Midnight Madness – OPINION
Are late night deadlines really benefitting students?
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The clock strikes 10 as I enter my house for the first time since I left at 6:30 in the morning. A full day of school, speech, band, and work behind, the only thing between me and eight hours of blissful sleep is the homework I was unable to finish throughout the day. I could go to bed now and finish my homework in the morning during study hall, but then it hits me. The assignments I have left aren’t due at the beginning of class tomorrow; they’re due at midnight. I scramble to find the preterit form of estar while racing to write just a few more sentences to meet the word count on the rough draft of a persuasive essay that I haven’t had time to even think about but meanwhile the monstrous math assignment that really deserves my attention is staring me down just waiting for a chance to add to the madness.
Okay so my precalc assignment may not be waiting to gnaw my face to bits, but the rest of this is pretty typical, especially for students like myself who are involved in many activities or students who work more hours a week than they spend in school. I will forever be grateful of the computers that we received at AHS. But what I’m not so grateful for is the ability to set deadlines at otherwise unordinary times.
Let me explain. Pre-computers, assignments were most often due at 3:19 or the next class period unless otherwise specified (i.e. A project might be due several class periods later not just the next class period). With the addition of computers, teachers have the freedom to set whatever time they choose for an assignment due date/time. That that means if they want to have the assignment due at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night, they can have an assignment due at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night. It’s not like they didn’t technically have this privilege before, but what sane teacher really has the desire to sit at school waiting for assignments to be turned in at eleven o’clock at night? I know I wouldn’t. So why do allow it while we have computers?
I do understand the benefits of these odd times. For example, if a five page paper is do on Saturday, the hope is that students will have completed the assignment and the teachers can grade the assignment on Sunday which means that come Monday, all assignments are graded, in the gradebook, and students already know how they did on the assignment.
While I agree that this can be beneficial, in my experience, whenever an assignment is due in the middle of the weekend, it always seems to be the weekend that there’s musical rehearsal after school with pep band afterwards and a speech tournament over an hour away plus a show choir competition on Saturday. If you include any amount of sleep into the mix, when do you expect me to turn in an assignment due at 11:59 on Saturday? Normally I’ll somehow manage to squeeze it in, but at the expense of other assignments for other classes or rushing to finish problems between scenes at rehearsal while attempting to maintain the focus required to find the arcsin of ?.
But what about the student not fortunate enough to have access to wifi at home? I know all the teachers reading this start to react with “Go to the library/Burger King/Other-Somewhat-Public Place-with-Somewhat-Okay-Wifi!” But is this really realistic? Many kids, involved or not so involved, have jobs that take up after school time. For some students, jobs are not a way to get a few extra dollars to spend on whatever they please, but a means of survival. Many times I have heard students stressing about paying the rent or having enough food at home for their family or how they’re going to be able to put gas in the car they saved for ages to have.
While it may seem easy to respond with a list of places they could go to do homework, I want you to think about how practical these options are. Let’s say a student gets off work at nine (which is an early example). They could a) sit outside the library hoping for a connection, praying the cops don’t care enough to ask them what they’re doing, and clinging onto whatever they’re wearing to keep warm (because we do live in Iowa after all); b) they could go to Burger King, order something they can’t afford because the wifi is for customers, attempt to focus on their paper while late night strangers flow through the dining room, and hoping they can finish before the store closes; or c) they could go home, accept defeat, and hope that the teacher understands their situation. None of these are great situations. Especially when this could all be avoided by having a standard deadline. This gives students the option to work on their assignment at school if need be and most importantly, they won’t be sleep deprived from an 18 hour day.
As a student who is very involved and a student who wants to keep their grades up rather than down, I encourage our schools to establish a policy that would keep these deadlines in check. I find it unfair to our students that we should be expected to turn in assignments just to meet deadlines when we should be allowed to manage our time after school how we choose. These odd deadlines have created a midnight madness that is out of control and it’s time to end them before the clock strikes twelve.