Recently in a workshop I presented to over 70 college students on Working Toward Excellence, I asked the question, “Why do so many students turn in less than their best work?”  One student quickly raised her hand and replied matter-of-factly, “Because we get As.” 

I have been a college professor for 15 years and each year it seems students are not being challenged to give their best effort and do their best work.  In a recent conversation with a colleague, I was told that one of our graduating seniors said she was “only challenged by one class during her 4 years of college.”  How can this be?

While there’s no doubt college students are incredibly busy – spinning a dozen plates and participating in a large number of activities such as sports, music, theater, clubs, intramurals, fraternities and sororities, etc. – they are often not being held accountable for giving their best effort in class.

Why?  Why not expect students to give their best effort if they are to succeed?  After all, isn’t this what will be expected of them in the job market?  In their careers?  In the rest of their lives?

Could this “mediocre mindset” be a result of our culture of entitlement, where students feel they deserve an A just by showing up to class and doing the minimum?  Could it be that educators are not willing to spend the time anymore to grade papers and give students thorough feedback, justifying a C or a D?

Why are so many college students doing well academically by giving less than their best?