Skip to content

What Professors do with Old Papers and Essays? Do they Keep

Professors storing Old Papers

Ever thought of how the professor treats your old papers? Several institutions have set policies on how your tutors can handle your old papers. Such papers may include your assignments, examination answer sheets, and essay papers.

Typically, professors return the assignment papers with comments on how they evaluated the student. However, there are other papers and essays that are not returned and are treated as assessment files.

Concerning the examination papers, students do not see them unless they are appealing for a particular grade which a student had some reservations about. The institution will revisit the examination and assignment papers for a remarking.

After grading, professors take students’ old papers to the school’s repository to be stored in accordance with the college’s policy on handling assessment files. Depending on the university, such old essays are kept between 3 and 7 years just in case students request for remarking or appeals the grading.

However, this differs with universities. Each institution has a set policy of the duration it can keep an examination paper. Some may be one year while others go beyond before they discard it from the system.

Many institutions do not keep physical essay papers over time while keeping the electronic version intact. Today, we aim at shedding more light on how institutions treat your old papers. Let’s get started.

What do professors do with old papers and essays?

It all depends on the regulations of the specific universities. Some may keep the paper for at least one year to allow any unsatisfied student to make a grade appeal.

Once that period elapses, they are free to destroy the old paper. Remember, an electronic version will still remain intact since technology makes it simple to keep forever.

Essays are important documents that the university should keep for further references. Some institutions have specific timeframes for keeping old essays as long as the syllabus is still in force.

Physical destruction of such old essays is possible as long as there is a provision of a soft copy of the same.

The institutions can retain the softcopy in the archive over a long period for future generations to reference it. Still, a visiting team can demand such a paper for the role of accreditation.

Do professors keep old papers?

Professors do not keep old papers. Instead, they submit them to the respective faculties for safe keeping where they are stored for a certain period before they discard them.

professors dont keep old papers

Depending on different disciplines, some professors return such papers with comments to allow the students to have a broader picture.

They hold the copies for a certain period in accordance with the university regulations.

Once the period is over, they are at liberty to discard the materials.

Specifically, the professor treats old examination papers as per the institution’s rules and regulations.

For instance, if the institution policy is to retain the examination paper for three years, the professor must adhere to the set rules before discarding the papers from the system.

How Long do Universities keep Assignments?

Below is a table that explores how long different universities keep old Papers

Name of the UniversityDuration for Keeping papers
Massachusetts Institute of technology5 years
Yale University6 years
Union College (USA)4 years
Stanford University5years
University of Chicago5 years
Columbia University4years
Harvard University3 years
Oral Roberts University4 years
Preston  University5 years
University of Massachusetts Amherst3years

How Universities save Past Essays and Assessment Files

Several universities have defined policies on how they store the essays. More importantly, each university has its procedure of handling such information to uphold its integrity and professionalism.

Previously, universities used to keep the hard copies in the every department and academic registrar’s office. Such a practice is still in force till now.

With the invention of technology, some universities may decide to destroy some hard copies as per the set regulations. In the same vein, the same universities keep the soft copies in their database forever.

Storing of essay papers is the best practice for every learning institutions. Whenever the government wants to accredit such an institution, it also uses such basis to prove its worth.

Physical archives may be overwhelming, which is why the institution may decide to destroy the content as long as they maintain the softcopy for future references.

Legal aspects about Universities keeping old essays?

The law on keeping old papers works to protect the interest of the student and the university.

While retaining such old essay, they should be in a secure and safe location. The university can set the duration at which it can retain the physical copies. 

The university should dispose of the old essay in a manner that upholds the sensitivity of the information. It should be confidential disposal to allow jeopardizing the student’s privacy.

The physical destruction should be in a manner that one can no longer reconstruct or retrieve.

On the other hand, the department can return course assignments or graded examination papers to the students, or the instructor can opt to retain them at his or her discretion. The institution will retain the final exams.

Suppose the institution does not return the examination and assignment to the student. In that case, the university can opt to retain it for at least one year to allow the student to access them.

Such actions assist the student in making a grade appeal if they are uncomfortable with the previous evaluation.

The institution must retain the assignment or examination papers to act as evidence of appeal whenever a grade dispute arises.

Asking for the deletion of your past papers

In most cases, you cannot ask for deletion of your past papers and essays because they are handled in accordance with the assessment policies of the university. Each university has a provision for dealing with past papers. This applies for physical and digital files.

Save for technology, some institutions opt to retain such papers in electronic form over a long period while destroying the hardcopy versions.

Some universities regard those old papers as the university properties. So the institution has the upper hand on determining how they treat such papers under the laydown procedure.

In several cases, you must be patient until the institution decides to delete such papers as per its policies.

In Summary

Institutions of learning have policies on how they handle your past papers. The cool thing is there is a law that gives a provision on how they should treat your past papers. For instance, the university can only destroy your assignment and examination papers after a certain period and retain your grades.

Still, several universities can destroy the essay papers and retain the soft copies in their archives. All such processes protect the sensitivity of the information.

Do universities keep your papers?

A university will keep your papers for a set duration as per its policy. For instance, if they are assignment or examination papers, the institution may keep them for a certain period to give a window for solving a grade dispute. Once that window expires, the university can now destroy them confidentially.

In the same vein, an institution can retain an essay paper over a given period. Several institutions opt to retain the soft copies while discarding the hard copies over a specific period in confidence.

Can you reuse an essay in college?

A student cannot reuse an essay in college because he or she will get penalized for plagiarism. You should develop a new thesis to avoid duplication.

Follow a fresh procedure of seeking a new approval of a particular thesis from your department. Once given the go-ahead, try to perform new research on the same and come to meaningful conclusions.

Institutions do not allow students to reuse a paper since you may only repeat what you already did.

Can I use an old paper for a new class?

You cannot use an old paper for a new class because that will be considered to be self-plagiarism. In fact, most papers are stored by plagiarism scanning software like Turnitin or SafeAssign in their permanent repositories. This means if you submit twice, the file will be flagged for plagiarism.

As a student, you must handle a unique thesis to ascertain your skills and competence. If a student once handled such a topic, you must go for a unique topic without repeating the already done and researched topic.

The main purpose of handling a new thesis is to avoid duplication and repetition. Repeating a topic makes students remain lazy as they may paraphrase someone’s ideas hence compromising research. A student should create a fresh topic and perform extensive and useful research to explore such a field professionally.