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The Best Way To Ask For An Extension On An Assignment

Sometimes, life gets pretty stressful with assignments on top of other priorities, especially with the current state of world affairs. It’s easy to bog yourself down with responsibilities, which can affect your mental health and leave you with a looming deadline and last-minute panic over failing a paper because you turned it in late. Instead of trying to get things done all at once, maybe it’s best to ask for an extension on one of your due dates.

Extensions can only be beneficial to your workload and mental health and are, at times, necessary for students to perform their absolute best. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by just about everything going on right now, whether due to illness or general college stress, it might be time to bite the bullet and ask. You might be asking yourself how to send that dreaded email to your professor, or what counts as a good excuse in the first place. We’ve got you covered — here’s how to ask for an extension on an assignment, according to college professors, and an example email template if you need a bit more help with wording your request.

When You Should Ask For An Extension

The idea of being unable to submit every one of your assignments on time may be nerve-racking, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing to ask for an extension. Maybe you’ve realized you have an essay due in every class on the same day. Maybe you’re just trying to spice up your final report so it’s the best it can be! Shawn Kildea, an assistant professor of communication at Rider University, says that students can ask for an extension if they want to add a few elements to their project to improve it as a whole.

“If a student is working on a project and makes it clear that by having more time they can dramatically improve the piece by adding an element they can’t capture in the deadline time frame, I’ll usually offer an extension,” he says.

It’s also worth asking for an extension on an assignment if you are struggling with unclear directions, or if you don’t have the sufficient resources to complete the assignment. This could be affecting the entire class, so expressing your concerns to your professor may be the best way to go. “I will extend a deadline if I believe that my directions were unclear or if the deadline proves too unrealistic, or if a majority of the class appears to be struggling,” says Jason Method, a journalism instructor at Rider University.


It may prove to be an advantage if you are studious and hardworking when it comes to a deadline extension. “If a student has been doing their homework and doing well on tests or quizzes, then if they ask for an extension and offer a decent reason, I’m inclined to listen,” Method says.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when you’re planning on asking for an extension is that you shouldn’t wait until the very last minute to do so! It will look as if you’ve procrastinated, which won’t leave a good impression on your professors (or one day, on your employers).

“I always tell my students that I almost never grant a last-minute extension request,” says Barry Janes, a communications professor at Rider University. “If they ask earlier, it shows that the assignment is on their minds, and whatever concerns or problems they are having seem more legitimate.”

If you establish early on that more time for your assignment is going to be necessary, ask as soon as possible. Then, explain to your professor what that additional time will help you to accomplish. It may feel like you’re failing in your responsibilities by needing to ask for more time, but if you approach it in a mature way, professors are going to be inclined to listen. 

How To Ask For An Extension

Even if you’re ready to request an extension, you may still be at a loss as to what to say. An email to your professor is probably your best bet. Be polite, explain that you’re requesting an extension, give your reason why, and offer your proposed new deadline. Short and sweet is perfect; no need to try to embellish! 

Still not sure what to say? Give this a try:

Dear Professor ________,

I’ve been having a hard time linking up with my final source for my term paper, and in order for it to be the best it can be, I could really use a little extra time to have the chance to speak with her and incorporate her quotes. Would it be possible to have an extension through the weekend, and turn it in on Monday instead of Friday?

Please let me know if you would like me to meet with you during your office hours to discuss this further.


[Your name] 

It’s no fun to burn out and exhaust yourself mentally as you try to get all of your work done. Asking for an extension may seem scary, but it’s a whole lot better than failing the assignment — or the class altogether! And hey, the worst that your professor can say is no. Either way, it’s worth a try!

J'na Jefferson is a Journalism major and Radio/Television minor at Rider University, and yes, that's an apostrophe in her name.Outside of being a writer for Rider's on-campus newspaper and a personality on the school's television network, this Jersey Shore native writes for other online publications and her personal blog, JibJabble. Her writing has also been featured on the popular website, CollegeHumor. She is also an avid dancer and choreographer who creates pieces for her school's dance ensemble. Her dream in life is to become a comedy writer for television, and to one day have the chance to have her own late night show. Her hobbies include reminiscing about the 1990's, eating fried food, and sobbing uncontrollably because she isn't Beyoncé. Feel free to read some of her one-liners by following her Twitter- @JnaJefferson.