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Final grades should be posted sooner

By Derek Baker, January 16 2019 —

As usual, a good chunk of my time over the holidays was spent clicking the refresh button on the myUofC Grades page to see if final marks had been posted. A typical day comprised of waking up and checking, eating lunch and checking, waiting for the end of the work day and checking and, finally, checking before bed.

Obsessive? Yes.

But when academics account for a large portion of your identity, it’s hard to ignore the nagging desire to know your final grades.

This semester, I had an even greater sense of urgency to receive my final grades. Wrapping up my undergraduate degree, most of the schools I’ve applied to for the next step on my academic journey require grades from the fall semester. An official transcript can only be mailed once all the grades are in. Deadlines range from the beginning of February to June, but the sooner they have my information, the sooner they can make a decision — and the sooner I can make arrangements.

Thankfully, everything has now been posted and transcripts have been shipped.

According to the Faculty & Staff grading page, courses with registrar-scheduled exams need to have marks submitted six business days after the final exam, then approved and posted by 4:30 p.m. that day. I’ve been around long enough to know that these deadlines are treated more like suggestions. The accountability expected from students to meet academic deadlines is not reciprocated in faculties meeting mark-posting deadlines.

Exams that are written on Scantrons should only take a day — or two at max — to mark. If delays are caused by the marking machines being backed up by an overabundance of other exams, there should be more machines. Calculating and approving final grades, whether they need to be curved or not, also should not take that long.  

Long-answer or essay-style exams understandably take longer to mark. Deciphering the brain dump students spew in the blue booklets to decide on a fair and thoughtful evaluation expectedly takes professors and teaching assistants time. But barring extraneous circumstances, instructors should be expected to prioritize marking during the exam season.

Not knowing your final mark and incessantly checking myUofC or D2L to see whether they’re posted causes a real stress for students. Though it’s easy to say, ‘Take your mind off it,’ awaiting that little red dot on D2L — if the final exam marks are even released at all — is frustrating for students trying to enjoy a break from school and the mental relief that comes with it.

This isn’t meant to bash all instructors. More often than not, there’s a reasonable amount of time between when a final exam is written and when the final grade is posted. But it only takes one straggler to keep students anxious throughout the break, unable to move on from the semester.

The process a final grade goes through, from marking an exam to approving a grade, should be streamlined. Whether this entails granting instructors more autonomy over posting final grades or stiffer consequences for failing to meet a grade-posting deadline, students deserve to have their work graded and final grades posted in a reasonable amount of time.

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