Orin Zebest editing a letter he wrote in 2007. Professors expect students to meet deadlines and submit their work on time. ORIN ZEBEST/FLICKR VIA CC-BY 2.0

Dear Professor X,

On the first day of class, you stated that you do not accept late assignments. Deadlines are deadlines. Due dates are due dates. In the real world, bosses will not accept late assignments and neither will you. One student raised her hand and announced that, as per your syllabus, late assignments would be accepted, but at the expense of a single letter grade per day late. You acquiesced.

With this in mind, I made sure to email in my assignments as well as hand in physical copies at the beginning of class. When we handed in our first assignment – a one-page, preliminary paper – you declared that you would grade and comment on every student’s paper by the evening. That was Friday. It was 1 p.m. the following Tuesday before I received my graded and commented homework back.

Two weeks later, I handed in a longer assignment. It has been one month since you confirmed receiving my homework and I still have no idea what you thought of it or how I did. The time to drop your class without registering a ‘W’ has passed in that time. I have handed in a second major assignment. I assume that the latest time to G/P/NC your class will pass before I get either assignment back.

After much thought, I have decided that the proper approach to ensure more speedy and fair grading would be to penalize you for handing back assignments late. For every day after an agreed upon date that you return my homework, I should get half a letter grade of extra credit.

“But I have a whole slew of assignments to grade in addition to my own work and research. How can you expect me to grade all your assignments in such a timely fashion?” You protest.

I have 15 credits of class, two part-time jobs and a club I am involved in. Somehow, I have found the time to complete and submit my assignments on time. As a professor who is part of the “real world,” please model the timeliness you expect from me.

While we are on the topic of written assignments, I noticed that you took off points from my earlier homeworks due to a single misspelling and a sentence that did not follow parallel form. Meanwhile, in the slides you posted in class, you used the wrong “its.” This was clearly a typo, but it would only be fair if every student received an extra point or two for such an error.

I spoke to a friend about my issues with your class and he – a lawyer – commiserated. According to him, judges will routinely not accept late documents – even if they are sent in mere hours after they are due. He will attempt to contact these same judges after the 30 or 45 day period in which sentencing is supposed to occur only to be met with excuses about why no decision has been made.

Maybe this is your elaborate way to train us for the “real world” where bosses expect work to be done promptly but will be afflicted with sluggishness when anything is expected from them. I feel like that assumes too much of you.

Give me back my homework.

An annoyed student

P.S. To reach me with these assignments, please purchase the “3rd edition homework grading” package from Pearson for $130.
Thank you.

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