A student asked for a homework extension due to unforeseen circumstances in their personal life. I am generally accommodating about this type of thing if they come to me in a timely manner, but this student did not follow up until a week after the homework was originally due. (It is online homework, so I have to re-open the homework in order for them to work on it again.) I asked him to email me which sections he missed and he did not.

He spoke with me in person again two weeks later and again I told him that it was fine, but that he needed to email me right away and come to me in a timely manner about these types of things in the future, or else I would not be so accommodating. This was the end of the class week, so I was planning on giving him the weekend to work on these assignments and have him turn them in at the beginning of the next week.

However, he did not email me until the night before our class, so I would have to give him time this week to complete the assignments instead. At this point, the assignments were due over a month ago, so I am wondering if it is reasonable for me to tell him that he is no longer able to complete the assignment since he waited 4 more days to email me.

  • 5
    "I know you don't deserve an F, but it's the lowest grade we have."
    – Bob Brown
    Mar 6, 2019 at 3:45

3 Answers 3


This would, to me, seem to depend not on dates and length of delay, but on the reasons behind them. I can easily see deciding in either direction, based on what the student gives for an explanation.

Everything may be perfectly explainable, including not sending emails. Or you could decide that the student was just slacking. But base your decision on the reasons, as best you can determine them, not just the time factor.

  • This is a good point- I think it boils down to the time factor for me because the student does not have a good reason otherwise! Mar 5, 2019 at 17:16

The answer all depends on why the student was asking for an extension. Are they in and out because their parent is in the hospital, or were they just out with a cold the first time?

I do not think it's ever fair to email and say "you can no longer turn in this assignment," unless you have already given him a hard deadline. It sounds like you didn't explicitly say "Please let me know what sections you missed by Friday, and I will give you the weekend to turn in the assignment." Then you'd have a leg to stand on (lessons for next time!).

I would either a) tell him given the time that's elapsed, you'll drop the assignment for him, if your gradebook allows that; or b) give him a hard deadline, which could be quite short.

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    I don't think there would be a huge problem if, after an entire month, the instructor finally says "oh had you seriously still not done it? sorry but I need to hand out solutions so its too late now." Mar 5, 2019 at 18:00
  • @ASimpleAlgorithm That's fair enough. If solutions are typically handed out in this class; using that timeline as a deadline is reasonable. Again, depending on the reason, I'd still suggest option (a) to allow the class to move forward without penalizing some poor student who got caught in something unfortunate. Mar 5, 2019 at 18:02
  • I do not think it's ever fair to email and say "you can no longer turn in this assignment," unless you have already given him a hard deadline. — I completely agree with this sentence, which is why I always have hard deadlines and I never grant extensions. (I do, however, drop several homework grades, and in extenuating circumstances forgive homeworks beyond this drop budget.)
    – JeffE
    Mar 6, 2019 at 9:17

I have a late assignment policy in my syllabi that usually state something like "any late assignment will be penalized 10% of the total possible points every day it's late". Which means that after 10 days, the assignment is worthless points-wise.

With that said, I generally do grant extensions provided the student explains to me promptly why an assignment is late (via email or in person), and try to work out a reasonable new due date. I find that students who try to game this end up doing poorly anyway, either because they leave the assignment until the last minute, never turn the assignment in anyway, or this is the one assignment they do well on and do poorly on much of the other components of the course.

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