Ever since the COVID-19 Pandemic has forced UMass Boston to switch to virtual learning, overall class attendance has dropped. Students are now living at home, with new schedules, responsibilities, and a completely different mindset. As one sophomore put it, “It feels like we’re on summer vacation. How am I supposed to do advanced trig when my summer brain thinks all I should be doing is inventing new ways to suntan?” While there are many reasonable excuses for missing an online class, such as a health issue or urgent family responsibility, many students have been sleeping through or simply not attending their online classes and have no good reason. However, when it comes time to email their professors about their absence, the added anonymity of online settings make it easier than ever for students to get creative with their excuses for missing class. Here are some real examples of student’s excuses (made anonymous) from the past month that UMass Boston professors have personally emailed me:

  • “I missed the bus.” A classic excuse, but it seems as if this student forgot that UMass Boston is now operating solely online when he came up with this. When the professor replied, “Bus to where?” the student neglected to answer.

  • “My cat chewed through my Wi-Fi.” While this interesting excuse seems like the modern “my dog ate my homework,” the physics professor who received this excuse was not amused.

  • “A Zoom hacker stole my seat.” Luckily for this student who came up with this brilliant excuse, their professor had no idea that Zoom has limitless spots, and spent the next class lecturing about hacking and attempting to banish the nonexistent intruder.

  • “I lost track of time contemplating my existence in this strange new world.” While this excuse may not have worked with most professors, the philosophy professor who received it gave this student extra credit, noting “Contemplation is becoming a lost art, I must reward it when I see it.”

  • “My bed hair was too absolutely repulsive, and my crush is in your class. Please forgive me!”  This student needn't have worried, because her crush was also absent from online class that day, saying a Zoom hacker had stolen his seat.

  • “I’m so sorry for missing class, my smarter sibling forgot to do my homework for me. I couldn’t show up empty-handed.” This excuse perhaps should’ve stayed in the drafts.

  • “I’ll miss class on Wednesday. I have a feeling I’ll be sick.” The professor who received this excuse didn’t bother replying.

Perhaps it is getting easier to get away with missing class now that school has been switched online, but these excuses should be a good indicator that UMass Boston undergraduates need to get a little more intelligent if they’re going to skip school. A few reminders for students: Wi-Fi is intangible, you can always turn your camera off, there are no buses to Zoom class, and “A Zoom hacker stole my seat” will work as an excuse for professors who despise technology (in other words, all English professors). However, draft your excuses to computer science professors with care, because in all likelihood they can use an advanced program to detect that you were watching Jane the Virgin during their class time. On the other hand, there is not much need to be careful with philosophy professors, who will most likely happily accept the excuse of “My presence in a virtual class is simply a simulation of my presence, and no real indication that my conscience is engaged.” Email wisely, folks!

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