The Tech File: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time
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 technology 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 tech file, and see how modern technology, or the lack thereof, can be a very modern problem — and excuse — for college students.
To begin with, this one might be my fave out of all the tech-related excuses offered by my contemporaries on this front, one of whom recounted a very real encounter with one of her students:
“ Student: ‘I’m so sorry I’ve fallen behind, I’m homeless and it’s been really hard. I haven’t been able to talk to my friends or family for a while now.’
Me: Cue my instant empathy, I start asking questions about her having a safe place to sleep and offer suggestions to help with potential food insecurity
Student (indignant): ‘I didn’t say I was HOMEless, I said I was PHONEless. I lost my phone last week and it sucks cause I can’t talk to anyone.’
There were certainly a wide range of tech issues that students encountered — or at least said they encountered — and tried to use as excuses with their professors:
“Once a student said her mouse froze on the screen so she couldn’t do any work for a week.”
“Some variation of the water + technology problem happens every semester, but my favorite was: ‘Sorry I couldn’t upload my presentation because I dropped my phone in the toilet while I was playing Pokemon Go and that caused the upload to stop and now I don’t have a phone.’”
Students also reported very “first world” problems when it came to technology issues:
“I once had a student miss the midterm. It was online and available for 2 days. A week later he came to me and asked to make it up. I said no. He said he was on a ski trip and there was bad wifi/reception. I still said no. He said he owns a successful IT business and could pay me. The look of horror on my face… his friend pulled his arm and said ‘time to go, man.’”
And yes, professors can turn the tables on students when it comes to technology:
“I used to have students that would say ‘I have an important call, I have to go.’ I have no idea why, but I would say ‘I don’t care if it’s baby Jesus… you can’t answer it and sit down.’ One day, a student said… ‘OMG, I have a call coming in and I have to take it… you will never guess who it is… BABY JESUS!’ Sure enough, the caller ID said ‘Baby Jesus.’ We answered the call as a class, and it was the best phone call ever!”
“I remember the time I took a student’s phone away from him because he was texting a girl? I texted her from his phone and asked her out for him! They dated for awhile!”
“I had a student turn in a paper on the civil rights movement printed in yellow ink because ‘his printer ran out of every other color.’ Turns out he must’ve been channeling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he wrote the paper because it was the Doctor’s words, so eloquently, though barely visibly, printed on those pages!”
Today, there also seems to be a trend at the intersection of technology and the Animal Kingdom:
“I had a student seriously tell me she lost her homework on her computer because — wait for it — a raccoon came in through an open window and ate the wires on her computer thus making it useless and she couldn’t get it fixed in time to hand it her work. I asked for pictures of the destruction to the apartment she claimed but somehow never saw them. That’s my best story.”
“I had a student tell me that their puppy ate the flash drive with all their work on it. An updated version of ‘the dog ate my homework!’” To which one of her fellow professors commented, “Funny, but we had a dog that ate MY flash drive.”
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 technology 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.
And so in dealing with such issues, sometimes students will show a great deal of perseverance in overcoming their technology problems:
“One of my legitimately awesome students emailed me at the end of the semester to say she wasn’t sure she’d get her work in on time. The day before, she had been in a hurry to get her kids to daycare before she had to be at work and left her laptop with all her final term papers and projects on it in a taxi cab. I gave her an extension, but she was a superstar and still got her work completed on time (and accidentally sent me one of her finals for another class as well, so I know she was working hard!).”
“Last summer, an active duty student enrolled in my course while deployed ‘over there.’ His work was hit and miss in terms of punctuality; He let me know up front he probably should not have enrolled while deployed. He messaged me one week that he hadn’t been able to do his work because he had to be ‘outside the wire’ (military terminology for attacking the enemy) with no communication. He finished the course with an extension: very respectful and hard-working when he could. His internet connection was in a tent/mess hall the whole time, so not exactly an ideal environment.”
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/.