Three credits short – and a spiritual answer

Originally appeared on

Seven years of night classes were behind me. My master’s thesis project was completed, and my final oral exam was scheduled when I received a phone call from the dean’s office. “You don’t have a grade recorded for the first class you took in the program,” the woman said. “That makes you three credits short of completing your degree.”

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. My children were coming for my graduation. They already had their plane tickets. Then the severity of the message sunk in. Where was the grade? I made a follow-up call to the registrar’s office. They confirmed: No grade had been recorded, so I couldn’t receive credit. To complicate matters further, the class had been co-taught by two professors, one of whom had become ill and hadn’t been able to complete his duties for the term. He passed on a short time later, and all of his class records had been lost. My graduation was in serious jeopardy.

I thought back to the class in question. I remembered that I hadn’t been too concerned when I first received the grade sheet and it said that a grade hadn’t been recorded “by deadline.” Since it was the first class I had taken in the program, I just assumed the professor had been late with the paperwork. In fact, I soon forgot about the missing grade, and a year passed before I took another class.

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