The end of the semester is quickly approaching and if you’re up against the wall and running out of time with a college term paper you may be thinking about asking for a few extra days. Asking your professor or teaching assistant for a deadline extension can be challenging, but there are four things you can do to help get the extension you think you deserve.
1. Request the extension in person
As in all dealings with your professor or TA, you’ll get better results if you work in the world of face time. And we don’t mean through your iPhone. Real face time, the act of physically walking into an office and speaking with your professor or TA in person, will go a long way to helping you get your extension because you can have a conversation about it, which will encourage a discussion of your merits. Voicemail and emails are simply not as effective.
We know it can be hard for some college students to shine during an honest-to-goodness conversation these days since texting, messaging, and emailing dominate the way college students communicate, but you need to try. Not only will it show that you respect the professor or TA, it will show that you’re willing to make an effort to secure your extension.
2. Request the extension before the deadline arrives
Whatever you do, don’t try to sidle on into your professor’s office and ask for an extension after everyone else your class has already turned in their papers. Blowing a deadline and then asking for an extension isn’t going to cut it. If you’re responsible and diligent you’ll know beforehand that you’re not going to make the deadline for your paper. And that’s something your professor or TA will take into account when you come in and ask for an extension.
3. Prove you deserve an extension
Speaking of being responsible, if you want an extension you’re probably going to need to prove you deserve one. Make sure you discuss with your professor or TA the reason you need an extension, show that you’ve been making an effort and didn’t simply wait until the last minute, and suggest an actual date for your new deadline.
If you come to class every day, participate in lectures, know your subject, keep up with the assigned readings, and generally do a good job in college, especially when it comes to helping your professor or TA get to know you by your in-class effort, your chances of an extension are probably pretty good. But if you can’t manage to roll out of bed for class, don’t have much to say during lectures, don’t do well on tests or quizzes, and generally don’t contribute much to the class, your chances of being granted an extension aren’t so great.
You need to understand that you’re in college now. It’s supposed to be challenging. And you need to understand that your professor or TA sets deadlines for many reasons, including being able to grade papers in a timely manner. Professors and TAs have lives, too, and if you’re asking them to give up a few hours on their weekend to do a last-minute reading of your paper before semester grades are due, you had better be able to make a convincing argument as to why they should.
4. Suck it up if your extension is denied
Even if you think your extension request is perfectly reasonable, your professor or TA may not. You need to be prepared to suck it up and pound out the rest of your paper if the answer to your extension request is no. Even if you submit a paper that’s not as good as you would prefer, turning in a less-than perfect paper is way better than not turning in one at all. If you feel that you really deserve an extension or that your situation really merits some understanding, you can always appeal to a higher authority. Try to talk with your dean of students for some additional support for your cause.
Asking for an extension for a college paper can be an intimidating thing to do. But sometimes life happens and you simply have no other choice. If you make sure to ask in person before the deadline and prove your worth, you’ll maximize your chances to get some extra time to finish your paper.