A Gentleman’s C

May 30, 2010

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When I was in college, Statistics 227 was a required course for all business majors.  Unfortunately, there were never enough openings in the class.  There was actually an endorsed workaround.  Instead of taking the 5 credits Stat 227 class, you could take Stat 101 (4 credits) and Stat 201 (2 credits).  In an effort to cross this degree requirement off my list, I took this alternative.

Within days of the start of class, I regretted my decision.  The concepts being taught in the class were very basics – concepts such as mean, median, and standard deviation that I had learned in high school.  I cursed myself for not having realized this.

The instructor was nice, and I gave the appearance of following along in class.  In actuality, I was only attending class because attendance was part of the grade.  I spent a minimal amount of time studying for the class – just glancing through the book before each test.  During the actual class, I was usually working on homework for another class.  I sailed through the course, earning the highest grade in the class.

That doesn’t mean that the class was without its challenges.  The guy who sat next to me was named Jay.  Jay had worked full time while attending college to ensure that he graduated without any debt.  It had taken him six years to get his degree in Sociology, but he would be graduating at the end of the semester.

Jay had one little problem.  He had an extreme aversion to math.  This statistics class was the only math-oriented class required for his degree.  The class that was a complete joke to me was a major problem for Jay.  He needed to pass this class in order to get his degree – and he wasn’t quite sure that he was up to the challenge.   

Jay seemed like a nice guy, so I didn’t want to see him fail.  He had a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed, but just seemed to have a mental block when it came to the subject.  Within weeks, my goal for Stat 101 was making sure that Jay passed.

Along with the lecture portion of the class, there was also a hands-on session once a week where the class would meet in small groups to solve problems.  Most of the groups would finish the assignment, hand it in, and then leave.

Jay and I were usually among the last people to leave.  After finishing the actual assignment, we would delve into discussions on any topic that was causing Jay problems.  I served as an unofficial (and, of course, unpaid) tutor, helping Jay through these topics.

I won’t lie to you and say that Jay aced the class.  He didn’t.  However, he compiled acceptable grade time after time.  By the time the end of the semester rolled around, Jay had earned a C and had satisfied all of his degree requirements.  Never in my life have I seen someone so happy about a C.

Jay and I had a deal.  If I could tutor him well enough to pass the class, he’d buy me a pizza.  However, the end of the semester can get hectic, and we lost touch without a pizza ever changing hands.

So, Jay, if you’re out there, you owe me a pizza – preferably Canadian bacon.

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