Impending deadlines have an immense presence in college life. Juggling multiple classes with overlapping due dates often means shifting from project to project or painstakingly planning a work schedule so each paper gets the time it deserves. Deadlines can linger ominously in the background during periods of procrastination, fueling apprehension and drawing students back to their favorite study spots. But for all the anxiety hard deadlines generate, turning in a finished product can be very satisfying.
Unfortunately, the relief earned by submitting a challenging assignment is often dampened by the knowledge that the paper might not be returned for some time. Professors and teaching assistants are notoriously evasive about when assignments will be handed back. Many forgo providing concrete time frames, preferring to leave the return date open-ended. Certainly, the luxury of selecting your own deadlines comes with the territory of planning for and running a class. However, announcing and sticking to firm deadlines would prove beneficial for students and instructors.
Admittedly, students would gain the most from explicit return dates. Although our professors sometimes forget, most students are enrolled in more than one class and many are saddled with additional commitments. Balancing the workloads of multiple classes requires allocating limited time to different subjects based on a student’s strengths, goals and current grades. Returning papers in a timely manner allows students to adjust their study schedules and spend their time efficiently.
All instructors have different expectations, and many have idiosyncratic requests for structure, style and content. Learning these preferences by studying returned papers enables students to avoid repeating errors, but students need prompt feedback to make those adjustments. Outlining hard deadlines for returning papers and sticking to them minimizes the number of mistakes students make and leaves less work for graders.
Self-imposed deadlines are a matter of basic consideration for students. Returning papers promptly communicates respect for the effort students invested in the assignment and encourages them to stay on the grind. Guaranteeing returning students’ work within a week or two is simply advantageous for both parties.
The deadline for parity in paper-returning has passed.
Charlie Bulman is a sophomore government and politics major. He can be reached at email@example.com.