In college, students have the independence to choose whether or not to attend class, but attendance is often made a portion of the final grade by professors. In some cases, professors only allow students to miss class without being penalized if they can prove that it should be an excused absence. In order to show that their absence was valid, whether for illness, a death or other important reasons, students send their professors emails detailing their excuse, good or bad. For some University of Rhode Island professors, it is hard to forget some of the craziest, worst and best excuses they have ever received from past students.

  • “My favorite cases of this sort are ones where I have actually believed the student’s account. For instance, a few years ago a young lady…who ultimately turned out to be the best student in her class – and one of my best ever in fact – reported missing the previous class meeting because her mom, a longtime animal lover … failed to put [the student] on the train for Kingston on time, after Ariana’s weekend visit home. Why, you ask? Because mom was busy rescuing cats!” – Philosophy professor
  • “My best/worst excuse story is about a student who claimed she missed class because her father died. I expressed my condolences and asked for the obituary (as outlined in my Syllabus), which was then e-mailed to me by the student. Next class I asked why the student’s name was not listed [as a surviving family member].  ‘Oh, Professor, I forgot to mention, it was my stepfather and we had a fight in the family about my name not appearing’ [said the student].  A tad suspicious at that point, I replied: ‘Thank you, I will call the widow.’ When I came home, I found a second e-mail with a statement that the student had sent me the wrong obituary and that the correct one was attached.  Again, the student’s name was not listed. Pretty strange, right?  So I checked the funeral home’s website and found out that the man had died several years back and that the student had changed the text, including one of her typical grammar mistakes: ‘XY died in his sleep.’” – English professor
  • “I’m a few years removed from teaching classes that had the worst offenders but I did have a student who had his grandmother die twice in a semester.” – English professor
  • “A student who failed each of the three previous exams did not take the final exam because she thought she was exempt.” – Animal science professor
  • “ I once had a student miss an exam because he was about to become a father.” – Journalism professor
  • “Recently, I received an especially vague excuse that’s worth noting, if only for its syntax. ‘Circumstances prevent me from being in class today,’ one student recently reported.” – English professor