As a humanities major, I infrequently have to deal with the
mental and emotional Olympics that may characterize an exam, and to rub it in a
little more, I have never taken a night exam in my life. On the flip side, I
almost didn’t graduate because of lack of NS courses, and I do have to write a
ton of papers that often overlap in due dates. So, for those of you out there who
do not understand Kit Mao jokes, or who actually have to prove that you can
write coherently, here are a few tips for paper extension etiquette.

1. When To Ask

Asking for a paper extension may be one of the scariest
things to go through in college. I had a zero-tolerance extension asking policy
freshman year because to me, asking for an extension is like admitting all of
my weaknesses really exist (procrastination, laziness, poor time management
skills), and, even worse, have a definitive impact on my life. Also, I was
young and stupid. But then my procrastination and inherently lazy personality
forced me to question my unyielding standing. What I came up with is that there
are two times when it is appropriate to ask for an extension.

Time #1: The “Death Sentence”

Guys, I mean death sentence metaphorically. I mean that you
have so much other work due during a certain time period, say, two exams, one
project, and another paper all due the same week, that you have determined
(using the scientific method, obvi) that it would be physically impossible to
complete all of your assignments on time without a) increasing the number of
hours in a day, or b) maintaining zombie-like alertness for a week straight,
i.e., never sleep.

Time #2: The “I Have a Life and School is Making it

This instance applies to when you have some sort of
engagement, say, wedding, bar-mitzvah, funeral, sporting event (of which you
are an athlete), court trial, etc., right before a paper is due that would make
finishing it up on time quite challenging. I find that sometimes time #2 has
less merit for an extension than time #1, but it still warrants the question.

2. How To Ask

a) In Person

It’s probably most professional to ask a professor for an
extension in person, but do not fret! It is actually to your advantage to
appear in front of them, pouty faced with the perfect combination of modesty
and placating. They will probably also find you more sincere””bonus points.

b) Via Email

Easier than asking in person for sure, this method also
allows you to spend hours constructing the perfect way to phrase your request.
I’d keep open as an aid.

Applicable to both methods: In cases of Time #1, I would
recommend stressing your lack of control over those pesky syllabi of other
professors. If you’re lucky, a professor will latch onto the insensitivity of
others of their kind.

In cases of Time #2, I would
recommend stressing the significance of the event you cannot miss, and how it
would distract you from doing your best work. See how considerate you can be?

The results will be one of the following:

You get the extension.

You don’t.

If all else fails, you could always try the doctor’s note
for malaria trick. 60% of the time, it works every time.