I am a pretty honest person, so I am not going to encourage you to lie. To be real with you, I was a total nerd that turned in homework on time. However, I happen to have many friends that are totally dishonest and got away with it. Some excuses that always seemed to work for them include:
Death in the family (It is best not to make it a close family member since that is easy for a teacher to check on. A random cousin is best.)
Death of a pet (Goldie the Goldfish passing away the night before could be quite traumatic. That burial at sea took some preparation!)
Forced to babysit (This could be a sibling or a niece or nephew. The older you are, the more likely it is your own kid keeping you from getting stuff done.)
Illness (If you claim you were really sick, you are likely to get away with this. If you pretend you were in the hospital, that might seal the deal.)
Your homework fell in water (This only works if you have a stream, river, pond, or some other body of water near your school. It helps if it is a windy day.)
Band practice (Band, football, cheer leading, soccer, or any other practice that goes overtime is a good excuse, but only use it maybe once a semester or year. Unless you have a really nice teacher, eventually he or she will get tired of it and try to convince you that you are not able to participate in after school activities due to poor time management skills... beware!)
Homework overload (If you are genuinely overwhelmed by too much homework or just pretending to be overwhelmed, pick your nicest professor or teacher, and mention you may need an extension. Chances are, you will get more time to do your assignment, especially if you can show some of it is done.)
Computer explosion (Back in the day, people used to say, "My computer crashed." Honestly, I don't even know if anyone says that anymore, but a computer malfunction will still work if you are typing an essay.)
Missing flash drive (If you are using your computer for your homework, a missing flash drive is always a suitable excuse if you save all your assignments on it.)
WARNING: If you happen to have a professor, teacher, or boss that is really strict, it is not likely any of these excuses will work for you. Some teachers even ask for a death certificate or hospital paperwork to prove some of these excuses. Yeah, good luck with that.
NYU students are paying more than the GDP of the South Asian country of Bhutan for a formal education. But what else do we learn in our time at NYU? We learn how to find good rosé for less than $9 and how to make a pack of cigarettes last three weeks. We learn to embrace the pain of walking through Washington Mews on icy days and the modern economic theory that a slice of pizza in Manhattan will often equal the subway fare. Our lives are soundtracked by Simon & Garfunkel as we struggle through finals in what seems like a show called“The Undergraduate: NYU.”
Above all else, we learn the proper time, place and purpose for excuses — why we couldn’t go to class, why we couldn’t finish that assignment and why we never even bought the textbook. Nothing flies off a 20-year-old’s tongue with more finesse than a polished excuse.
Writing the Essay professor Eric Ozawa said he’s received a wide array of eccentric excuses from his students.
“I’ve heard everything from a student helping his brother move to one discovering her apartment was infested with bed bugs, to the classic ‘I have an audition that I can’t miss,” Ozawa said.
Gallatin freshman Michael Manzi likes to go with the weirder, the more believable technique when it comes to outlandish excuses.
Spanish professor Maria Lebedev reports having a student who claimed once a week for multiple weeks that she had broken different parts of her body and she even went so far as to come to class in fake casts.
Nursing senior Megan Salvato doesn’t consider herself a creative person, so she sticks to the classic excuses that are hard to prove false.
“I mostly use the ‘I’m sick’ excuse or ‘I had to work,’” Salvato said. “Once I lied to a teacher that I went to class but I really didn’t and it worked.”
CAS sophomore Lourania Oliver likes put a twist on the sick excuse that teachers don’t question.
“I say I’m having really bad menstrual days when I don’t actually have my period,” Oliver said.
Last semester, Tandon graduate student Devon Powell really wanted to go to NYU’s Flurry event, but he had class.
“I told my teacher I had to work on my research and that I work best from home,” Powell said. “I almost got caught though when [WSN] interviewed me at the event.”
Some students forgo the excuses completely. Environment and Society professor David Kanter recounts being in a bar late and seeing his student come in. The next morning in class the student didn’t show up. The student, however, didn’t send an email nor did he attempt to explain his absence. The question on everyone’s mind has finally been answered: onecan be too hungover to even feign an illness or bereavement over the death of a beloved pet.
From pretending to be Jewish for an entire semester in order to miss class on the Jewish holidays to forging a death in the family to go to Coachella, professors have pretty much heard it all. Based on the attitudes of most of the professors asked — regardless of intention or goodwill, or if the tall tale was told with bravado or blasé indifference — excuses always seem to fall flat. If there’s one thing we should hope to get out of our systems before graduation, let it be our terrible excuses.
Email Kate Holland at [email protected]