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require-graded-assignments
Credit: Isabella Cossu

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, we will all realize that from that point on, we will no longer be able to drop a class unless we want a “W” for withdrawal on our transcripts. However, even though we have had six weeks to decide whether or not to drop our classes, at this point in the semester, we still have no idea how we are doing in many classes.

For this reason, professors should have grades put in before the drop deadline so students can assess whether or not they can handle their classes.

By putting some grades in before the drop deadline, students can assess if they are taking a class that is the right level for them and still have time to drop the class. This does not mean that students should have an exam two weeks into the semester. What this does mean is that professors should consider putting some of the minor grades in — like homework, participation, etc. — before the drop deadline and perhaps give students some practice questions after lectures that are similar to those that would be given on exams so students could see if they will be able to perform well later.

At the same time, some students may support a policy that would require a major assessment before the drop deadline. However, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Paul Sniegowski said, “It’s good practice to have the first midterm before the drop deadline, and certainly it’s discussed among faculty. But having a policy that mandates that is not something that we would put on our faculty.” 

So, aside from the fact that it simply would not be mandated, having midterms before the drop deadline is no guarantee that midterms would even be graded before then. Even if students felt like they knew how to answer the questions on the exam, they do not know if they did well unless they receive the grade or discuss the exam with professors or teaching assistants.

Beyond just receiving letter grades before the drop deadline, students should receive some feedback from the professors and TAs before the drop deadline as well. Currently, many students feel that professors do not give much feedback until after the drop deadline has passed. Students should not have any doubt by the time the drop deadline occurs if the class is right for them. They may think they know and can handle the material until they receive a grade and feedback suggesting otherwise. 

Furthermore, doubts about a class and the anticipation of exams for which they have no expectations leads to an undeniable sense of uncertainty along with anxiety and stress. Students know that everything counts from this point forward but have no idea what is expected of them.

If professors do not put grades in before the drop deadline, students will continue to be plagued by stress and uncertainty when they take exams and simply not know if the class is truly the right fit for them. 

Students are simply tired of saying, “If I had known, I would have dropped the class.” 

ILYSE REISMAN is a College sophomore from Millburn, N.J. studying English and Music. Her email address is ireisman@sas.upenn.edu.

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