Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hey professor, I am honestly, truly sorry

Here are the (mostly disturbing) entries for the Final Exam Excuse Contest 2010. I have numbered them so that you can vote on your favorite in the poll at the end of the post. Some of these are real e-mails from students; some are not. Some are easy to detect as fakes; some are not.

This isn't the *nicest* way to end the academic term, but many of us have been getting these e-mails (or ones eerily similar..) in the past few weeks, so I hope the group-wallow in parody and sympathy will be emotionally satisfying in some way, or at least mildly entertaining.

My end-of-term experience has been supplemented by a cheating incident that makes me very sad because the students involved did not need to cheat (they were getting decent grades; now they are not), but I don't feel like writing about student "misconduct" right now.. maybe in 2011, when I am older and wiser and energized for the new year and term.

In the meantime, I am going on a blog-break while my family and I travel to an interesting part of the world. I shall likely return in early January.

Thanks for reading, and please vote in the poll at the end of this post.


Hey professor,

I am honestly, truly sorry for missing the final exam in your case. I am not usually so irresponsible and this is completely out of character for me. However, I feel that I should ask that you excuse my exam, in that one of my housemates was in the emergency room and I had to be there with him. You can check with the ER to prove that I did not just forget the exam. I have had some bad luck lately and I would never of missed the exam because your class is one of my favorites, but you know what they say: friends first. I am wondering if I would be able to make up the exam this Saturday, which is the only chance I have before my flight home for Christmas. I know you might want to take off points for the late exam, but I really am afraid about how it would affect my GPA, and I am a Senior. Thus, I could also do an extra credit project, if that would help you to give me the grade I really deserve were it not for missing the final. I will do any project you want, because I am very greatful to you for helping me even though I had my friend in the hospital. However, I might need to turn in my extra credit project after Christmas because I am going home and also my computer is at IT with a virus and I can't get my files off it. They said it would be done by now, so I have no idea when I'll get it. Is it ok if I can get an incomplete so that I can do my best work on the extra credit project? Also, I could take the final exam after Christmas so that I can really demonstrate my best work for this class, but I understand completely if you want me to take it on Saturday.

Thank you so much, I truly do love the class and I am sorry I let you down,



Dear Mr [prof]

i miss exam because due to car crash. i study all night and fall sleep drivering to school

i can bring police story to show why i missed. how can i get new exam and when

i must must must pass class or lose student visa!!!!!!!!!

thx Mr for helping me


hi fsp, im sorry i missed the final exam but yesterday morning my cat
was puking and i had to take her to the vet, and then after i got home
i was going to study but the cat puked again on my only clean sweater,
so i put the sweater and all my other dirty clothes in the laundry but
the dryer must have been 2 hot because my clothes came out all
munchkin-sized, so i went to the tj maxx to buy some new clothes but
then i left my lights on and the car wouldnt start. i tried to get my
friend to drive me to campus for the exam but he was all hungover from
celebrating the end of the semester and couldnt come pick me up at the
tj maxx, actually he couldnt get out of bed, and by this time i was
late for the exam and i would have called ur office but i lost my
phone. so its not my fault i wasnt there for the final yesterday but i
do really need to take the test because my dad said if i failed one
more class he would take away my cadillac escalade. i studied for a
whole hour and im sure i can get the a+ u told me i need to pass. i can
i can come in for the makeup exam tomorrow after 7pm or the next day
after 6 pls let me know which is best for u.



