did well! Don't worry at all! You're awesome!" Sorry, I can't provide that. What I will say is that this is clear and convincing evidence that bloggers are self-absorbed pedants.

Posted by: yeah at January 29, 2004 10:23 AM

One does have to wonder, 'yeah', why you're READING the blogs. Someone who likes to watch people masturbating while feeling superior... Hmmm. Now there's a healthy non-pedant with a well-honed social conscience. NOT.

Posted by: Not a law student at January 29, 2004 10:32 AM

Carey,

I admire your guts in posting your grades on the web. I don't know if I would have had the same guts.

As for whether your first-year professors will remember you more if you had an A than if you had a B+, don't worry, they won't. As a general rule, they probably won't remember you at all from the first-year torts class where you (along with 100 other students) tried to make intelligent comments about res ipsa (or at least, not look like a fool when called upon) despite the fact that you had never heard of the idea before.

My observation is that most professors have a vague sense of who their first-year students are. They could pick a randomly selected first-year student out of a lineup with ~60% accuracy.

That sort of vague familiarity is not equal to being a mentor. Emphatically not. The way to mentor-ville is by reading law review articles on the subject you're interested in, dropping by during office hours or e-mailing the professor, and saying "Hi Professor, you may remember me from class [she'll nod obligingly]; I was just looking at these articles on how Rule 23 can be used to resolve intra-class conflicts, and they look really interesting. I'm thinking of writing a Note on the topic. Can I talk to you for a minute about this?"

That conversation will take you a hundred times farther than an "A" versus a "B."

Posted by: Kaimi Wenger at January 29, 2004 10:32 AM

I don't know how your school works, but I know that at least one of my professors doesn't ever check to see which students got which grades unless they come to him to talk about their exam. Beyond that, I can't claim to know much about law professors, but I know that in my experience the best way to get a mentor is to take an interest in something that excites them - and most professors I know aren't very excited about grading exams.

Posted by: kodi at January 29, 2004 10:41 AM

Wow, anonymous insults and everything for posting three measly letters that nobody is going to remember in a few weeks!

I managed to call you a she in my post, but I wasn't trying to insult you. I get called a he all the time, because I'm a former software engineer, so I should know better. It was the Glorfindel that did it.

However! The anonymous insults are infantile and boring. Therefore, to make things more entertaining for you, I shall attempt (okay, maybe not actually manage) to insult with more style.

"Carey, your grades are so low they'd freeze after water does." [Ed. Maybe the insult would be better *before* water does. Hm. Must speculate.]

"Carey, my retarded blind dog got better grades in Puppy Training."

Though, damn, this might count as giggling about a Serious Subject like grades which are, as I have seen, Not Funny.

Posted by: transmogriflaw at January 29, 2004 11:04 AM

Just for the benefit of the peanut gallery, what numeric ranges do A- and B+ correspond to, and do you know the mean/median/std dev for 1L grades?

Posted by: Richard Campbell at January 29, 2004 12:20 PM

I do not normally read blogs. But, I have friends who search through these things to find the lamest posts because some classes are so boring. This qualified as one of the lamest I've seen yet.
I've notice several things about all bloggers. 1. They have no friends. 2. They are tools. You clearly fit both criteria. You are no longer the big fish. Deal with it. Stop crying about your grades (which are solid) and go out and make some friends. Go to bar night tonight. Buy some fucking hockey tickets. Or better yet, transfer. Michigan is way too cool of a place for douchebags like you.

Posted by: Your Personal Advisor at January 29, 2004 12:42 PM

That's simply stunning. Why is it that all the people who are so proud of their cadres of friends are so unfriendly?

Posted by: kodi at January 29, 2004 01:12 PM

Responding to Your Personal Advisor:

I agree with you that this is a whoppingly lame post. I wonder if we agree about why it's lame?

I think it's lame because, as most of the other comments here point out, these grades (or any other grades I might have gotten) don't mean as much as my post implies. Or, as other comments point out, it's lame because my posted reaction to these grades aren't the sort of thing that deserves to be "taken seriously," whatever that means.

But I wonder if you've missed the point of my posting my grades; perhaps I haven't done a good job of explaining it. If you'll follow the links in the post, I was responding to a discussion about, among other things, whether keeping grades secret has any justification other than just personal preference. I noticed that no one was posting grades, so I decided to do it as my way of arguing that the world wouldn't cease to function if people knew what your grades were.

More importantly, I'm arguing that the world won't end when I reveal one of my emotional reactions to my grades. So far, I think I've been proven correct.

As for "douchbag," I'll ask you this: surely the difference between you and me isn't that you are never disappointed in certain of your performances, even when those performances are more successful than the majority of other people in your situation. Perhaps you were a competitive runner, and your time in the mile was "only" X, which disappointed you even when that time was good enough for third out of a field of twenty.

