Most successful student excuses

Jamie Eddy | Feature Editor | The USD Vista

and Allison Belda | Contributor


Photo courtesy of Ektor/Flikr

Photo courtesy of Ektor/Flikr

As summer came to a close, many USD students grew eager to resume their lives in San Diego. In their minds, September meant hanging out at Mission Beach, grabbing some delicious Baked Bear ice cream sandwiches, and ordering Domino’s pizza at two in the morning. The thought of completing and turning in assignments didn’t register, until it was too late; missing their deadlines.

Janek Bielski claims to have used the classic, “My dog ate my homework!” explanation all throughout his life. That excuse may have worked in high school, but it doesn’t hold in a university setting. Since dogs are not allowed in dorm rooms or other student housing on campus, students have to be a bit more creative.

Despite the fact that Halloween was the night before, Professor T. O’Rourke, from the communication studies department, assigned a project with a due date of Nov. 1. When a student, who has asked to remain anonymous, showed up to class with no assignment in hand, her excuse was quite clever.


“A student once told me, ‘I had such a great time at a Halloween party last night that I forgot college would be waiting for me the next day. Now I’m REALLY scared!’,” O’Rourke said.

A less scary, but much more predictable response is a broken or troubling printer. Biology professor Judith Williams, Ph.D., claims to receive this excuse every single class. While it may seem logical in the moment, students fail to realize that they could easily submit a handwritten copy of the assignment.

Anne Wilson, an English professor, has been presented with some wild excuses from her first year students. Relating to the previous printer explanation, a male student once gave an illogical printer scenario.


“He told me, ‘I accidentally put my paper in the shredder instead of scanning it into my printer’,” Wilson said.

Even silly excuses such as this don’t fly over so well with professors. They are not naïve, and can usually decipher when a student is being truthful or not.

While education is the main reason why a person chooses to attend college, he or she may get swept up in the social scene. In San Diego, socializing is important to many undergraduate students and can often be hard to avoid because of our location and access to fun activities.

Location and access to fun activities ultimately had a detrimental affect on one person in particular. They were unable to finish their homework by Professor Wilson’s strictly enforced due date.

“A student said, ‘I really did do my homework, but then I ended up going out with friends afterward, and when I came home I accidentally threw up on it’,” Wilson said.

Whether it was true or not, most professors would not appreciate that response, or care to know the details.


Another interesting excuse involves two students, who prefer to remain anonymous, that were caught up with Border Patrol after coming back from a weekend in Mexico.

“I was going to do the final draft of my paper when my girlfriend and I got back from Tijuana, but we got delayed at the border because a drug-sniffing dog thought he smelled drugs, but it just turned out to be my dirty feet,” the anonymous student said. “But anyway, we still didn’t get back till 4a.m., and so I didn’t have time to finish my work.”

An excuse like this seems almost unrealistic and unbelievable. However being so close to Mexico, where many students do venture to, can ultimately have consequences associated with schoolwork.

English Professor Jason Crum, Ph.D., has received some interesting responses and reasons as to why students were unable to finish their homework. He was able to give us some insight into what he has received from students in the past.

“The worst are the ones with TMI: diarrhea, green bile, and that sort,” Crum said. “The worst though are the ones that come with visual proof. I’ve gotten phone pictures of bloody hands, IVs in the hospital, even pictures of a casket from a grandmother’s funeral.”

A person would have to be quite comfortable with his or her professor in order to reveal that sort of information. People like the one who sent a photo of green bile, will take crazy steps to save a grade or reputation.

Philosophy and ethics professor, Mark Woods, Ph.D., is well organized. Woods makes sure to remind students of upcoming quizzes, essays, or group projects through email, making it nearly impossible to forget about an assignment. Oddly enough, he still receives some funny excuses about late work.

Senior Kevin Homaizad got swept up in outdoor activities instead of finishing his homework, however was truthful and sent Woods an email explaining what happened.

“Wow, thank you for the email reminder,” Homaizad’s email said. “There was no chance this would have crossed my mind had I not seen it. I literally have no excuse for you, I went surfing earlier and completely forgot. I understand if this warrants a hit for my grade on this assignment but I will get that done first thing in the morning.”

Although he clearly spaced on an assignment, he was honest and upfront, which professors may respect. Right?

While excuses may not be the most ethical approach to covering up an arbitrary situation, they have become a part of people’s everyday lives. At USD, many students think that they are capable of outsmarting professors by conjuring up creative and rather crazy reasons as to why they are unable to finish their homework. Some may think they are being clever, however, professors possess more street-smart skills than students are aware of. Next time you think about coming up with what you believe to be a solid excuse, it might just be in your best interest to be honest.