Dear Female Science Professor,

I regret to inform you that I could not make it to the final because
my grandmother died, and I need you to give me a make-up final so I
can get an A in this course. I don't expect you will, of course,
because you refused to give make-ups to all of my friends, whose
grandmothers also died to make them miss the exam. I don't know what
your big problem is. One day in class you made a big deal about
reading "real scholarly literature" instead of Wikipedia or stuff. So
here is this real paper for you
http://www.math.toronto.edu/mpugh/DeadGrandmother.pdf and it says, AND
I QUOTE: A student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly
just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year.
a student who is failing a class and has a final coming up is more
than 50 times more likely to lose a family member than an A student
not facing any exams. So I'm failing the class, and all my friends
are failing the class, and you don't think ahead to the fact that our
grandmothers were going to die? That dude says they worry themselves
to death. He says it is a mounting health epidemic growing with
exponential proportions that must be stopped or our society will
crumble down to its very foundations of society. So now I really
really have to get an A on the exam so I can go to med school to find
a cure to stop this SENSELESS LOSS OF LIFE. Please let me know what a
good time for the makeup would be. I work best from 1 am to 5 am so I
hope that works for you.


Struggling Student



Professor XX,

My grandmother died today, or was it yesterday? I don't remember, it's
all a big emotional blur (/_\) . The funeral is on the day of the final
in a town far, far away and I have to go; she practically raised me
(well, on some weekends and holidays). Plus, her will stated that she
wanted me there specifically. Suffice it to say, I won't be able to make
it to the final exam. In fact, I'm so distraught that studying for any
exams is going to be almost impossible (we were really close).

I really need to pass this class (preferably with an A; my GPA is
hemorrhaging badly). I'm a super senior, and it's the last requirement
for my major. Also, it won't be offered again until Spring 2015! (Whose
great idea was that?!?!) In light of this, I propose that you average
the grades for my last 3 exams (with most of the weight on the highest
grade, of course), and use that as my final exam grade.

I know that you're probably thinking, "Yea, right. I want to see a death
certificate and an invitation to the funeral." Well, you're in luck! A
notarized death certificate and a notarized invitation to the funeral
will be available in a couple days.

Thanks for your cooperation (and the letter of recommendation ^_^ ) .

Very sincerely,



Greetings Dr X,

I missed the midterm. I was miserably sick last week.




Dear Prof X,

I am writing to explain that I accidentally gave my roommate, Student
Y, a pot brownie, so she was unable to take the final exam in your
class. Had I known about the exam, I would not have given this to her!

Please allow Student Y to make up the exam.

Roommate Z



dear professor,

Last week I went to the clinic at the school to get my chest looked at
and I had whooping cough and broncitis, and I was given strong medication
for it. However, lastnight I took my medication on an empty stomach and this
morning I cant stop dry heaving and puking bile ( i am bulimic which also
makes my stomach sensitive). I need to go to the doctors or the hospital,
but I cannot drive right now. This is the second day that I have had this
reaction to my medication and it has cut into my study time and also put me
in pain. I dono what to do because I cannot miss this exam but I also cannot
lift my head out of the towilet for more than a few minutes. I donno how I
can write my exam like this. HELP, what should I do?

Student Y.



hi prof!
i just realized that I frgot 2 come to the final exam yesterday! I know the
exam was yesterday at 8 cuz I just checked on the finals calendr but between
my Chem midterm and my Psych paper it TOTALLY slipped my mind! could i
mebbe take the exam when I get back from break? Because I am actually
writing this on my iphone in the airport right now (also why the speling is
so bad - haha!). I'm super super sorry for the trouble!

Thanks soooooooooooooooo much in advance!!!



Hey professor,

I know it is late (2 AM the day of the final exam!!!!!!!) but I am supposed to
contact my professor in advance about taking a make-up exam for a good reason.
I recently found out that I have several final exams on the same day (today!!!) and so
according to university rules I get to take one as a make-up and I decided to take
yours later because it is my favorite class. The best time for me is Thursday at noon
so I will come to your office then and take the exam.

Professor FSP,

I was starting to study but then I fell down on the floor and was sweating so I went to the clinic and they said I should rest and not study anymore, so that is why I can't take the final exam tomorow. My mom says I have to come home right away so she is picking me up at 2 pm which is when the exam starts. So the best thing to do is not to count this final exam in my grade. An Incomplete is NOT an option because I don't have time to make this up after the break. I calculated my grade as a B+ although I am really an A student and if you want to take into account my difficult circumstances and how hard I worked in your class an A would be good. Thanks for your help.


