Marks: Change Credit/D policy

Yale College policy dictates that students who submit course schedules late will not be permitted to take classes Credit/D/Fail for the current semester. I learned this policy the hard way.

The late schedule policy is one of the most stringent policies I have encountered at Yale, with virtually no avenue of recourse once the clock strikes 5:01 p.m. on the day the schedule is due. The only way to get around this mistake is to successfully petition the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing. I missed the deadline, and now I’m suffering the consequences.

I have accepted that my semester will be Credit/D-less, but in hopes of promoting fairness for those who follow me, I urge the Yale faculty and administration to consider the validity of this rule in general. I believe the rules of any one entity (such as this University) should be held to a standard of equity: The policies Yale espouses should be logically consistent with one another. Given what I know about other Yale policies, I am not certain that this late-schedule rule is consistent with some of Yale’s related policies.

In particular, I believe that all rules directly affecting academic grades are related and should therefore be consistent. Two major administrative factors affect each student’s grades: course enrollment (and whether those courses are taken Credit/D/Fail), and the student’s completion of exams before the expiration of the academic term. These two factors are therefore intrinsically related.

I’ve always been impressed that Yale’s institutional policies are not impersonal or without reason. I have seen several of my friends miss final exams and be permitted to reschedule them rather than fail their courses. From what I have been told, the rationale for this policy is that Yale does not wish to see its students fail a course due to one mistake or problem. So, in general, it seems Yale policy tries to prevent administrative policies from affecting a student’s grade.

In the name of consistency, the same logic should be applied to the late schedule policy. After all, the situations are identical in essence: In both, a very important piece of paper (either an exam or a schedule) was not turned in when it should have been. In fact, the late schedule error seems the less egregious of the two.

I do not wish to diminish the seriousness of handing in a schedule late. But I do believe that handing in a late schedule is no more serious than the other deadline issue affecting a student’s grade, which has far more flexible penalties and more means of resolution.

I also do not mean to argue that deadlines don’t matter. In fact, I support the enforcement of other deadlines throughout the term, such as the midterm course drop deadline, since being allowed to miss those deadlines could give some students unfair advantages. But submitting a schedule late does not give the student an unfair advantage.

At the very least, a residential college dean should have the same ability to grant an excuse in the late-schedule situation as when dealing with a missed final exam. Currently, the dean has little leeway to grant an exemption. For term-time academic matters, professors have the power to be merciful with deadlines. But a student’s dean is the only avenue of recourse for a late schedule, making the dean’s role in this situation especially important.

So what solutions would resolve this discrepancy and establish consistency in administrative policies affecting academics?

Perhaps a student could be fined and notified as soon as the schedule is late but given one or two days to turn in the schedule before being disqualified from the Credit/D option. Or perhaps the residential college deans could be given the same authority on this issue as they have on final exams.

The second option would be especially consistent with Yale’s other academic and administrative policies, since it would mean that a faculty member could have some say in granting extensions. I am certain that, if one were to examine this issue further, many more and better solutions would become apparent.

My situation for the semester is set in stone, but I hope students in the future won’t have to endure the same fate due to a two-hour mistake. Whether or not we find Yale’s policies to be correct, they should at least be consistent.

Harrison Marks is a junior in Timothy Dwight College.


  • Yeahbut…

    Deadlines without consequences aren't deadlines; consequences without the opportunity for appeal are unfair. Yale has deadlines with consequences and a way to appeal. You seem to have missed a deadline (for which the consequences are well-known), appealed those consequences, and couldn't avoid them. Some learn a lesson from this experience that's arguably more valuable to them in the long run than the privilege they lose by being late. Part of growing up is learning that when The Man tells you 5:00 is the deadline, you get your piece of paper to him by 5:00.

  • Anonymous

    i agree - they might as well fine you rather than prevent it. but seriously, how could you not have known that was the rule? you're told that about 23498 times when you're a freshman, and you're a junior. seems like you should have known…

  • $

    Some students experience financial penalty differently than you do.

  • Anonymous

    I think having a practical penalty in addition to a monetary penalty makes it more egalitarian. Wealthier students might not worry too much about fifty bucks, but everyone worries about the credit/D option.

    Moreover, Yale students act entitled enough. We don't really deserve as much special treatment as we all are inclined to think we do. Learning to have to adhere to the same rules as everyone else serves us well in the end.

  • Anonymous

    Leaving it up to the Dean's judgment wouldn't make things fair either as some Deans are much more reluctant to give Dean's Excuses than others.

  • deadlines are deadlines

    this is a silly idea for a few reasons.

    first, deadlines are deadlines. like everybody else is stating above, i agree that, at some point, rules should be followed.

    second, there is already recourse. given that anybody can petition the committee on honors and academic standing, there seems to be some way of getting around the deadline under certain circumstances. of course, the chances of you getting past the committee are uncertain, but at least there exists some mechanism.

    at the end of the day, it's a deadline that's not too stringent, and reasonable. you should probably just learn to abide by it. at some points, rules do matter, and this one is more than reasonable to change. simply put, asking for this sort of change screams immaturity and negligence.

  • YaleProf

    This letter is just great. The student is arguing that it is "unfair" for students ever to be expected to take responsibility for their actions. Unbelievable.

  • jfs81887