Late work
Lisa M Lane

Well, it’s that time of the semester when students hit the drop deadline and I worry about the ones who look like they’re not going to pass.

We’re so focused on “student success”, but I’m worried about these students as individuals. In particular, I worry about the students who didn’t do their work during the rest of the semester, and now either drop, or try to make up everything.

I consider possible responses. For those remaining, I could allow them to make up everything, individually and on the sly. “On the sly” is needed because surely letting everyone do that means the deadlines didn’t mean anything?

What do those deadlines mean? For me they’re a matter of workload, but for students they’re character issues: planning ahead, persistence, consistency of effort.

My tendency is to let those with the capability make up things. I prefer that to allowing it based on perceived “need”. I do not want to adjudicate among this student’s dying family member, this student’s car trouble, and another’s hospitalization. I frankly don’t want to hear about who was sick and who was on vacation in Italy and who was thrown out of the house.

I want to judge their work, not them. But I can’t do that if all the work isn’t there. So once again I’m helping some students pass by allowing late work.

Surely by doing this I am encouraging poor work habits, undermining “real world” work responsibilities, and tacitly suggesting that deadlines are always negotiable?

But if I don’t do it, if I say no, they fail. I guess that’s not OK with me.