Final countdown: The race to submit your essay

You said you'd start earlier next time and yet here we are

It’s 11:57 pm, and here you are again.

Beads of sweat drip from your forehead, breathing shallow and frantic, fingers shaking as you add more crap to your latest word vomit. Your conscience is yelling at you, making you question every drunken night out and lazy Netflix arvo that led to this moment.

11:58 pm.

You open Canvas and think up a fluffy, pretentious title for your essay. You can see the seconds ticking away, every pixel flicker inching closer to that dreaded number…

11:59 pm.

It’s in.

We’ve all been there—misread due dates, technical failures or, honestly, questionable life choices. Every USyd student has a crazy last minute submission story. Here are some award-winning accounts:

No time like the present: Em

Em is no stranger to assessment submission drama. In her first semester of university, she boldly asked her unit coordinator for a simple extension on her Media and Communications essay, a mere hour before the deadline. Unsurprisingly, her request was rejected. Since then her tactics have become much more sophisticated.

One afternoon, she was unassumingly sitting in an English tutorial when her tutor hit her with, “Em, are you ready to present now?” It had completely slipped her mind. Instead of admitting defeat, she proudly announced; “No, you must have it wrong, I’m definitely presenting next week…”

Well played, Em.

Divorce drama: Lana

The midnight deadline was fast approaching, when Lana faced the reality that she “physically couldn’t” get her assignment in on time. Her immediate reflex was to fire off some frantic emails to her coordinator, explaining that she was experiencing some “technical difficulties”.

But in case her coordinator didn’t buy that story, she added a part two. “[I] went so far as to make up that my parents were divorced and at 12:45am I was venturing to my ‘Dad’s house’ to ‘try using his computer’”.

The mission was a success, and Lana submitted her assignment later that evening.

Sodden situations: Sarah

Sarah was merrily finishing off an engineering assignment in Fisher Library, which she had to submit as a hard copy to the Civil Engineering Building by 5pm. As she was adding some final touches, she checked the time…


She bolted immediately skidded out of the library to embark on what should be at least a 15 minute journey. To add to the drama, the heavens had opened, and it started pissing down on Sarah and her assignment—.pathetic fallacy at its finest (yes, I did Year 10 English). By some miracle, she made it just in time, flinging a sopping wet report at her concerned-looking tutor.

Diligently delaying deadlines: Suzi

Suzi made a tried and true error. You see your assignment is not due for x amount of time, laugh to yourself as the tutor reminds you to get started ASAP because “it’s your thesis” or something, then find yourself seated in exactly the same position with no words on the page right before it is due.

Suzi explains that she was “rewriting it the night before, to the point that I did not sleep that entire night”. When it finally came to printing and binding her thesis, Officeworks was closed and she was forced to find another option. “We found one and it legit ripped us off but we printed so that’s ok.” Suzi and her family then raced to USyd to submit the thesis, a whole 12 minutes before the 4pm deadline, while her Dad was posting live Facebook updates of the saga.

Suspicious slide selections: Laura

Laura discovered what a meme the Sociology department is while carefully constructing a powerpoint to present that same day. She gave herself just enough time, completing all 10 shoddy slides on the train to class.

Arriving there, the last remnants of her confidence began to seep away: “I stared at the class, and realised I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.”

“But you know what? Those slides saved the day.”

The slide show included artistic coups de grace like an Old Spice commercial intended to demonstrate the power of capitalism. But Laura’s teacher was enthralled by her “interesting” selection of images and spent the next 30 minutes trying to interpret their deep significance. Unfortunately, Laura “couldn’t tell him it was because they were the first hits for ‘ad’ on Google images.”

Elegantly exporting: Wendy

A classic mistake for media students is underestimating the time it will take to export a project. Wendy says she started exporting a documentary due at 4pm at 3:50pm, only to see it stop loading at 4:05pm.

But it is the events that followed which are truly heartbreaking. She proceeded to “carefully eject [the USB] then rip it out of the computer,” she explains.

“We run down six flights of stairs to the basement, burst into the classroom, me screaming as I take a knee and offer our USB open-palmed in the middle of the seminar room.’”

To Wendy’s relief, or perhaps chagrin, she was appalled to hear the tutor’s response. “No I’ll collect at 4:20.”

Simple slip-ups: Liana

Liana did what many of us have done before. She knew there was no way she would be submitting her take-home exam on time, and went straight to our favourite lifeline—the simple extension.

This take-home had two components, a quiz and an essay. But when Liana sat down to smash out the timed quiz, it was “no longer available”. Panic engulfed her, as she frantically refreshed the page and emailed her unit coordinator.

A while later, the coordinator emailed back with some tragic news… “Liana, the simple extension only applied to the essay component of the take home exam.”

It was then that Liana realised she had made a huge mistake.

Smuggle street: Alison

Alison, a MECO/law student, was in the middle of a Euro trip, when a pesky assignment reared its head. The deadline, long ignored, was that very afternoon. Trouble was, Alison had a full day of sightseeing planned, and was catching a flight back to London that evening.

“I wrote my essay from the top bunk of a Copenhagen hostel room.” After doing the timezone calculations, Alison figured she had time to go sightseeing, and would finish her bibliography at the airport.

That’s where things started to go sour. Her bag had barely cleared through the x-ray machine, when an airport official stopped her. “The security guard who insisted I had something in my bag, when I was sure there was nothing and this was a waste of my valuable time.”

WIth the clock ticking down, Alison started arguing with the guard. But then she realised: “ I’d forgotten to take my toothpaste out.” She gave up on personal hygiene, binned her toothpaste and ran to the boarding gate—where she managed to submit on time.