Except it wasn’t a grade, exactly, there wasn’t enough space to write “narrative evaluation”.
Here’s the deal: I’m applying to do a Masters in Public Policy. I haven’t been in school for quite a while - I got my BA in Anthropology in 2000. A lot has changed since then, and my transcript doesn’t exactly reflect my current goals all that closely. No biggie, this is probably fairly common. The unfortunate thing is that I only took one politics class in four years as an undergrad and I received the absolute worst evaluation EVER in it. (I went to UC Santa Cruz, which didn’t give mandatory grades at the time; we got narrative evaluations describing our work in the class. I wish I’d just failed the class because failures don’t show up on official transcripts.) It is absolutely dreadful.
Knowledge of politics is pretty much a necessity for Public Policy. Uh oh.
The thing is, there is something of an explanation for my horrible evaluation. My professor absolutely loathed my writing style. HATED it. I talked with her a bunch of times, did everything I could to rewrite my papers to her liking, got politics majors to give me advice, no luck. The professor insisted that anthropology papers and politics papers were written in the same style, so I shouldn’t have a problem - the eight or ten evaluations from anthropology classes praising my well-written papers seem to prove otherwise.
Anyway, I’m undecided on whether or not I should slip in a little explanation on this terrible evaluation in my personal statement. Something like: “I feel like I should offer a reason for the dreadful evaluation I received in African Politics my senior year of college - it’s certainly not due to a lack of interest or effort in the subject. Rather, it seems I wasn’t able to shed four years as an anthropology major and learn to write a politics paper well enough to please my professor in a nine-week trimester. I hope that the several evaluations praising my well-written papers in other subjects show that I am not inherently a bad writer, and I will certainly make every effort to improve my writing skills as necessary as a graduate student”.
OTOH, I’m afraid of even drawing attention to this horrible eval. Given that this class was seven years ago, maybe they won’t care? (Seems unlikely.)