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Mariah's avatar

Can you give any advice on an annoying college situation?

Asked by Mariah (25831points) June 24th, 2011

I am taking a calculus class online this summer through my college. I live four hours away from the college and am recovering from surgery. I had emailed the professor at the very beginning of the class explaining my circumstances. I have disability status at the school, so I am supposed to be able to receive accomodations if I need them for health reasons.
I found out a few days ago that I am supposed to be present on campus to take the midterm and the final exams. There was absolutely no indication, when I signed up for the class, that I wouldn’t be able to complete it in its entirity from home. I emailed my professor right away to tell him that it would be impossible for me to come to campus right now. He told me I would have to take the test in the fall, when I come back to school. Problem is, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go back to school in the fall because I might not be fully healed by then. I might have to wait until the spring semester, and I can’t imagine I would be allowed to take the tests at that time. I asked if I could perhaps get someone at my local high school to proctor the exams. He said that would be fine, but when I called my high school, they were too busy and didn’t think they could help me. We then called the local library, and a librarian there said she could proctor. I then asked my professor if that would be permissible, and he sent back a very reluctant sounding email, saying that getting it proctored at the library was less than ideal, but that he would allow it for the midterm. The final, however, he says must be completed on campus.
I am extremely annoyed that they’re expecting me to come to campus for what’s supposed to be an online class. I am physically weak right now and simply cannot drive four hours just to take a test. I don’t know what to do, or what I can do, even. Any suggestions?

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28 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I would try to call the department head or the dean of the college to see if any accommodation can be made. These are the people the professor works for—to some degree. Maybe they know of rules about this, or they can tell him he has to make further accommodations.

You may also want to talk to a disabilities rights lawyer.

Or you might try to get a paper or tv show to plead your case, and embarrass the university into helping you out.

MissAnthrope's avatar

What @wundayatta said.. it sounds like talking to someone else might be in order, particularly if that person is above your professor’s head. Maybe there is a hard-and-fast rule, but maybe they are willing to make accommodations for someone who has legitimate medical reasons.

Don’t be afraid to stand up against something you feel isn’t right. I had to go to the department head of the Animal Sciences program to complain about a professor once. I did it very respectfully and, thankfully, I was heard. Maybe some other students lives will improve now that I’ve taken the time to inform the department, you know?

Cupcake's avatar

Who did you talk to in order to get your disability status at school? Perhaps they can also help (in addition to @wundayatta‘s advice).

I would also let your professor (or professor’s higher-ups) know that your surgeon would write a letter forbidding you from taking the final exam in person 4 hours from home and remind them of your disability status.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks to everyone, so far! I don’t think I need to go to extremes yet. So far our conversation has been very cordial. I am not looking forward to having to end that. I have been copying the head of the disabilities department on my correspondences with my professor, and I think that’s who I should be speaking with right now. Up until now, I felt the professor was providing me with reasonable solutions, so, while I kept disabilities head informed on the situation, I didn’t ask him to help me. Now I think I’ll need to ask for some help. I don’t know how high up these proctoring rules are, so I don’t know what to expect. It’s obnoxious because I don’t even have any desire to cheat on this test.

Neurotic_David's avatar

Use the internet to find the names of math teachers at a local high school (any local high school, not just the closest). Begin calling the teachers one by one, asking them to help you complete your college course by proctoring the midterm exam. Offer to compensate them for their time.

If you can manage to get a high school teacher to proctor your midterm, then later on you can present the same solution to your professor for your final. The way you composed your question, this solution would seem to ameliorate any major concerns your professor has about the integrity of his exams.

bobbinhood's avatar

Does your university have any sort of student advocate office? Those people are great at pulling strings and finding solutions.

jrpowell's avatar

Just keep in mind that this isn’t the man keeping you down. The college needs to verify that you are actually the one that learned what was taught. And the only way for them to do that is to make sure you are the one that took the final. I have taken a few online classes and I had to go in for the final.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Go above the porfessor’s head, call the Dean, tell him they’ve breached the contract you and the school had, and would like a resolution or your money back.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@johnpowell True about the professor, however, @Mariah currently has what is known as an “invisible” disability. Since she has disability status with her college, and her professor knows this, an accommodation should readily be made on his part.

jrpowell's avatar

@SpatzieLover :: They seem totally reasonable. If they didn’t verify you for the final what is to prevent you from just having someone do the entire class or degree? And I say this as a cheat that took a math class for a friend if he did a English one. We both got A’s.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@johnpowell Well, that’s a risk the school takes with online classes – they’re online. At the very least, they should have to warn people that they’ll have to take the test in person, so students don’t sign up thinking they can take it from another state or something. If the school has such a problem with this, they should really rethink offering such classes in the first place.

jrpowell's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs :: I was always warned when I took one. So I guess it boils down to them not reading the fine print or the school not providing the info. It could be either.

