Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Lesson

A student emailed me asking me if I would consider adding him to one of my fall semester creative writing classes. He can't add it himself, he said, because he took it before and received a low grade. He wants to retake it so he can boost his GPA. So he needs an add code.

That was his reason. To boost his GPA.

Not because he loves writing.

Not because he's devoted to being creative and wants to give it another go because as a frosh he didn't know what he cared about.

He included not one reason that would make me excited about adding him into the class.

I've seen worse, but the letter had a few grammar and spelling errors. On the plus side, unlike many students who email me, he used capital letters and punctuation--and a salutation of "Good Day Professor Evans."

I could have hit delete. Or flat-out said "no." (Or "yes," I suppose.) Instead, I wrote the following intended to give him a free lesson: Write to your audience. (It remains to be seen if he goes for it.)

Dear X,

Are you saying you want to take a creative writing class solely to raise your GPA? Why should I add you when there are many students who haven't had a chance yet to take creative writing? Why did you not pass the class in the first place? Why would this time be different?

Try again. Send me an email that proves to me you're a good writer and a creative person. Make it excellent, creative and convincing--and edit it to perfection. Think of it like an audition to get added into the class. If it's good writing, I will consider your request.



Becky C. said...

I think you handled that perfectly professor.


R.J. Keller said...

I love it!