Or perhaps you've been disappointed by your salary of only X, even though you know most folks of your age and social background make less than X.

These are just hypotheticals; obviously I don't know anything about you personally. But if I'm a "douchbag," it has to be for some other reason than because I'm disappointed in my grades--otherwise I'm sure you're a "douchebag" too. And I don't have enough information to have any faith in that assertion.

Perhaps I'm a "douchebag" because I've posted my grades? If that's what you meant, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you. I would have been a douchebag if I'd posted someone else's grades without their consent, for example; or if I'd jumped down someone else's throat for feeling a certain way about their grades. . . Ahem, but in my experience that's a rare thing; most folks are able to refrain from that sort of immature behavior.

Posted by: Carey at January 29, 2004 01:21 PM

For the record, I would like to say that nobody can claim that Carey and I have no friends because we're friends with each other.

Mu ha ha ha! Beat that!

Posted by: Heidi at January 29, 2004 01:37 PM

I am a quasi-1L (2nd year, part time; first year is 1/2 of the normal 1L curriculum, second is the other 1/2, plus change; I had those same 3 classes this fall, assuming your con law is separation of powers/federalism and not individual rights).

School is Georgia State University.

I am tempted to post my grades in the comment thread, but I am concerned that it would
1) not be comparable in any meaningful way.
2) be interpreted as bragging.
3) be even more useless because it's a different school.

Posted by: Richard Campbell at January 29, 2004 02:07 PM

Responding to Richard Campbell:

I agree that they probably wouldn't be comparable, although it may well be that your performance was superior to mine. I just don't think we could tell based on grades.

Anyway, my idea about grades is that you should really do what you want with them. I found it in my best interest to post them on my blog. If you would benefit from posting them, then I encourage you to do that. If you don't think you would benefit, then I'd encourage you not to.

My only real argument is that, if you do decide to post them, the sky won't fall and the world won't end.

Posted by: Carey at January 29, 2004 02:22 PM

Carey, my comment about bragging was not intended to be a "my grades were better than yours." Sorta shows the way any grade discussions tend to go, though. I meant more in the sense of the world at large.

For example, you have chosen to share your grades, and I note that you were in the top 15% and 30% of your classes, assuming this link is valid:

http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/registration/Grading%20Guidelines/GradingGuidelines050603.htm

Now. How much of a motivating factor towards your willingness to share your grades was that they are very high, personal disappointment aside?

Posted by: Richard Campbell at January 29, 2004 02:52 PM

It's really hard to say. I'd like to think that I'd be more willing to post them if they were lower, but that might just be wishful thinking. The reason I posted them was to stir up the pot--everyone seemed to be speculating about what would happen if people knew what your grades were, but since no one actually did know anyone else's grades (apart from, usually, close confidantes), it was nothing more than speculation.

Posted by: Carey at January 29, 2004 03:21 PM


The Profs that care about grades will pick people like you- who think that A-'s aren't good enough, and the Profs that don't care about grades won't mentor people like you.
So find a prof that works for you- or stop posting under false pretenses and say what you really mean- that you are posting because you ARE proud of your grades. Here's a question- how were your grades in Med School?

Posted by: at January 29, 2004 03:29 PM

I'm very curious how some of you happen to know what kind of person Carey is, since he never posts navel-gazing blog entries. You're assuming that either he's a grade-grubbing whore (mmmm) or a prestige whore.

Maybe there's other options?

Posted by: Heidi at January 29, 2004 04:13 PM

http://www.sublimedirectory.com/pod1.jpg

or a....crackwhore? :D

Posted by: Brian at January 29, 2004 04:21 PM

Obviously, the crackwhore option is the most appropriate. ;)

Posted by: Carey at January 29, 2004 05:47 PM

clearly, the take home lesson here is that michigan should come up with a much better name this bar outing than "Bar Night."

Posted by: meow at January 29, 2004 07:19 PM

..better name FOR this bar outing..

Posted by: meow at January 29, 2004 07:21 PM

Wow! This certainly increased the participation in your Blog, Carey!!! Can't wait to see what your next set of grades are!!!

Posted by: Nancy at January 29, 2004 07:32 PM

Great post. I respect your decision to post your grades and I understand not feeling satisfied with them, despite the fact that by most standards, you've done quite well. You pathetic friendless douchebag. ;-)

At lunch today, I was speaking with a couple of friends (the three of us jaded 2Ls) about grades and how their importance to us had changed since high school and college. It was different for each of us. I was never very grade-focused in the past. Grades didn't matter to me, so long as I was learning and enjoying myself. I always did well enough to sneak into what I wanted for the next stage of my life, if only barely. But my law school grades matter to me. My friend said this is the first time in her life she's not lost sleep over a mediocre grade.

