Editorial: Are deadlines inflexible in the real world?
“When professors stress not missing a deadline, it can cultivate a fear of communication even if there are external issues affecting your academic performance and a fear of punishment.”
Late or missed deadlines are not always indicative of poor time management and laziness. Mental health issues, family emergencies, extracurricular responsibilities, jobs/internships, and a heavy course load are all common reasons for handing in an assignment late or not at all. And while, ideally, students should be able to manage their time and overcome obstacles to submit their assignments, it isn’t always possible.
Even with all-nighters, there aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything.
In this situation, a student might weigh the potential outcomes of incomplete but punctual work versus late but complete work. In the case of incomplete but punctual, the student figures their grade may be better than a zero or equal to the lower grade they’d receive for being late. In the case of late but complete, students wager that their work is good enough to take the hit of the late penalty or they simply needed those extra days to work on the assignment at all. With some late penalties being five to ten per cent with every late day, some students prefer to eat a lower grade.
The importance of deadlines is not lost on students. Often hard deadlines for assignments are justified with the rationale that the “real world” has no extensions. In the workplace, your co-workers, clients, and bosses depend on timely submissions to complete their own work. With too much flexibility, work is left incomplete, reputations are ruined, and clients are left unsatisfied.
However, the “real world” is not as unforgiving and inflexible as some professors may lead you to believe. Extensions and accommodations are made when needed, whether it be mortgage payments or a report that needs to be filed.
When professors stress not missing a deadline, it can cultivate a fear of communication, even if there are external issues affecting your academic performance, and a fear of punishment due to hefty late penalties resulting in lower quality work.
The solution, however, is not to get rid of deadlines or late penalties, but rather offer some flexibility when needed. In the same vein, students should also not make it a habit to ask for extensions or take advantage of a professor’s kindness.