Just days into the fall semester, professors say the excuses for missing class have already begun to flow: food-borne illnesses, fender-benders, roommate squabbles, and registration snafus.
And then there are the grandparents, those poor souls who wander about dead but unaware of it — like Bruce Willis’s character in The Sixth Sense — conveniently killed off by college students whose tuition they might even be paying.
One commenter on a Chronicle Forums discussion thread on student excuses suggests sending out warning notices to the old folks: “The midterm exam for [course and number] is scheduled for [date]. This puts your life in danger. We recommend that you get a physical exam before that date and avoid all unnecessary travel until the test is over. Grandmothers are particularly at risk.”
Another asks, “Is it just me or is the ‘grandparent who dies’ excuse being replaced with other family members, which makes it more traumatic for me to even question the veracity? Such as, ‘My brother died today so I won’t be able to complete the homework and test’ on the day the first exam is due for an online course!”
Below are a few of the most creative excuses posted on the thread or e-mailed to us. If you’ve heard any of your own, please be generous and share them in the comments.
This is one I received this morning after a student missed my 8 a.m. class:
“Sorry I missed class this morning but I woke up so stiff I could barely move and didn’t no [sic] why so I ended up going to the hospital to see what’s wrong and it turns out when I was born my spinal chord didn’t grow properly so I ended up pinching some things and that’s why I wasnt able to move. Sorry I missed class though but I will bring by my author summary to you. Thank you and sorry.”
I asked for a doctor’s note.
One student missed my class because his truck window wouldn’t roll up. He showed up to the next one, but with no homework. Not sure how he’s blaming the truck for that.
Last semester I did have a student not come to class because, she said, some stalker was licking her windshield, and campus security towed her car. Yes, licking. Tongue. She dropped the course and turned up on the “withdrawn” list with a different last name.
I actually use Bills of Mortality as a class discussion tool. Days after one class, I had one student claim he had “the King’s evil.” I looked at him very concerned and said, “Better not say that too loudly — the CDC will haul you off and isolate you for months in the hospital.“ He looked startled and asked why. I said, “You have tuberculosis.”
I got a new one today. Someone complained at the end of class that when she entered the classroom 10 minutes late, her preferred seat in the theater was taken. If this continued, she would find it impossible to come to any of my lectures in the future.
Tonight I got: “I’m sorry but I can’t attend class tonight because I’m waiting on the cable guy who was supposed to show between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. but is running late.”
E-mail just received from student who missed first two classes. Unfortunately it is a once-a-week 3-hour block class, so she has missed two weeks of class:
“I just found out I am registered for your Wednesday class. I didn’t realize I was registered for it. Now that I’ve found out I’m registered, I would like to attend. Do you think I can still catch up? May I stop by your office and get the syllabus?”
I wonder who registered her.