Student Dumbfounded After Failing College Project for Calling Australia a Country

February 09, 2018

Ashley Arnold is 27 years old. She is a stay-at-home mom who is finishing up an online degree with Southern New Hampshire University.

She was excited to finish up her last class and get her degree. Last month, though, she realized that she might not have made the best choice in schools. There was a big project due that is a large percentage of their final grade.

She completed the project and submitted it online. The project asked the students to compare a social norm in the United States to social norms in another country.

Ashley decided to compare social media usage in the United States and Australia. She completed her project according to all of the requirements and submitted it. When she got her grade back, though, she was horrified to see that she had failed the project.

When she looked at the feedback, she realized why she had failed. According to the professor, “Australia is a continent; not a country.” Because Ashley supposedly didn’t complete the project according to the directions, she failed several different sections of the rubric.

The professor has a PhD in philosophy, so Ashley was shocked to see the comments. She shared, “At first I thought it was a joke; this can’t be real...With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn’t know Australia is a country?”

As she continued to read the feedback, though, she realized that the professor was serious. On one section of the rubric that she had gotten no points on, the professor had written, “Without selecting a foreign country this topic could not be addressed.”

Ashley wrote a long email to the professor to explain the situation. She also included references to try to prove that Australia is truly a country, even though it is also a continent.

She professor agreed to review the project, but continued to deny that Australia is a country. “Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall. Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.”

Knowing she was right, Ashley wasn’t going to give up that easily. “Australia is both a country and a continent. It’s the only country that is both. I provided a resource in the first email that clarifies that for you...Again, I mean no disrespect but my grade is affected by your assumption that Australia is not a country when it in fact is.”

The professor finally agreed to do some independent research to figure out the truth. After doing the research, the professor re-graded Ashley’s report, with the consideration that Australia is actually a country.

Just think about this: Sarah had to pay for an education where she was told that Australia isn’t a country. Luckily, her school did reimburse her for the cost of the class after she informed them of the situation.

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