How to Skillfully and Successfully Ask for Deadline Extensions

author By Mary Boies

Most professors set a strict immovable deadline when they give an assignment. The purpose of doing this is to ensure students know that they have to deliver the assignment by a specific date and that under no circumstances will the deadline be changed.

Deadline Extension Request success

So when you get an assignment and for some reason you know you cannot deliver it on time, you should know you are in a bit of a quagmire. However, while your situation may seem dire, do not fret because there is something you can do about it. Asking for leniency for late submission will ensure your marks remain intact only if you have a convincing reason.

Many students do not know it is okay to ask for a deadline extension. The only thing that is not okay is making a habit of it. In this post, we will reveal the strategies to follow when writing an email to your professor requesting an extension. These strategies will significantly increase your chances of getting a deadline extension.

Deadline Extensions and How to Succeed in asking for them

Asking for an extension is never easy. You can simply bring in excuses but framing them in a way that convinces your professor, instructor, or teacher can be challenging. Sometimes writing an extension email request to the professor can stress you out.

On the other hand, you might not know what to say in your call or email, so your deadline extension request can be granted. When you juggle between work and studies, or when something comes up (an emergency or not, but essential and unavoidable), you can use extensions as a chance to submit your assignments, coursework, or essays later with a guarantee of marks not being deducted for lateness.

Nevertheless, you have to be strategic and persuasive in your request. You are not alone either; many other students ask for extensions, and while sometimes they are granted, other times they are turned down but with a reason. Sometimes, asking for an extension can lead to a penalty or grade/marks deduction. If you want to succeed with extension requests, follow the strategies we outline below. They are secrets shared by top professors and teachers, who have been gracious enough to understand and grant extensions over the past decades.

1. Ask for a deadline extension in person

Before you think of typing a deadline extension request email to your professor, you should try to find your professor and ask them for the extension in person. If you have a legitimate reason why you have not completed the assignment or why you will not by the deadline, asking for an extension in person will almost always work.

It will almost always work because when you go talk to your professor, it humanizes you. It tells your professor that you are genuinely concerned about the assignment and what you will get. It sends a much better message than a generic deadline extension request email sent on the last day.

Your professor can't refuse to give you a deadline extension if you ask them in person. In contrast, it is much easier for them to say no to an email.

When you decide to ask your professor for an extension in person, you should not forget two things – an extension request form and evidence.

In many higher learning institutions, you have to present an official deadline extension request form to your professor to get a deadline extension. So make sure you download the form and print it.

If you have evidence explaining why you cannot complete the assignment on time (e.g., a sick note from your doctor), you should carry it with you. It will help you to make a strong case for a deadline extension. If you have already done some of the work relating to the assignment, you should also print the work and carry it with you to your professor. It can help to convince your professor that you are not a lazy student who didn't prioritize their schoolwork.

When you get to your professor, be humble and respectful. Humility and respect will go a long way to approving your deadline extension request.

2. Ask for an extension early

Make sure you do it early if you want to ask for an extension in person or via email. Do it as soon as you know you will not submit the assignment before the deadline.

Asking for an extension early signifies to your professor that you planned to complete your assignment early, but something unavoidable arose to prevent you from completing it.

In contrast, asking for an extension late signifies to your professor that you weren't thinking about completing your assignment early enough. It also suggests that you are a lazy student that doesn't prioritize classwork.

Ideally, you should ask for a deadline extension three days before the deadline. Anything less than three days to the deadline will signify panic and laziness, especially if you do not have a solid reason to ask for an extension.

College life is usually hectic. There is generally so little time to do everything at a leisurely pace, especially near the business end of a semester. Therefore, even when you plan to start and complete an assignment on time, you can forget about it until the last minute or not find enough time to complete it in the last few days.

Because of this, it is important to start working on your college assignments just one or two days after they are assigned to you. This will give you ample time to complete and revise them. It will also give you ample time to ask for an extension should something very important arise.

Remember, professors are human, just like you. Therefore, if you have a legitimate excuse for an extension (e.g., a pregnancy, a funeral to attend, a pre-booked surgery, or an urgent family matter), your request for an extension is highly likely to be granted as long as you make it early enough.

3. Show Care and Concern

When you contact your professor for an extension, either in person or by email, you need to make them believe you care about your grade. Because if you don't, you will be in big trouble.

When your professor receives a deadline extension request, they will think one of two things. Either your request is genuine and deserves to be granted, or it is not genuine and hence does not deserve to be granted.

Therefore, when writing a request for a deadline extension, your job should be to convince them that your request is genuine and deserves to be granted. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, it can be done, and the best way to do it is to let your instructor know you care about the course and the grade you will get.

Tell them why the course is important to you and why you would really like to get a good grade. Layout the reasons you are requesting a deadline extension and how it will benefit you. Let your professor know you are ready to do an alternative assignment or deliver the assignment on a particular date.  

By telling your professor all the above in your deadline extension request, you will make it more believable, and your request will likely be granted.

If your deadline extension request is generic, too short, or too bland, it is unlikely to be granted. This is because your professor will find it difficult to believe.

4. Consult your university policy on deadline extensions

Somewhere in your university's policy document, you will find its extension policy. Virtually every university in the United States has an extension policy. The policy defines an extension, who qualifies for an extension, and so on.

By consulting your university's extension policy, you will quickly know if you qualify for an extension under its terms. If you are eligible for an extension, you should print out the section and respectfully point it out to your professor in your deadline extension email or when you ask them for an extension face to face.

