Subsection 10.1.4 Asking for an Extension
One of the most common interactions that you may have with a professor that can still be difficult to navigate is asking for an extension on an assignment. This is difficult for a few reasons, but mostly it’s difficult because your perspective and the professor’s perspective can differ so much, and understanding these differences can help you ask for what you need in a more thoughtful (and hopefully, successful) way. First of all, you could have lots of reasons for asking for an extension. Maybe there was a family emergency. Maybe you have a lot of other work to do the same day. Maybe you’ve been stuck in bed sick. Maybe you just didn’t plan quite right and started too late. Often, asking for an extension is not planned, but happens as a panicked response to a scenario you didn’t want to be in in the first place. Professors know that there are good reasons to ask for an extension, but they’ve also heard a lot of not good reasons for asking for an extension.
What might feel catastrophic or unusual in your life is probably something that your professor has heard from another student before. They know that being a student is really tough and that life falls apart sometimes. Everyone gets sick and has to deal with emergencies sometimes. Getting an extension is often better than turning in a partially complete assignment, but when you ask for an extension, think about how what you say will come across to your professor. They’ve received too many emails that start with “Hey, I’m really really busy and I have a lot of work to do for my other classes, and I was hoping I could get an extension on your assignment.” They might believe and empathize with you, but because the assignment you’re falling behind on has probably been on their syllabus the entire semester, they’re just going to think that you planned poorly and now are asking them to accommodate that poor planning. So how should you ask?