Missed Uni Essay Deadline

by Biljana Likic


This post is very, very late. In a bout of supreme intelligence, I didn’t check the May calendar, and there’s no way I signed up to post on the last day anyways, right?

Well…turns out I’m an idiot. On this blog we schedule articles for midnight EST. It is now past 3:00pm. A good fifteen hours after I was supposed to have posted.

So let’s talk about deadlines!

Some are casual, like little personal goals that would be nice to accomplish by the end of the week, but aren’t urgent. Others are a little more time-sensitive, like having a post ready for the next day, but after a bit of flurry and upset you can easily get back on your feet. Then you have the ones, like handing in your manuscript on time, that if you miss, it can put you months and months behind schedule, possibly pushing your publication date further into the distance, and make you lose some credibility as a responsible and punctual person.

But in reality, nobody’s going to kill you. There can be bad consequences; you can lose a very good opportunity. But when it comes down to it, nobody will kill you for missing a deadline. [/Pun about deadlines not actually being dead]

So if you’ve missed a deadline, the first thing to do is:

DON’T PANIC. Nothing makes your brain shut down faster than panic. I know. I panicked when I saw my name on the calendar and realized it was 2 in the afternoon and I had no idea what to write about. Instead, try to see what you can salvage from the situation. Think up some pros that can come out of it. For example, I got this lovely post idea when I sarcastically remarked to Savannah that I should write about deadlines. Lo and behold…

DON’T GIVE UP. More than once, I’ve had this happen:

“Where’s your essay? It’s been a week.”
“I didn’t finish on time. You said you wouldn’t accept it if it were late.”
“Well I won’t now, but if you’d given it to me the day after I would’ve just docked a few marks. Now you get a zero.”

(Just typing that reminds me of how frustrating it is.)

You don’t know that the thing you’re late for won’t accept the late admission. Even when it specifically says you’re disqualified if you’re late (or something similar), you don’t know if they will actually act on it. If you had extenuating circumstances beyond your control, maybe they’ll make an exception for you. Maybe they said “No late applications” because they anticipated a hundred, but really only got a few dozen, and so they’d be willing to accept your slight lateness rather than lose a lot of money or prestige by having a program only half full. Now, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes they say no lateness and they mean no lateness, even in extreme cases. But you don’t know if you give up.

RELAX. Similar to DON’T PANIC, but in a different way. Especially if it’s something trivial, don’t let lateness stress you out if there’s nothing you can do about it. If you need to take the bus downtown, give yourself time to do so. If the bus breaks down and you end up waiting for an hour with no taxi money, that’s not your fault. Call the person you were supposed to meet and explain the situation. More often than not, they’ve also had public transport screw them over at some point. If you talk to them in a considerate way that makes clear that you know it inconveniences them when you’re not on time, they’ll probably just slot you into a later spot.

GET OVER IT. This one’s a bit harder. I’m still kicking myself over those essay scenarios. There’s regret I feel over things that happened years ago. And to be honest, regret is okay to have, because it can help you take new opportunities more seriously. But if you have so much regret, and you’re so bummed out that can’t focus on your next deadline, it starts impacting your work. Get past it as quickly as you can so that you can produce stellar works for other things, and not end up late for those as well.

Try and remember these. Even agents can be understanding. Even publishers aren’t evil. As the hierarchy grows, missed deadlines become a bigger issue, but at the end of the day, nobody will kill you. Do your best, and figure out your own methods of time management. If sometimes they fail, don’t panic, don’t give up, relax, and get over it. Regain their trust by continuing to be punctual with everything else.

And, as always, better late than never.


Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She’s going into her second year of university, where she can’t wait till she’s out so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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Tags: Biljana Likic, Writing Tips

Prepare properly and help avoid panic and penalties

Make sure you know exactly when your assignments are due to be handed in and plan your work so that you can meet the submission deadlines. Consult your student handbook or speak to your module tutor or course administrator if you are unsure of a coursework deadline and submission procedures.

Give yourself as much time as possible to complete each assignment so you can complete it to the best of your ability and you don't have to rush or worry about incurring late submission penalties. Avoid leaving completing an assignment to the last minute/hour/day just in case unexpected problems occur.

Missed submission deadlines

If you hand in your work late, without a good reason for doing so, your mark will be reduced in line with the University’s penalties scheme for late submission of coursework. See Senate Regulation 7.91 to 7.96.

If, however, life has conspired against you to prevent you from meeting an assignment deadline don’t despair. The University recognises that students may suffer from a sudden illness or other serious or significant event that is unforeseen and/or unpreventable and which adversely affects their ability to complete an assessment; in such cases the University’s mitigating circumstances regulations and procedures may be applied.  You’ll need to complete a Mitigating Circumstances Form and submit it with supporting evidence to your department.

Visit our mitigating circumstances page for further details.

A possible outcome, if it is accepted that mitigating circumstances apply, is for late submission penalties to be waived for the assignment that has been affected. Other options, such as the setting of a revised submission deadline, may also be applied if the Mitigating Circumstances Panel considers it is appropriate.

The University's regulations about the late submission of coursework are found in Senate Regulation 7: governing the Assessment of Taught Programmes (PDF). See regulations 7.91 to 7.96 for full details

Penalties for late submission

Senate Regulation
7.95 – 7.96:
In cases where there are no accepted mitigating circumstances, late submission of coursework shall lead automatically to the imposition of a penalty. Penalties shall be applied as soon as the deadline is reached. The University’s penalty scheme is as follows:
  1. a deduction of 10% of the maximum mark available from the actual mark achieved by the student shall be imposed upon expiry of the deadline;
  2. a further deduction of 5% of the maximum mark available from the actual mark achieved by the student shall then be imposed on each of the next subsequent working days;
  3. the subsequent 24 hour periods described under (b) above shall apply from the expiry of the initial deadline.  For example, where a deadline is 14:00 on Wednesday, a 10% penalty shall be deducted at 14:01 on Wednesday, and a subsequent 5% shall be deducted at 14:01 on Thursday;
  4. under (a) and (b) above penalties shall be applied until the pass mark for the assessment has been reached (40% for undergraduate work and 50% for postgraduate work), after which point no further penalties shall be applied unless the work is deemed to be a non-submission (see (e) and (f) below);
  5. for undergraduate programmes: any piece of work submitted 11 or more working days after the expiry of the deadline will not be marked but will be assigned a mark of zero and deemed to be a non submission;
  6. for postgraduate programmes: any piece of work submitted 9 or more working days after the expiry of the deadline will not be marked but will be assigned a mark of zero and deemed to be a non submission;
  7. ‘available marks’ in this context means the maximum marks available for the piece of work (for example, 100 would be the available mark in a percentage marking scheme);
  8. ‘working day’ in this context means a period of twenty four hours or part thereof from Monday to Friday inclusive, excluding public holidays and University closure days.
Where required for practical reasons the range and timing of penalties for the non-completion of certain forms of assessment such as presentations may be determined by departments in the light of local circumstances, but should be applied according to agreed procedures.  In cases where the turnaround time for marking is less than ten days, departments are also authorised to introduce appropriate variations to the scheme set out above.

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