December can be an exciting time for a college student. Exams are over and you can breathe knowing that you are out of school for a few weeks. But for some students, this time can be particularly stressful for one reason…grades. If you are unhappy with an assignment grade, exam grade, or overall course grade, you have options to address it. Below are 5 tips to keep in mind when appealing a grade, for both undergraduate and graduate students.
- Locate and review your school’s grade appeal policy. Regardless of the college or university you attend, they will have a written document outlining all of their academic policies and procedures. You can typically find these policies in your school’s Student Handbook. If you are a typical college student, you are probably not going to have a hard copy of the school’s policies sitting on your desk in your dorm room. However, a quick search on your college’s website should bring you right to it. It is important to note that while some schools refer to this specific policy as a Grade Appeal, others include this process as part of their general Academic Grievance policy. Lastly, your university may have slightly different Grade Appeal policies depending on your specific program. Be sure to locate the Grade Appeal policy that applies to your department.
- Pay attention to deadlines. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is an important one. If you do not submit your Grade Appeal on time, you have likely lost your opportunity. Every college and university has a different timeframe for when a student must submit their Grade Appeal, and these deadlines can differ considerably. For example, Professional Skills Institute requires students to submit their appeal within five (5) days of receiving the grade. Capital University’s policy states that students must initiate the appeal procedure within eight (8) weeks of the grade being posted. In stark contrast, The Ohio State University requires a student to initiate the process before the end of the second succeeding semester. Because these deadlines range from a few days to several weeks after receiving the grade, it is important that as soon as you receive the grade that you want to appeal, identify those deadlines and submit your appeal within that timeframe.
- Be specific and include as much information as possible. When you are drafting your grade appeal, you will want to give a detailed explanation as to how your grade is incorrect. Maybe you and a partner worked on an assignment together, had the same answers, yet your partner received a higher grade. Maybe an assignment was recorded as not being turned in, yet you received feedback on it. Maybe certain exam questions were marked incorrect when they were, in fact, the right answer. Describe the assignment at issue and include why you should have received a different grade. The more detail and information you can provide, the better. Of course, be sure to submit your appeal to the person identified in the Grade Appeal policy.
- Be patient but do not be afraid to follow up. Once you submit your grade appeal, the hardest part begins…waiting. You may be asking, “how long do I have to wait before I hear back?” As you can guess, that depends on the school. Some colleges and universities require faculty to respond within a certain timeframe. For example, Professional Skills Institute requires the Campus Director to respond within five (5) days of receiving the appeal. However, many schools, including The Ohio State University, Capital University, and University of Toledo do not require faculty to respond to appeals within a specific time period. In that case, you may not receive a response for several weeks. This can be very stressful for students, especially if your status as a student depends on the outcome of the appeal. It is always beneficial to try to remain patient throughout this process. However, following up with the University every once in awhile can help ensure that your appeal has not fallen through the cracks.
- Appeal again. When you do finally receive a response from the college, you may not be happy with the result. In that instance, be sure to review your school’s Grade Appeal policy again. Many schools have policies that contain multiple steps in the appeal process. Capital University has four stages where students can attempt to address their grade first with the faculty member individually, second with the faculty member in a mediation, third with a committee, and lastly to the Provost. The University of Toledo has a five-stage appeal process, and The Ohio State University has a three-stage appeal process.
Please note that these various stages do not occur automatically if a student’s appeal is initially denied. Rather, the student must initiate the process at each and every stage. Students should also be sure to pay close attention to the deadlines at each stage of the appeal. While some universities do not require faculty to respond to a student’s appeal within a certain timeframe, they often require a student to then initiate the next stage in the process within a certain amount of days. Similar to the initial step, if you are past the deadline, you have likely lost your chance to take your Grade Appeal to the next stage.
Take advantage of your school’s multi-step appeal process if it exists. Students often feel defeated after their appeal is denied at the first stage. However, if the school has a multi-stage appeal process, you have the right to utilize that process. It does not hurt you to appeal your grade at every level. Rather, when your appeal is reviewed by different faculty members, it can result in a different outcome. Always be sure to appeal!
Written by Jessica Moore, Esq. at Albeit Weiker, LLP
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