Why My Professor Gave Me an Extension: The Best Excuse Ever

3 years ago

Yesterday I read 10 Best Excuses Not to Do Something, written by Carol Graham of the blog Battered Hope. At the end, she asked her readers a question, “What is the best excuse you have heard or the best one you have ever given?” This triggered a memory for me.

Near the beginning of my four-year nursing education, students were assigned a procreative client (person in their childbearing years) and a geriatric client (an older adult) to follow until we graduated. I got to know both of my clients quite well, and I learned a lot from both of them.

I took a nutrition class my senior year. The grade was largely based on a lengthy term paper, which had been assigned near the beginning of the semester. Being a typical college student, I had not completed it early. The afternoon before it was due, I had it mostly written, but I still had to type the entire paper. When I was in college there were no computers. Assignments were written in pen, and then typed on a typewriter—an electric model if you were lucky! A bottle of white out correction fluid was an essential item, as I was not a very accurate typist. I settled in for a long evening of work.


Research used to be done from books - not the Internet!

I had just completed a few pages of my paper when the phone in my room rang. (The desk phone—not a cell phone. Cell phones were not available then, either.) My roommate answered the call, then handed it to me.

It was Jan,* my procreative patient. I hadn't seen her for a few months, as both of us had been busy. I knew that she was pregnant with her second child and due to deliver some time that month. I had been her labor coach two years earlier for the birth of her daughter. When she found out she was pregnant again, she had asked if I would be present at the birth. Although it was not a school requirement, I was happy to say yes.

Her call was to tell me her contractions were regular and she wanted me to meet her at the hospital. I hadn't planned for this! Fleetingly, I thought of my paper and my grade, but then decided not to worry. I would just stay up all night and get it done.

Jan's labor took much longer than I anticipated. In fact, she gave birth just before my nutrition class was due to start the next day. I had pushed the term paper to the back of my mind; I was too busy helping Jan and caught up in the wonder of the birth to really even think of it. However, after the baby had passed the APGAR test and was snuggled in her tired mother's arms, I began to panic a bit. Giving Jan one last hug, I went back to campus and called my professor. I explained why I was missing her class and asked for an extension on my paper. After I told her what I had been doing for the past 15 hours, she granted me a few more days to complete the paper. I was surprised she did, since it had been assigned weeks before.

When I got the paper back, the letter grade at the top was an A. Beside it, in red ink, was a comment stating that normally she would dock points if a paper was late, but my excuse was the best one she had ever heard, so she had decided to make an exception!

Jan attended my graduation and she gave me a gold chain bracelet as a thank you gift. I moved away, and we lost touch after a while. I still have the bracelet, and I have thought of Jan and her babies whenever I have worn it. It reminds me that it is best not to wait to do things until the very last minute. You never know what might come up.


This bracelet has a lot of memories associated with it.

Do you think my professor should have let me turn in my paper late?

 * The name of my client has been changed to protect her privacy.
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