How to Ask For an Extension on Your Paper

Uh-oh—there’s a 15 page paper due next week, and you haven’t even started it.And you have another paper due right around the same, and a test, and a job, and a life, and… oh my goodness, what are you going to do?Should you ask your professor for an extension?

Realistically, the answer to this question is usually NO, unless you have a really good reason.Professors don’t want to hear that you have papers due in other classes (unless one of them is a thesis or something really huge).They’ll tell you that you should have budgeted your time better, and ask why you came to her for an extension as opposed to the professor in the class with the other paper?

This may sound mean, but professors are busy people who don’t have time to read papers that are coming in at any given time.And learning how to meet deadlines really is crucially important.You’ll be doomed in the workforce if you don’t learn this skill now. So yes, it’s tough love.

So if you have to ask for a deadline, you’ve got a difficult task.Here are some tips that might make this task easier.

  1. Ask ahead of time. If you come to your teacher a month before your assignment is due and ask for an extension because you know you’re going to be overwhelmed, this conveys professionalism and maturity. Your professor just might budge.
  2. Let your professor know early on about possible conflicts. If there’s a reason you’re going to have trouble meeting deadlines–like childcare issues, or a learning disability, or an illness– let the professor know at the beginning of the semester. Again, this conveys professionalism.
  3. Be a good student. Student A is a slacker who comes about once every two weeks, text messages during class, never participates, and got a D on the midterm. Student B is the opposite. So which student do you think is more likely to get an extension?
  4. Ask nicely. This may sound obvious, but as a former professor, trust me–this is a lesson many students do need to learn! And you are not entitled to an extension–no matter how much you are paying for college.
  5. No crying. Or whining. Or sob stories, unless you have a really big problem.