Your Dog Didn’t Eat Your Homework

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It’s 4 a.m., your paper is due at 5 p.m. and a blank Word document illuminates the screen of your laptop. You’ve successfully done nothing but Facebook-stalk your ex and the 200 people you went to high school with but haven’t talked to in years. Most of us would be inclined to write an epic paper of B.S.—after all, procrastination is what college is all about. But some more creative, and less motivated, individuals start brainstorming excuses. Here’s how that slacker sitting next to you got an A:

Excuse 1: Cut the details and just sound sorry.

Katy Gronsbell, a junior film major at Temple University, e-mailed her professor on her way home from partying to say she wouldn’t be able to take the next day’s quiz (due to an imminent hangover). “The e-mail said some- thing to the effect that I was really sorry and dutifully understood if she had to deduct points because I was missing it,” she said. The apology seemed so genuine the professor offered a make-up quiz at Gronsbell’s convenience. Added tip: Acknowledge that you deserve punishment.

Excuse 2: You’ve got “The Swine.”

Josh Cabrido, a New York University sophomore journalism major, apologetically e-mailed his editor that he had swine flu and was buried in school work. His editor thanked him for not sharing the wealth, and scratched the assignment altogether.

Excuse 3: Your crazy college life interfered with your academics.

Traffic court for running a red light, broken arm from a drunken fall, took your sick roomie to the hospital—all can get you out of homework. Stephanie Barletta, a freshman at the University of South Carolina, even got out of a quiz after setting a fire alarm off while cooking.

Excuse 4: You always participate in class (even if you’re just spouting B.S.).

Katie Alesi, a St. Joseph’s University sophomore, forgot a research essay, but raised her hand to share her “answer” with the class anyway. “When I didn’t hand the hard copy in, [the professor] came up to me at the end of class and asked if I e-mailed it,” explained Alesi. “I said I did.  He said he never got it, but clearly I had done it because of the answer I gave in class.”
Added tip: The follow-through is key on this one. E-mail a similar answer to your professor as soon as you get home.

Excuse 5: The ever-elusive techno-glitch.

It almost always works: “I e-mailed you. Didn’t you get it?” Professors will think your assignment went to spam or disappeared into cyber space. For a really risky move, send an e-mail without an attachment, with a bad file attached or with the words jumbled. Take the confusion time to do the assignment and get it in late.

Junior > Journalism > New York University

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