Mariah's avatar

@johnpowell Uh yeah I understand why the test needs to be proctored. I also offered to be present by webcam, but he shot that idea down. So there’s more red tape at play here than just needing to know I’m the one taking the test. The professor has known since the beginning of the course that I’m in another state and in no position to be traveling. The info available on the course led me to believe it could be completed from home.

@bobbinhood Yeah, I’m thinking the disabilities department is who I need to talk to.

Zaku's avatar

Another person worth contacting might be the student ombudsman. And your academic advisor.

Kayak8's avatar

As someone with a disability, I am a firm believer in holding people to reasonable accommodations. However, an alternative is to make the drive, stay over night at a hotel, get good rest and go take the mid-term/final.

Nullo's avatar

I would talk to my advisor, at the very least, if not the dean, or whatever office is in charge of the accommodations for disabled students.

It might be possible (though perhaps a bit unreasonable) for the U to get a community college or somesuch in your area to give the exam, if they’re worried about academic dishonesty.

JLeslie's avatar

Don’t most high schools make teachers take turns minding students who are kept after for detention? Maybe you can just take the test during a detention hour? Although, this is summer term, so I am not sure how many options you have? Besides a high school, is there by chance a local community college? Maybe a professor there can administer the test and pay them privately?

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie This is college, not high school.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I know. The prof said she can have the test administered by a high school teacher, maybe the OP can point out to the high school that she can sit in on a detention hour and take the test.

Mariah's avatar

So I haven’t been watching lectures lately on new material; I saved them for after the test so I wouldn’t get the test material and new material mixed up. I took the midterm on Tuesday at the library and it went great, it was so easy. Now I’m watching the lecture from Monday and he went over the test in the lecture, BEFORE I took it, and I have no way to prove I didn’t watch it before the test. And I did all the problems exactly the way he did them in lecture and got a 100 and it looks so fucking shady. No one has approached me yet about this, so I don’t know for sure that it’s going to be an issue, but I’m freaking out about this.

I emailed the head of disabilities about my problem with the final and haven’t gotten a response back yet, but hopefully I will soon.

bobbinhood's avatar

@Mariah Thanks for the update. I really hope this works out for you. Please continue to keep us posted.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah There is no time date on when you watch the lecture?

Mariah's avatar

@JLeslie Not that I can locate. It’s possible that the professor has access to something like that, but it seems doubtful to me because of the way the site is set up (we just log in to the site and the lecture is immediately available to download). But I hadn’t even logged into the site between when he posted the lecture and when I took the test, so the hope I’m clinging to is that there is a record of login times somewhere that will show that. Or, that no one will mention it and it will never come up as a problem.

JLeslie's avatar

@mariah If you download it, there might be some sort of date stamp on your hardrive? Or, maybe they can tell on their end? When I take real estate courses online it has a time and date stamp right there.

Mariah's avatar

@JLeslie The date stamp will definitely be there on my end, but I in my coniving ways could have set it up to look innocent~ – I don’t think it would be proof enough for them, so hopefully there is a time stamp on their end.

Zaku's avatar

Was there some way you were supposed to learn that there was a spoiler in the Monday lecture that you didn’t watch anyway, or did you take the test later than you were supposed to? If not, then the flaw is in their course design and their responsibility, not yours.

Also, if the midterm was so easy, then I would assume the point is just to check in that you were paying attention, and they wouldn’t be concerned that someone might go cheat using the Monday review.

Mariah's avatar

@Zaku The librarian who proctored my exam made an appointment with me for Tuesday and emailed the professor telling him that. When I arrived Tuesday, she said “Wow, your professor is a little scatter-brained; he emailed me back saying ‘so I’ll be keeping an eye out for a fax from you on Monday.’” She says she emailed him back again and said “No, Tuesday” but it appears he had a misunderstanding on when I was going to take the test, and went ahead and lectured on it during Monday evening’s class. I had no way of knowing that he did so, so I’m just really glad that I chose not to watch the lecture anyway.
The midterm was really easy for me, but (not to toot my own horn) I’m pretty awesome at math. I don’t think it would be easy for just anyone. They have seemed very concerned about testing integrity this whole time (thus the whole fiasco I’ve had to go through to make testing arrangements) so I really thought this might be a huge issue. But I checked my grade online, and I have a 100 listed on the test and no one has confronted me about this issue, so I think I’m fine there.
As for my original post, I received an email from the disabilities head saying that he talked with my professor and I should expect to hear from him soon to make arrangements for taking the final at my hometown. Hallelujah! I haven’t heard from him yet, but it sounds like this is going to be resolved in a good way.

Zaku's avatar

Ok, well that’s good. Sounds like he dropped the ball but only you noticed.

And I’m sure everyone is glad you get to take the test in your home town! Yay!

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