The Briefcase Diaries

Don’t Let Those Grades Get You Down

While home the other weekend, I ran into an old friend of mine from high school that I fell out of touch with during college. She asked me what I was doing now, and I told her that I was in law school. She then told me that she was thinking of going to law school herself. I told her it was a great idea, but that, if she did decide to go, she should be prepared to be consistently reminded that she is not good enough.

Why was that the first thing that came to mind as I am nearing the tail-end of my first legal internship? Because I think it’s true, almost across the board.

Recently, I had to rush to apply to a joint Master’s program due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict. Since I had already been admitted to the certificate program, all that I needed to do was submit two letters of recommendation. Easy, right? Not so much.

I reached out to the one law school professor who I thought had the best idea of who I was, as both an individual and a student, for the recommendation. I thought this was important because I am one of those few people who believe that we are people and, as such, we are so much more than letters that correspond to numbers and percentiles. I think a great letter of recommendation speaks to your abilities in and out of academia.

However, to my disappointment, my request was denied for two reasons: the professor’s administrative relationship to the joint Master’s program, which I entirely understood, and my grade in that professor’s course.

It is safe to say that I was confused by the latter reason. As I did not do poorly in that professor’s course, I received a “B”. I was also confused as to why the professor felt the need to point out that my grade was one of the reasons why they would not write my letter of recommendation, when they simply could have stopped at their administrative relationship to the Master’s program.

I do not think a B is a poor grade. I do not think a B makes me a bad student. I do not think a B makes me a great student. I think a B makes me, and everyone else who gets a B, a fine student. I think as a first semester law student with no legal background, a B is nothing to be ashamed of.

My final grade aside, I was prepared for class. I answered every cold-call correctly. I raised my hand and volunteered to answer questions whenever I possibly could. However, for whatever reason, none of that mattered to this professor. All that mattered was the grade I received on their final exam.

So, to all of you reading this who are more likely than not stressed about the start of the school year, just remember: you are so much more than letters and numbers. You are wonderful, intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated people who deserve to be reminded of that as much as possible. You are working as hard as you possibly can and as long as you are doing your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of.