The Family File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
College professors from around the country have offered the most outrageous excuses their students have given for missing a class, a test, or an assignment. Here are the best ones concerning issues students have had with their families.
As an overview, this article is part of a series (Overview: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time — Introduction to the Article Series), exploring what excuses college students have offered to explain an absence, a missed exam, a paper or project being late, etc. All of these excuses have been collected from this author’s contemporaries — professors and instructors at colleges and universities all across America. As such, it is a “crowdsourced” piece, and I owe them my gratitude for sharing their “best” excuses — which in reality means the “worst” — from their students over the years that provided the basis for this article series. And in all of these articles, each of which deals with a different “origin area” for student excuses, from health to tech to social to pets and more, we not only see excuses that make us laugh, but we also see some that could make you cry, as there are also stories of students who “went the extra mile” and persevered over the unique obstacles they might have faced in their lives to succeed in school.
In this article in the series exploring college student excuses, we look at how family issues come into play, both real and imagined, in causing students to miss a class, a test, or a paper/project submission deadline. So, without further ado, let’s open the family file, and see how kids, spouses, and yes, even grandpa, can make for some “interesting” student excuses.
Colleagues around the country who contributed their best student excuses sometimes offered ones from their own experiences regarding family issues and how their professors handled such events when they occurred, including this one that shows just how much all of us remember those professors who are understanding of family issues when they inevitably do arise:
“Personally, I missed a final exam during my PhD coursework because I was sitting in the hospital with my husband after he came out from surgery. I told him I might be late to the exam. He told me to stay at the hospital. He was the best!”
From the responses garnered from my contemporaries in higher education, , just as I have experienced in my own teaching career, family issues have been a common area for student excuses. Such excuses include items like:
“One student told me she missed class because she got in a fight with her sister and had to keep ice on her eye.”
“My favorite was ‘I have to go turkey hunting with my Dad’ — I gave him the extension he requested.”
“I had a student miss a midterm exam because his mom told him to babysit his sisters.”
“Had to go house hunting with his parents.”
“This was before remote instruction but I had a student say they had to miss class b/c they had to help the family with their garage sale. When I said that would be an absence, they asked if I would Skype them in [while they helped at the sale].”
And yes, this one is my personal favorite — perhaps of any of the excuses submitted to me by my colleagues for this project:
“Student said: ‘I couldn’t finish my essay last night because I had to go bail Grandpa out of jail.’ And it turned out to be true.”
Sometimes though, one can encounter a family-related student excuse that can leave you concerned — and worried!:
“One of my favorites, from a non-trad student in class that met at night just once a week: ‘I had to miss class because my daughter just got her very first period and I needed to stay home to snuggle with her.’ I was conflicted about how to respond to that one!”
Then again, there are family issues that make us appreciate just how different cultures are around the world:
“Student told me: ‘My father has been kidnapped by Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka.’ Two days later, asked him if he had word about his father. ‘Yes, Madam, I spoke to him last night.’ I replied, ‘But you said he had been kidnapped?’ She responded: ‘O Madam, you are not understanding how things are in my country. He is kidnapped, but we are talking.’”
Now while we may laugh at some of these excuses for their statistical unlikelihood and their absurdity, there are also excuses that are both absolutely true and in many cases, positively inspiring. So, almost every one of the articles in this series on student excuses will conclude with one or more stories submitted by professors across America of students who overcame adversity in dealing with their personal issues. And so, we will wrap-up this article where we have indeed had some fun looking at the excuses submitted by college faculty on how some students have used family issues as an excuse with a reminder of how others have overcome their circumstances to succeed in their college work and displayed qualities that will likely serve them very well in their careers and futures.
Yes, there are so many situations where family causes students not to go awry, but to go above and beyond, like this story from a fellow professor:
“Had a mother and daughter in the same class. Mom shows up, takes me aside, and says, ‘My daughter hit black ice and tore out a barbed wire fence on the way here, flipped the car, and is in the ER.’ I told her: ‘Please go back to the hospital.’ It messed the daughter’s back up pretty badly and she ended up withdrawing. This was before widespread cellular use, so her mother came all the way to campus to tell me.”
And sometimes, you just have to marvel at how students, particularly adult students with very real and very serious family concerns, pull things together to still do well in school, no matter what might be going on in their “real” lives:
“I had a student who emailed me in August, just before classes started. She informed me that she was taking the class from St. Jude because her daughter (3 years old) was getting cancer treatments. I had the syllabus out with exam dates. She asked if there was any way possible to take the exam, scheduled in October, early because the Make A Wish foundation scheduled a Disney trip the week of the exam. This student never turned a single assignment in late.”
The Article Series
If you enjoyed reading this article on the best excuses offered by college students regarding legal issues, please check out the other articles in the series exploring a whole host of other “causations” of absences, missed tests, late projects, etc. It’s all offered in a good spirit, and I hope you will check them out for yourself and perhaps share with your colleagues — and maybe even your students!
So, I would encourage you to kick back with a good cup of coffee (or more) and scroll through this series of articles. You will laugh at many of these excuses, and yes, in some instances, you may be inspired and even shed a tear or two!
- Overview: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time — Introduction to the Article Series
- The “Death Card”: The Best (Really Worst) College Excuses of All Time
- The Medical File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Legal File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Pets and Animals File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Weather File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Home File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Family File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Social File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Tech File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Car File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Online Classes/Zoom File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Travel File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The “Better Options” File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Potpourri File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The “Caught in a Lie” File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
- The Inspirational Stories File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
Enjoy this article — or these articles? Please buy Professor Wyld’s ebook — The Handbook of College Student Excuses — that compiles all of these excuses in one place — for yourself, for a college student you know (or parent), or for a college faculty member. It is a great, fun read, and makes a great gift! Get it today from Smashwords ( https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1073655) or on Amazon ( https://amzn.to/3rM5IXZ). You can also view the college student “Excuse of the Day” on Dr. Wyld’s blog at http://www.collegestudentexcuses.com/the-best-excuse-of-the-day/.
About David Wyld
David Wyld is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness.
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