Deadlines are optional

I will unfortunately not be able to turn in a first draft our team is not far enough along, but I can send some rough ideas for page layouts? Just wanted to keep you in the loop!

Aside from the amazingly incorrect grammar used in this email from one of my college senior design students, I was not a happy camper to receive this a day before the deadline for a first draft.

As an adjunct instructor, I work with graphic designers in the strategic communications department of the journalism school in town. The designers are part of a larger team of students working on a real-life project for a real-life client as their senior capstone project. With only 15 weeks from start to finish, to say the pace is fast is an understatement. Designers are responsible for creating a 100-page campaign plan book showing secondary/primary research, insights, campaign strategy, creative tactics and their execution/evaluation, media timeline and budget.

Keep in mind, we are in week eight of the project and designers were suppose to have been working on the overall look of the campaign plan book during this time before all the final copy will get dumped in their lap. The first draft of the book was not complicated….just give me an idea of how the first few pages were going to look so I could get an idea of the direction of the design.

But, what floors me the most is the idea this barely twenty-something student was informing me she would not be able to meet the deadline for her work. It would never have occurred to me to question an instructor’s deadline….much less tell them I would not be able to meet it. If deadlines were missed, I would have either had to have been severely hospitalized or dead before it would have been acceptable.

Ahhh….but those days are gone. Now, students are routinely late with their assignments and some choose not to turn them in at all. I’ve had designers routinely ignore my edits and one actually ghosted me, her lab instructor and team two weeks before the client presentation….then complained to the head of the department when she was graded accordingly. Last semester, a student dropped off the grid and never finished the client’s campaign plan book. He ended up with an F on his transcript for the course and is taking the it again this semester….thankfully not as the designer.

But for every one of these, each semester there seems to be one or two who are total rock stars. I have 22 designers this semester. Spring break is in two weeks where absolutely no work will be done. After spring break it will be five short weeks until these students are suppose to turn into productive members of the work force. Shortly after they all return from break, I expect meltdowns of epic proportions because of the stress. Very soon, the cream will rise to the top and I will know exactly who will get letters of recommendation.

What is your take on the attitudes of these Gen Zers?

8 thoughts on “Deadlines are optional

  1. The cream always does rise too. I can remember college and some of my study group that didn’t care about much. They just wanted their degrees and to get out. It was sad. It must be most frustrating for you. I know it would be for me.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “It would never have occurred to me to question an instructor’s deadline….much less tell them I would not be able to meet it.”

    Me too, Lisa! And what is she going to do when she gets out into the real world and has to meet deadlines? She obviously won’t be able to hold down a job.

    Like you shared, those days are gone.

    What I find most frustrating about many (but not all) of the 20-something employees I have worked with, is their sense of responsibility to even simply show up for work because, personally, they might be having an “off” day, so they call out. And I’ve even had some say to me, “You know…I really don’t feel like being here today. I’m not in the mood.” And it kills me because they have the gall to say this during a time when jobs are so hard to come by.

    My standard of work is very high, yes. And that’s why I had to leave management because I refused to accept lower standards.

    Awesome post, my friend! And I really admire you as a teacher. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • “You know…I really don’t feel like being here today. I’m not in the mood.” 😳 Oh my. What is happening to our future workforce? I often wonder how much longer I will be able to teach in this cultural mindset.


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