The critical point you need to remember when pointing out your university's extension policy to your professor is to be respectful. You do not want to appear insisting on being granted an extension.

You just want to appear as if you are suggesting getting an extension based on the terms in the policy. This will make it easier for your professor just to approve your deadline extension request.

Most professors find it difficult to deny an extension to a student who has made their case correctly. And one of the ways to make your case for an extension is to look at what the official policy on extensions says and share that with your professor.

If your university does not have a general deadline extension policy for assignments, it probably allows your professors to decide what to do if an assignment is late. So if you cannot find a general deadline extension policy for assignments, you should consider looking at your module guide, course handbook, or course overview.

5. Propose a new deadline

One of the best ways to increase your likelihood of getting a deadline extension when you ask for it is to propose a new date when you will deliver it.

Letting your professor know that you intend to complete the assignment perhaps two or three days after the deadline will do two things.

First, it will tell your professor you have probably already done some work relating to the assignment. This is because there is no way you will propose a 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day extension if you've not already done some work.

Second, it will tell your professor you are not a lazy student but a proactive student. Professors like students who take the initiative. Students who think on their feet. Hence, suggesting a new deadline will make you look good and strengthen your deadline extension request.

When you propose a new deadline, ensure you have enough time to finish the assignment before the deadline. You will undoubtedly be penalized if you set a new deadline and do not deliver the assignment within that deadline.

When your professor receives a deadline extension request in which they see you suggesting a new deadline, they will most likely approve it or give you a deadline of their own.

6. Offer evidence to make your request stronger

When requesting a deadline extension, there is no better way to do it than to offer evidence. Offering evidence could be the difference between your request being granted and your request is denied.

Students frequently ask for a deadline extension because they are sick. If the reason why you are asking for a deadline extension is that you are sick, get a doctor's certificate or sick note. Take this with you when you ask for an extension in person or attach it to your deadline extension email. No professor will insist you deliver an assignment by a specific date when you are sick.

If you ask for an extension because your computer has issues, take it to a reputable repair shop and get a receipt. Attaching this receipt as evidence will definitely make your deadline extension request stronger.

If you work and you are asking for an extension because you have been so busy lately, ask your supervisor for a letter. Attach the letter to your deadline extension request to enhance it. It will undoubtedly make your request stronger.

Lastly, if you are asking for an extension because of some natural disaster, feel free to attach screenshots of the same online news reports. Then, explain them (the screenshots) in your deadline extension request email as the reason why you need an extension. Again, there is no harm in doing this.

In short, any kind of evidence that will help your case is good enough to use.

7. Attach what you have already done

There is no better way to make your case for a deadline extension than to attach the work you have already done. As mentioned before, professors are human. Therefore, attaching the part of your assignment you have already researched or written will help make your deadline extension request stronger. In addition, doing so will tell your professor that you have already made a reasonable effort toward completing the assignment.

Showing your professor that you have already done something is like going into a negotiation with something to offer. First, it increases your chances of getting an agreement in the negotiations.

If you are sending your deadline extension request via mail, attach a word document showing the work you've already done and explain it in your email. Explain why you have not already completed the remaining part in your email.

If you are going to ask for an extension in person, print the part you have already done and show it to your professor as evidence of the effort you've already put in so far.

8. Visit your professor with a list of questions

One of the most exciting ways to ask for a deadline extension is to visit your professor during office hours with a list of questions pertaining to your assignment. The questions should relate to how to do the assignment, the research, and your thesis. Of course, make sure the questions are very relevant to the assignment, and they are not questions you can easily answer on your own.

Once you ask your questions and get the clarity you need, ask for an extension. Tell your professor that there is something you have just noticed in the answers they have given that will make you need a bit more time to complete your assignment. Of course, your professor most likely figures out what you are doing, but they will approve your extension request anyway because of the effort you've just put in.

9. Be professional and respectful

When asking for a deadline extension, whether in-person or via email, ensure you are as professional and respectful as possible. If you are doing it via email, ensure your email is formatted correctly, and your language and tone are formal. Similarly, if you want to do it in person, ensure you address your professors with the respect they deserve. Show respect and humility in your request, and you will most likely get it approved.

If you don't show respect or your email is very casual, your extension request will most likely not be granted.

10. Consider asking for an extension as a class

If your class is being swamped by assignments that all have to be delivered within a short time, you should consider asking for an extension as a class. Talk to your coursemates about it and raise the issue at the end of the lecture.

You will get a deadline extension if you ask for it as a class. This is because asking for an extension as a class means your professor doesn't have to think about your character or whether your excuse is good enough as an individual.

They have to confirm if you guys have an assignment glut, and they will most likely suggest and set a new deadline.

Final words

Getting a deadline extension is not an easy task. You are asking for more time to complete an assignment, essay, or coursework because something came up, you forgot about it, or you did not have the morale to write it. Whatever the case, know that you are not alone. Students asking for an extension is not a new thing. Professors, teachers, and lecturers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other parts of the world always acknowledge receiving deadline extension requests.

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You can fear expressing yourself to a professor through an email for an extension. However, if you have a good reason why you cannot submit your assignment before a deadline, there is no harm in asking your professor for a deadline extension face-to-face or via email.

All you need to do is to follow the tips above to make your request more likely to be granted. Alternatively, use our homework help services to beat the deadlines. Even if you have an urgent deadline for writing help request, we have fast writers who will assist you and deliver on time.

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