Dear Mr. [misspelled name]

I am in you're 1:00 class what meets in room 201 of the Maine building I rite you on a matter of grave concern
I had to miss the final exam what took place at 5PM in Maine 201 last tuesday because of a matter of vital importence; My mom cooked a really important dinner for me monday night and so do to the extreme difficulty of travel during the current season I had to go home during finals week because my mom insisted if you new my mom youd understand
I tryed to find you're office which you're web page says is MAine 202; but dint have any luck cuz the Maine building is to obscure and i couldnt find it so i couldnt find you're office and talk to you about it before
i wouldnt bother you about it except as its to important whereas my scholarship require that i keep a perfek 4.0 GPA thruout my intire collige years and so i need to make up the final I dont need you to work extra hard so its ok if you just give me the final that you gived everyone else as my friends said it wasnt to bad when they showed me the answers you passed out at the and
If you need confermation of the importence of the dinner you should contact my mom were in the phone book so were easy to find as our house is across the street from the collidge

you're devoted student John Smythe VII



Professor FSP, you're not going to believe this but just before
the final exam my pet python, Mimi, got loose somewhere in my
apartment building and the last time this happened my landlord
totally freaked and said if it happened again he would evict me
or kill my snake or both. So I had to look for her and I missed
the exam but the good news is that I found her and she was safe
but a little shook up and so then I had to get her calm and there
was no way I could email you until now. I am afraid to leave
her alone now but I could write a paper instead of doing the
final exam or I could take the exam after the break. Just let
me know which of these options you want to do.


NOTE ADDED 12/21: Some late additions include:

14. I studied really hard last night and then slept through
the alarm clock

15. hey, i went 2 the room today and the normal time and no 1
was their. some kid was their and said you gave it during the
exam pd. anyways i work then so i couldn’t come.
i have time to make up the final after work tomorrow so i
can b their bout 4. thx

(no time to update the poll, but you could do a write in vote
in the comments)

Which one do you like the best?
1: ER excuse
2: car, police excuse
3: cat, laundry, friend etc. excuse
4: grandmother excuse, passive-aggressive
5: grandmother excuse. aggressive
6: pathetic but brief excuse
7: pot brownie excuse
8: detailed medical excuse
9: forgot exam excuse
10: last-minute excuse
11: illness, mom excuse
12: mom excuse
13: missing python excuse
pollcode.com free polls


William said...

So, is 11 so obviously the best that the poll is for second place or something? :)

Anonymous said...

i wanted to vote for #11....it was missing....are these all real???

which one is made up and which one is real?

Clarissa said...

I absolutely loved the puking cat story.

If these are not made up (ar at least partly not made up), I will never ever ever complain about my students ever again. Because this is just out of this world insane.

Female Science Professor said...

Problem solved, I think. I had illegal punctuation in the #11 poll answer.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I voted for 13, and will be happy to administer a make-up, but she has to bring the python. I don't know why; I just think it would be cool.

John said...

I voted for #3 since it highlights my larger experience of nothing ever being a student's fault. I have had a student give me a similar emergency room excuse after missing an exam. The student received a 0 on the exam but did complete the course and earned a C.

Anonymous said...

Pot brownie obviously best.

I just had a flagrant cheating case in my exam too. First time I have caught someone. Apparently I have been too naive and easygoing. Now that I've seen it with my own eyes, I have to be a cop for the rest of my career, which is what makes me the most angry about it.

Nicole said...

I see I'm with the majority so far on the pot brownie story.

Did love the scientific paper on grandmothers... I'd been trying to find a copy of that again for a while.

Anonymous said...

