The Incomplete “I” Revisited

As we approach the end of the fall 2017 semester let me remind (or inform) everyone about the situation surrounding the “incomplete” or “I” mark a student might request/receive in place of an actual grade. This post repeats information from earlier blog posts on this same subject, but this is critical information for program students to know so please make sure you’re all aware of this.

First off the incomplete might be granted by a professor to students who have completed most of the required work for a course and who have met attendance requirements. The incomplete is not for students who get buried under work and other responsibilities and need a little more time. It is intended for emergency situations, for students who experience an unexpected crisis (such as a debilitating illness) at a specific point during the term which unexpectedly interrupts their ability to complete all required work for a course. Each professor has the right to not grant an incomplete and instead grant some other grade, including an F, based on whatever work the student completed during the regular term.

Students who find themselves in a situation which might warrant an incomplete must request it of the professor. Even if the professor agrees, she or he might still require you to complete a form to initiate the incomplete.

Sometimes an incomplete can be a life-saver for students who experience sudden crisis, but in just about all cases students should avoid incurring an incomplete. Many students who take an incomplete never resolve it: because life goes on, new responsibilities and coursework come along, and it just becomes very difficult to find time to go back and do work on past requirements. It is also difficult for your professors to deal with incompletes because their work, responsibilities, and lives move forward but they now have to figure out how to accommodate, tend to, assess, and sometimes even just remember what this work is that a student left untended in the past. It is a big deal for everyone when a student takes an incomplete, which is one reason why a professor simply might not grant it.

If a student is granted an incomplete, the student should work to complete the missed work and so remedy the incomplete as soon as possible–and prior to the start of the next semester. At the maximum, students have one year in which to remedy the incomplete: after that year the potential credits for the course and tuition for the course are lost, and the incomplete cannot be changed into any real grade.

So for example students who have an incomplete from fall 2016 have only until the end of this current fall 2017 semester to remedy the incomplete. Once this semester ends, all fall 2016 incompletes are locked in and cannot be fixed. And note: sending your professors paperwork at 11pm on the 365th day of the year’s window is not acceptable. So, anyone still seeking to correct fall 2016 incomplete should be in the very final stages of resolving them. If anyone has any questions about this please, as always, contact the program director at