How to Ask for an Extension on a College Paper

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The deadline for your college paper is fast approaching; perhaps a little too fast. You need to turn it in a little late, but you don't know how to ask for a paper extension in college. Follow these simple steps and give yourself the best shot possible.

Try to ask for the extension in person.

This may be impossible if you realize you need an extension at 2:00 a.m. on the morning the paper is due or if you're sick. However, asking your professor or teaching assistant for an extension in person is the best way to go. You can have more of a conversation about your situation than if you just left an email or voice mail message.

If you can't meet in person, send an email or leave a voice mail as soon as possible.

Asking for an extension after the deadline has passed is never a good idea. Get in touch with your professor or TA as soon as possible.

Explain your situation.

Try to focus on the following aspects of your situation: Make sure you're respectful of your professor's or TA's schedule and time. If you know he or she is going on vacation 5 days after the original due date, try to turn your paper in before he or she leaves (but with enough time for them to finish grading it before they depart).

  • Why do you need (vs. want) an extension?
  • What have you done so far? (Show you've at least made an effort instead of simply left the assignment to the last minute.)
  • What would you like your new deadline to be?

Have a back-up plan in case your extension isn't granted.

You may think your request is completely warranted; your professor or TA, however, may not. You may have to just suck it up and finish your assignment as soon as possible, even if it's not as good as you had hoped. It's better to finish a not-so-great paper than to not turn something in. If, however, you feel like your situation really warrants some understanding (because of a medical or family situation, for example), you can always talk to your dean of students for additional support. 

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Ask for an Extension on a College Paper." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2023, April 5). How to Ask for an Extension on a College Paper. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Ask for an Extension on a College Paper." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).