The Final Straw

I have defended ABC College many times on this blog, despite the fact that many of my colleagues have been unhappy with them. I have never before felt micromanaged and I have never felt pressure to give good grades (common complaints that I have heard).  I have not been upset by the feedback deadlines and I have generally enjoyed working with the students.  My earlier blog posts on this school have been positive.

I just finished two classes with ABC College this past Sunday and I think these will be the final two for me.  ABC has finally done something that goes beyond my personal educational philosophy for adult students.  I have always felt that the late policy was fair at ABC College, this time I feel it has really hurt a student.

The usual late policy at ABC College is that students can turn work in up to four days late and they incur a 10% penalty every day the assignment is late.  On the fifth day, the grade becomes a zero.  For the final assignment of the class, there is a no late assignment rule.  If a student does have an emergency during class, I have been able to accept late work without penalty based upon my own discretion.  With proper documentation, I have always accepted the late work.  I have seen plenty of true emergencies, a daughter who was murdered, a kidnapped grandchild, pre-mature births, accidents and illnesses.  Most of the students were able to recover, both personally and as a student.  ABC College never questioned my discretion before.

The final assignment in my critical thinking class is worth 25% of the grade.  Four days before the final assignment was due, I got a frantic phone call from one of my student’s sister.  Bob had been mowing the lawn and had a heart attack.  He was rushed to the hospital and was in critical care, without the ability to call or email. Bob ‘s sister said he was very worried about his assignment for my class.  I told her to to tell Bob not to worry, I would take care of everything.

I decided to give Bob an Incomplete in the class and was starting to work on the paperwork.  The policy is that the student and instructor are to agree to the terms of the Incomplete in the contract and it is to be posted to the classroom.  Since Bob could not get to the classroom, I emailed the faculty support team for guidance.  The response made me sick!  Here it is, with the name of the counselor changed:

“My name is John Smith and I am responding on behalf of the ABC Faculty Assist Team. Thank you for your email! An incomplete cannot be offered without it being mutually-agreed upon and documented in the Classroom. It is an unfortunate situation for the student. I would submit an Early Alert to notify Bob’s Academic Counselor. “

This story does have a happy ending for Bob.  Bob’s assignment was almost complete, the family was able to get it to me on-time, and Bob did pass the class.

The story has an unhappy ending for me.  I am now very upset with the policy at ABC College and horribly put-off by the “unfortunate situation for the student” comment.  I turned down the next assignment for the college and I do not see myself teaching there again.  A school that advertises flexibility for busy students attracts adult learners.  Adult learners have things happen, just like any other student.  I just cannot work in an environment that does not have the compassion for real issues in student’s lives. A documented medical emergency should not be an issue for the student.  I gladly would have worked with Bob on an incomplete for the course. My moral values will not allow me to continue my relationship with this online school.

Shame on you ABC College!  I thought you were better than that, I guess everyone else was right about you after all.

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