THE BLOG

Please, Stop at the Dog

03/11/2012 08:56 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2012
  • Jane Carlin and Barb Macke Director, Collins Memorial Library at the University of Puget Sound; Librarian Emerita, University of Cincinnati

Excuses.....

Please stop at the dog ate my paper.....

Excuses. We all get lazy from time to time, fail to do what we should, or simply forget to do the things that we don't like to do anyway. By the time one gets to college you would think that students would be prepared to skip the excuses, man-up and 'take their licks' when they haven't done the work they needed to do. We're always hoping to hear -- "I'm sorry, I failed to accomplish this task. I have no excuses, I just didn't want to do it, and so I didn't do it."

Wrong. You'll never hear this. Instead, the excuses just get better... more complex, more interesting, more intellectual...

Like this scenario recently overhead by Barb where a student loudly explaining to her professor that she had failed to study for the test because she had gone home over the weekend and her favorite dog had died.

The professor gave her a doubtful look, so she stumbled forward with the following information. Not only had her dog died, but on the very same weekend --

Her grandmother had gone into the hospital...
AND, her mom and dad told her they were getting a divorce...
AND, their internet service at home was cut off...

(dramatic pause, followed by large intake of breath)

AND, she decided to 'come out' to her parents
AND, they didn't take this news very well.

I give that professor a lot of credit. He was calm, controlled, empathetic but not overly so, and pretty much held his ground. He told the student that she could not retake the test but he would allow her to pursue an extra project in order to improve her GPA. The student thanked him profusely and backed out the door, relief written all over her face.

The professor turned to me, innocent bystander, unintentional eavesdropper, and said with a sigh,

"Really, she had me at the dog."