1. Are you sick? Everyone’s got a cold, it is final season after all, but are you sick enough physically to make it difficult to finish your work?
2. Okay, but can you handle it emotionally?
If you’re not sick enough physically for it to be a serious barrier, but you do not think you can deal with finals emotionally, especially on top of being tired/sore/headache-y/dead from the inevitable reading period illness, then you need to seriously consider asking for an extension. If you are not emotionally up to it, then you can’t expect yourself to do your best. If you think your professor will understand, and that you will profit from staying on campus to work on a paper longer, or finishing it at home, or taking the test next semester, then do what you have to do. Even if they don’t understand, if you’re approaching a breaking point, go to HUHS within 24 hours of the test/paper. Say it with me, you are more important than your assignments.
3. Have you asked for an extension before?
If you are one of those people who always asks for an extension, it may be harder to get one on this final paper (think of the boy who cried wolf). However, you probably know by this point which professors care deeply about sticking to deadlines and which are more flexible, so play it by ear.
4. Are your finals due the same day?
If your finals are due at the same time or you have back to back tests, and you do not think you will be able to prepare for both with the current schedule, ask your most understanding of the relevant professors if you could have an extension or take a later exam. It is easier with a paper to extend the due date, but it is also easier to prepare a paper in advance, so expressing valid concerns for rescheduling either have their challenges.
5. Are your books $40 and two days away?
If you are writing a research paper that needs some reinforcement, and the books that you think will help are not available on Hollis, Google Books, or Jstor, you can order the books (or have Harvard order the books) and ask your professor if you could have an extension until the books arrive so that you can write the strongest possible paper. It’s worth a shot.
6. Are you having family problems?
This kind of fits under the umbrella of emotional issues, but if you are feeling deeply impacted by your home life, you may need an extension. Consider if you think you can focus on work right now. Consider if your professor will understand the issue objectively, or if HUHS will recognize your emotional distress (they can also mandate that you get an extension). If you can get the work done, it’s better to do it than to put it off, as it accumulates over time, but if you are not mentally healthy, you should not push yourself farther than you can handle.