But a student named Rachel Harriman at Ohio State University took a different approach: brutal honesty.
When she couldn't get an assignment done because she went through a breakup the night before it was due, she bashfully told her professor the whole story.
Then she shared the email on Twitter.
I am so sorry for how late I am submitting this synopsis," she wrote. "My boyfriend unexpectedly broke up with me yesterday evening and I was a complete, unfocused mess who did not account for such a time consuming hiccup to affect my Sunday productivity. This will obviously not happen again, as I am no longer 'in a relationship' and will have no one to break up with me next Sunday.
The tweet went viral and lots of people are tweeting support and encouragement. Although it seems like most just want to be her new boyfriend.
And at least one person is willing to help her get payback against her ex.
This guy thinks she could make a career out of excuse-making.
But the best part of this story is the professor's reply, which Harriman shared with Buzzfeed:
"Dear Rachel," he wrote. "Well, life happens. Seems like a good time to go to Europe."
Damn. This professor is either the coolest ever or one of those ones who seems cool until you get the paper back and find out they marked you down 50% for lateness which is so unfair because someone STOLE MY SHOES, OKAY!?!? I still can not believe that professor did not believe me.