The Social 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 stemming from friends and fraternity/sorority happenings — and yes, alcohol.
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 social 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 social file, and see how friends — and friends with alcohol, particularly those in fraternities and sororities, of course — can make for some “interesting” student excuses.
Ah, the things we do and learn about in college outside of the classroom! We know that students learn so much from the extracurricular side of college, both from the formal, school-sponsored and/or approved activities, but even more so in most cases, from the other aspects of life outside the classroom. And so, in this article, we will explore three areas of the social aspects of college life:
1. Social Life
2. Greek Life
3. Partying (Yes, with Alcohol!)
There are such a wide range of social reasons that can come into play with college students, and as faculty, we can and do empathize with such issues. From an anonymous contemporary came a remembrance of her own college days in Idaho — at an event that yes, you would indeed not likely find in any of the other 49 states:
“I missed class once because the campus hosted a mash potato slip n slide (in Idaho), as I stood up I rolled my foot on a ping-pong ball and twisted my ankle. However the ping-pong ball did have the winning number for a boom box. So at least I got a prize too.”
And living and teaching just outside of New Orleans, there are just excuses we see on occasion that are unique to our area, such as:
“More than one student informed me she had to miss a week of classes to prepare for her cotillion.”
“I can’t come to class because I’m a queen on a Mardi Gras float. Attached is a letter from the director of the parade excusing my absence.”
I personally cannot tell you how many Mardi Gras-related excuses I have fielded over almost thirty years of teaching in this area — and yes, some have involved students who honestly had partied a bit too hard at Mardi Gras to be back in class on Ash Wednesday or later that week.
And what is college without the friendships and relationships we build along the way, and yes, these can be the source of some “interesting” excuses to say the least!:
“A student asked me a week in advance if they could skip lab to ‘pregame for the football game.” I replied: “No buddy, you can’t without penalty!’”
“My student missed a test because his pal needed a ride from the airport.”
Romantic relationships are a source of excuses that have some students providing way too much information in the hopes of getting an absence excused or a shot at a make-up test:
“My girlfriend has her period and I had to stay home to comfort her.”
“A student emailed me that she couldn’t come to class because she and her boyfriend ‘were having too much sex and she got a UTI and now the antibiotics were giving her diarrhea.’ Still my favorite ever!”
“Student missed an exam and I saw him in the hallway later that day. When asked about his absence, he replied: ‘I was in the middle of a threesome.’”
Fraternity and sorority activities — and the aftermath of them — seemed to be a common cause of students’ absences or missing deadlines. And perhaps surprisingly to some, students can be quite honest — sometimes too honest — about how Greek life impacted their schoolwork:
“Student asked for an extension on a paper because they wanted to wait until they were sober to write it. It was over a fraternity initiation weekend.”
“I became unexpectedly ill after a fraternity event.” (To which the professor added that he “gave the student points for honesty!”).
“A student emailed me from his fraternity telling me he was sick. It was Greek Row week and he was outside all day building the fence around their yard for it. Their frat house was directly across the street from the office windows in our building. I had been watching him build it and drink beer all day. I emailed him back ‘I see you, you’re drinking beer.’ That was it!”
“I will be too drunk to come to class on Monday after initiation.”
“I had a student who couldn’t come to class because he was in the middle of a frat war and someone lit his porch on fire.”
Partying (Yes, with Alcohol!)
Alcohol is undoubtedly part of the college experience for many, many students. And while the dangers of drinking — and particularly both alcoholism and binge drinking — are to be taken extremely seriously, that is not our purpose here. In this section, we will review the alcohol-related excuses shared by professors from all over the country.
Alcohol can indeed lead to some incredible — but true — student excuses:
“I had one email that he missed class because the night before he got drunk, tried to jump a fence, and broke his face. He then attached a picture of his bruised and bloody face.”
“I was in an evening class (as a student) when another student’s (Let’s call her Kathy) phone rang. She picks up. Caller was another student from the same class (who was usually attending class faithfully). Let’s call him Joe. After the call, Kathy raises her hand to let the teacher know that Joe won’t make it to class, because he is currently in a bar and has had too much to drink.”
“I had a student once tell me she couldn’t show up for our exam because her son’s birthday party had gotten out of hand and she was still hung over.”
“Student emailed me that ‘he couldn’t come to class because of allergic reaction to pumpkin beer.’”
And with 21 being the legal drinking age in almost every instance, 21st birthdays seem to be a common source of alcohol-related excuses:
“I had a student tell me in advance she was going to be absent because she would be hungover — two days later. 21st birthday… at least she had a solid plan?”
“A student, who I knew had not come to class yet during the semester (I didn’t grade attendance but still took it at the time), emailed that they wouldn’t be there to turn in a project in person because it had been their best friends 21st birthday the day before and she was still too hungover to come to class.”
“I had 3 students ask for an excused absence to go to a baseball game. 2 wanted to get the 3rd drunk for his 21st birthday instead of coming to class.”
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 social 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, sometimes faculty members have to deal with students who present social and relationship issues that are very serious and call upon them to use their people skills to the hilt:
“I had a student miss a lot of assignments because his girlfriend was pregnant. He said he was stressed with being a father at a very young age.”
Unfortunately today, the very “real world” problems with crime and violence do impact our students, as this colleague’s story — and the context he provides to this one very dedicated student’s story — shows:
“I once had a student come to my office and apologize for missing a day of our class. His apartment had just been robbed while he was in it, and he said he would have come to class but he had been hit on the head with a pistol grip and needed a few stitches. He was back by the next class and kept working his way through the course, which was a math course for future elementary and middle school teachers. Unfortunately, it was not the last time a student of mine encountered a robbery, but I do believe it’s the only armed robbery with the student present that I’ve had come up.”
And this one excuse story is certainly a positive note to end on with the honesty shown by this student as it pertains to alcohol use (or misuse):
“I had a student come apologize for missing the previous class. They looked me right in the eye and said, ‘I turned 21 the night before and I was so hungover. The shape I was in, my presence would have been a disrespect to you and your class.’They were clear they weren’t trying to get the absence excused. They believed in always telling the truth, but wanted to be clear they took the class seriously. I will never forget that unabashed, yet entirely respectful honesty.”
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/.