I Dropped Feedback

I submitted my case and arguments after speaking with the professor today. The following letter was submitted to Graduate Advising, with whom I met yesterday. I submitted this letter as a cover letter for a package with a copy of all the e-mails I had with the company and the professor. Writing skills don't fail me now!

Dear -----:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am forced and am requesting to drop MAE 5780: Feedback Control Systems. In order to pursue a potential job opportunity, whose schedule was made aware to me only on October 16, I will be unable to make the scheduled time for the first prelim, scheduled for October 28. I was invited to attend a three-day interview and invitational that requires that I be away from campus, from October 27 to October 29. This is a petition to drop MAE 5780 (without a 'W' on my transcript, if possible).

In a long discussion with the course professor via e-mail, he has expressed his intention of following course policy and will not offer me a make-up exam, and I have noted that this is an event that I cannot miss.

The following is an account of the events, from my perspective, that have transpired between Saturday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 20. I have enclosed a copy of  e-mail correspondences with both the professor and the company to elaborate on my situation. Please note: I am not trying to get anyone in trouble.

On Monday (Oct 20), I made the necessary phone calls and sent out the needed e-mails to the potential employer to obtain more information on the terms of the invitational next week. What I gathered from two sources from the company (one from HR and one from a recent Cornell alumnae), this is one event that I should not miss.

On Tuesday (Oct. 19), I have spoken with you at the graduate advising office. You ask me about fairness, citing university policy about the drop deadline being Friday, October 15. Of course, in fairness to other students, my request for dropping the class without a 'W' ought not be approved, at the expense of fairness to me; I strongly believe I did nothing wrong as a full-time graduate student who is both involved in academics and in job-searching. While I cannot say what the future implications of a 'W' on my transcript will be, I know that the  connotation of a 'W' suggests to whoever that is reading my transcript that the course was dropped do to poor grades or student uncommitment. This is certainly not the case. The professor agrees that I am up-to-date with all my homework assignments, quizzes, and lab reports, doing above the class average. I am requesting that this course be dropped without a 'W' preventive, and to protect myself from this blemish on my transcript, especially since the circumstances (occurring so close the the drop deadline) were not up to me.

On Wednesday (Oct. 20), I met with the professor. After presenting my situation and expressing my intention to drop the class, he reluctantly offered a make-up exam for next Tuesday, October 26. At this point in time, I had to decline his offer and ask for his support in my decision to drop the course for the following reasons...

The events that have transpired over the past few days regarding this single class have severely diverted my attention away from my other classes and commitments (including two prelims this week). Not only am I becoming increasingly unprepared for my other courses because of this situation, I have fallen behind in my coursework for MAE 5780 itself (homework and lab report due this week) because I was waiting on the professor's decision. This series of unfortunate and mal-timed events has caused me a significant amount of emotional and mental stress to the point of affecting my performance in my classes, research project, and job.

As I am determined to attend this three-day invitational next week and current circumstances do not allow me to take this course, I am respectfully requesting, with the support of both my academic advisor and the course professor, to drop MAE 5780 without a 'W'.

Sincerely yours,


I met with the graduate advisor today as I submitted my petition. The professor and the advisor had been talking and decided that my situation does warrant a droop without 'W'. She didn't even have to read my letter. This ends the five day long saga. I don't know how I feel about it just yet. I guess I can find solace in the fact that I my argument won out again the professor's... I guess. More like, the professor acquiesced to my request. Unfortunately, it was a little too late.

Thanks everyone for your advice and support. Sorry Stephen for abandoning you.

Looks Like I'll Have to Drop My First Class Ever

Having learned nothing from The Social Network, I'm posting a censored transcript of our correspondence at the risk of sounding melodramatic. The following is a series of e-mails in chronological order.

Professor -----,

I just received an invitational this morning for an off-campus second-round interview from 10/27 - 10/29. The ----- prelim is Thursday, October 28. I am wondering if I can work with you to schedule a make-up exam. I wish I was notified of their decision earlier than this morning; I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

Thank you,

-- Kevin


Sorry - I cannot do a make-up.

