I received a failing for a course; however, one of my project (which worth around 10%) was not graded. It is possibly due to my late submission (one minute late). Previously many of his students submit their works late (I mean super late), and he accepted them all. So I politely asked him by email whether the assignment is graded or not. No answer.

My other works are curved at a B grade. It was not a fancy grade so I politely asked for extra work as part of one of my previous email, well before the semester was ended. He did not answer that question, but he answered the other questions that I asked in the same email.

I have emailed him a few times before about grading or something else, he usually responds after a few days. This time, he is not responding for like 2 weeks. He does not have regular office hour. The prof is very nice (so I definitely don't want to appeal to a higher authority) and also super busy. Since our school has a loose policy on updating grade, he gives out my grade a couple of months after the course was over. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

He could have private office hour for his current students so I could try to sneak in with my acquaintances who are his students.

He is still teaching this semester at another campus so I could technically catch him after class. But I doubt that we are going to have a private environment for discussing grades.


Visit him in his office hours, if you can make it to the other campus.

There is a good chance, that your e-mail landed on a huge pile of things to do, as it is much more important to you than to the professor. E-Mailing again is an option (you get at least a few seconds of attention and a chance that he reads and reacts), but visiting him in the consultation hours will get you the full attention. And personally I would not e-mail more than twice with (almost) the same content, but try something else instead.

For such formal problem you may consider mailing his secretary as well.

  • 2
    As noted, discussions on important matters such as final course grades start with arranging a face-to-face meeting. They do not rely on email. Indeed, as an instructor, I have a policy to never ever discuss any aspect of grades via email. I also believe that using email for this type of discussion may be a violation of or skirt the bounds of FERPA regulations. – Jeffrey J Weimer Sep 19 '18 at 13:00
  • Many thanks to both of you. The problem is he does not have open office hour this semester; so I probably still have to email him first for a meeting/Chat. What is the "reason" that I suppose to include in the email? – High GPA Sep 20 '18 at 0:32

I might propose that this email might get the attention needed ...

I wish to meet with you to discuss my final grade in Course ABC taken over the (Fall/Spring/Summer) semester of (whatever year). I recognize that my (first/third/last/tenth ...) project report was not graded. As best I can determine, my submission was late. !I acknowledge that your syllabus states that no late reports will be accepted (thereby giving a grade of zero)! I am (however) concerned because I heard from other students in the class that their reports were graded even when they were submitted later, possibly even later than mine was.

I am available (at this location at the university) on (whatever days at whatever times). I hope that you will be able to arrange a meeting so that we can discuss and resolve my concerns in person.

[ I have copied Dr. XYZ, the Department Chair, on this correspondence in case he/she needs to be consulted for further advice. ]


[ I have contacted you in the past with email without success. I am therefore also preparing my records to take my case forward to Dr. XYZ, the Department Chair. I prefer that we can resolve my concerns without such an action. ]

I appreciate your prompt attention to my request.

The part in !...! is essential to include if it is true.

You should also approach how you phrase the email and what you document in it as though at some point, its entire contents will be published on Facebook without your permission. So, by specific example, do NOT put the words "failing grade in Course ABC" in the email.

In summary, I might comment on the overall issue raised here. A student always has a right to appeal a grade. The appeal must be based on objective facts not on personal desires. When all recourse at the first level is exhausted, the appeal goes to a higher authority. The professional approach throughout the process on both sides is to avoid stating the need for further appeal as a threat or holding the decision to take a further appeal as punishment. Finally, instructors are human beings. They make mistakes in judgement that may lead to unfair practices for any number of reasons. Sometimes it is as simple as "I forgot, my apologies". Sometimes it is as hard as "This is MY class". Learning to be mindful of such outcomes and to navigate them professionally and respectfully is perhaps the biggest lesson here.

  • Do I actually cc the department chair? I am afraid that the professor will be even stricter when the issue is going into a higher authority. For example, he might have to give a zero grade for the late assignment. – High GPA Sep 22 '18 at 7:15
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    I have modified my reply to address parts of your question. Your appeal seems to be based on what you have heard from other students. They were given grace even when their reports were late. You were not. You may need to obtain proof that, with all else equal, other students were given grace and that you should therefore be due the same grace. Your appeal will be validated not based on what you think, feel, or believe. Your appeal will be validated when something is different, and it will be granted when that difference led to an unfair outcome relative to everyone else. – Jeffrey J Weimer Sep 22 '18 at 14:24

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