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My Dog Ate My Homework And Other Excuses For Being Late

NYU students are paying more than the GDP of the South Asian country of Bhutan for a formal education. But what else do we learn in our time at NYU? We learn how to find good rosé for less than $9 and how to make a pack of cigarettes last three weeks. We learn to embrace the pain of walking through Washington Mews on icy days and the modern economic theory that a slice of pizza in Manhattan will often equal the subway fare. Our lives are soundtracked by Simon & Garfunkel as we struggle through finals in what seems like a show called“The Undergraduate: NYU.”

Above all else, we learn the proper time, place and purpose for excuses — why we couldn’t go to class, why we couldn’t finish that assignment and why we never even bought the textbook. Nothing flies off a 20-year-old’s tongue with more finesse than a polished excuse.

Writing the Essay professor Eric Ozawa said he’s received a wide array of eccentric excuses from his students.

“I’ve heard everything from a student helping his brother move to one discovering her apartment was infested with bed bugs, to the classic ‘I have an audition that I can’t miss,” Ozawa said.

Gallatin freshman Michael Manzi likes to go with the weirder, the more believable technique when it comes to outlandish excuses.  

Spanish professor Maria Lebedev reports having a student who claimed once a week for multiple weeks that she had broken different parts of her body and she even went so far as to come to class in fake casts.

Nursing senior Megan Salvato doesn’t consider herself a creative person, so she sticks to the classic excuses that are hard to prove false.

“I mostly use the ‘I’m sick’ excuse or ‘I had to work,’” Salvato said. “Once I lied to a teacher that I went to class but I really didn’t and it worked.”

CAS sophomore Lourania Oliver likes put a twist on the sick excuse that teachers don’t question.

“I say I’m having really bad menstrual days when I don’t actually have my period,” Oliver said.

Last semester, Tandon graduate student Devon Powell really wanted to go to NYU’s Flurry event, but he had class.

“I told my teacher I had to work on my research and that I work best from home,” Powell said. “I almost got caught though when [WSN] interviewed me at the event.”

Some students forgo the excuses completely. Environment and Society professor David Kanter recounts being in a bar late and seeing his student come in. The next morning in class the student didn’t show up. The student, however, didn’t send an email nor did he attempt to explain his absence. The question on everyone’s mind has finally been answered: onecan be too hungover to even feign an illness or bereavement over the death of a beloved pet.

From pretending to be Jewish for an entire semester in order to miss class on the Jewish holidays to forging a death in the family to go to Coachella, professors have pretty much heard it all. Based on the attitudes of most of the professors asked — regardless of intention or goodwill, or if the tall tale was told with bravado or blasé indifference — excuses always seem to fall flat. If there’s one thing we should hope to get out of our systems before graduation, let it be our terrible excuses.

Email Kate Holland at [email protected]

By Megan Boris

Recently, I came across an article titled “The Dog Ate My Homework and Other Lame Excuses” by Jack Lemkuil. In this article, the author claims, the average teacher hears approximately four excuses each day from grade school students explaining why they did not do their homework. Surprisingly, I hear upwards of ten to twenty excuses per day from parents who are considering going back to school themselves.

My role as an Enrollment Coach is not only to assist students with the administrative task of enrolling in college, but also to help adult learners overcome obstacles preventing them from achieving their educational goals.

There is a fine line between reasons and excuses, but when it comes to bettering yourself, any “reason” not to get started is usually just an excuse! Below is a list of excuses students share with me on a daily basis as well as some follow-up questions or statements I use to help work through those situations. Luckily, at Indiana Wesleyan, our adult and graduate programs were designed to be excuse busters. We have been around since 1985 fine-tuning each element to best suit our busy working adults.


The most frequent excuse I hear is easily “I don’t have time.” This can take on many different forms and is often the biggest factor keeping adult students from earning their degrees.

I am working too much overtime or multiple jobs.
Could earning your degree help advance your career, which could essentially lead to fewer hours?

I have a project right now at work that is taking up too much time.
How long will the project last? Will there be another project right after that to take up your time? Will work ever really “slow down”?

I need to plan first, get some things figured out.
How long does that take? How long have you been thinking about going to school? How long have you put it off?


Money can be hard to talk about with other adults. We’ve all been in the position where it seems like we just can’t afford one more thing, and it’s hard to think about the big picture when bills are piling up. Sometimes we need to think about the how we can get ourselves to a different place and what kind of sacrifices that will take.

I don’t want to get into debt.
Many students qualify for government grants, tuition reimbursement, or have military benefits to help pay for schools. Those who need to take on loans often see a return on investment soon after graduation.

I can’t afford any upfront costs.
At IWU, your application is free, books are included in the curriculum, and registration fees can be rolled into your financial aid. Plus, any repayments will be deferred until 6 months after graduation and you won’t have to pay your current loans while you are enrolled in school.

I want to find a job first.
If there are no upfront costs, why not start school now while you have more time on your hands? This is no doubt a challenging situation, but it could be just the change that is needed at the time it is needed most.


Family situations can certainly add complication to a person’s life, however it is not something that should hold you back from earning your degree.

I want to wait until my kids get older.
You can be a perfect example for your children. Show them how important education is in setting a person up for success.

My kids are involved in too many activities at this time.
Will there ever be a better time? How can you tell your kids to reach for their goals if you keep putting off your own?


Age is another popular excuse students give during the enrollment process.

I am too old to start a program.
How many working years do you have left? What about after retirement? Will you want to try something new?

I don’t think anyone will hire me once I graduate.
The working world has changed. People don’t stay at the same company their whole lives any more. You might be surprised by how a degree can make you more marketable.

It’s been too long since I was a student.
You will likely be just like many of our other students who have not been in school for many years. It’s never too late to learn something new!

Fear/Cold Feet/Special Circumstances

Once we get through the basic obstacles like time and money, there are the not-so-verbalized excuses that generally boil down to fear, or cold feet.

It’s just too soon.
There is no time like right now! The sooner you start the sooner you graduate.

I’m not mentally prepared.
What will it take to get you there? We have many resources that can help you get ready.

I’m getting ready to move.
The act of moving typically takes place in a week or two and it is not something that can’t be done while a student.

I’m going through a divorce/separation.
Starting a degree can often boost a person’s confidence and help them feel better about themselves in difficult times.

Ultimately, the decision to return to school comes down to priorities; we find time and resources for the things that we consider priorities in our life. IWU Adult and Graduate Programs are designed with busy, working adults in mind, and the time and energy it takes to complete a degree may be less than you think. Read about how IWU’s format addresses the time concern.

By the numbers:

168hrs in a week – 40 (work) – 56 (sleep) = 72 hrs each week that you are awake and not working.

If you take just 15 to 20 of those hours to dedicate to school, you can have your degree in as little as two years!