The class is mostly made up of seniors and MEngs, all looking for jobs - it would be logistically impossible for me to schedule make-ups for everyone. So, I ask that you all (first day of class, in the syllabus) to schedule around the several quizzes and prelims in the class.



Ironically or not, I received this e-mail while doing the homework due for this class next week.

Prof -----,

I understand that the syllabus says that potential conflicts need to be reported by September 28th for Prelim 1 for "exceptional circumstances, such as religious holidays." The problem I'm facing is that I wasn't aware of any conflict until after the specified date.

If I had known sooner whether I was accepted for an on-site invitational and interview, I would have definitely scheduled around the exam. Since my on-campus interview, I had followed up with the company on several occasions for their decision. I was only notified of my acceptance literally 10:20 this morning.

I hope I will not have to make the difficult decision of choosing between pursuing a potential career and dropping -----, a class which I thoroughly enjoy, a day after the Drop Deadline.

Thank you,

-- Kevin


I understand your situation. As I indicated, many students in the course are in a similar situation. My email reply to you did not refer to the timing of your request. I would have said no if you had asked me in September, as I do not feel that job interviews are exceptional circumstances (I said this on the first day of class). For several reasons. First, all employers that I have ever met with work within the students' academic program, especially with regard to exams. Second, I would estimate that I would have 20 request for make-up exams, and each would take me several days to make-up. This is not realistic.

Thus, I clarify (in many ways) the constraints of the course up-front so that students can plan around these. If you are organized in your job search, and communicate with employers about your academic constraints, then there should not be a choice to be made. I know many students in the course have organized their interviews around the prelim - I hope you can do the same.



The second-round invitational and interview I mentioned above is a three day event with accepted students attending from all over the country. There is no question; there is no way I can miss this opportunity.

This will be the first class I dropped at Cornell ever. In four years, I committed to and completed taking every class I signed up for, including 21 credits across 8 classes in my first semester of senior year; 19 credits across 7 classes in my second semester of senior year; and 20 credits across 7 classes this semester. This will be my first, and it's not even up to me.

I completely understand where he's coming from, but my question is: Am I wrong? I will visit the professor on Monday, and we'll see how it goes from there.

EDIT: I sent the professor a final e-mail.

Professor -----,

I hope I may take another moment of your time to clarify my situation further. I understand that every potential exception is arguably "unique" but I feel mine is, especially.

Generally, I would agree with you that job interviews are not extraordinary exceptions. In most cases, it is true that individual, second-round, off-campus interviews can be scheduled with the employer on a case-by-case basis. In my case, however, and in response to your first reason, the event I was invited to is a three-day affair, which involves interviews, meetings, networking dinners, and case study presentations (one of which I will have to give) with second-round interviewees from all around the country; it is not a typical interview process and its schedule is inflexible.

I had my on-campus interview on October 1. I was only notified of their decision and the date of this three-day invitational this Saturday morning. I am not disorganized with my job search; it wasn't that I was unwilling to plan accordingly.

I apologize if this e-mail makes me come off as impolite or ungracious. I am extremely interested in learning the topic about feedback control systems and would prefer if I didn't have to petition to drop -----. I genuinely understand your position and viewpoint, and I hope I presented my argument well that this company's inflexible, second-round interview process is unlike most others in that it invites all second-round interviewees to its campus for a three-day event. If you are saying that extreme situations such as mine are somehow avoidable and do not warrant a consideration for a make-up exam, I will submit to your final decision.


-- Kevin


Come to see me in person in my office hours if you want to discuss this further.

In all my years of teaching, I have never heard of a company forcing a student to potentially drop a class because of an on-site interview - in fact, it is against Cornell policies really. If you have informed the company that you have a previously scheduled, required exam that cannot be moved during that period (or else you have to drop the course), and their response was that the time period they have given you is the only path to you getting a job there, then I will consider a make-up prelim. Otherwise, I will adhere to the course policy (which all of the other students are also adhering to).

If this is the case, please also come with the contact information for the company. I will work with Career services to make sure that no other students are put in that position (now or in the future).

Finally, note also that I will not have time to make up another exam, so the terms would be a one hour oral exam next Tuesday.

Kevin Fact 9

You need to grow up sooner or later, so you might as well start now.