Tom Pryor gets in some last-minute studying for his general chemistry final at the Coors Events Center on Monday afternoon on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus.


    Madison Kittleson studies for her biochemistry final in the hallway outside Chem 140 on Monday.



The excuses used to be fairly simple and unoriginal: “The dog ate my homework,” or perhaps, “My grandma just died.”

But professors at the University of Colorado are hearing far more creative pleas these days from students angling to get out of taking, or at least delaying, their dreaded final exams.

Finding an excuse to reschedule a test — or even get out of one entirely — has become an art form. It takes talent, skills and planning to pull off a successful excuse during finals week, according to CU faculty members, who said they’re not as easily duped as students might think.

So with finals in full swing on the Boulder campus, we surveyed a few CU professors and instructors, as well as some students, about the most creative excuses they’ve encountered.


David Youkey

Philosophy professor

“Several years ago, a student told me he couldn’t make an exam because he had jury duty. Not long after he told me this, I was reading the ‘Police Beat’ in the Colorado Daily. This student of mine had been arrested for shooting a BB gun from his dorm at members of the marching band who were practicing outside his window. His court date was set for the day of our exam.

“That, apparently, was his ‘jury duty.’ By the way, it was an ethics class.”

Jordan Bailey

Women’s studies and political science major

“My Spanish teacher hands out the tests and we all begin to take the exams. All of a sudden this kid starts gagging and choking. Prof runs up to him and asks him if everything is all right, because we really thought he was going to boot. He lifts his head up, wipes a little drool from the corner of his lip and says, ‘I was just regurgitating my vocab.’

“Didn’t get him out of the test, but it was epic.”


Sandra Fish

Journalism instructor

“Probably a tie for the wackiest excuse to get out of a final exam. One semester, a student wanted to take it early to participate in an ultimate Frisbee tournament. Another time, a young woman had a debutante ball activity in another state on the same night. Had to say no to both. Students know when their finals are the first week of class — and they’ve got to plan accordingly. OK, so I’m old and mean!”


Tom Nelson

Finance professor

“My favorite is a student calling me on his cell phone during the final exam in Intro Finance, indicating he was locked in his apartment and couldn’t get out. Apparently the door latch mechanism failed and he couldn’t open the door from the inside! Anyway, he ultimately got out, arrived late, took the test and actually passed.”


Erica Edelberg

Psychology and anthropology major

“One of my roommates was going to (the) Coachella (music festival in California), and was going to have to miss a chem test. So she told the prof that she had to go to a wedding that they had already bought tickets to, and the teacher reluctantly agreed to let her take it a different time.

“And then like a week later, she realized that the day we had bought our tickets to leave for spring break was at the same time she had another chem test, so she had to go tell the teacher that she had to move that one, too. So the teacher was obviously already unhappy.

“A few weeks after we got back from spring break, she got mono, so the test she was supposed to move for Coachella, she ended up not being able to take at all.”


Jeanne Quinn

Art and art history professor

“I once had a student miss a final because he had to go buy a new car.”

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