This reminded of the time my grandad died to the date of my upgrade interview. I'm very good at bottling it in so apart from being a passive-agressive and an all-round distant person I passed all my projects fine. Until of course the two months before my upgrade interview when I finally got to visit my grandad's grave and became a total wreck. I've had to take a second interview and narrowly missed failing because I just couldn't get the energy or the expertise (I had a change of supervisors) to get through it. Anyway, I doubt that anyone believed me but thankfully, despite my poor standing at the interview my hard earned respects from all my project supervisors pulled me through. So, I'm not really sympathetic to excuse givers unless they are genuine which you can tell most of the time. Of course I'm not perfect either but still using the death of a relative to get higher grades is just low and wrong!!!

chall said...

oh dear. Now I'm SO curious which are fake and which are not. Please tell after the poll is done?!!

And it scares me since none of them are excuses I would ever consider - their tone are so rude/clueless. "I've calculated a B+ but if you want to give me as an A student an A I would like that". Yeah, I'm sure you would. Facepalm.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Some of these are clearly real. I voted for #2, based on the magnificent balance of illiteracy and belligerence.

Anonymous said...

Whether they are real or not, they are certainly true in spirit. Thanks for a light moment on a very busy day

Mark P

Mom, Ph.D. said...

I voted for #12. I love the tone of privilege mixed with ignorance. And the name "John Smythe VII" is the icing on the cake!

Anonymous said...

So difficult to choose. 4? because it has a citation! 5? because it offers a death certificate!

hash brownies don't cut it---I think half the students taking exams here had them just before the exam---how else do you explain the performance on the exams.

Anonymous said...

I've always preferred the student who explained his absence because he was in jail because of drunk and disorderly over the weekend and showed me the jail id bracelet still on his wrist. (That was only for an ordinary class though, not a final exam.)

Stella said...

If I actually got #5 I'd give the student a point for the literary reference. But given the literary reference, I suspect it's fake.

MathTT said...

I voted for #1 because the weird stream-of-consciousness most resembles the emails I get. The over-sharing of personal information in #8 also rings true, and always makes me uncomfortable. (True example from this semester: "I was having trouble making it to class because of my pregnancy, but now that I'm no longer with child...")

Unbalanced Reaction said...

This was a very stressful decision, FSP. The python one is amazing, but #1 has entered my inbox more times than I can count. Choices, choices....

Happy holidays, FSP! I hope you have a wonderful break.

Anonymous said...

I have received mails similar to 1 and 2 - in fact I think I might know the student who wrote 1! Number 10 also sounds rather familiar.

I hope most of the rest are fake, but wouldn't be entirely shocked if they weren't. The general tone of "I will come to your office on DAY at TIME to take the exam" rings very true (sadly).

studyzone said...

I voted for #1 because it was so similar to the excuse I got from a student who missed the penultimate exam of the semester. The pot brownie was a close second. I couldn't finish a few others because my blood pressure started going up (flashbacks to experiences with my own entitled princes/princesses). Thankfully, I only get one or two such emails a semester, so it has been manageable.

Anonymous said...

Just to show that it is actually possible, during college my grandmother did die the night before a midterm. I was doing quite well in the class though and I talked to the prof the next day (midterm day) and she let me postpone it. I think she was suspicious though, which I found to be very offensive at the time (her suspicion), but I guess I see why now...

ThoughtsOFARandomCollegeStudent said...

Four looked like it was going to be a responsible excuse for missing the exam but it had me fooled! LOL!!

Umm...they are all great...!


Amanda said...

7 and 8 both seem realistic and unfortunate. If someone had fed me as pot brownie as a joke, and I had passed out and missed an exam, I'd be FURIOUS and panicked and not know what to do.

Oddly, my grandfather DID die in the middle of my winter finals freshman year of college, and my grandmother right before one set of finals junior year.

Anonymous said...

Do many A-, B-, or C-students actually write so completely horribly? Do these people get degrees!? I ain't no grammatarian either, but there is no capitalization in some of those.

Also, #3 is obviously fake. The author properly hyphenated "munchkin-sized", accidentally.

tideliar said...

Depressing reminder of my ownn mispent college youth (in the UK). I missed my physiology final by 2 days because I looked at the wrong exam schedule...

I was very upset when they threw me out of school for failing :/

Father's advice? GTFU, get a job and try again. Good advice. It worked...

