Back in the Jurassic, the only accepted way to get a makeup exam / extension on the paper’s due date — aside from being legitimately, documentably ill, of course — was to throw yourself on the prof’s mercy. Most profs were pretty understanding about this, because a) they’d been in college themselves, back when “going away to college” was a novel experience, not a pop culture template, and b) because “going away to college” wasn’t yet scripted, very few kids abused the system. Only someone who really was having a rough time would show up at office hours begging for an extension, and that unshaven tousle-haired pajama-wearing wraith who’d lost (or gained) thirty pounds over the course of the semester was his / her own justification.
But time marched on, and everyone got an email account, and now you can’t assign a throwaway quiz without getting five Dead Grandma Stories.
The interesting (=suicidally depressing) thing, though, isn’t the plague of grandparent mortality (note that the original “study” was done in 1990). It’s that in the majority of cases, the kid has no intention of actually doing the work, and everybody knows it.
Could this get worse? But of course:
Snowflakes are now bypassing us mere professors entirely, and going straight to the administration. If the Dean buys their sob story, he’ll order the registrar to let Snowflake take an incomplete in the class … which means I have to waste my Christmas / summer waiting for a final that we all know will never come, and do a bunch of paperwork when it doesn’t. Note that the Dean has every incentive to buy the sob story, and no incentive not to — the griping of mere profs over a bit of extra paperwork is nothing compared to the drop in revenue if Snowflake fails out. And it’s worse the higher you go up the academic food chain — state schools can afford to lose a few undergrad idiots, but when tuition is $50K/year? Fugheddaboudit. If you’ve ever wondered how privileged nitwits manage to stay in college for seven or eight years chasing their “gender studies” degrees, wonder no more.
Meanwhile, it takes two days (or longer) to get a plumber.