Credit: AJ Duncan

To extend or not to extend?

By Marcus Hyka

What are the benefits of extensions, and why do we as students feel shame around requesting them?

There are a vast array of commodities I relish as a student. Cheap drinks, free entry, perhaps a booth in the library if I’m feeling particularly studious. One overlooked artifact of student life, however, is the assignment extension. It’s free, accessible, and a lifeline should you ever need one. Oftentimes, all it takes is a simple email. Straightforward as this seems, there is indeed a toll to be paid for such a relic – not literally but mentally. Yes, the assignment extension appears to be accompanied by a price tag of shame. A price tag that does not merit its own existence.

Having moved house a worrying number of times in the past year, I am no stranger to both assignment extensions and crippling stress. With so much of my life dedicated to home-related errands, I found my time-management skills taking a fair hit. Last March, as deadlines loomed, I decided to put on my proactive cap and seek help, panic-sending two assignment request forms over to my course conveners. When checking my emails, I thankfully discovered that every request had birthed five extra working days (seven days overall) to complete the coursework. Upon reflection, it’s evident that my grades improved as my anxiety levels decreased. To this, I attribute the borrowed time, which enabled me to simultaneously navigate my pedagogical and personal spheres. 

I’ve come to realise that if someone is seeking an extension in the first place, they are first and foremost seeking out help. An assignment extension levels the playing field and increases equity for all. They are not a “cop-out” from hard work or a decisive advantage. Instead, they signify an opportunity to take control over your studies, time, and well-being, allowing you to maximise your potential.

“An assignment extension levels the playing field and increases equity for all. They are not a ‘cop-out’ from hard work or a decisive advantage.”

Undoubtedly, the stigma around extensions hails from their conflation with laziness. A common misconception is that blended learning makes assignments easier to complete, and therefore extensions should now be defunct. In actuality, being housebound presents one with too much demotivation, procrastination and stress to manage. The cure for this academic malady: the extension, of course. 

Another idea frequently circulating the student zeitgeist is that it’s simply better to do an assignment the good old-fashioned, time-constrained way (to keep one’s pride and dignity). Think about that, though: why should someone in need of assistance not receive assistance? In the past, the subtle disdain and patronisation students have for extensions actually deterred me from applying when I was in dire need of one, in turn impacting my learning. We all manage our crises differently. One person may need to request an extension, whilst another person suffering may not feel the urge to apply. What’s important is that we as bystanders don’t attach value to anyone’s decision.  

Before applying for an extension, it’s crucial to be wary of one overlooked pitfall. Inevitably, extending the workload duration for one course has a knock-on impact on other subjects, leading to further time-management problems and further extensions. Similarly, extensions don’t necessarily guarantee better grades or a higher quality of work. They may even exacerbate procrastination, so be sure to tread with caution. 

Assignments are daunting regardless of the deadline, but this fearfulness is only heightened by our current world operating via such rapid fluctuations. Please try not to feel wrong about any extension enquiries. Have patience with yourself and know that your mental well-being is worth more than a grade. Remember when Turnitin is said and done, every assignment is submitted in the end, extended deadline or not.


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