EcoGeoFemme said...

These were great!

Have a great vacation and happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I think I like the mom excuse best. But it would have been improved if it was the MOM who was writing it. i.e."You must excuse my darling little boy for missing your exam, blah blah blah."
But I do have to say that I've given the ER excuse -- I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance the night before a midterm. I had an allergic response to a medication I had just started, and my roommate called 911 when I stopped breathing. Oddly enough, I did NOT insist that she then come with me to the hospital and miss the exam herself. Go figure.) But my e-mail to the professor was a bit less aggressive/entitled/demanding than the ones here. Also, I had been running an A in the course, and had never missed a class or assignment before, so the professor was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. In the end, I took a makeup the next day and got an A on that too.

Anonymous said...

#5 would win even more if it said the news came via telegram. (Better stay away from that one, if he goes to any beaches anytimes soon.)

Richard said...

I like the Mom excuse because of the O'Henry ending. We have a sob-story about difficulty traveling in this time of year, but we end with the discovery that the student lives across the street from the college.

The speling is abismal and harrifying however!

Anonymous said...

I am a business professor and I received some of the most outlandish excuses, many very similar to these. I'm sad to say that none of these shocked me, although they all gave me a great chuckle. And yes, there are too many good students who cannot write.

My best one came today - a receipt for bail bond!

Anonymous said...

I voted for #9 - pretty much all the emails I get these days are written as such. Not sure whether to cry or get angry. I guess crying would be more appropriate. As in, I cry for our future...

Anonymous said...

yay someone liked mine!!

Awesome job everyone, hilarity abounds.

Anonymous said...

Awesomely funny!

Becca said...

@Tideliar- I, too, missed a final by two days thanks to misreading the exam schedule. It was a biochemistry/microbiology class, and the prof happened to be around and let me take it.
Whenever I read the way these things seem from the professor's perspective, I cringe. I was obscenely lucky.

Jenny F. Scientist said...

I had a real dead grandmother before finals in college! But my mother called the dean, who arranged things with my professors, which probably made it seem a little less... fake. Also, I asked to take the exam EARLY, and it was only one...

Geez, if these are all real, I want to cry.

Margaret L said...

My best excuse ever was from an enrolled student who didn't come to the first day (usually grounds for being dropped) because he had been shot in the leg. He brought me ER paperwork and sure enough he had actually been shot in the leg. I accepted the excuse, but (and I'm sorry to be all judgemental and blame-the-victim-y) WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT YOUR JUDGEMENT, AND YOUR CHOICE OF LATE NIGHT ACTIVITIES? Sure enough, by the end of the quarter he was in my office having The Talk about plagiarism in his paper. (His excuse: he had missed my remarks on the first day about plagiarism.)

rob said...

@Margaret L said

lol. shot in the leg and using it as an excuse *again*.

Frank L. Rike said...

Unfortunately I have had just about all of those. They are funny, when they are not in my mail box. I like #14 best because it is shortest.

Eowyn said...

Thank you. This reminded me of my last ever undergraduate final. Which I missed. Completely. With bells on.

Then again, I'd been on crutches for three weeks prior due to a very bad ankle sprain including a non-walking cast, the prof knew I was on pain killers, and there were two class sections. One final Tuesday morning, the other Wednesday afternoon. So I read that as Tuesday afternoon.

She took pity on me and let me write the test as soon as I found her. (The cue? Classmates wondering why I was in the cafeteria studying instead of taking the test ... And it was a long slippery (icy) hobble to her office.)

As a result, I am now very very lenient when a student has documentation (or stumps around on crutches for weeks on end).

Anonymous said...

I actually asked a professor if I could take the final another day because my boyfriend was in the class and he had broken up with me right before finals. What an ass. Anyway, the prof was really a great guy and said that since I had an A in the class I didn't need to take the final. He also happened to be a politician in the city where this university was located and I voted for him every single time he was on the ballot after that.

A-158 said...

which one is made up and which one is real?

This would be a fun game!

