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Grade Confusion Continues After Deadline Passes

By Julie M. Zauzmer, Crimson Staff Writer

Three days after the deadline for professors to submit final grades for courses passed, students in over 20 classes have not yet received their grades, leaving many anxious about upcoming job and graduate school application deadlines.

Student anxiety surrounding the grade reporting process was exacerbated Tuesday when technical glitches resulted in students seeing grades that were nonsensical or an error message that informed them that their student records were inaccessible.

Early Tuesday, several students’ records had numerical values in place of letter grades. In an e-mail to students of Societies of the World 25: “Health, Culture, and Community: Case Studies in Global Health,” head teaching fellow Amy Beth Saltzman wrote that while grades for the course had been submitted to the Registrar, “a problem with the Registrar’s system” led to numbers being displayed.

Later in the day, the two online applications through which students can access their grades became entirely inoperative. By the end of the day, the websites were working.

But even after the websites became functional again, many courses’ grades were still missing on students’ records, even though the deadline for grade submission had passed.

“It’s a more important situation than some people would think,” Tengbo Li ’12, chair of the Undergraduate Council Education Committee, said about the delay. He noted that many students are facing deadlines for applications to graduate schools, jobs, and internships, which require that they submit transcripts.

“Students deserve to have their grades on time…so they don’t lose out of the competitive internship application process,” Li said.

Whether Harvard College students would actually be at a disadvantage when applying for internships is unclear. Two years ago when fall exams did not occur until January and transcripts were released even later, Harvard undergraduates were still able to successfully apply to internships and graduate schools, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris wrote in an e-mailed statement.

An e-mail from the Office of Career Services regarding on-campus recruiting echoed Harris, counseling students applying to internships in January to “include the most up-to-date version of your document, even if it is missing grades.” The first spring On-Campus Interview program deadline, which applies to firms such as Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan, is Jan. 12.

While some professors from classes with missing grades said that they had not yet submitted their grades due to personal conflicts, busy workloads, and other concerns, others said they had attempted to post their grades but were hindered by technical problems.

“I’ve been getting a report from the Registrar that they haven’t been posted, and yet, I entered them on Jan. 3,” said Contemporary Arab Studies Professor Steven C. Caton about the grades for his course Anthropology 1640: “Language and Culture.”

“The fact of the matter is that I have submitted the grades. The issue is that there’s some glitch,” Caton said.

Caton added that he does not know whether the mix-up is due to a problem in the Registrar’s system or an error on his part.

Beth A. Simmons, professor of international affairs, said that she submitted the grades for Government 1740: “International Law” on Tuesday, one day late. She was surprised to learn when a concerned student e-mailed her on Wednesday that the grades had still not appeared on students’ records.

Several professors confirmed that there are no penalties imposed on instructors who are tardy in posting their grades.

“If students want their things to be read carefully, for there to be careful consideration of the quality of their work, they can’t be terribly obsessed with having [their grades] available right away,” Simmons said, adding that she was late to submit her scores because “a class with 110 students is a lot to get done.”

English Professor Leland P. de la Durantaye, who had not yet submitted his grades when he spoke to The Crimson on Wednesday, said that he was surprised by the lack of communication from the Office of the Registrar. He said he received one e-mail on Jan. 1 reminding him of the Jan. 3 deadline, but he has not received any correspondence from the Office of the Registrar since the deadline passed by without his posting his marks.

While he said that he hopes students will continue to fill out their course evaluations in upcoming semesters, Li said he could understand that students who evaluated their courses this year—under the impression that they would receive access to their grades as early as Dec. 22 by doing so—might be less inclined to do so in the future.

“I can certainly understand some students feeling like they’ve been cheated,” Li said. “I’ve definitely been approached by a couple students or been forwarded e-mails expressing discontent that they filled out the course evaluations several weeks before and then haven’t received their grades.”

The Office of the Registrar did not return requests for comment. Barry S. Kane, the former Registrar, departed in July, and the appointed new FAS Registrar, Michael P. Burke, will not assume his responsibilities until the end of January.

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at

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