The Weather 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 dealing with the weather.
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 weather issues — and students’ perceptions of the weather — can come into play in “interesting” ways to have them miss a class, a test, or a paper/project submission deadline. So, without further ado, let’s open the weather file and see how rain, snow, and yes, even wind, can make for quite “interesting” student excuses.
While we may have had to walk uphill through the snow and rain to go to class (I actually had one contemporary proudly say, “I used to walk 1.3 miles to class in upstate NY year around, rain, snow, or shine. I get a kick out of laughing at student excuses about the weather!”), weather is a common source of students trying to excuse their absences or late work today. And while the postman would do his (or her) job based on the U.S. Postal Service’s famous motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” that is not necessarily how students — well, some students — approach weather concerns today. Consider these weather-related excuses submitted by my contemporaries from around the country:
“We had a student say that she missed class because it was too windy!!!”
“When I taught in Los Angeles I would regularly get ‘it’s raining!’ as an excuse for not coming to class.”
“I had a student email me that he stepped in a puddle on the way to class and got his sock all wet, so wouldn’t be able to make it…”
Now certainly, weather causes especially dicey issues for students, as one person’s perception of “serious” is far different than another’s in many cases. But to some college students, “Baby, it’s cold outside” is more than just a song! Winter weather seems to be especially troublesome for students to deal with — in a variety of ways:
“Years ago, a student emailed me to let me know they’d be absent because their car windshield had ice on it and they lost their snow brush. It snowed less than an inch the night before. In NE Ohio!”
“A student just told me he couldn’t Zoom class because his car was stuck in the driveway due to snow. He has the internet at home and a laptop.”
“Best excuse: ‘I am not from here and the weather has been too cold for me to come to class.’ (Note: We had a mild fall that year, lots of sun, and, regardless, his dorm was connected to the building by UNDERGROUND TUNNELS so he would not have to experience the weather in the first place).”
“I had a student once call to tell me he missed class because he was snowed in an hour away. This was in the days before everyone had cell phones. Caller ID told me he was calling from his dorm room!”
However, other faculty responded with info on how much tougher they and their students were, based on their local climate. Now this kind of “weather trash talk” puts us Sunbelt and Southern folks in our place! In fact, two of my New Orleans’ colleagues responded with circumstances unique to areas like ours in the South:
“I can remember our school closing just because it went below 32 degrees and they were afraid pipes would freeze and what would we do if a fire broke out???”
“In New Orleans that would happen with the slightest dusting of snow. It’s so rare that we’d ALL probably stop class to go experience it.
So yes, there are some areas of the country where winter weather has to be extreme to shut things down!:
From a faculty member in Kansas City, Missouri:
“It has been below -6 here for them to choose schools for the cold.”
From a faculty member in Bancroft, Idaho:
“It has to be -20 here for schools to close.”
So, in the end, unless it is an “automatic” — where a blizzard, a hurricane, or the aftereffects of severe storms causes schools, and often everything in an area to shut down — students and faculty members have to use their own judgement as to when weather should keep one from classes. And different universities take very different approaches to closing for weather concerns, with some hardly ever doing so and some doing so at the veritable “drop of a hat” (or rain as the case may be!). At my own university however, which has a high percentage of commuter students, weather concerns do pose a special concern. And while over the years there have been times where we’ve been open when no one could believe that we were due to weather concerns and vice versa, to a person, I have found my colleagues to generally give students the “benefit of the doubt” — and especially so for commuting students — and accede to their issues with driving to campus under severe weather conditions.
And speaking of perceptions, one faculty member pointed out how cultural differences can come into play when considering weather issues. She reported becoming enlightened herself about how weather can indeed impact people from different cultures in very different ways from just such a student encounter:
“Ok so the rain thing. I’ve had it happen a few times. After unpacking it….one of my African American girls just straight up said I don’t come in downpours. — it has more to do with the cost it would take to fix her hair if it got that wet. I never thought of it and the pressure for Black women and hair I can only imagine.”
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 death 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.
Lest one think all weather-related excuses are made-up (or over-exaggerated, at least) by students, “STUFF” does happen — and yes, professors do prove what those of us in academia know. This is the fact that by and large, college faculty are a very understanding and empathetic group of individuals, as shown in these student excuses and the individual professors’ reactions to the proverbial “tree that fell on the student’s house!”:
“A student said that they had to stop taking their midterm because a tree fell on their house during a storm. They included a picture of themselves standing by a tree that had blown into their home, caving in the roof. I allowed them to reschedule.”
“Ummmm. A student said that they had to stop taking their midterm because a tree fell on their house during a storm. They included a picture of themselves standing by a tree that had blown into their home, caving in the roof. I allowed them to reschedule.”
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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