As part of my work as a graduate student in maths I currently teach a basic second semester calculus course. It seems like every semester I teach, one or two students want some sort of special privilege to turn in homework late for a month or take a test a week after they are supposed to. Many times they have somewhat legitimate reasons (documented depression, getting a divorce, wife having surgery.....). How should I handle these cases? I am not big into putting up with lots of late homework or late tests, but then again I would want someone to be lenient with me if things such as the parenthetical reasons above arose in my life.
How should I handle students with such situations? Should I write them off and just feed them to the dogs or should I allow them to catch up at their own pace? My honest opinion is that school is a sort of competitive game (Bad, yes, I know) and if they lose they lose. We do not shorten the football pitch because some club's striker is not a good runner. However, I think students should be allowed to have a chance to make things right.