Cat puking is my favorite. One of my classes involves animal welfare issues, so students know I like animals. As a result, my class kills as many pets as it does grandmothers. So sad.

Kait W. said...

I think 4 is fake. The punctuation and use of capitals are too good for it to be genuine. ;)

And if the pot brownie excuse is real, you win some sort of prize in my book.

Female Science Professor said...

Not everyone revealed to me whether their 'excuse' was creative writing or a real student excuse, with the exception of #6, which was listed as real. Some others were described as made-up but based on a real excuse (e.g. the pot brownie example).

Anonymous said...

I voted for #3 just because it's so funny (especially at the end when she said that it's not her fault), though I truly hope it's made up. But after that I'm unable to tell which ones are real and which ones are fake.

Dr. Brian Greenwood said...

Fun read! Thanks for sharing. My favorite excuse was the following:

"Yo B-Money, sorry to have missed your class, but I was on campus earlier today and got caught in that awful downpour and got soaked. So, I went home to change, and while I was there, the whole left side of my face started getting all red and swelling up from getting bit by a spider last night. I didn't think you or anybody else would have wanted to see that. Anyway, I'll be there tomorrow if the swelling goes down."

I excused him from the quiz and in-class activity, as I was sure in just my second class teaching that it would be hard to top as an all-time favorite...even if I taught for 50 years.

Spencer Lord said...

lololol... omg, i'm so glad i found your blog. this stuff is so hilarious... it's excellent. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Well, I had to vote for #12 since the student could not find the professor's office after attending class in the same building all term!

akajb said...

Wow, just found this and had to post. These are hilarious, and can imagine pretty much all of them actually being used.

We had a major problem of plagiarism in the class I Ta'd for this past fall. Since there were so many cases, we gave the students the option to fess-up and get a more lenient penalty. One student wrote in that she didn't know how to reference sources found on the web and so she didn't and it was an honest mistake.

It was amazing how many students decided to ask questions about how to cite in certain situations AFTER we caught them - there wasn't a single question before hand.

Anonymous said...

Just missing an email or two where the student blames the Prof for having an exam anyway, a Prof should just be grateful the student cared to show up for (most) classes and an A should be a given (since they paid for the course and all)

Anonymous said...

I always suspected professors won't believe that "life happens" so I just didn't bother telling them.
I wrote one final exam 3 hours after hearing the news of the passing of a child I worked with for over a year. My grade for that final dropped from my usual 90%+ (all the other exams in that class) to about 70%.
I wrote another final exam hours after having a seizure. Again, grades dropped to about 60%+ for that final.
In both those cases, I managed to salvage my final class grade into the high 80s simply because I was consistently performing well throughout the term.
The final straw was when I cracked a major rib 10 days before an exam (from a seizure) and was put on narcotics and could barely sit up. I told my profs about that. It helped that one of the profs saw the ambulance take me away.

HiPPi said...

I'm with the guy that said that professors don't believe life happens.

When I was a 1L (first year law school), my first semester, I ended up in the hospital for a week, about halfway through the semester. I had a 103 fever during my Torts final - which I took with the 103 fever.

Second semester was even more lovely for me. My maternal grandmother died over spring break. I had an uncle die during finals (one of my mother's brothers) and my paternal grandmother died days before my birthday in August.

I'm not even making that up. So the sarcasm about the grandmother dying one made me think of my real life experience with that actually happening during my rollercoaster first year.

Luckily, I had an awesome Dean of Students who wasn't quite as disbelieving and sarcastic. And I bent over backwards to take exams, including missing my uncle's funeral.

Anonymous said...

I had a student who told me she couldn't do her work because she had rolled her car on the highway, and her laptop, her textbook, and all of her papers "flew right out the window." She sent me a photo of the flipped car to prove it. I Googled her name and found the newspaper account of the car crash, complete with the very same photo. She had indeed rolled her car--two months before the class started--and not surprisingly, had been cited for reckless driving. I called her out on it, and she promptly dropped the class.