Having spent most of the semester enthusiastically participating in class, I’ve observed countless students suddenly rushing into the class forum towards the end of semester just trying to fish for information, grab at quick-fix shortcuts to passing the class, and generally just trying to use students who have been present and engaged for the whole semester.

It stinks.

If you do this to your peers, you suck. I mightn’t say so in the forum or even in the psychology & counselling Facebook group. But I’m disappointed in you for not being there all semester when your classmates needed a CLASS, then suddenly showing up at the end wanting cheat notes. What are you even doing in the class if you planned to do it that way, and what will you say to your clients when you’ve kneejerked a response to their distress that is out of an unprofessional, unobserved place?

Some of us are in that class each week despite our difficult and busy lives checking off all the readings, doing all the exercises, going into the forums and trying to pick ourselves apart as is required for our future responsibilities to our clients. Some of us take that responsibility seriously. When we can’t attend classes or get across all the readings because of sick children (and one of mine has been desperately sick the entire semester) or other unavoidable troubles, and then you go in and try to take advantage of others who have actually done the work, it is incredibly disrespectful.

I have been participating with my whole heart the majority of the time, before my eldest needed a heavy load of support in the past few weeks. Every week I’d do all the work and then to close off my study day I would post to the discussion board, as is encouraged to get the most out of the class.

Every week, I’d barely get peep out of the class, who it would seem were not doing the work, or bothering to participate in any meaningful way. Only a handful really seemed to commit to making the discussion board truly enriching and interesting, and the rest just turned up if it was absolutely necessary to “make an appearance” to get their mark. The things they’re writing are carefully shaped to sound like what the lecturer wants to see. It’s the same comment over and over again. Dozens of people carefully re-wording what the last person wrote.

In short, they’re “playing the game” to get the pass.

Is this really a meaningful learning experience?

On any future classes that require class discussion in an online forum, I’m just going to “play the game” too. I’ve poured my heart out all semester and tried so hard to add new dimension to the conversations, only to be met with crickets.

I’m feeling pretty discouraged.

The learning content has been a joy; it’s been hard at times as we learn about the injustices or systemic failures out there… but it’s been an absolutely amazing two classes with excellent lecturers and excellent reading material to digest. I’m just really sad that I’m forced to make the same concessions as my classmates, when that’s not how I want to learn. I want it to be a journey. Not a grades-obsessed bare-minimum effort. But because that’s how the majority is choosing to engage with university learning, that’s how I’m being forced to engage too.

It’s not fair.

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