What we all agreed on, however, was that once grades are released, you can't do a thing about them. Good luck doing better this semester.

Posted by: buddha at January 29, 2004 08:27 PM

I'm now in my fourth semester of teaching, so I've gone through three sets of grading. The students who stand out tend to be (1) the ones who articulate consistent thoughts in class; and (2) the ones who come by my office to chat. A student's grade in my course has no impact on my willingness to serve as a reference (though obviously it does impact what I can say). My willingness to give advice, etc. has nothing to do with a student's grade, although again the content of the advice is dictated somewhat by the grade.

FWIW one of my best mentors in law school was a professor in whose class I did okay, but not great. But I developed a good relationship with him after class by visiting his office hours, having him supervise a paper, and then taking another class.

Posted by: Tung Yin at January 29, 2004 08:31 PM

Doctor! I think your grades are great and, well, only slightly worse than my:
Crim A+
Torts A+
Contracts A+
So, you can be proud to have come close to me!

Posted by: Jkrasch at January 29, 2004 09:33 PM

Now just wait until next semester when they all go down the toilet. My first semester grades at Michigan were very similar- I felt good with a 3.5 after the first semester. Then the shit really hit the fan, and I have been scrambling ever since. Now, after 2 semesters of very hard work, I am finally up to a 3.3, not quite all the way up to where I started. That will take my remaining semesters to accomplish.

It sucks when I think that I have to get a B+ or better in every class to pull up my GPA. As an undergrad, that would seem easy. In law school after 4.5 semesters, it seems downright daunting.

I wouldn't care, but I hope to clerk for a good judge after law school.

Anyway- the point. Keep the grades at the level they are, and you will be in good shape! But GOOD LUCK keeping them up there!!! hahahahahahahaha

Posted by: Jordan at January 29, 2004 10:58 PM

Quit whining Carey!!!!!!!!


You have a 3.566 GPA. Median for this school is between a 3.1 and a 3.2. Everyone here is smart, not just you. I love you like a brother but complaining about grades that are likely between the 70th and 80th percentile is ridiculous

Posted by: Larry at January 30, 2004 01:56 PM

I'm a law professor. Tung Yin may have covered this ground, but let me give another take: I don't really care what grades my students get. Or more specifically, I don't think grades mean a lot, and don't assess my students based on the grades I gave them (or some other prof gave them). The last thing I would do is want to get to know students based on who did well on their exams; a lot of the top students are whiny and obnoxious. Who wants to get to know the students who are whiny and obnoxious?

My advice is to be a nice person. Law professors, believe it or not, like the students that are nice people.

Posted by: A Law Professor at January 30, 2004 05:30 PM

I also speculate about the intense desire among lawbloggers to keep their grades shrouded in the utmost secrecy, with nary a hint as to their gpa or rank. Whats up with that? They describe lawschool angst in excruciating detail yet fail to include the end of the story by not even intimating on grades.

The several blogs I read that have declared a moratorium on posting grades have each left *me* with unique impressions: "I don't want to post my stellar grades at the risk of insulting others"(sensitive blogger); and "After bragging all semester of my stellar study habits and super-stellar study group, I am much too ashamed (and angry) to post my less than stellar exam performance"(embarrassed blogger); and finally "Grades are not important, even though everybody says they are - grades are not important, but I am still keeping them a secret - grades are not important, and this is my 3rd post in a row about how unimportant they are" (blogger in denial).

Carey, my gpa is the same as yours and I was thrilled. I wish you could be as happy.

However, methinks you place too much importance on professors 'knowing' you. Some of them are ego-maniacs and will remember you if you are willing to suck up --- and the decent profs will not reject mentoring you for a 3.5. Anyway, it is *you* that will take you wherever you want to go in the legal field, not a prof. Grades notwithstanding, you give the professor-student relationship too much credit.

Have you considered looking 'outside' law-school-world for a mentor? You know, one of those lawyers that actually practice law?


Posted by: Same Grades As You at January 30, 2004 05:42 PM

Yeah. You're just like all the other self obsessed assholes at my "Top 20 Law School" as well whining about their stupid A- and B+. I'm sure you feel great making everyone else feel bad about their grades in the guise of self-aggrandizement, but just know that at least one person wasn't fooled by your thinly veiled attempts at boasting in the name of 'disappointment'. My rage does indeed come from jealousy: my law school grades were: two C-, C, and C+. My LSATs were 178 and I graduated from Harvard. A year ago at this time I was feeling at the top of the world but I wasn't posting in my blog how UPSET I was because I didn't get a 180 on my LSATs. Learn some sympathy and some humility.

Posted by: opiatelove at June 5, 2004 11:51 PM