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Lying To The Bank Is Always A Bad Choice

, , , , | Learning | August 30, 2021

A long time ago, before computers were common, I worked at a college. Many students needed to verify grades and attendance to the sources of their financial assistance. In some cases, they had to pay money back.

A young guy came in with an older guy, presumably his father.

Young Guy: “I need a letter stating I was enrolled during the most recent semester.”

Me: “Just fill out this form.”

He filled out the form and I printed something off of the microfiche. (Really!) The guy looked at the paper.

Young Guy: “No, I need a letter saying that I attended the last semester.”

Me: “I can only print a transcript.”

I looked at the transcript and realized he didn’t attend the semester in question.

Young Guy: “Can’t you just say I attended?”

Me: “No, I really can’t.”

As they walked away, I heard:

Dad: “I told you so!”

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You Can’t Cheat Science!

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | August 24, 2021

When I was in grad school, one of my colleagues in my lab worked as a teaching assistant for a certain undergraduate class. Students in this class were notorious for cheating, and one of the ways they cheated was to collect their graded exams, change one of the answers, and submit it for a re-grade, claiming that that the teaching assistant had neglected to give them full credit for the answer.

My colleague was lamenting to some of us at lunch about how her student submitted a question for a re-grade, but she knew there was no way she had misgraded his answer to begin with.

Colleague: “I know he erased his answer and changed it. I mean, I graded fifty exams, so I don’t remember for sure, but there’s no way I wouldn’t have given that answer full credit. He has to be cheating!”

Me: “But you can’t prove it.”

Colleague: “No, and that’s what’s so frustrating.”

Me: “Can I see the paper?”

She showed me the paper. Right away, I noticed that there was a spot where the student’s pencil mark intersected with the teaching assistant’s red grading pen.

Colleague: “See? I can’t prove whether he wrote his answer before or after I graded the paper.”

Me: “We have microscopes.”

My colleague’s face lit up. She took the paper to one of our fancy lab microscopes, and even at ten times magnification, she could see the student’s pencil mark clearly ON TOP of her red pen. She took a picture using the microscope and submitted it to the professor, and the student eventually admitted to cheating. Science for the win.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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Word Problems Require Weird Solutions

, , , , , , | Learning | August 18, 2021

I am a private tutor. I have given my fourth-grade student the following question: “Buses need to be rented for twenty-seven children going on a field trip. Each bus can take twelve children in addition to the driver. How many buses must be rented?”

Student: “I say two buses.”

The answer is supposed to be three.

Me: “How did you get two?”

Student: “Because it’s too expensive otherwise.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Student: “Otherwise, you’d get three buses, but the third bus is only going to have three kids in it. That’s a waste of a bus.”

I burst out laughing. My student is giggling as well now.

Student: Or, how about two buses, and we’ll strap some chairs at the top so the other three kids can sit up there.”

Me: *Recovering* “That doesn’t seem very safe!”

Student: “Right. So it’s only for the bad ones. The naughty kids have to sit on the top of the bus while the good kids can sit inside. It’s cheaper and better for everyone!”

We drew a model of her bus prototype after she completed all the word problems. I love this kid.

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She Was Doing A Brief Stint As A Newt

, , , , | Learning | August 16, 2021

In a financial aid office at a private university in Florida, I ask a student for his mother’s federal tax form, as required by the federal government to receive financial aid. He says she is dead. We tell him we are very sorry for his loss and request a death certificate, again, as required by the federal government. The student goes away and returns three days later.

Student: “Here is my mother’s federal income tax form.”

Me: *Stunned* “Is this your stepmother?”

Student: “No, my mom.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I thought she was deceased?”

Student: “She got better.”

I’ve seen everything that happens in colleges.

Me: “Okay.”

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Mischief By Proxy

, , , , , | Learning | August 5, 2021

I attended a private high school that issued laptops to all of its students and faculty. Of course, because we had near-constant Internet access, the school had a pretty hefty firewall put in place — amongst other measures — to ensure we were doing what we were supposed to during class. However, being a bunch of teens, many of us were also doing our best to circumvent this firewall, typically through proxies. Once one of these was found, it spread like a wildfire before administration caught on and blocked it and the cycle repeated.

I’m not sure how this is handled at other schools, but at mine, the last week before finals was solely dedicated to reviewing for them and to giving you an opportunity to ask your teachers questions about older material.

It’s this time my sophomore year and I’m in my algebra class browsing social media via one of those aforementioned Internet proxies — perhaps not the smartest decision looking back, but oh, well. Unbeknownst to me, my teacher — the very same one from this story — has snuck up behind me.

Teacher: “Is that Reddit?!”

I nearly jump out of my skin, especially since computer misuse is an automatic detention, and circumvention of the firewall can be a suspension if you get caught directly.

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Teacher: “How the h*** did you get around the firewall?! I swear, I’ve been trying to do that all year.”

Me: “Oh, uh, I use [Proxy].”

Teacher: “Thanks!”

He immediately scurried back to his desk. 

Since the first story I submitted about him, I’ve learned he didn’t even apply to the school to be a teacher; he applied to be in their IT department. Administration just stuck him in the position because he had a math degree. That fact explained a lot.

The Password Adds Up

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