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What did you do over winter break?

Enjoy the sun? Relax at home? Compulsively check Penn InTouch for your fall grades?

I’m sure we can all agree that the last option took up some of our time.

We’ve all seen what happens when finals end, and no, I’m not talking about running into swarms of Penn students on your trip home.

I’m referring to the moment after you click “view grades” on Penn InTouch only to see a blank transcript.

This occurance serves as an unfortunate reminder that you, too, have taken part in the grade-obsessed atmosphere of colleges like Penn. That’s when you start to wonder whether your all-nighter was well worth it and if it helped you bump up that final grade.

But why do we need more stress? We can’t spend our lives obsessing over grades during winter break — or any ‘break’ as a matter of fact.

“[Vacation] should be a time to reconnect with those at home,” said Wharton sophomore Scott Weinreb. “We shouldn’t have to worry about checking our transcript several times a day for several weeks.”

Many Penn students agree that we need some sort of notification system — via e-mail or text-message — that alerts students when a final grade has been posted on Penn InTouch. This idea has also been suggested on the blog

Undergraduate Assembly Chairman and College junior Alec Webley liked the idea of a notification system. “This sounds fabulous,” he wrote in an e-mail. He added that he thinks it would be “easy to implement,” since you get notices if your instructor changes your grades.

At schools where students know each time a new grade has been posted, they can relax more during their vacations. Indiana University sophomore Jim Sprayregan said his professors notify students via e-mail when a final grade is posted, though there is no official requirement to do so. He added that the system is consistent and useful, allowing him to enjoy his time off campus.

But why not just wait until early January for grades to be posted? Good suggestion, but not everyone has that sort of patience.

College sophomore Alex Olsman noted that a notification system would also alleviate stress for students applying for internships at companies that demand or expect a certain GPA. Olsman stated that if students were notified when their GPA had shifted, they would be able to complete applications in a more timely manner.

“There is no reason for us to not receive an e-mail,” Olsman said. “It would take unnecessary anxiety away and it’s not a hassle for professors, it’s just one more e-mail.”

The School of Arts and Sciences Technology Advisory Board presented the idea of a grade notification system to Information Systems and Computing and the provost’s office last year, according to its coordinator Chris Mustazza. However, “though a notification system sounds plausible, at some point in the future,” the University has no immediate plans to make such a change, according to Regina Koch, Student Registration and Financial Services technical director.

“We’ve not begun our next round of planning following the just-implemented PennPortal revisions,” Robin Beck, vice president of ISC, wrote in an e-mail.

We all witnessed the Penn InTouch makeover of July 2009. We admired the new home page that displays our photo, academic statistics and essential deadlines. And we have all thanked the Penn Registrar gods for allowing us to view our grades without having to even glance at our transcript (which you can now check more than 3 times a day).

Why not one more future upgrade for Penn InTouch? Test out a new grade-notification system. We are all waiting. Michael Roberts is a College sophomore from New York. His e-mail address is

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