As my students begin to have graded assignments to be turned in (by a specified date and time), the e-mails come trickling in. “Oh, I had computer problems.” “Professor, I forgot to turn in my assignment until 20 minutes after the deadline!” or, my current favorite, “I don’t normally turn things in late. This is so unlike me. Won’t you take the assignment even though it’s an hour late?”

Truly, I do not understand this. We talked through the syllabus on the first day of class. In bold letters is the following statement, “I do NOT accept late assignments without prior approval from me.” I’d think most reasonable people would take this to mean that if you approach me before the deadline, provide a legitimate excuse, and receive my approval (in that order), turning in late assignments is kosher. Anything else just won’t cut it. Apparently this isn’t the case.

I’m not sure how this was at all ambiguous, but apparently everyone is an exception. Frankly, it would be a refreshing experience for me to get an e-mail in which the student acknowledges that it’s late, takes responsibility for his/her choices, promises to do better, and doesn’t beg for points. Not holding my breath for that one.