If you’re planning to study abroad this semester, you’ve made progress. You’ve finished studying, conquered finals and returned home to begin your packing. You’ve had five semesters of your foreign language – and have purchased a pocket dictionary in case it fails you. You’re all set to travel to unknown lands after a restful break – except one of your professors is late in submitting the final grades for your class.

Late grades are a minor annoyance for most students. But for those planning to study abroad in the coming semester, they can create a serious problem. For many prospective world travelers at Georgetown, final approval to take classes abroad is contingent on their academic performance in the previous semester. If those students’ grades are not reported in a timely manner, the students will spend winter break in study-abroad limbo – unsure how long to wait before sending panicked e-mails to the Office of the University Registrar.

Late grades can also pose difficulties for students updating their résumés. Winter break is an ideal time to begin the summer job or internship hunt. Anyone who has set foot in the Career Education Center is aware that the GPA is one of the vital statistics contained in a professional résumé. A missing grade throws off that calculation, and does little to help students maximize their time off.

The registrar’s grading policies state that final grades should be submitted within 72 hours of the final exam. Yet, as many students know, grades are often submitted after that time period. Furthermore, this policy – found on the registrar’s Web site – contradicts the grading deadlines that were imposed by the registrar for the fall 2009 semester. Final grades for classes for which exams were administered on or before Dec. 19 were due Dec. 23, while grades for all classes with exams on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 were not due until Jan. 4 – which is certainly a period much longer than 72 hours.

Most professors distribute syllabuses in the first week of class, and students are expected to abide by the due dates asked of them. If a student skips an exam – or is late turning in a paper he had three months to write – he is appropriately penalized. Like students, professors are made aware of their grade deadline months in advance. They ought to take a cue from their diligent students and stick to them.

Granted, professors, like students, are extremely busy – especially during the chaotic holiday season. But a jam-packed schedule is no excuse for delaying grade submissions. Rather, professors ought to plan ahead by adjusting their exams’ formats or preparing new correction mechanisms to make the assessments easier to grade. The registrar, in turn, ought to either stand by its grade policies or change them. It should not allow for special deadlines that contradict its stated rules and cause confusion and inconvenience.

The winter recess should be an opportunity to relax and visit friends and family. Students who plan to go abroad, especially, should spend the time with those they will not see for three months. Uncertainty caused by delayed grades is the last thing a student needs before jetting off to another continent.”

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