Part 10: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time - The Car File
College professors from around the country have offered the most outrageous excuses their students have given for missing a class, a test, or an assignment. Here are the best ones concerning car issues students have experienced that have prevented them from attending.
As an overview, this article is part of a series (Overview: The Best (Really Worst) College Student Excuses of All Time - Introduction to the Article Series), exploring what excuses college students have offered to explain an absence, a missed exam, a paper or project being late, etc. All of these excuses have been collected from this author’s contemporaries - professors and instructors at colleges and universities all across America. As such, it is a “crowdsourced” piece, and I owe them my gratitude for sharing their “best” excuses - which in reality means the “worst” - from their students over the years that provided the basis for this article series. And in all of these articles, each of which deals with a different “origin area” for student excuses, from health to tech to social to pets and more, we not only see excuses that make us laugh, but we also see some that could make you cry, as there are also stories of students who “went the extra mile” and persevered over the unique obstacles they might have faced in their lives to succeed in school (A complete list of the articles in the series with links to them is provided at the end of this article.)
In this article in the series exploring college student excuses, we look at how car issues come into play, both real and imagined, in causing students to miss a class, a test, or a paper/project submission deadline. So, without further ado, let’s open the car file, and see how car issues, some not so serious and some deadly serious, have served as excuses for college students over the years.
To begin with, while we may laugh at some of the car-related student excuses reported by my contemporaries from across the country, some can - and are - life-threatening situations. To illustrate this fact, let’s begin with a story related by an anonymous colleague from a much colder climate than my own. He responded to my call for student excuses with a car-related story from his own college days - and he was indeed lucky to be alive to do so:
“This is my own story. As an undergrad, I got hit by my own car after putting the car in park to retrieve mail from the mailbox. Car slipped into reverse, so I chased it down. I got hit by the door twice when trying to jump into the moving vehicle. Knocked me down and then hit me in the head when I bounced up. No worries though, just a concussion and I was able to jump up again to stop my car before it made it to my grandma’s in-ground pool. My professor’s mouth gaped wide open as I told the story.”
Now students have used car-related excuses that span the gamut from comical to deadly serious (and yes, sometimes they have been known to lie about their car issues):
“I once had a student tell me she was so exhausted from car shopping all day that she could not take the final exam.”
“Years ago, a student emailed me to let me know they’d be absent because their car windshield had ice on it and they lost their snow brush. It snowed less than an inch the night before. In NE Ohio!”
Student wrote me an email about his absence: “...Not my fault! My car was towed (with my blue book inside) because I accidentally left it in a ‘no parking’ zone when I was doing the responsible thing by NOT driving home drunk the night before.”
Car accidents are an unfortunate matter, but sometimes students may try to make-up a car wreck excuse...
“A colleague's student notified them that they'd been in a car accident. They sent photos as proof. The colleague thought the photos looked weird and just Googled ‘car wreck’ on a whim, and the student's 'proof' were the first photos that came up in the search.”
Sadly of course, many times, the accidents are all too real...
“Final exam, in-person. At the start of the period about 2/3 of the students I expected were there... the rest dribbled in over about 10 minutes, noting there was a car accident blocking traffic. The last student came in and told me about the car accident he’d just been in on the way into campus.”
“I will say I once had a student apologize for being late to class. He waited until after he turned in his midterm to tell me he'd been in a car accident and was trying to find a doctor's appointment for after my class. I begged him to please email me after he'd been to urgent care. He did *not* look okay.”
And yes, sometimes the truth about the accident - or accidents - is stranger than any fiction one could write:
“Had a student miss class because he hit a deer on the way to campus. Missed the next class because he needed to get a rental car, having totaled his by hitting the deer, and had to find someone to rent it for him because he was under 25. Missed the third class because he hit a deer in the rental. All documented. All true. Told him he should buy an orange car moving forward.”
And finally, sadly in the age in which we live, students sometimes find themselves being car theft/carjacking victims, and such stories can be truly horrifying:
“A student once told me they could not submit their final project, as their car had been stolen that morning while at the gas station. The next day they arrived with a police report and photos of the burned car with the charred project visible in the trunk. Yup - excuse accepted!”
“Student missed a stats exam because they had recently been carjacked and forced at gunpoint to drive around to different ATMs and empty their bank accounts, at the end of which and for good measure they took their car containing their notes and stats book. Confirmed with police investigating the case.”
Now while we may laugh at some of these excuses for their statistical unlikelihood and their absurdity, there are also excuses that are both absolutely true and in many cases, positively inspiring. So, almost every one of the articles in this series on student excuses will conclude with one or more stories submitted by professors across America of students who overcame adversity in dealing with their personal issues. And so, we will wrap-up this article where we have indeed had some fun looking at the excuses submitted by college faculty on how some students have used car issues as an excuse with a reminder of how others have overcome their circumstances to succeed in their college work and displayed qualities that will likely serve them very well in their careers and futures.
And so in dealing with such car issues, here’s a final excuse submitted by a colleague that exemplifies how some students will persevere, no matter their circumstances:
“One semester, I had only one student in a class that had a job off campus. Although this student lived on campus, they commuted 25 minutes twice a day, in the morning for a few hours before class and again after. One day this student learned how to change a flat tire, on the side of the interstate, from watching YouTube... and still made it to class. They walked in about halfway through, quietly took a seat, and engaged in class without any sort of disruption.”
The Article Series
If you enjoyed reading this article on the best excuses offered by college students regarding legal issues, please check out the other articles in the series exploring a whole host of other “causations” of absences, missed tests, late projects, etc. It’s all offered in a good spirit, and I hope you will check them out for yourself and perhaps share with your colleagues - and maybe even your students!
Enjoy this article - or these articles? Please buy Professor Wyld's ebook - The Handbook of College Student Excuses - that compiles all of these excuses in one place - for yourself, for a college student you know (or parent), or for a college faculty member. It is a great, fun read, and makes a great gift! Get it today from Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1073655) or on Amazon (https://amzn.to/3rM5IXZ). You can also view the college student "Excuse of the Day" on Dr. Wyld's blog at http://www.collegestudentexcuses.com/the-best-excuse-of-the-day/.
About David Wyld
David Wyld is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness.
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