Difficulties with Staggered Deadlines

Staggered deadlines may be one of the most difficult accommodations to arrange.  Staggered deadlines involve planning alternate submission dates for papers, projects, or exams when a student has conflicting due dates for these.  The key part of staggered deadlines is the planning.  As it says on the AEO website, “Staggered deadlines are always established well in advance of the scheduled due date.”  It is the advanced planning of these deadlines that makes them “staggered deadlines” rather than extensions.  But what if you have a disability that makes it more difficult to plan? Professors aren’t required to give a student extensions.  In one student’s experience, though, professors have been very accommodating when she was unable to plan a staggered deadline in advance and allowed extensions anyway.  As you can see, this accommodation can get tricky.

Another difficult aspect of this accommodation is setting the deadlines for your assignments.  You want to make sure you provide yourself enough time to get the assignment completed to the best of your ability, but you don’t want to appear to your professor as if you are trying to buy unnecessary time.  This is why I would recommend talking to one of AEO’s academic coaches about your proposed deadlines before meeting with your professor.

In regards to staggered deadlines, one professor said, “Belinda [former AEO director] always used to say [staggered deadlines aren’t] extensions and should be worked out in advance.  But my experience in working with students who have that as an accommodation is that it isn’t always possible to work it out in advance, because a student’s schedule of academic work is like a Chinese puzzle box- there’s so many parts and if one moves- if a professor puts off an assignment or changes an assignment, then that affects everything else.”

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