I seem to have been gushing perhaps a bit too much about the intellectual maturity of the students in my upper level Renaissance poetry seminar. Let me rephrase that . . .
They may be able to think and articulate fairly complex ideas. They may be comfortable talking about sex and religious turmoil in the same sentence.
But when it comes time to turn in papers (their first batch this semester, only 8-10 pages), they don't seem to understand that a due date means that the paper is due on that day.
The night before the due date I received two e-mails. In the first, a student complained that her computer had been failing all week and finally crashed late at night, she was unable to access the paper she'd been writing and thus unable to complete it until she could talk to the computer repair service and get her information off her computer. She asked for an extension.
In the second, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper arrived home at 3am and was too exhausted to write his paper so he sent me an e-mail then asking for an extension.
Both of these requests came less than 8 hours before the paper was due.
I know college students typically write their papers the night before they're due. I did that too.
Call me mean, call me unsympathetic but to blatantly ask for extensions this late in the game and acknowledge you haven't started writing until after 9pm isn't just immature: it's wimpy! Don't beg for an extension, chug back some espresso and pull an all-nighter! That's what college is all about.
For the record, the freshmen in my Brit-Lit survey class all had papers due yesterday too. Every single student arrived in class on time, toting his or her paper.
Ah, the innocence of the young. I wonder how long it will take them to get corrupted.
So what did I do? I gave Mlle Ordinateur Brise an extention until midnight of that day, and I told M. Journal that for every 24 hours he didn't turn in his paper he would lose a letter grade (from A to B, from B to C, etc). So if his paper is 2 days late (it's already one and a half), whatever mark I give the paper will have to fall by 2 full letter grades.
Am I being too harsh? It's my first time at teaching an upper level seminar, so maybe I'm holding them to higher standards than I should be.